2023 Sustainability Summer Fellowships for Graduate Research Partnerships

Summer Research with Organizations on the Front Lines of Sustainability Challenges

Co-sponsored by the Graduate Education Office and the Institute for a Sustainable Earth, the 2023 Sustainability Summer Fellowships for Graduate Research Partnerships program provides financial support and professional development to graduate students who will work with partner organizations on applied research projects. This opportunity is designed to connect students with organizations making a positive impact on our world. Together, fellows and partner organizations will identify research and action priorities for the period of the fellowship, allowing students to gain valuable experience and organizational access. Participants in the Sustainability Summer Fellowship program will then be able to leverage this research partnership in their dissertation or master’s thesis work.
Fellow stipends of $8,000 for doctoral students and $6,000 for master’s students will support this collaborative research. Please see below for more information about specific partnership opportunities. To apply, upload a cover letter, CV/résumé, and a brief statement of support from a faculty advisor to Handshake by Monday, February 20 at 11:59 pm(check out the ISE Handshake site here, and/or the specific opportunity links below). Please contact Dr. Jeremy Campbell at jcampb30@gmu.edu if you have any questions.

 

Summer 2023 Fellowships are Available with the following Partners:

**ISE Staff will hold informational webinars about the program on Monday, January 30 from 5:00-6:00 pm (Click here to join!) and Zoom Info Session on Thursday, Feb 9 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm (Click here to join!) and Zoom Info Session on Wednesday, Feb 15 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm (Click here to join!)**

 

American Bird Conservancy

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. This mission has guided us throughout our history of more than 25 years. ABC also serves as Chair of the Alliance for Zero Extinction, a joint initiative of over 120 biodiversity conservation organizations from around the world working to prevent extinctions through the effective conservation of key sites that are the last remaining refuges of one or more Endangered or Critically Endangered species. 

In partnership with the Mason ISE, in Summer 2023 we are seeking a graduate-level researcher who will work with American Bird Conservancy staff to conduct research on AZE sites. In late 2022, an updated list of AZE sites was launched, providing a blueprint for the conservation efforts at the most important sites for preventing species extinctions. Research ideas may include any one of the following areas, which are likely to be of interest to biology, environmental science, geography, and policy students in particular:

  • Spatial analyses of updated AZE sites (a background in GIS would be essential)
  • Analyses of the management and protection status of AZE sites
  • Self-directed research into a subgroup of AZE sites (such as those for specific taxonomic groups, in specific countries or geographical regions, etc.)
  • A study on the potential of the OECM approach for currently unprotected AZE sites
  • An analysis of how AZE site conservation will aid in meeting the goals of the Global Biodiversity Framework being decided at the 2022 CBD COP15

Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7435162 

Appalachian Voices 

Appalachian Voices works to protect the land, air and water of Central and Southern Appalachia and advance a just transition to a generative and equitable clean energy economy for the broader region. Appalachian Voices seeks a graduate researcher in the fields of environmental science and policy to: coordinate data research efforts on particulate matter air pollution at specific sites in Appalachia in service of an EPA Grant; research on the environmental legacy of abandoned metals mines; potential negative impacts of new, large-scale mining of gold, copper zinc and lead in the Commonwealth of Virginia; or a project consistent with our mission, developed by the Graduate Fellow. The project is meant to support the student Fellows’ own research in air, water, or environmental policy matters. The position is remote, but Virginia residents may have opportunities for in-field research. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7435255

Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions

Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, an interfaith local nonprofit, is dedicated to working with and through communities of faith to pilot innovative solutions to climate and environmental justice challenges at the local level. In Summer 2023, we hope to collaborate with a graduate-level researcher who will develop a strategy for greater scientific engagement and data-driven insights in FACS, including through the creation of a science communication strategy and the formation of a Scientific Advisory Board. There will also be opportunities to engage the ongoing efforts of the Fairfax County Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP). The Fellow will be able to work remotely, and should be available for frequent meetings with FACS staff, leadership, and Board Members. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7435314

