My name is Tamee Albrecht. I am a second-year PhD student in the School of Geography and Development. My research explores the implications of changes in the timing and location of water availability on water security. In the Himalayan foothills of South Asia, groundwater springs are the primary source of water for domestic and irrigation uses in rural villages, however, groundwater spring flows have been declining due to climate change and expanding hydropower development. I want to understand how communities are adapting to reduced flows and how existing water policies address these changes.
Searching for fellowships can be overwhelming – although there are many options, finding a fellowship that you are eligible for and that is a natural fit for your research can be a challenge. I heard about the Carson Scholars program, an interdisciplinary environmental scholarship at the University of Arizona and decided to apply because I felt that the program’s emphasis was clearly aligned with my research and professional goals. The program is sponsored by the Institute of the Environment, the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environmental and Social Justice, Biosphere 2, the Institute for Energy Solutions, as well as private donations. When I was selected as a 2017 Carson Scholar, I joined a small cohort of interdisciplinary scholars who share an interest in the environment, social justice and renewable energy, along with a desire to communicate research results to diverse audiences. As part of the program, fellows work with faculty mentors and communication professionals to build skills in science communication on a variety of platforms such as writing for a general audience, pitching our research to potential donors, and creating videos about our work. I am glad I applied to the Carson Scholars program not only for the financial support for but also for the invaluable training in science communication.
While there may be many external funding sources, I would encourage graduate students to look for internal funding opportunities. Although internal grants may not be enough to provide the primary financial support for your PhD, these sources can help support summer field work or enable you to participate in other research activities. Also, look for fellowships that offer training in addition to financial support. The Carson Scholars program provides training in communicating science and research results to the general public. These skills -- while often not the focus of most of the research and writing we do in graduate school -- are essential for promoting your work in the media, for communicating to decision-makers, and for working in multidisciplinary, collaborative research groups.