Skip to main content

Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award

Applications for the 2023 Graduate Student Policy Award are now closed.  Applications for the 2024 Graduate Student Policy Award will open in late 2023.

Are you a science graduate student interested in the intersection between policy and science? ESA invites you to apply for the 2023 Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA).

Offered each year, this award gives graduate students hands-on training and science policy experience including interacting with congressional decision-makers, federal agency officials, and ecologists who work in the science and public policy arena.

Many past recipients are currently working in public policy and many view the ESA GSPA as a stepping-stone to policy fellowship such as the AAAS Fellowship or the NOAA Knauss fellowship. Other past recipients pursue a research career, but they find the public policy knowledge gained from the experience provides a foundation for interacting with policymakers.

ESA plans to hold the event onsite in its Washington, DC office April 24, 25. Awardees must be able to travel to Washington, DC and there is no virtual option. ESA may need to cancel or reschedule the event due to unforeseen circumstance that are related to the pandemic.

Applications are due Jan. 8, 2023, 12PM EDT. (please note that the original deadline on Jan. 1 has been extended)

The 2022 Graduate Student Policy Award Cohort.

Overview, participants will receive:

  • An all expenses paid trip to Washington, DC in April 2023.
  • 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.
  • The experience of 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. Participants receive communications training and learn about the federal budget and appropriations process and the political landscape.  After the trainings,  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 reside in the United States. Graduate students may be seeking a masters or a Ph.D. Past GSPA recipients are not eligible to apply.

Application Instructions:

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

You will complete the Google online form and upload your application materials to the form:

  • A one-page cover letter outlining your interest in science policy and relevant experience.
  • 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).
  • A one-page resume.

Applications are due at 11:59pm EDT Jan. 1, 2023.

***** How well you follow the submissions instructions will affect your score. Please submit your application as one Word file and save your file as LastNameFirstNameGSPA (i.e. SmithJaneGSPA).****

View pictures from the 2023 GSPA Hill Day here.

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 gro.asenull@nosila or gro.asenull@elocin.