GESTAR II Graduate Fellowship

In December 2021, GESTAR II partnered with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Earth Science Division to advance Earth science and Goddard’s leadership by providing a competitive environment to hire and retain high-quality scientists who are on track to be leaders at NASA, in academia and in industry. GESTAR II exemplifies the power of mentorship, embracing a career development strategy that only a university research center can provide. In GESTAR II, early-career researchers and students can build outstanding resumes, launching them to become the Earth science leaders of tomorrow.

GESTAR II has a strong commitment to supporting education and outreach, and fostering collaboration between GESTAR II scientists and students at partner universities. The GESTAR II graduate fellowship is one of the most important components of GESTAR II’s education/outreach program. This webpage provides the basic information about the GESTAR II graduate fellowship, including eligibility, application requirements, evaluation and selection process. Please note that the GESTAR II graduate fellowship involves two parties: the host (GESTAR II scientists) and applicants (graduate students and academic advisor). Please read the following information pertaining to your interest and role.

If you are a GESTAR II scientist and are interested in mentoring/working with graduate students, you are welcome to

  • Post a general research direction or a specific research task
  • Work with potential applicants on proposal and provide recommendation letter
  • If funded, work with the graduate student and academic advisor on the research project
  • Write final report with graduate student and academic advisor upon completion of the project

Each GESTAR II scientist can post one research opportunity for every fellowship cycle. If there is no application for the research opportunity, then it will be automatically rolled into the next cycle unless revised. The research opportunity can be a specific research task or a general research direction.

A list of the current research opportunities can be found in this Google Doc

If you are a graduate student or academic advisor at GESTAR II’s partner universities, and are interested in working with a GESTAR II scientist on a funded research project, you should

  • Identify a research direction/task that interests you
  • Work with the host on proposal and submit the application package
  • If funded, work with the host on the research project
  • Write final report with the host upon completion of the project

A list of the current research opportunities can be found in this Google Doc

A list of the current research opportunities can be found in this Google Doc

  • A Research Proposal (maximum 6 pages, including figures, single-spaced, 12-point font)
  • 3 Recommendation Letters:
    • A recommendation letter from the student’s advisor
    • A recommendation letter from the host
    • A recommendation letter from the director of academics of each GESTAR II’s partner universities
  • A CV/Resume to include any previous academic or professional experiences of noteworthy achievements
  • The student’s transcripts (unofficial are fine)
  • A one-page summary of achievements from a previous GESTAR II fellowship, if applicable.

A GESTAR II committee will review and score the proposals, and select the recipient(s) based on the following:

  • Intellectual merits of the proposal (40%)
  • Strength of recommendation letter (40%),
  • Student’s academic performance and professional training (20%).

Announcement of the selection(s) will be made in May-June. Fellowship will start in Fall semester and support the research for one academic year (e.g., Aug-July).

The fellowship is valued at a maximum of $45,000 for one year, which includes: in-state tuition for a maximum of ten (10) credits per semester (all other fees are the responsibility of the student), UMBC health insurance benefits and an annual stipend of $29,149 (MS Student)/$31,512 (PhD Candidate). In addition, UMBC will fund limited travel to one professional conference pertinent to the student’s field of study and cover up to $2000 for publication fees.

The recipient(s) of the GESTAR II fellowship are expected to:

  • Attend the GESTAR II Seminar to update research progress;
  • Submit a final report of research achievements, publications and conference proceedings after the completion of the fellowship as well as present research achievements at a GESTAR II all-hands meeting;
  • Acknowledge the GESTAR II fellowship in all publications supported by the fellowship.

If you have any questions about the GESTAR II graduate fellowship or need more information, please contact the following people: for funding and administrative questions, contact Dominique Footes; for all other general questions, contact Dr. Zhibo Zhang and/or Dr. Xiaowen Li.

Special Programs Administrator
Email: dominique.n.footes@nasa.gov

Professor, Physics Department
UMBC/GESTAR II
Email: zhibo.zhang@umbc.edu

Chief Scientist
Morgan State University/GESTAR II
Email: xiaowen.li@nasa.gov