ONIS Newsletter, November 2020

Publication date: 
Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Macy Vollbrecht and the Churchill Gang ride into Cambridge


Macy Vollbrecht (third from left) and the other Churchill Scholars are out of quarantine in England and beginning their research and studies at the University of Cambridge.  Macy, who graduated in May with a major in Genetics and Cell Biology, will be working with Professor Ottoline Leyser, director of the Sainsbury Laboratory for Plant Sciences to investigate the genetic mechanisms underlying branching in plants by examining mutations in family of genes that regulate cytokinin signaling. If you are a STEM student interested in spending a year earning a post-graduate research degree at Cambridge, the deadline to apply for a campus nomination for a Churchill Scholarship is April 1.

COVID-19 and Competitive Scholarships

The current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the plans and experiences of most recent scholarship recipients and caused concern for students who plan to apply for future awards.  Last spring both the Fulbright and Boren programs brought their scholars home from abroad, leading to substantially curtailed foreign experiences.  Students in other programs, such as the Yenching and Schwarzman Scholars, had the second semester of their academic year moved online.  Critical Language Scholarship programs were cancelled for the summer, but some scholars had the opportunity to take online language courses.  For awards granted for 2020-21, a few Fulbright recipients have been able to go abroad to study at international universities this fall, but English Teaching Assistants and independent researchers have had their departures delayed until at least January.  Boren Scholars and Fellows have had departure postponed until January and have had their travel windows extended through the end of 2021.  Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill Scholars are in the UK, while Yenching and Schwarzman Scholars are split between Beijing and online.

Looking forward, all of these programs are planning for the situation to be back to normal by next summer.  Critical Language Scholarships will cover the cost of 10-week courses abroad next summer; Fulbright recipients in the current cycle will leave beginning next August; and Boren Awards will fund study abroad starting next summer.  Recipients of awards for post-graduate study in both China and the UK will be able to start their proposed programs in the fall of 2021.

Students who may have planned to apply for competitive scholars but fear that their preparation has been disrupted by the pandemic should recall that they are not alone in facing these circumstances.  Most of the scholarship programs have introduced elements in their applications that allow students to describe how they have been affected by the COVID crisis.  Students who planned to apply for awards such as the Goldwater Scholarship but worry that the shuttering of campus labs prevented them from conducting research or completing projects should go ahead with their application and take advantage of the opportunity to explain their circumstances.

Approaching Scholarship Deadlines:

Yenching Scholarship (Seniors and grads: Full support for a Master’s degree in China Studies at Peking University): November 9 (campus), December 4 (national)

Critical Language Scholarship  (Students: Fully-funded 10-week study of a critical language in a foreign country): November 17 (national)

Goldwater Scholarship (Sophomores and juniors: $7500 toward undergraduate educational expenses for future STEM researchers): November 23 (campus), January 29 (national)

Carnegie Gaither Fellowship  (Seniors:  Fully-funded research assistantship for one year with the Carnegie Foundation for Peace): December 7 (campus), January 15 (national)

Boren Scholarships/Fellowships (Students:  Up to $24K to support immersive, language-centered study abroad in less frequently visited countries): January 4 (campus), January 27 (graduate national), February 3 (undergraduate national)

Beinecke Scholarship (Juniors:  $34K to support graduate study in the Humanities, Arts, and some Social Sciences. Successful applicants will have a record of receiving need-based aid): January 11 (campus), February 10 (national)

Udall Scholarship (Sophomores and juniors: $10K toward undergraduate educational expenses for Native American students or students involved in environmental research and policy):  January 22 (campus), March 4 (national)

Hollings Scholarship (Sophomores: $19K toward undergraduate educational expenses and a paid summer internship for students in marine biology, atmospheric science, water resources, environmental education and other areas related to the work of NOAA): January 31 (national)