Graduate Awards & Fellowships

The Bell Museum promotes graduate student research at the University of Minnesota to examine biological diversity and advance our understanding of the natural world. Natural History awards in the amount of $2,500 per student support projects related to the study of field biology, whole organisms, museum collections, and science education. Graduate Fellowships provide stipend, tuition and fringe benefits for students pursuing advanced degrees in programs related to the study of natural history. Fellowships are commensurate with the stipend, tuition and benefits of the applicant's graduate program. Depending on availability of funds, fellowships may provide 12-month, 9-month, single semester, or summer support. Awards and fellowships are highly competitive and current offerings are described below. Applicants are encouraged to carefully consider the following guidelines, consult with academic advisors when preparing proposals, and indicate the awards for which they wish to be considered.

Natural History Awards

Wallace and Mary Lee Dayton Fund supports graduate research projects in natural history. Awards generally support dissertation research but additional scholarly activity related to natural history may be considered.

James W. Wilkie Fund supports field biology research in honor of the outstanding accomplishments of James W. Wilkie in wildlife photography and natural history.

McKinney Fund supports the study of whole organisms with a preference for avian behavior in honor of Professor Frank McKinney.

Rothman Fund supports first-year and second-year students in the Ecology, Evolution & Behavior Graduate Program or students advised by Bell Museum curators.

Davenport Fund supports graduate student projects that involve collaboration with Bell Museum curators.

Zoological Society Fund provides support to graduate students pursuing environmental education for projects related to natural history and to students advised by Bell Museum curators. Educators are encouraged to follow these guidelines for curriculum development.

Applications

The annual deadline for natural history award applications is noon February 28. Applications are reviewed by a committee consisting of Bell Museum curators and a faculty member from another academic unit. Award decisions are announced in mid-March. Questions about the application process may be directed to Caitlin Frey, crfrey@umn.edu.

Applications for natural history awards will be evaluated on the basis of the following requirements and guidelines:

  • Curriculum vitae including degrees awarded, grants and fellowships received, amounts of funding, titles of funded proposals, and publications.

  • Two page proposal describing the research to be performed. Single-spaced in 12 point font with one inch margins. Literature cited and a maximum of two tables and two figures are included in the proposal but are not included in the page limit.

  • If the proposed project is associated with a Ph.D. dissertation or Master's thesis, the proposal should indicate how the project relates to the larger body of work as a whole.

  • Proposals should concisely place the research in a broad context and explain why it is significant in terms that can be understood by readers who are not specialists in the field of inquiry.

  • Proposals should clearly explain what observations will be made, what hypotheses will be tested, and outline how data will be analyzed.

  • If the project involves collection of new specimens, plans for obtaining permits and depositing voucher specimens in the museum should be clearly described.

  • Budget justification of less than one page should describe how the award will be used. Funds are avaliable for research and will not be awarded for travel to meetings, research training, or participation in courses. Describe other available or potential sources of funds if they are needed to complete the project.

  • Name and email address of the academic advisor who has been consulted during preparation of the proposal. The committee may request a statement of support from academic advisors when evaluating applications.

Request a Natural History Award Application

Graduate Fellowships

Natural History Summer Fellowships support graduate students on who require summer stipend and fringe benefits to continue Ph.D. dissertation research and Master's thesis projects. Fellowships are available to students conducting research related to any aspect of natural history.

Avian Conservation Fund supports dissertation research in the field of avian conservation in the broad sense. The Bell Museum has a long history of promoting avian research and conservation beginning with ornithologist and founding director T.S. Roberts who published the first comprehensive review of Minnesota birds. This legacy is maintained through a fund established by Charles Bell in 1964 supporting research in bird conservation. The Museum expects to offer a 9-month or 12-month Avian Conservation Award in 2017.

Wallace and Mary Lee Dayton Fund supports the study of natural history by graduate students who are advised by a Bell Museum curator. Twelve-month fellowships are awarded students showing exceptional promise, innovation and commitment to studying the natural world, and genuine commitment to public engagement. Students in any stage of graduate study may apply. Individuals with admission letters to a graduate program at the University may also be nominated by potential academic advisors who are affiliated with the Bell Museum. Students working on the Ph.D. will be given preference over students pursuing Master's degrees. Individuals may receive the fellowship once during their course of study. The Museum expects to offer a 12-month Wallace and Mary Lee Dayton fellowship in 2017.

Simons Foundations Canada Fellowship in Systematic Biology supports graduate students who are affiliated with the Bell Museum through an academic advisor and who have completed a year of graduate study. The Museum expects to next offer this award in 2018.

Applications

The annual deadline for graduate fellowship applications is noon March 31. Applications are judged by a committee consisting of Bell Museum curators. Award decisions are announced in April.  Questions about the application process may be directed to Caitlin Frey, crfrey@umn.edu..

Applications for graduate fellowships will be evaluated on the basis of the following requirements and guidelines:

  • Curriculum vitae including degrees awarded, grants and fellowships received, amounts of funding, titles of funded proposals, publications (academic and popular), and public engagement activities.

  • Current electronic transcript of graduate coursework.

  • Research statement describing the thesis project. This statement should consist of sections describing research goals and objectives, experimental design and methodology, and the intellectual merit of the research.  The statement should not exceed three, single spaced pages in 12 point font with one inch margins.

  • The statement should concisely place the research in a broad context and explain why it is significant in terms that can be understood to readers who are not specialists in the field of inquiry.

  • If the project involves collection of new specimens, plans for obtaining permits and depositing voucher specimens in the museum should be clearly described.

  • Name and email address of the academic advisor who has been consulted during preparation of the proposal. The committee may request a statement of support from academic advisors when evaluating applications.

Request a Graduate Fellowship Application