Science to Action Fellowship Program

The Science to Action Fellowship is provided through a partnership between the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and Michigan State University (MSU). The program supports graduate students in developing a product that puts science into action, directly applying scientific research related to climate change impacts on fish, wildlife, or ecosystems to decision making about natural resources.

During the fellowship year and beyond, Fellows benefit from collaborations with university and USGS mentors, from interactions with other colleagues and partners of USGS, and from exposure to high priority, real-world challenges in the natural resources policy arena.

The program is open to Master’s and Doctoral students at any Climate Science Center consortium institution. Students must be enrolled at the institution for the entire fellowship year.

Financial Award
Up to two Fellows will be selected, annually, to receive a financial award of $10,000 each. The financial award is intended to support the additional efforts undertaken by the Fellow for the NCCWSC project, not as a graduate stipend. 

Mentoring Experience
Each Fellow will work closely with his/her university mentor (typically, the applicant’s graduate program advisor) and a mentor from NCCWSC (identified by the applicant during the application process). 

Application Process
Interested applicants should submit a Statement of Interest (SOI) no later than December 15 preceding the intended fellowship year. SOIs (reviewed on a rolling basis) will serve as means for identifying interested applicants and pairing them with a NCCWSC mentor to co-develop a project proposal. Individuals who are invited to submit a full proposal must do so by March 15 at 11:59 PM Mountain Time. Decisions on fellowship awards will be announced by March 31.

Fellowship Duration and Location
The fellowship experience will last one year (start date is flexible within the funded year, beginning April at the earliest). During this time, the Fellow will be expected to work at USGS headquarters just outside of Washington, D.C. in Reston, Virginia for two months (typically summer; specific dates are flexible) but may remain at his/her host institution for the rest of the term.

Questions? Please direct questions about the fellowship program to Dr. Abigail Lynch, NCCWSC Research Fisheries Biologist,

Learn more about the 2017 Fellowship application requirements >>
* Note that the 2017 Fellowship application period is now closed

Current Fellow

Andrew Carlson, 2016 FellowAndrew Carlson

Michigan State University
Fellowship Year: 2016

Project: Stream Science to Action: A Decision-Support Tool for Trout Management amidst Climate Change

Brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout are distributed throughout streams in Michigan and support valuable recreational fisheries. Streams are projected to become warmer in the future due to climate change, but the effects of warming on growth, reproduction, and survival of these trout species are largely unknown. Understanding and predicting climate change impacts is important for developing management strategies that sustain healthy, fishable trout populations. The goal of this project is to design a user-friendly, map-based decision-support tool that combines stream-specific information on resource availability (e.g., money, time, personnel), temperature patterns, and other biological conditions to assist fisheries professionals in planning management programs that promote resilient streams and fish populations. In addition, case studies will be written for the public to illustrate the actions that fisheries professionals and stakeholders can perform to protect Michigan’s streams and trout populations amidst climate change.

Past Fellows

Tracy Swem, 2015 FellowTracy Swem

Michigan State University
Fellowship Year: 2015

Project: Climate Smart Conservation in Practice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Climate adaptation case studies can help state and federal managers understand reasonable conservation approaches and integrate climate change into existing wildlife management plans. There is a growing need for a method to evaluate and compile recent adaptation studies in a user-friendly manner. This is especially true in light of the development of recent climate and land-management tools, namely, the Climate Smart Conservation Cycle. The objective of this project was to synthesize recent case studies involving wildlife management and climate change adaptation. Project researchers (a) identified key data and current knowledge related to wildlife management adaptation strategies, (b) performed a meta-analysis on these existing strategies, (c) analyzed the results for differences and similarities to the existing framework of the “Climate Smart Conservation Cycle,” (d) produced a synthesis of adaptation strategies by region and species, and (e) produced a regional map of adaptation case studies in North America.


Ralph Tingley, 2015 Fellow

Ralph Tingley

Michigan State University
Fellowship Year: 2015

Project: Conserving Streams in a Changing Climate: Turning Ecological Stream Classifications into Actionable Science

Climate change will influence freshwater ecosystems worldwide, in many cases leading to species loss. Conservationists must proactively manage waterways to ensure species persistence. To understand the influences of climate on Hawaiian stream species, such as snails, fish and freshwater shrimp, Ralph developed a stream classification based on relationships between organisms and rainfall (along with landscape factors). This system groups streams into similar types and identifies those that may be most influenced by climate change. The goal of Ralph’s project was to incorporate the stream classification into products that facilitate proactive management and to demonstrate the potential for the application of the approach in other regions. He worked with stakeholders in Hawai’i to develop products that utilize the classification, such as identifying conservation or restoration areas based on their current ability to support species and projected changes in climate.

Read Ralph's final report >>