Environmental Studies

Research Opportunities

Mellon Environmental Studies Summer Experience Fellowship

Mellon Environmental Studies Fellowships are intended to support continuing Reed students pursuing environmentally-themed summer opportunities for which no compensation is otherwise available. These opportunities might include internships at nonprofit agencies or field research internships/training (on or off-campus). Award amount is $4000 stipend for a minimum 10 weeks fulltime engagement, with up to $1000 additional funds for budgeted travel and supplies.  Previous MESSE awards are listed below.


Proposals will be judged on their environmental focus and relevance to your field of study or professional goals. Opportunities that expand beyond the Reed curriculum will be given priority. Faculty recommendation and appropriateness of sponsoring institution will also be considered. All applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with members of the Environmental Studies committee in preparing the application.  A flyer announcing the 2014 fellowship and application procedures can be downloaded here.


Submission deadline for Summer 2014 Fellowships: Monday, March 3, 2014

Please submit electronically to the Environmental Studies Committee, c/o Susan Buttrick the following application materials:

1. One confidential letter of support (e-mailed directly to Susan Buttrick) from a Reed faculty or staff member who can speak to your qualifications and your proposed project.

2. A resume describing your relevant work, volunteer, and course experiences

3. Project description (1,000-word limit) detailing the internship or research experience you plan to undertake. Include a description of your activities and how the opportunity will benefit your educational progress. What will you bring back to Reed from the experience? How does the project fit into your broader environmental training and build off your prior experiences? What are the desired outcomes of the experience, and how do they relate to your career goals?

4. A letter of support from the sponsoring organization or faculty member (e-mailed directly to Susan Buttrick). The letter should indicate support for the project as described in your proposal.

5. Detailed budget of your expenses (travel and equipment/supplies) needed to complete your project. (Any non-consumable equipment or supplies will be returned to the college at completion of the project.) Also list other funding sources you will apply for or use, including any pay you will receive from your sponsoring organization. The $1000 travel/supplies supplement is by no means automatic; you must include text justifying any additional expenses that you will require.  Please note that living expenses (rent, meals, local transportation) are not appropriate expenses for the project budget.

In the Fall semester following your Fellowship, you will be expected to present the outcome of your project to the Reed community.

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

The Environmental Studies committee will evaluate the applications shortly after the application deadline.

Contact the ES committee with any questions.

Past MESSE Fellowship awards

Summer 2011 MESSE:  Rhiana Meade,  "Environmental Aquatic Chemistry: Indirect Photodegredation of Dissolved Combined Amino Acids"

Project Summary:  In order to better understand the nitrogen cycle, it is crucial to understand mechanism of degradation and the fate of proteins and amino acids in sunlight waters.  Thanks to the funding provided by the MESSE fellowship, I was able to spend my summer working in one of the best environmental chemistry labs at one of the finest scientific institutions in the world: the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.  In the lab of Prof. Dr. Kris McNeill, I studied the photodegredation of a model protein, GAPDH, when attacked by singlet oxygen.


molly case poster

Summer 2012 MESSE:  Molly Case,  "Internship with with Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) in Haiti: an environmental nonprofit providing sustainable ecological sanitation and helping to repair the country's damaged ecosystem."

Project Summary:  My work this summer included two projects: (1) helping to coordinate the Sustainable Sanitation Conference, co-hosted by SOIL and UNICEF and the first such conference in Haiti, and (2) continuing to research sustainable finance for nonprofit organizations, one of the central topics of my senior thesis.

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Summer 2012 MESSE:  Nick Pittman,  "Internship with Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development, focused on studying the recovery of towns and businesses following Tropical Storm Irene."

Pittmman Poster


Project Summary: I spent the summer working with the state's Community Planning & Revitalization group, researching how other states had responded to help businesses and homeowners following natural disasters.  In addition, I researched other state anti-sprawl and Smart Growth measures, and authored case studies for the department's website.

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Summer 2013 MESSE:  Hannah Allen,  "Atmospheric aerosol: characterizing the inorganic composition and thermodynamics of aerosol and gases in the Southeastern United States."

Ptimman Poster


Project Summary: Over the summer I travelled to Centerville, Alabama with Prof. Julie Fry to participate in the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) field campaign.  In Alabama, I used the Monitor for AeRosols and GAses (MARGA) ion chromatography system to gather measurements on the inorganic composition of gases and aerosol in the atmosphere, with the goal of understanding how aerosol contributes to regional climate change in the southeastern United States.

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Summer 2013 MESSE:  Rachel Fox,  "Functional Recovery of Wetland Ecosystems: Insect Flux Between Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems"

Fox Poster


Project Summary: As part of a many year project, we measured the net movement of various groups of insects between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Through capturing, identifying, and weighing insects found on the edge of a variety of wetland habitats, we measured the movement of biomass to or from the wetland, which ultimately may indicate differences between ecosystem types and may tell us how we can improve restoration of wetland habitats..

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