NIGHTSEA/EMS KEY Award – Fluorescence Microscopy for New Faculty

2019 NIGHTSEA / EMS KEY Award for New Faculty

The application period for the 5th annual NIGHTSEA/EMS (Electron Microscopy Sciences) KEY Award for New Faculty will be announced in January 2019. This is an annual equipment grant to an individual entering their first faculty position at a college or university. For its first three years this Award was only open to applicants entering a US institution. In 2018 eligibility expanded to those entering any academic institution worldwide.

The award consists of:

The 2019 award will be the fifth annual. The application period will open with an announcement in January.

Past Recipients

  • The inaugural 2015 award went to Dr. Robert Mitchell at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where he is using the system to aid his neuroscience research using beetles. Read the blog post about the first award and another about how he very quickly put the system to good use.
  • The 2016 award recipient is Dr. Sarah Petersen at Kenyon College. She will be using the system for research, undergraduate education, and community outreach.
  • The 2017 award went to Dr. Kristen Gorman at California State University Chico. She pioneered use of the medaka, a small fish, as a model organism for studying idiopathic scoliosis. Dr. Gorman will be using the NIGHTSEA system to support her research, and also for education and outreach.
  • The 2018 award recipient is Dr. Pierre-Paul Bitton at the Cognitive and Behavioral Ecology (CABE) program at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Dr. Bitton is researching the proximate mechanisms of fluorescent protein production, especially in red- and green-fluorescing fish.


The KEY Award is open to individuals entering their first faculty position at a non-profit college or university any time in calendar year 2019.

Application Requirements

All entry material must be submitted in digital format.

  • Submit the online application form.
  • Provide a description (2 pages maximum) of the research you propose to conduct at your new institution and how the NIGHTSEA equipment will aid your work. Specific guidelines and judging criteria are on given on the entry page.
  • Provide an example of your published work.
  • Provide a letter of recommendation from your current research supervisor.


Entries will be judged by a panel of academic researchers


The application period for the 2019 KEY Award will be announced in January. Decisions will typically be made in early August. Equipment will be sent to the awardee at their new institution.

Additional Information

If you have any questions please e-mail

About this award

Fluorescence is increasingly central to many fields of research, most notably in the life sciences but also in other disciplines. New faculty start-up budgets are limited and fluorescence microscopy equipment can be very expensive. Immediately after the introduction of the economical NIGHTSEA Stereo Microscope Fluorescence Adapter (SFA) system we realized that it was popular among researchers entering their first faculty position because it provides an economical way to implement a fluorescence capability at a reasonable cost.

NIGHTSEA founder Dr. Charles Mazel’s R&D career owes much to the inspiration and support of many people. The KEY Award is a way of giving back to the community and honors several of those individuals.

According to Dr. Mazel:

K‘ is for Dr. Les Kaufman, Professor of Biology at Boston University. I met Les when he was Director of Research at the New England Aquarium and I was just a SCUBA diver walking in off the street with a 35mm slide deck of photographs of fluorescing corals. His excitement and encouragement led me back to university to pursue research into the meaning of the phenomenon and ultimately to a rewarding research career.

E‘ represents two people – Dr. Harold E. ‘Doc’ Edgerton of MIT and Dr. Thomas Eisner of Cornell University. I was privileged to know both of these great men. Doc was a pioneer in both high speed imaging and underwater search, and an inspiration to all who met him. Tom was a great entomologist, the ‘father of chemical ecology’, and absolutely brilliant at using photographic imagery to communicate his observations of nature and the novel scientific investigations that they inspired.

Y‘ also represents two people – the remarkable husband and wife team of Drs. Charlie and Clarice Yentsch. I met this inspirational pair of scientists when I entered my PhD program, and Charlie was soon added to my thesis committee. I was privileged to spend a summer conducting research at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, which they founded, and working side by side with them on numerous field projects.