Future Earth Coasts Summer Fellow

The ecosystem-based coastal defense is a sustainable solution in response to the increasing hazards by climate change and human activities in both Yangtze estuary in China and Mississippi estuary in the USA. Future Earth’s Future Earth Coasts program seeks a graduate research fellow to examine the interaction among hydrodynamics, dike and vegetation of ecosystem-based coastal defense, ultimately to quantify the impact of dikes on the hydrodynamics and sediment transport over the vegetation, and in turn the effect of vegetation on the dike safety in terms of wave overtopping and toe scour. The fellow will be hosted remotely by Professor Zhong Peng, at East China Normal University, China.The scope of the work is in three work packages: 1) WP1: Wave damping and wave nonlinearity evolution over vegetation in response to the presence of dikes 2) Velocity structure, turbulence characteristics and sediment transportation in front of the coastal dike with a vegetated foreshore, and 3) Safety assessment of the dike with a vegetation foreshore in terms of wave overtopping and toe scour. The applicant is expected to have experience with Linux, Delft3D/FVCOM, Matlab/Python, experience of field survey or laboratory experiments is preferred. The work is expected to lead to publications in world leading journals; creating a prediction model of sediment transport; and/or an assessment report of toe scour and wave overtopping. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7436145

Future Earth Finance & Economics KAN Summer Fellow

The Finance and Economics Knowledge Action Network is seeking a summer fellow to do research on water risk and emerging risk management. More precisely, integration into the various projects carried out by the Emerging Risks Information Centre (https://emerging-risks.com/). The Fellow will be hosted remotely by Dr. Thomas Walker, Concordia University  – Finance & Economics KAN. The fellow is expected to carry out empirical research on the nexus between water risk and finance: data collection, analysis, write-up of results and publication of a research paper. Expertise with statistical software (SAS, Stata, etc.), excellent command of the English language, experience with academic publishing are necessary. We expect the work to lead to a publication in a highly ranked finance and/or business journal. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7436180

Future Earth iLEAPS Summer Fellow

The ILEAPS – integrated Land-Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study network is seeking an applicant for the ongoing research project on “Airborne Particulate Matter Pollution, Socioeconomic status and Human Health Risk Assessment in Delhi, India” in which the fellow can work with the project team on i) to characterize the health risks caused by population exposures to airborne particulate matter at selected sites in Delhi and ii) examine the transboundary movement of air masses by an air quality model in Delhi, India. The fellow will be hosted remotely by Dr. Pallavi Saxena, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Hindu College, University of Delhi, Delhi, India. The fellow should apply the health risk and relative risk models with respect to assessment of impact of air quality on human health. Moreover, with the help of Transboundary movement air masses model, the fellow should analyze the impact of air pollutants emitted from neighboring areas on the air quality of the affected area. Good quality knowledge in r-software and MATLAB are required, moreover, work on HYSPLIT model and WRF-Chem are desirable qualifications. After the completion of this research project, we can determine the human health risk assessment due to particulate matter present in air at selected sites in Delhi and can determine the role of transboundary movements and contribution of air pollutants from neighboring areas in affected areas.

Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7436202

Future Earth Landscape Analysis and Mapping Summer Fellow:

Progress towards sustainable futures in the US is being achieved by a complex coalition of researchers, practitioners, policymakers, funders, and innovators.  The Future Earth US NGO is seeking several graduate research fellows working in fields relevant to evaluation and metrics, science policy, science communication, and general sustainability studies to advance work relevant to the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress (sricongress.org).  The fellows would be hosted remotely with the potential to connect in person or online with the SRI2023 event in Panama City, Panama, 26-30 June 2023. The fellow would undertake a clustering and mapping analysis of sustainability activity to create a living landscape map of US organizations committed to transformations of policy and practice for sustainability.  Familiarity with both academic and non-academic sustainability organizations is a plus as is experience with network visualization software.  The fellow would work in close collaboration with the Future Earth US team, with supervision by the Assistant Director, Dr. Veera Mitzner. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7436229 

