Announcing the Leo Cup

Leo and a dolphin

Growing up, one of Leo Maddox’s favorite expressions was “let’s do something about it” in response to a problem, issue, or challenge. As Leo entered middle school and his passions became more focused, so did his love and determination to protect the health of our oceans. Over those years, Sylvia Bolton watched her son’s understanding of our oceans and the Pacific Northwest’s waterways transform into a vision near and dear to his heart, and one in which he actively championed as a teenager. Leo believed we had a shared responsibility to protect and preserve our living oceans and the future of our planet. 

In memory of Leo and his love for the ocean, the School of Oceanography is proud to launch the inaugural Leo Cup, an annual program that will run through 2028 which provides a $40,000 prize for UW Oceanography students to pursue innovative solutions that address the burgeoning issue of ocean plastics and pollution, and the resulting impacts on climate.

Launched by the commitment and financial support of Leo Maddox’s family, the Leo Cup was created to empower young scientists to stem this tide, turning their knowledge into workable solutions while honoring Leo’s legacy through action. Students may pursue the Leo Cup individually or partner with their peers, early-career scientists, postdocs, or assistant professors to explore and submit proposals around new and innovative solutions to address these critical issues.

“We want to support young people in turning their ideas into reality, making a difference in the world, and becoming leaders of the next generation. And as Leo had imagined a future for himself where he could chase his dreams by flying towards his passions, it is our hope that, in our small way, the Leo Cup will be a step towards achieving this at the School of Oceanography” says Leo’s mom, Sylvia Bolton.

Each year, one student or team will be awarded the Leo Cup and receive its generous financial award while also being recognized in the first-floor lobby of the Ocean Sciences Building, alongside the Leo Cup and a plaque commemorating Leo. All UW Oceanography students in good standing are eligible to compete for the Leo Cup and may apply individually or as a part of a team. The Leo Cup awardee(s) will receive $40,000 to pursue their innovative project, and these funds may provide stipends for students to execute their idea, cover fieldwork expenses, project-related travel, research support, and support to pursue additional project funding over a longer time frame.

In the years ahead, the Leo Cup will be opened to engaging cross-disciplinary teams, inviting students from other UW colleges and schools to join UW Oceanography students. The Leo Maddox Foundation recognizes the School of Oceanography’s prominence as a global leader in oceanographic research and education, and by establishing the Leo Cup, they are providing the next generation of scientists and leaders with resources to tackle the growing challenges posed by ocean plastics and pollution.  

“This annual award will allow our students to pursue their innovative ideas and expand their problem solving skills" said Rick Keil, the School's director.

Launching on July 9, 2021, all UW Oceanography students in good standing are eligible to apply for the Leo Cup. The Leo Cup application will be open until September 15, 2021, and the inaugural awardee of the Leo Cup will be announced at the School of Oceanography’s Convocation Ceremony on October 6, 2021. We invite you to learn more about Leo and his legacy at the Leo Maddox Foundation, created in loving memory by his mom, Sylvia Bolton.

The School of Oceanography extends its gratitude to the Leo Maddox family, Vivian Ho - Executive Director of the Leo Maddox Foundation, and the community that has supported the Leo Maddox Foundation to date. Please direct your interest in applying for the Leo Cup to this link for more information.

Story Collaborators: Vivian Ho, Rick Keil, James Anderson

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