The Westarctica Conservation Scholarship is an annual $500 graduate research grant for the study of climate change.
The goal of this research scholarship is to invest in early-career researchers who are pursuing a career in climate-change science.
Katie O'Brien is a doctoral student at the University of Bath, researching the effects of climate on penguin diets, parasites, and microbiota. These factors can dramatically impact a species ability to survive and thrive. Katie plans to leverage a 20-year time-series of fecal samples from the Signy Island off the coast of Antarctica. She believes the penguin's diets have shifted to decreased reliance on krill as sea-ice diminished, in turn changing the parasite profile in the penguins.
Signy Island is warming rapidly, sometimes at more than double the global average rate. This island provides a novel means of testing rapid climate change rates before the impact is felt elsewhere in the region. While this project focuses on penguins, Katie also hopes to demonstrate the utility of fecal samples in understanding a vulnerable ecosystem, and how parasites change in arctic climates. She will use the scholarship funds to conduct a pilot study on 8 samples, before scaling up to the full series.
Abena Dufie Wiredu Bremang, a doctoral student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana was selected as the recipient of the 2020 Westarctica Conservation Scholarship. She was previously honored as a UNESCO Young Scientist in 2018 for her work on the effect of land use on water quality in the Lake Bosomtwe Biosphere Reserve.
Abena will utilize the grant to further her research on the hydrological impacts of climate change on water security of the White Volta Basin. The White Volta Basin is a transboundary region in West Africa shared between the countries of Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Togo. The Volta River and its tributaries provide water for many rural communities who depend on it to support their rural livelihoods.
This research scholarship is available to anyone who meets the following criteria:
Pursuing a graduate degree (Master’s or PhD) in any nationally-accredited university or organization (i.e. zoo, field station) in the world.
Researching a topic aligned with climate-change or global conservation issues.
Planning a research project for 2021.
You will be asked to answer five questions, each in 200 words or less (unless otherwise specified):
In 20 words or less, describe the research question you are addressing.
What is the broad problem this question is addressing?
Why should the public care about your question/the problem/your research?
What possible solutions to climate-change might your work propose?
How will this money improve your research or the proposed solutions?
These applications will be reviewed by a panel of scientifically trained people from a variety of research and conservation backgrounds, as well as Westarctica, Inc board members. Finalists will be chosen, and the above answers will be submitted to the active members of the organization for a final vote.
In accepting the award, you agree to do one follow-up interview at the end of the summer, and complete one online short-course on talking about climate change to climate deniers during the summer.
If you have questions about the Westarctica Conservation Scholarship, please contact the program coordinator: email@example.com