Science Policy & Funding AGU News

Travel Fellowship Helps Early Career Scientists and Students

Berkner Fellowship opens up opportunities for early career scientists and students.

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For the 18 early career scientists and students who received a Lloyd V. Berkner Travel Fellowship from the American Geophysical Union to attend the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., the fellowship provided a world of opportunity.

The fellowship “is one of the greatest milestones for a student in their career,” said Berkner Fellow Priyanka Ghosh, a researcher with India’s National Atmospheric Research Laboratory, Department of Space.

The fellows, who are AGU members from countries that the World Bank has designated as low or lower-middle income per capita, presented their research at the meeting, networked with other students and scientists, and had an opportunity to advance their studies and their careers, they told Eos.

The fellowship provides support to Earth and space scientists to present research at AGU-sponsored or cosponsored meetings; that support includes registration fee, travel, accommodation, and daily expenses during the meeting. In addition, Berkner Fellows at the Fall Meeting also bonded with each other during events that included a preconference field trip to see the giant redwood trees at the Muir Woods National Monument north of San Francisco. The fellowship serves as a memorial to former AGU President Lloyd V. Berkner, who had a special interest in assisting and working with students and international colleagues.

Kara Smedley Rodean, manager of AGU’s student member initiatives, said the Berkner fellowship program fulfills AGU’s objectives to support students and young scientists from underrepresented countries at AGU meetings while also enhancing diversity at the meetings. In addition, she said the program provides the fellows with a “career-changing opportunity that can change their lives.”

Berkner Fellow Ghosh, who presented a poster entitled “Gravity waves generated from convection and wind shear as observed by MST radar over the Indian Tropical Station of Gadanki [India],” said the Fall Meeting “is a great platform” to showcase at an international level the potential of students from low- and lower-middle-income countries. Ghosh said that she found the career talks most interesting because they “give the students confidence that they can be so powerful and brilliant that they can weather any storm in their life.”

Other Berkner Fellows echoed Ghosh’s and Rodean’s sentiments about the importance of the fellowship.

Berkner Fellow Nicky Shrestha, a student at Kathmandu University, Nepal, said the meeting “helped me confirm that my chosen career path is right for me.” Shrestha presented a poster entitled “Analyses of extreme weather indices in the mountain: A case study of the Gandaki River Basin, Nepal.” She said the meeting provided a rich learning and networking experience. “Comparing and contrasting experiences with students like me from around the globe was another advantage,” Shrestha added.

Justin Chan, a student at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, and others said that without the fellowship, they would not have been able to attend the Fall Meeting. Chan, whose poster focused on “Observations of aerosol optical properties over 15 AERONET sites in Southeast Asia,” said the fellowship shows that “our work is being appreciated and it is recognized.”

Alamgir Hosain, a student at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, told Eos that the Berkner fellowship “is the starting light of my career.” Hosain’s poster presentation was entitled “Tectonics of Modhupur Tract, its effects on the Cenozoic sediments and Jamuna River avulsion.” She said that “there is no direct impact which I can show the people that this fellowship gives me this instant success. But I know how much it will help in my future study, career, lifestyle, etc. I think I can now think so much [more] broadly, so confidently, so clearly, and the most important thing is that now I can think that nothing is impossible.”

—Randy Showstack, Staff Writer

Citation: Showstack, R. (2014), Travel fellowship helps early career scientists and students, Eos, 95, doi:10.1029/2014EO021309

© 2014. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0