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Carson Scholar Application Process

The Carson Scholars Program is dedicated to training the next generation of environmental researchers in the art of public communication. Throughout the scholarship year, Carson Scholars work closely with faculty mentors who provide hands-on training and other resources to develop skills and strategies to effectively convey the value of their research and enhance their skills in communicating science to a variety of audiences. Scholars will typically give a public talk, present a pitch, write an essay or op-ed and likely complete one other project by the end of the year. 

The program's namesake, Rachel Carson (1907 – 1964), was a biologist, author, and conservationist who is credited with shining a light on the fragility and interconnectedness of our environment and is still a voice is the global environmental movement to this day.

 

The 2020 Carson Scholar application is now closed. To apply for the 2021 cohort, please check back in early Fall 2020. 

The Carson Scholars Program is a one-year education in the art of science communication. Carson Scholars have the opportunity to explore their own motivations and science stories and develop ways to share their work in ways that are meaningful and engaging, not only to other researcher in their fields, but to non-specialist audience as well. In collaborating with their peers, the Carson faculty mentors, participating in workshops and putting their communication skills to work, Carson Scholars go on to secure more funding by way of scholarships and fellowships, share their knowledge through op-eds and community events and event secure faculty positions after graduation.

Included in the fellowship is a $5,000 graduate scholarship to exceptional University of Arizona (UA) graduate students committed to interdisciplinary research on environment and society. These scholarships are funded by a variety of UA units including the Institute of the Environment, the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice, the College of Science and the Galileo Circle, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Office of the Provost, the College of Engineering, Biosphere 2 and the Graduate College. The scholarships are designed to support and retain UA graduate students whose research is related to the environment and/or its intersection with social justice and who are interested in communicating science to a broad audience.

Current UA PhD students, UA JD students, or UA master’s students in terminal master's creative or professional programs are eligible to apply.

Once selected, Carson Scholars begin the program by attending an intensive weekend science communication retreat at Biosphere 2 run by UA faculty. Carson Scholars work with faculty mentors who, throughout the scholarship year, provide hands-on training and other resources to develop skills, strategies, and products to effectively convey the value of their research. Scholars will enhance their skills communicating science to a variety of audiences through multiple techniques, such as popular media and public speaking. Scholars will interact with a range of stakeholders interested in their work, from visiting scholars to area donors to k-12 students and undergraduates.

Carson Scholars join a growing network of researchers interested in a range of issues related to ecology, earth, and environmental sciences, including environmental and energy policy, environmental governance, climate science, solar and renewable energy, environmental education, global change, water, sustainability, wildlife and natural resources conservation, the intersection of arts and culture and the environment, and outreach to stakeholders.

Carson Scholars leave the program with a strong working knowledge of science communication skills. Many past scholars have harnessed these skills and tools to secure fellowships and scholarships and faculty positions following the completion of their graduate work.

Carson Scholars continue to participate in the network after completing the program, providing them with opportunities for collaboration and skills that can inform and enhance their future professional efforts. The Institute of the Environment works to sustain the network of Carson alumni by promoting scholar accomplishments and publications and by encouraging interaction among current and former recipients of the award.

UA PhD, JD students, or UA master’s students in terminal master's creative or professional programs are eligible to apply. Students should be in the second or third year of their PhD program during the year of the scholarship. Current and past Carson Scholars are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must be:

  • in residence on campus (actively enrolled at UA main campus – not doing fieldwork somewhere for the majority of the scholarship period) for the calendar year they are selected
  • involved in research related to the environment and/or its intersection with social justice
  • be committed to fulfilling the requirements of the scholarship (attending the retreat, all workshops and completing speaking and writing projects)
  • be flexible and willing to work with your peer scholars and mentors in giving and receiving constructive critical feedback
  • be committed to your cohort by having a positive attitude, being a strong team-player, a good collaborator and wanting to support your peers as they support you
  1. A 750-word essay containing the following:
  • a description of your current or intended research/scholarship area (targeted to a layperson audience, i.e. try to avoid too much jargon and explain your terms where necessary)
  • your communication interests and experience with respect to environmental topics and those areas where you seek to improve your skills
  • your commitment to meeting deadlines and completing projects, as well as your ability to work with, contribute to, and learn from a vibrant cohort of mentors and peers
  • how a Carson scholarship will help you develop various skill-sets to communicate and translate your research to diverse, broader audiences

2. CV

3. A letter of recommendation, preferably from the applicant's faculty advisor or a professor familiar with your work

4. A second letter of recommendation; this can be from UA faculty or staff or an outside person

Carson Scholarship applications are submitted online. Finalize your essay and CV and line up your references before beginning the online application process. Once you have started the online application process, you will need to complete the process all at once, including uploading of requested documents; you will not be able to return later to make any changes. Once "Submit" is selected, you will receive an email notification that your application has been received, and emails will be automatically sent to your references containing instructions for uploading their confidential letter of recommendation.

If you plan to wait until the deadline to submit your application, we recommend you contact your references much earlier to let them know that 1) they will be asked to upload a letter of recommendation, and 2) instructions will be sent by email to them once you submit your application online.

Spring 2020 semester

  • Provide a self-photo, short 100-word biography, and 100-character research description that summarizes your current project work
  • Agree to and sign a Carson Scholar Photo Release, and throughout the program year provide fieldwork and other photos to help showcase your work with the Carson Scholars Program
  • Attend the Carson Scholars Spring two-day weekend Retreat at Biosphere 2
  • Participate in Carson Scholar workshops (2-3 hours per month)
  • Participate in Carson Scholar events, including visiting with undergraduates and/or K-12 students, supporters, and campus colleagues, to share your perspective and inspirational work
  • Participate in donor outreach and VIP events (2-3 per year)

Fall 2020 semester

  • Attend the Carson Scholars Fall one-day Retreat
  • Participate in Carson Scholars workshops (2-3 hours per month)
  • Participate in Carson Scholar events, including visiting with undergraduates and/or K-12 students, supporters, and campus colleagues, to share your perspective and inspirational work
  • Participate in the December year-end event to celebrate your experience as a Carson Scholar
  • At the end of the award year, complete the survey evaluating your experience and sharing your accomplishments
  • September 27, 2019 - Deadline for student online application materials. Applications must be submitted through the online form by 11:59pm.
  • October 11, 2019 - Deadline for Faculty Letters of Recommendation. Faculty letters must be submitted through the online form by 11:59pm.
  • November 14, 2019 - Award Notifications. The Institute of the Environment will send email notifications to all applicants.
  • December 2, 2019 – If selected, 2020 Carson Scholars will need to attend the Carson Winter Event from 5-7pm, location TBD.

Please contact:

Liz Marsalla, Institute of the Environment at eakelly2@email.arizona.edu.