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Scholarships and Fellowships

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The Great Lakes Commission-Sea Grant Fellowship is sponsored by the Great Lakes Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network. The upcoming year (2018/2019) will be the 19th year of the program.  The selected Fellow will work with members of the Great Lakes’ science, policy, communication and education communities to advance the environmental quality and sustainable development goals of the Great Lakes states. The Fellow will contribute to and benefit from research coordination and policy analysis activities. The Fellow will be located at the Great Lakes Commission offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


The length of assignment is one year and is non-renewable. The inclusive dates of the fellowship are June 1, 2018, through May 31, 2019; however, start and end dates are negotiable to accommodate academic semester or other recipient needs.


Eligible applicants include those who, at the time of application, are either enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program in public policy, public health, natural resources, aquatic sciences or related field at a U.S. accredited institution of higher education in the United States, or have completed their graduate or professional degree within the six months immediately prior to the time of application (e.g. graduated on or after August 1, 2017).


Interested individuals must contact and apply for this fellowship through a Great Lakes Sea Grant program (IN/IL, MI, MN, NY, OH, PA, WI) which serves as a sponsor for the applicant. Applications must be submitted to one (and only one) of the Great Lakes Sea Grant program directors (listed in this posting), who will screen the applications and recommend candidates to the Great Lakes Commission. Each application must include:

  • Personal and academic resume or curriculum vitae (not to exceed two pages);
  • Education and career goal statement emphasizing the applicant’s abilities and expectations for the fellowship experience (1,000 words or less);
  • Two letters of recommendation, of which one must be from the student’s faculty advisor or major professor. For continuing students, this letter should clearly state the professor’s endorsement of the student’s acceptance of the fellowship, if offered.
  • A personalized letter of endorsement from the sponsoring Sea Grant director that describes what makes the applicant a good candidate for the Fellowship; and
  • A clear scanned copy of undergraduate and graduate student transcripts.

Note: Thesis papers or practicums should not be included

The deadline for applications is February 16, 2018, 6 p.m. EST/5 p.m. CST.


The Great Lakes Commission-Sea Grant Fellowship award is $42,000 over a one-year period. Of this amount, $36,000 is provided to each fellow for compensation. The remaining $6,000 will be used to cover health insurance for the fellow and support fellowship-related travel and professional development. During the fellowship, the Great Lakes Commission may provide supplemental funds for work-related travel by the fellow. The fellowship is administered by the Great Lakes Commission in consultation with the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and the National Sea Grant Office (NSGO).


Each Great Lakes Sea Grant program (IN/IL, MI, MN, NY, OH, PA, WI) may recommend up to two applicants to the Great Lakes Commission for consideration. Eligibility criteria include academic status, communications skills, diversity and appropriateness of academic background, additional skills and experience (e.g., relevant work experience), support of applicant’s major professor, support of a Great Lakes Sea Grant program director, and relevance of applicant’s academic background and/or interests to the fellowship and the work of the Great Lakes Commission. Application materials are reviewed using the following criteria and associated weighting:

  1. Letters of recommendation and/or endorsements of student (15 percent total); which includes the strength of recommendation from the applicant’s major professor, and the second letter of recommendation
  2. Academic record and strength of academic performance (10 percent total)
  3. Statement of career goals and objectives of the applicant (45 percent total)
  4. Additional relevant skills and experience (30 percent total); including previous work experience, diversity of education, extracurricular activities, honors and awards, and exhibited interpersonal, written, and oral communications skills


After the State Sea Grant offices have forwarded their recommended applications to the Great Lakes Commission, a review team evaluates the applications. The review team consists of 1) the executive director and senior managers of the Great Lakes Commission, 2) NSGO Fellowships Manager or his/her designee, and 3) three representatives of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Program Network.

The review team members individually evaluate applications based on the criteria listed above and provide a ranking to the Great Lakes Commission. The rankings are tallied and an average ranking is computed for each application. The top ranked applicants (ordinarily three or four) are invited to interview with the review team.

Applicants will be interviewed via conference call or Skype. Once all interviews are completed, review team members numerically rank their preferred applicants a second time, based on both the application materials and the strength of the interview. The rankings are compiled, an average ranking calculated, and the results shared with the review team.