Future Earth Sustainability NGOs in Latin America & Caribbean Summer Fellow

Trust relationships are essential for collaborative, co-production of research, particularly for socially relevant studies in sustainability and resilience.  NGOs are one type of organization that can facilitate trust relationships and can be a stabilizing presence during times of political and cultural change. The Future Earth US NGO is seeking several graduate research fellows working in fields relevant to evaluation and metrics, science policy, science communication, and general sustainability studies to advance work relevant to the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress (sricongress.org).  The fellows would be hosted remotely with the potential to connect in person or online with the SRI2023 event in Panama City, Panama, 26-30 June 2023. The fellow would research and develop several use cases where NGO’s have been an effective partner in advancing sustainability objectives in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Dr. María Fernanda Enríquez, Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Regional Lead for Future Earth, would supervise the Fellow and explore opportunities to build a network of networks of sustainability NGOs in LAC.  Spanish and/or Portuguese language skills are an asset, as is expertise in science policy and political science. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7436250 

Future Earth Evaluation Summer Fellow:

The Future Earth US NGO is seeking a graduate researcher for advance work relevant to the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress (sricongress.org). The fellow would be hosted remotely with the potential to connect in person or online with the SRI2023 event in Panama City, Panama, 26-30 June 2023. Together with Belmont Forum, Future Earth has launched an annual Sustainability Research and Innovation (SRI) Congress which seeks to convene an inclusive, action-forward community working towards sustainability goals. The SRI co-convenors seek to analyze progress towards inclusivity at SRI, in terms of demographics, sector, content, and approach. The analysis will include an evaluation of the types of data already being collected and potential rethinking of how and what information is needed to measure inclusivity.  Applicants with specialization in monitoring, evaluation, and learning methods including the development of surveys and familiarization with personal data privacy laws are encouraged to apply. The fellow would be supervised by the FE-US Global Hub Director, Dr. Erica Key, in collaboration with the Belmont Forum Executive Director, Dr. Nicole Arbour. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7436271

Future Earth Sustainability Communication Summer Fellow 

Sustainability is a complex and somewhat intangible concept that can be difficult to communicate about effectively.  Coupled with this are the myriad ways in which audiences now receive their information.  How do we increase not only understanding but uptake of sustainability innovation using targeted communication strategies?  The fellows would be hosted remotely with the potential to connect in person or online with the SRI2023 event in Panama City, Panama, 26-30 June 2023. Fellows will work with the Future Earth Global Communications Lead, Bridget Blake, to develop, test, and measure communications campaigns aimed at broadening the inclusive, action-forward audience for the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress.  This opportunity welcomes creative approaches to communication, including fellows with expertise in behavioral change, use of animation, immersive experiences, and gamification, and other methodologies to amplify engagement and implementation.  Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7436288 

Future Earth COASTAL-SOS Summer Fellow

The “Coastal Zones Under Intensifying Human Activities and Changing Climate: A Regional Programme Integrating Science, Management and Society to Support Ocean Sustainability”, is an endorsed project of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (http://coastal-sos.xmu.edu.cn/). Led by the State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science (MEL) at Xiamen University, Coastal-SOS partners cross-sectoral stakeholders, including leading academic institutions, industrial enterprises, non-profit foundations, and nongovernmental/intergovernmental organizations (NGO/IGOs) from East Asian countries to advance scientific understanding of critical coastal ocean health issues. Currently, we are working on a coastal blue carbon project which aims to clarify the blue carbon sink inventory of seagrass beds and salt marshes, promote the establishment of blue carbon methodology, and help the development of blue carbon sink potential. Minhan Dai and Luzhen Chen are interested in hosting a summer fellow. Participants will be tasked with sample processing, data analysis and report writing of seagrass beds and salt marshes carbon sink. Skills needed: R language, SPSS or other data analysis softwares, Arc GIS, and basic laboratory skills (plant/sediment elemental analysis or water chemistry). Outputs of the fellowship will include datasets and reports related to blue carbon sink of seagrass beds and salt marshes. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7436313 

Point Blue Conservation Science

Point Blue is a research and conservation non-profit with over 50 years of dedication to our mission, which is to conserve birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through science, partnerships, and outreach. We have been assessing changes in our environment and advancing conservation through bird and ecosystem studies since our founding as Point Reyes Bird Observatory in 1965, including through extensive collaborations on land and at sea with government agencies, private landowners, and other wildlife and habitat managers. We are also leaders in community-based restoration and education, helping ecosystems and people adapt to the changes ahead.

