ESA 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)

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 GSPA is given to to three to five applicants. Winners participate in the annual Congressional Visits Day, a two-day event, most recently held May 13 and 14, 2015. ESA covers travel and lodging expenses associated with this event for GSPA recipients. Awardees also receive a copy of ESA’s policy guide and the opportunity to be interviewed for ESA’s podcast, The Ecologist Goes to Washington and blog.

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. 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.

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


Applicants must be ESA members and United States citizens residing in the country. Past GSPA recipients are not eligible.

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

Submissions for the 2016 GSPA will open in December 2015. Please email to receive notifications. 

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