The fellowship will be offered to the candidate with the highest ranking based upon the aggregate rankings of the review team. If the highest ranked candidate declines the offer, the offer will be extended to the next applicant in rank order of the review team. Additional criteria the review team may consider when selecting the Fellow includes:

  1. Availability of funds
  2. Geographic and academic diversity within the fellowship program
  3. Relevance of applicant background to specific program objectives for the fellowship year

Normally, only one fellow will be selected, contingent upon funding availability.


The fellow will be assigned responsibilities associated with science/policy research and analysis and interjurisdictional coordination. The fellow will work on at least one Great Lakes Commission program area in depth, while also being exposed to a range of salient science, resource management and public policy issues. An emphasis will be placed on networking; the fellow will participate in various activities and events, and will have opportunities to interact with senior officials at all levels of government. Interaction with the Knauss Sea Grant Fellowship program will occur as opportunities arise, and the fellow will participate in at least one trip to Washington, D.C. for an introduction to federal legislative, appropriations and policy processes.


The 2018/2019 Fellowship will provide collaborative opportunities for the fellow to work on projects/issue areas of interest to both the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network. The selected fellow will likely work on one or more joint projects between the GLC and Sea Grant in the following areas:

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) – Prevention and control of harmful AIS to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem and economic resources remains a top priority for the region. The GLC and Sea Grant have a history of working collaboratively on AIS initiatives. The 2018/2019 fellow may provide support to several ongoing initiatives, including working with regional forums such as the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species (the Panel) and the Invasive Mussel Collaborative, as well as other projects to advance prevention and control of AIS. The GLC works with regional partners on these initiatives, including the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, and the Fellow will have the opportunity to interact regularly with AIS experts in the region.  The Fellow may support the work of the Panel’s Information/Education Committee (chaired by Minnesota Sea Grant) to carry out the committee work plan including developing a searchable inventory of AIS outreach materials. The Fellow may also support regional projects focused on addressing the live organisms in trade pathway of invasive species introduction and spread.

Green Infrastructure (GI) – The topic of green infrastructure is an identified area for closer collaboration between the GLC and Sea Grant. Both the GLC and Sea Grant strategic plans call for work on green infrastructure to improve water quality in urban and urbanizing areas and to promote healthy coastal ecosystems and resilient communities and economies. The GLC has two active projects in this area:  the Green Infrastructure Champions Pilot Program and the Stormwater Technology Transfer Collaborative, which is just underway. The Great Lakes Green Infrastructure Champions Pilot Program aims to catalyze the adoption of green infrastructure practices and policies across the Great Lakes basin by providing mid-sized municipalities with resources they frequently lack: funding and capacity. Green infrastructure is an identified priority in the Sea Grant-NOAA Regional Integrated Work Plan framework. The 2017-2018 GLC/Sea Grant Fellow is developing a joint project in this area with Ohio Sea Grant. The GLC’s 2018-19 Sea Grant Fellow may have an opportunity to support that work or work with leadership of both organizations to pursue new GI initiatives.

Crude Oil Transportation – The GLC and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network have worked together on the issue of crude oil transportation to and through the Great Lakes region. This collaboration has resulted in several initiatives and products under the Sea Grant “Crude Move” program. In the spring of 2016, a series of webinars were hosted by Sea Grant with involvement from the GLC. The GLC and Sea Grant also co-hosted a panel session on oil transportation issues and challenges at the Restore America’s Estuaries / The Coastal Society joint meeting that was held in New Orleans in December 2016. In June 2017, the Crude Move Symposium (collaboration between Sea Grant (both Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico programs), the International Joint Commission (IJC) and the GLC was held in Cleveland. The 2018/2019 fellow could help expand this partnership, by working with the two organizations to further develop a regional program on oil transportation. This might also include assisting with the preparation of research and outreach materials, including but not limited to factsheets, short papers and website updates on crude oil transportation.

Beneficial Use of Dredged Material – Beneficial use of clean sediment dredged from Great Lakes navigable waterways has long been a priority focus of both Sea Grant and the Great Lakes Commission. The Commission facilitates the Great Lakes Dredging Team (GLDT) which includes representation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. EPA, each of the eight Great Lakes states, Wisconsin Sea Grant, several other federal agencies and maritime industry stakeholders. As the GLDT has consistently supported collaborative, science-based policy for dredging and dredged material management, and regularly produces research papers, informational webinars, and guidance publications, this issue area would provide a valuable experience for the 2018-19 Sea Grant fellow. One specific project currently in development, and on which the fellow could provide needed support, is a proposed regional database of potential opportunities for beneficial use of dredged material. Working closely with the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and the state of Ohio, which has established a template for the database, the fellow would engage the appropriate agencies in the other states, the Corps of Engineers, and other resources to build out a database to serve as both a road map, and incentive for a more sustainable dredged material management strategy in the Great Lakes.

