ESA Graduate Student Policy Award

Submissions Open for the 2016 Graduate Student Policy Award

2015 GSPA recipients

ESA members met with 2015 ESA Graduate Student Policy Award winners in May to share insight on various ecological career options at the ESA office in Washington DC. Pictured Left to right: Rich Pouyat, Laura Petes, Sydney Blankers (University of Illinois-Chicago), Emlyn Resetarits (University of Texas-Austin), Natalie Hambalek (Oregon State University), Cleo Chou (Princeton University) , and Alan Thornhill. (Photo credit: ESA)

Calling all graduate students interested in policy for science and science for policy! 

Are you a science graduate student interested in the intersection between policy and science? The Ecological Society of America (ESA) invites applications for its Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA). Offered each year, this award gives graduate students hands-on science policy experience including interacting with congressional decision-makers, federal agency officials, and others engaged in science and public policy. The two-day event will occur April 27 and 28, 2016.

Participants receive:

  • Travel to Washington, DC to participate in the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition Congressional Visits Day, an annual event that brings scientists to the nation's capital to speak-up for federal investment in the sciences, with a primary focus on the National Science Foundation. Domestic travel, hotel, and meal expenses will be paid by ESA.
  • Policy and communications training, including information on the legislative process ands in federal science funding.
  • An opportunity to hear first-hand from ecologists currently working in federal agencies about their policy careers.
  • Meetings with congressional policymakers on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of federal investments in the biological sciences.

ESA is co-organizer of Congressional Visits Day, sponsored by the Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition to promote federal investment in the biological sciences, particularly through the National Science Foundation. For the first day, participants receive communications training and learn about the federal budget and appropriations process and the political landscape. During the second day of the event, participants meet with congressional decision makers to discuss federal support of research and education in the biological sciences.


Applicants must be an ESA member and United States citizens residing in the country. Past GSPA recipients are not eligible. Applications are due January 10, 2016.

To Apply:

  1. A cover letter outlining your interest in science policy and relevant experience
  2. A one-page statement that reflects your insights and perspective on the importance of federal support of science and ecology in particular. Extra credit for examples of ecological success stories (i.e. where investment of federal dollars had a tangible return, particularly for your home state).
  3. A one-page resume
  4. A one-page list of any ESA-related activities or section memberships; also include your congressional district and the name of your US House of Representatives member and the US Senators of your state where you are registered to vote.

Submissions for the 2016 GSPA are open. Applications are due January 10, 2016.

Please submit applications to

View the new ESA Graduate Student Policy Award Alumni Network page here!

Listen to the interview podcasts of former winners here! 

To view the full list of past recipients, click here.

Questions? Email