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three photos of: a sea nettle by Stephen Jewett; student Jessica Johnson holding a salmon and urchins, clams, crabs by Bluhm/Gradinger

About MESAS | Frequently Asked Questions | Highlights

What is IGERT?
What is MESAS?
What distinguishes the IGERT program – this one, in particular?
Why interdisciplinary?

Who is eligible for the MESAS program?
Who is eligible for the MESAS fellowship?
What criteria will be used to select fellowship participants?
What is the monetary award of the IGERT Fellowship?

As a MESAS Fellow what obligations do I have to the program?
How many fellowships are awarded per year?
What type of research is there for me to do?
Where will I be doing my coursework and research?

Does IGERT grant degrees?
How do I apply to the MESAS program and/or for the MESAS fellowship?
When is my application due?
If I am admitted, may I defer my admittance for one year?

How long should the program take?
Where can I get some information about living in Alaska?

What is IGERT?

IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training) is a National Science Foundation program developed to meet the challenges of educating and training scientists with multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary backgrounds and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for career demands of the future. The program is intended to produce scientists who are well prepared for a broad spectrum of emerging career opportunities in industry, government, and academia. Additional information about IGERT can be found at http://www.igert.org.

What is MESAS?

The Marine Ecosystem Sustainability in the Arctic and Subarctic (MESAS) program is an interdisciplinary graduate program at the University of Alaska that uses case studies, courses, and seminars to teach the fundamental principles and analytical tools of fisheries science, oceanography, ecology, economics, management, marine policy, and anthropology to broadly train students in ecosystem-based approaches to the analysis and management of living marine resource systems.

What distinguishes the IGERT program – this one, in particular?

IGERT programs focus on problem-centered training, delimited not by the boundaries of an academic discipline, but by the demands of solving a problem. IGERT programs combine interdisciplinary science with practical experience, giving their students deep knowledge in their disciplines as well as a combination of technical, professional and personal skills that enables them to be leaders and creative agents for change in their fields. Other benefits include:

A stipend of $30,000 per year for 2 years (UAF guarantees a 3rd year of support through a fellowship or teaching assistantship)
Support for tuition during the years of fellowship funding
Funds for research equipment and supplies
Internships in industry and government
Mentoring of native and rural Alaskan undergraduates
Work Interacting with similar-minded graduate students from different disciplines on similar research topics

Why interdisciplinary?

Interdisciplinary research integrates multiple disciplines to address research questions. The IGERT program was developed with the vision to educate students in an interdisciplinary environment because the issues that surround most "real life" problems are multifaceted and complex. For example, policy decisions must be informed by science; social values and economics affect whether or not a solution is desirable or feasible. IGERT programs seek to train researchers who will recognize cross-disciplinary issues and communicate with professionals from other disciplines to find creative interdisciplinary solutions for these problems.

Who is eligible for the MESAS program?

All UAF graduate students are eligible to participate in the program; students can, however, participate at various levels. Applicants for the MESAS fellowship must be US citizens or permanent residents (in accordance with NSF guidelines) and must be seeking a PhD degree. Other UAF graduate degree students (Masters or PhD) with alternative funding are welcome and encouraged to participate in the program. Those non-fellowship students formally accepted into the program and taking all courses are classified as MESAS Associates and are eligible for travel and small grants support. As all of the MESAS courses are open to graduate students, application to the program is not required in order to take individual classes.

Who is eligible for the MESAS fellowship?

Applicants for the MESAS fellowship must be US citizens or permanent residents (in accordance with NSF guidelines) and must be seeking a PhD Degree.

What criteria will be used to select fellowship participants?

Applicants should be aware that the IGERT is a highly competitive program, and only a limited number of fellowships are available each year. Acceptance into a graduate program at UAF is required as well as the support of a UAF faculty member. In addition, consideration will be given to previous academic and research experience, and an understanding of and commitment to the interdisciplinary nature of the program. Applications are reviewed by a faculty committee.

What is the monetary award of the IGERT Fellowship?

IGERT fellows will be supported for two years (the first and third years of the program) with a $30,000 stipend plus tuition and health insurance. A Teaching Assistantship or fellowship will be provided in the second year. The graduate fellow and his/her mentor work together to secure research support and stipend for the additional years leading to the PhD (typically 5 years).

As a MESAS Fellow what obligations do I have to the program?

MESAS students are expected to participate in all MESAS program components. Depending on the stage of their studies, the intended commitment by students receiving any form of MESAS support generally consists of (a) taking all of the MESAS courses [link here], (b) participating in a research and stewardship internship, (c) attending relevant MESAS seminars, research group meetings, workshops, and conferences, (d) completing PhD requirements for the degree which includes conducting original research. While not all components will exactly align with the students’ thesis research, they will enhance research skills, expand academic perspective and knowledge base, provide career training, and provide valuable learning experiences and contacts with faculty and students from other disciplines.

How many fellowships are awarded per year?

Approximately four to five students will be granted IGERT Fellowships through the MESAS program each year. Students who are not selected for the NSF-IGERT fellowship are encouraged to participate in MESAS coursework, seminars and interdisciplinary research groups.

What type of research is there for me to do?

Faculty members interested in taking on a MESAS student will vary from year to year. Check the FACULTY link on this website to determine who is accepting students and what research opportunities might be available.

Where will I be doing my coursework and research?

First year students are required to spend their first year on campus, in either Juneau or Fairbanks, depending on where their advisor is based. MESAS classes are offered at both locations. In subsequent years, the student’s location will be determined by the student, advisor, and the needs of the research project.

Does IGERT grant degrees?

The MESAS IGERT is a traineeship, not a degree-granting program. Degrees are granted through the department in which the student is enrolled as a doctoral student. Students of the program can pursue graduate degrees in Anthropology, Fisheries, Marine Biology, Natural Resources and Sustainability, Oceanography or Interdisciplinary Studies.

How do I apply to the MESAS program and/or for the MESAS fellowship?

You apply to the MESAS program as well as to the department of your sponsoring UAF faculty member. Application information and a link to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for application forms are at APPLY.

When is my application due?

Target date for submission of all documents for the MESAS program is January 31 for the following academic year. Later applications will be considered on a space available basis. Students must also apply for UAF graduate admission in the program in their supporting faculty member’s department, which may have its own deadline.

If I am admitted, may I defer my admittance for one year?

A deferment may be possible – you would need to work that out with the MESAS Director and your faculty advisor.

How long should the program take?

In most cases, it will take approximately 5 years to complete the requirements for both the PhD and MESAS programs – less time if a student is pursuing a Masters.

Where can I get some information about living in Alaska?

For starters, helpful information can be found at the following websites:
Juneau - http://www.juneauchamber.com
Fairbanks - http://www.fairbankschamber.org/



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