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New undergraduate opportunity for environmental fellowship

Applications are now available for Brown Environmental Fellows, a new research opportunity for undergraduates run by the Environmental Change Initiative, an interdisciplinary program that funds research on environmental change.

"The idea of the Brown Environmental Fellows program is to give undergraduates, particularly juniors, the opportunity to engage in environmental science and practice in a meaningful way," said program director Heather Leslie, assistant professor of environmental studies and biology.

As part of the application process, students will team with professors and external mentors to create research projects, according to the program description. Leslie said the program will fund between five and 10 fellows.

The program directors expect the same type of close collaboration between faculty mentors and students as in other research programs, Leslie said. But environmental fellows will also collaborate with external scientific mentors, based at governmental or nongovernmental institutions, who will contribute to the projects' design and execution, she said.

This program will require a more extended commitment by the fellows than other research opportunities, Leslie said. Fellows and their mentors are expected to meet informally this spring to organize the summer research, and to work together during the summer. Next spring, Leslie will teach a seminar on global environmental change that will enable the fellows to reflect and build upon their independent research experiences.

Program directors decided to move the deadline from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15 to give the students longer to coordinate with faculty mentors, said Martha Downs, associate director of the Environmental Change Initiative. It is also intended to align with the Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards deadline, she added.

Over 40 students attended the program's information session in November, Leslie said, adding that she had a lot of inquiries from both students and faculty since the program was announced in the early fall.

One of the faculty members who has already committed to the program, Senior Research Engineer and Senior Lecturer Christopher Bull, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that he expected fellows to have "broad interest in science, policy, practice and the environment." He added that fellows should be able to work hard and cooperate "with diverse collaborators."

"I think it's easy to think of science as one path and practice as another path. What we intend to do with this program is to emphasize that they're not so much separate paths — that research has real policy implications," said Downs.

Cecilia Springer '11, an environmental science concentrator who said she might apply to the program, said she liked how it would connect her scientific research to the real world.
Bull said he has high hopes for the program's first year.

"It has the potential to grow into a very valuable opportunity for students, faculty and the larger community," he wrote.




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