Foundational Instruction for New SCUBA Scientists (FINSS)


Recreational scuba diving is a privileged sport. Training costs money, the gear is expensive, getting to dive sites adds up.

Many researchers cannot participate in the scientific diving training that they need due to the fact that they simply cannot afford to get their Open Water Scuba Certification. This scholarship addresses that need

          Who is this for?

  • Those from underrepresented groups in diving
  • Those who need to get a scientific diver certification for research, volunteer, or technical positions, but don’t have access to the prerequisite open water certification


    What does the scholarship provide?

  • Payment to the dive shop/instructor of recipients choosing for an open water scuba course, gear rental for the course, processing fees, and personal mask, fins, and snorkel.
    • Any grant money that is not used for the Open Water course due to the generosity of dive shops or instructors may be used to purchase additional dive equipment.
  • One-year DAN Master Plan.
  • 1 year AAUS student membership upon completion of their scientific diving course

         How much?

  • $1500 total
    • $900: Open Water Course
    • $500: Gear
    • $100: DAN Individual Membership and Master Plan 


    Selection Criteria

  • Identify as a member of a traditionally underrepresented group who, under normal circumstances, may not receive scuba diving instruction or would struggle due to financial barriers or other hardships.
  • Be connected to an AAUS Organizational Member such as:
    • Graduate students whose thesis/dissertation work involves diving.
    • Undergraduate volunteers participating in research.
    • Aquarium volunteers or employees who would like to include scientific diving in their job duties.
    • Employee/volunteer/researcher for another type of institution (eg. NGO, consulting firm) who would like to include scientific diving in their job duties.


    How to Apply (all applications materials EXCEPT the application form linked below can be submitted to [email protected])

  • Submit a one-page personal statement.
  • Must include:
  • Reason for applying such as:

    • Research or work/volunteer time that could require scientific diving.
    • How they have worked to get involved as demonstrated by extracurricular activities, community service and other work experience.
    • How these certifications (Open Water and Scientific Diving) will impact their current position.
  • May include:
    • How you became interested in scientific diving
    • How have your past experiences contributed to who you are today and how do you hope to give back to / uplift your own community?
  • Letter of Recommendation from PI or supervisor for whom the applicant will be doing research or working under.
  • Statement of Support from institutional DSO confirming they will continue on to scientific diver training. This should include a basic description of timeline and logistics including but not limited to:
    • When the student will take the Open Water Course
    • When the student will participate in the scientific diving course
    • Any follow up field work / research the student may be able to participate in
  • Complete application form You must be an AAUS member to access the form.  If this poses a hardship, please contact [email protected]
  • List of up to three suggested dive shops/instructors for course with cost breakdown and possible timing.
  • List and cost of gear the student hopes to purchase with the remaining funds.

    NOTE: basic watermanship skills and swimming ability are a prerequisite for an Open Water Scuba Diving course. Applicants should be comfortable in the water.


  • After the experience, the scholar will submit a short bio and summary of their experience for publication in the eSlate, as well as multimedia (photos, videos, etc.) for posting.