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Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award

Applications for the 2020 Graduate Student Policy Award are now closed, applications for the 2021 GSPA will open in late 2020.

The 2019 GSPA Cohort in the ESA offices during the training day. L-R Tim Ohlert (University of New Mexico), Kristina Bartowitz (University of Idaho), Emily Kiehnau (University of Oklahoma), Hannah Correia (Auburn University), Vanessa Constant (Oregon State University), Sara Gonzalez (University of California, Santa Cruz), Charlotte Levy (Cornell University), Chris Tokita (Princeton University), Brett Fredericksen (Ohio University) and Emory Wellman (East Carolina University).

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 2020. 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 on March 24-25.

Participants will receive:

  • Domestic travel, hotel, and meal expenses will be paid by ESA to Washington, DC.
  • 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. 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.


Applicants must be an ESA member and reside in the United States. Past GSPA recipients are not eligible to apply. 

Application Instructions:

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.

View pictures from the 2019 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.