Small Harbors and Coastal Community Development – Small commercial and recreational harbors (and the communities that support them) are exploring new strategies to dredge channels, maintain piers and breakwaters, enhance their resiliency to weather and climate, and maximize their economic potential. Sea Grant and the GLC have worked together on this issue and bring valuable experience to help communities with small harbors. Through their extension offices, the Sea Grant network provides “boots on the ground” in the way of specialized personnel placed throughout the region to provide technical support and access to research and development conducted by major universities in the region. The GLC, representing the interests of the states in the Great Lakes, provides an existing platform to identify and act on collective shared interests as they relate to small harbor viability, including the development of state-based programs and policies to address small harbors issues. The 2018/2019 fellow may help advance efforts to promote small harbors and community sufficiency/resiliency in a variety of ways including working with Sea Grant and the GLC to educate stakeholders and state and federal agencies about the importance of coastal community revitalization in the Great Lakes.

Maritime Transportation – Both Sea Grant and the GLC have an interest in working with the maritime transportation industry in the Great Lakes. The GLC is working with the States and Provinces and the Conference of Great Lakes Governors and Premiers to implement components of the Regional Maritime Strategy which was approved by the Governors and Premiers in 2016. One way this is being done is through the development of a maritime transportation pilot project under the Blue Accounting Program that uses the Regional Maritime Strategy as its foundation. The Blue Accounting Program responds to the need for better information to support decision-making and progress-tracking in achieving key goals for the Great Lakes region, including desired economic outcomes. A fellow with an interest in this area will be able to work with Sea Grant and the GLC to plan and convene topic-specific workgroups to develop performance metrics and data sources to track and report on regional maritime goals. This will start with the Regional Strategy’s overarching goals of doubling maritime trade, shrinking the environmental impact of the region’s transportation network, and supporting the region’s industrial core. Future elements may include investments, economic indicators, environmental outcomes, and other measures of the maritime system’s performance.  The fellow may also help the GLC expand its partnerships with Sea Grant and other maritime stakeholders to employ the Blue Accounting maritime transportation project as a management tool to strengthen the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence maritime transportation system and increase its contributions to our regional economy.


The Great Lakes Commission-Sea Grant Fellowship is conducted under the technical and administrative direction of the Great Lakes Commission. The Great Lakes Commission Executive Director and the NSGO Manager for Fellowship Programs share overall fellowship program oversight and will jointly address any issues that arise over the course of the fellowship. Fellows are required to submit quarterly reports (the last being a final report) to the Great Lakes Commission for distribution to the NSGO and all Great Lakes Sea Grant state directors.


  • February 16, 2018 (6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT): Applications are due to Great Lakes Sea Grant Program Directors.
  • March 9, 2018: Nominations from Sea Grant Programs are due to the Great Lakes Commission.
  • March 23, 2018: Finalists are selected and phone interviews scheduled within the following two weeks.
  • April 16, 2018: Fellow selected by the review team.
  • June 1, 2018: Fellowship start date.


Applications are due to Great Lakes Sea Grant Program offices by Feb. 16, 2018, 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT. Late applications will not be considered. Thank you for your interest!


You may obtain more information about the Great Lakes – Sea Grant Fellowship from the following individuals:

You may also obtain additional information from your nearest Sea Grant program (application materials need to be submitted to the Sea Grant program directors, as listed below):


2017: Margo Davis | 2016: Michael Polich  2015: Samuel Molnar 2014: Bryan Comer 2013: Elizabeth Lillard and Margaux Valenti 2012: Amanda Sweetman 2011: Cassie Bradley 2010: Julie Mida 2009: Anjali Patel 2008: Kristina Donnelly 2007: Nick Schroeck 2006: Erika Jensen 2005: Lisa Butch and Elaine Sterrett Isely 2004: Ted Lawrence 2003: Jon Dettling 2002: Thomas Jabusch 2001: Elizabeth Johnson 2000: Lisa Koch