In partnership with the Mason ISE, in Summer 2023 we are seeking a graduate-level researcher who will work with Point Blue staff to research the following area:

  • How do long-term changes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events affect population dynamics of wild birds studied at Point Blue’s Palomarin Field Station (Marin County, CA), where data has been collected since 1966. 

Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7435116

Sierra Club

Sierra Club of Virginia: We are a grassroots-driven organization that advocates for a Virginia where all people may enjoy our natural treasures, access clean air and water, and thrive in a healthy community. At over 20,000 members strong, we coordinate action to promote climate solutions and oppose projects and policies that put the interests of corporate polluters above the needs of communities. We know a cleaner, more equitable future in the commonwealth is possible if we fight for it together. In Summer 2022, we are seeking a graduate-level researcher who will work with Sierra Club staff to research any one of the following areas:

The permitting process: Most industries require permits to pollute. These permits are given by different local (city or county) and state departments, but the current process does not account for the input of directly impacted communities. In order to improve the meaningful engagement of directly impacted communities, we aim to research the following: How do other states or the federal government address the permitting process? Where is it necessary to include, and how is it best to engage, directly impacted communities during this process?

Environmental Justice: We are committed to advancing environmental justice in Virginia. Research on this front could include assessing what other states and the federal government are doing and suggesting ideas that could be applied here in Virginia.

Gas: Extracting natural gas from landfills and pig lagoons is increasing lately (it is considered a renewable energy source). We would like to conduct research on the advantages and disadvantages of this energy source (cost-benefit analysis), such as how much it pollutes, its financial impact, and its impact on public health and the environment.Open topic: Suggest your own idea, as we are open to work with you on research topics related to environmental justice and energy. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7434509

Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe

The Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe is one of seven federally-recognized Indigenous nations in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is centered in King William County between the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers. In Summer 2023, the Tribe seeks to collaborate with a graduate researcher who can assist with implementing a Community Air Quality Management Program, which the Tribe will implement via an EPA Grant. Challenges to community health in the region include paper mills, mining and logging operations, and Superfund sites. Graduate researchers with experience in air quality monitoring, remote sensing, public health, and citizen-based science initiatives are especially encouraged to apply. While this research can be conducted remotely, we do ask that the Fellow be available for periodic site visits in the King William region throughout the summer. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7435408

US Department of Transportation

The US Department of Transportation seeks ​​a talented Sustainability Fellow to support the administration’s priorities related to climate change and sustainability and the implementation of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)). The Fellow will interface with senior DOT political appointees and career staff, as well as with other Federal agencies such as Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, Interior, EPA, and others to harmonize and coordinate federal efforts to successfully implement IIJA. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7434530

Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action

Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action (VCCA) is an organization consisting of a broad array of health professionals from throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Mission of VCCA is “To build a network of clinician leaders advocating for climate change solutions that protect the health of our patients and communities.” VCCA’s advocacy work is nonpartisan, and we know that climate policies should consider factors related to social justice and be sensitive to the needs of underserved communities who too often bear a disproportionate burden of negative health impacts due to climate change. In Summer 2023, a Graduate Researcher partnering with VCCA could work on any of the following initiatives:

  • Develop a system to track health-based outcomes from federal climate investments coming to Virginia from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act.
  • Expand upon research on the Virginia Clean Economy Act to refine points of intervention and future data refinement to reveal how the legislation is impacting Virginia health outcomes.  
  • Collaborate on a NOAA-funded project in Southwest Virginia with a coalition of public health partners that could provide a model to replicate in other Virginia localities.  
  • Develop legislative language and support materials for a bill (or bills) to introduce into the 2024 Virginia General Assembly session.

Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7434958

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The Wilson Center, a non-partisan, non-advocacy think tank mandated by Congress to connect policy, practice, and research, seeks a graduate researcher in the fields of environmental policy, the social sciences, or the humanities, to produce research in partnership with the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP). ECSP works to connect issues at the intersection of environmental change, population, and security to foreign policy and development. The work will include, but may not be limited to: coordinating research and producing a policy brief on an agreed-upon topic at this intersection of issues; drafting articles for ECSP’s blog, New Security Beat; and attendance at private roundtables and workshops. Learn more and apply here. Handshake Job #7434521

Informational Webinars about the Fellowship Program:

Zoom Info session on Monday, January 30 from 5:00-6:00 pm (Click here to join!) and Zoom Info Session on Thursday, Feb 9 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm (Click here to join!) and Zoom Info Session on Wednesday, Feb 15 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm (Click here to join!)

 

Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must be Mason doctoral or master’s students that are listed in university records as being in full-time status during spring 2023 and plan to return as a graduate student in fall 2023. Applicants are responsible for confirming that the appropriate forms have been filed with the Registrar’s office so that their enrollment status is appropriately recorded.

 

Award and Expectations

  • Fellowship amount: $8,000 for doctoral students; $6,000 for master’s students for full-time fellowships. 
  • Term of award: Summer 2023, for a minimum of 10 weeks between May 29 and August 25, 2022
  • Fellows must agree to a scope of research, schedule, and deliverable work products with the partner organization prior to the start of the summer term (ISE will facilitate this process in Spring 2023). Fellows will have support for developing their own research agenda in addition to the particular research goals that are co-identified with the partner organization. 
  • Enrollment in summer coursework beyond dissertation or thesis credits must be approved in advance by the Associate Provost for Graduate Education.
  • Selected awardees should concentrate on fellowship research during the award period and should not accept any additional fellowships, internal assignments nor outside employment
  • Fellows must also participate in a biweekly professional development seminar series hosted by the Mason Institute for a Sustainable Earth.
  • Students will keep their faculty advisor informed of their summer research activities, and these advisors will be invited to engage directly with partner organizations. Advisors: please see below for more information.
  • Fellows must submit a summary of the work produced by September 1, 2023.
  • Doctoral students are expected to apply to compete in Mason’s 2023 3MT™ after completion of the fellowship. Master’s students are expected to present a poster or make an oral presentation in the 2024 Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference after completion of the fellowship.

How to Apply

All fellowship opportunities will be posted on Handshake; each will be labeled clearly with the partner organization’s name and the Sustainability Summer Fellowships for Graduate Research Partnerships title.
For each fellowship opportunity, applicants must submit the following three items via Handshake by Monday, February 20 at 11:59 pm
  • A 1-2 page statement that explains how the research opportunity and/or connection to the partner organization fits with their research and professional goals.
  • A current C.V. or résumé.
  • A letter of support from the student’s graduate advisor (thesis or dissertation advisor, preferably). The advisor should share this letter (or email) with the student so that the student can include it with their application.  
Students may apply for as many of the fellowship opportunities as they wish but will be limited to receiving only one fellowship in Summer 2023. Applicants should be available in early February for Zoom- or phone-based interviews with staff from the partner organization and Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth. Fellowships will be announced by March 4.

Expectations and Information for Faculty Advisors

The Sustainability Summer Fellowships for Graduate Research Partnerships program provides financial support and professional development to graduate students who will work with partner organizations on applied research projects. To ensure optimal student success, the Fellowship Program depends on the input and support of the student fellow’s Mason faculty advisor. 
We hope that students interested in this opportunity will engage their faculty advisors early to explore how the specific research partnerships in the Fellowship Program align with the students’ academic and professional goals. Furthermore, we hope that the faculty advisor will continue to support the student as they engage in a research partnership with an external organization. 
Many partner organizations have research needs that extend beyond the priorities they have identified in the position descriptions. One of the Fellowship Program’s goals is to seed ongoing research partnerships between Mason students, faculty advisors, and external organizations working on sustainability challenges. Student fellows should be able to leverage their Summer research in their dissertation or master’s thesis work. In addition, students’ faculty advisors may wish to more deeply engage the partner organization to form a sustained collaboration. The Institute for a Sustainable Earth will provide support throughout the Fellowship period, and beyond, to ensure that student and faculty collaboration with non-Mason organizations is optimal, equitable, and productive.