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Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award

Applications for the Graduate Student Policy Award are closed.
Applications for the 2025 cohort will open December, 2024.

Offered each year, the Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA) 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 next award event onsite in its Washington, DC office and on Capitol Hill in April, 2025.




Participants receive:

  • An all expenses paid trip 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. 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.


View pictures from the 2023 GSPA Hill Day.

View the ESA Graduate Student Policy Award Alumni Network page.

Listen to the interview podcasts of former winners.

View the full list of past recipients.



Email gro.asenull@nosila