Planetary Health Graduate Scholarship

The global environment is changing rapidly—as evidenced by warming temperatures, pollinator collapse, extreme weather events, and accelerating food insecurity to name a few. Humans sit at the apex of these issues, driving shifts across planetary systems with our extensive consumption, pollution, production, and destruction. Everything is connected. There is an urgent need for action; innovation, interdisciplinary research, and outside-of-the-box thinking are crucial to solving planetary health challenges.

The Planetary Health Graduate Scholars program was created to galvanize awareness of and attention to planetary health research and scholarship at UW-Madison. The program supports graduate students conducting relevant research and connects a diverse community of scholars from across campus to share ideas, form collaborations, and generate new scholarship.

The Planetary Health Graduate Scholars program is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Donor Information
This scholarship award is provided through the philanthropy of UW alumni David and Sarah Epstein.

Eligibility Criteria
All currently enrolled, degree-seeking graduate students (M.S./M.A./MPH & Ph.D.) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are eligible to apply.

Students must:

  1. Be enrolled full-time and making progress toward an M.S./M.A./MPH or Ph.D. degree
  2. Be in good academic standing (minimum 3.0 GPA)
  3. Be engaged in (or planning to begin) research on a topic relevant to planetary health
  4. Be available during the 2021/2022 academic year. Participation in scholarship program events is required.
  5. Have the support and commitment of your faculty advisor to participate in the program. Faculty advisor participation is required.

Note: Graduate students who have previously received a Planetary Health Graduate Scholarship award are eligible to apply and receive funds; however, priority consideration will be given to first-time applicants.

Award Information
Priority will be given to applicants with pre-dissertator status. Applications will be reviewed by a faculty committee and awards will be announced by April 1, 2021.

Award Requirements

  • Remain actively enrolled in an M.S./M.A./MPH/Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during the entire 2021/2022 academic year.
  • Students and their faculty advisors are required to attend two program events (due to COVID-19, these activities may take place online):
    a. Welcome event and research kick-off: (September 21, 2021, 6 – 8 PM)
    b. Report back and final research event: (April 26, 2022, 5 – 9PM)
    i. 5 – 6:30 PM, as part of the Global Health Tuesday Seminar series, students will present a “flash talk” (3-5 slides in 5 minutes) about their planetary health research.
    ii. 7 – 9PM following flash talks students will have a final wrap up event
  • Students must also attend at least one planetary health-themed Weston Lecture during each semester. Weston Roundtable Lectures are typically Thursdays from 4:15-5:15 p.m.
  • Due January 14, 2022 – a mid-year report using a provided template.
  • Due May 13, 2022 – a final report using a provided template.

Encouraged, not required

  • Students are encouraged to attend a monthly Zoom “cafe” discussion to facilitate engagement with other cohort scholars and advisors, share ideas, and form new collaborations. (Time TBD)
  • Students are encouraged to identify additional engagement opportunities with other scholars and advisors to share ideas and form new collaborations.

Applications should include the following:
Planetary health is an emerging interdisciplinary area of research and action rooted in understanding the interdependencies of human and natural systems. Please describe your research and how it aligns with planetary health. Be sure to include the following:

  • Introduction and summary of your research objectives
  • Background and significance of research
  • Explanation of how your participation in the Planetary Health Graduate Scholars program would benefit you/your research
  • Brief overview of research design and methods
  • Description of preliminary data or findings (if available) and next steps
  • Current CV
  • Letter of recommendation from faculty advisor
  • UW transcript (unofficial is OK)

Applications should not exceed three pages, double spaced in 12-point font. References should be cited in a consistent style where appropriate, but bibliography will not count toward the page limit.

Award Amount
Graduate student awards are $3,500 for the 2021/2022 academic year. In addition, $500 is provided to each student’s faculty advisor (distributed as discretionary funds) for the 2021/22 academic year.

March 1, 2021

Questions regarding the scholarship can be sent to Valerie Peterson ( Please list Planetary Health Graduate Scholarship in the subject line.

Global Health Institute, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Supplemental Questions
  1. Please upload a current CV
  2. Please provide the name and email address of your faculty advisor. They will be contacted to provide a letter of recommendation.
  3. Please upload your UW transcript (unofficial is OK)
  4. Please upload your application [Applications should not exceed three pages, double spaced in 12-point font. References should be cited in a consistent style where appropriate, but bibliography will not count toward the page limit.]