Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award

2018 GSPA recipients L-R: Vera Pfeiffer (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Jenna Sullivan (Oregon State University), Stephen Elser (Arizona State University), Aaron Baumgardner (California State University Bakersfield), Chelsea Merriman (Boise State University), Steffanie Munguia (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey), Emily Graves (University of California, Davis), Urooj Raja (University of Colorado, Boulder), Ann Marie Gawel (Iowa State University) and Johnny Quispe (Rutgers University).

Applications for the 2019 Graduate Student Policy Award are now closed.

Are you a science graduate student interested in the intersection between policy and science? The Ecological Society of America (ESA) invites applications for its Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA).  ESA will give the policy award to ten students for 2019. 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 2019 policy event is March 25-27, 2019.

Participants receive:

  • Travel to Washington, DC. Domestic travel, hotel, and meal expenses will be paid by ESA.
  • Policy and communications training, including information on the legislative process and 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 and ecological sciences, with a primary focus on the National Science Foundation.

ESA will host a Congressional Visits Day to promote federal investment in the biological sciences, particularly through the National Science Foundation. On 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.


Awardees must be able to travel to Washington DC from March 25-27. Applicants must be an ESA member and United States citizen residing in the country. Past GSPA recipients are not eligible to apply. 

Application Instructions. You will upload materials through the Google form:

  1. Complete the Google online form.
  2. A 1-2 page cover letter outlining your interest in science policy and relevant experience
  3. 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 and if you have received NSF funding).
  4. A one-page resume.

View the 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 alison@esa.org or nicole@esa.org.