The Katherine S. and James K. Lau Graduate Fellowship in Climate Equity

Administered by: The Rausser College of Natural Resources 

Eligible students may come from the colleges (departments) participating in the climate equity cluster hire including: College of Engineering; College of Environmental Design; College of Letters and Science, Social Science Division; Rausser College of Natural Resources; as well as the School of Public Health

DEADLINE: February 5, 2021

The Rausser College of Natural Resources is pleased to announce a new research fellowship program for UC Berkeley doctoral students conducting research on climate equity and environmental justice. With the generous support of Katherine and James Lau, the program will launch in summer 2021, and continue for five years.


The fellowship will support doctoral students pursuing climate equity and environmental justice research with an emphasis on ameliorating the impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations and addressing root causes of inequality. 

Applications may request support for summer research and/or fall semester fellowship support, in 2021. Selection will focus on research that is multidisciplinary in nature and community-based. Students are expected to identify their community partner organization and describe how and why the partnership is critical to addressing the research question(s). We are particularly interested in projects that touch on the following broad themes related to climate equity:

  • Social equity and environmental sustainability — Climate change creates inequities related to food security and sovereignty, access to natural resources, biodiversity loss, energy production and use, water access, water and air quality, land use and scarcity, human health, and maintaining equitable and sustainable living conditions. Solutions to these challenges require multidisciplinary and publicly engaged research at local, national and global scales. 
  • Adaptation design and planning for climate justice — Design of infrastructure for climate change adaptation and resilience must be place-based, making inclusive planning and local/regional governance strategies critically important. Developing proactive, equity-focused strategies in this area calls upon engineering, design, planning, regulation, investment, construction, governance, and implementation of adaptation strategies, infrastructures, and resilient community-building.
  • Climate refugees and forced migration — Due to rising sea level, wildfire, and drought, climate change is causing forced migration from disappearing or unlivable land. These national and global developments call urgently for study of the social and economic effects of climate change migration in rural, urban, and refugee communities and their impacts on democracy, inclusion, and inequality around the world — and for policy and concerted action at all levels to address these effects.

Application Process

For summer research fellowship: 

Awards may range from $5,000 to $10,000 for summer research to support field work, travel and summer stipend. 

For academic semester fellowship: 

Fellowship awards will provide a $14,500 stipend plus full tuition and fee remission for fall semester 2021 (funding for future semesters will be available from future calls). Modest research expenses (≤$2,500) may also be included in the request. 

Students may apply for both summer and fall semester fellowships.

To apply for funding, candidates should submit the following:

  1. A proposal (≤1500 words) that includes a statement of the objectives and expected significance of the dissertation research and how the fellowship would enhance the research and advance the student’s progress on their project (including deliverables). Please also include a description of the community-engaged element of the project, the identity of the community partner organization, discussion of the methods proposed, and a brief description of how the research fits into your dissertation.
  2. A simple budget and justification for requested funds (≤1 page); please include travel and equipment costs if they are part of the request. 
  3. Two letters of reference from referees familiar with the proposed research and the student’s qualifications and experience to carry out research aims; one letter should be from the student’s dissertation chair. Letters should be submitted directly to the address below, and will be treated confidentially.
  4. Questions should be directed to the committee chair.

A total of $95,000 is available in this cycle, with expectations to fund 2-3 semester fellowships and 4-8 summer fellowships, depending on the number of applications and budget requests.

Applicants for the Katharine S. and James K. Lau Graduate Fellowship in Climate Equity should submit their materials to the committee chair no later than February 5, 2021 to:

Committee Chair:

Michael Mascarenhas, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Rausser College of Natural Resources, UCB —

Other member of the committee: 

Laura Enriquez, Professor and Associate Chair, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Sociology, College of Letters and Science, UCB —

Louise Mozingo, Chair and Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, College of Environmental Design, UCB —

Reporting Requirement

Fellowship recipients will be expected to write up a short report of their research accomplishments during the fellowship. For summer research fellowships awardee reports are due October 31st and for fall semester fellowships awardee reports are due January 31st. Reports should include a description of results of ongoing work, publications or presentations and next steps/future plans for your project.  Please include attachments of manuscripts or published work supported by the fellowship, and a description of the relevance and results of your project as they relate to impacts on the communities or organizations with which you are engaged. 

Awardees may be asked to give a short presentation in a symposium with the donors and the climate equity and environmental justice research community. A thank you letter to the donors will be required after the fellowship along with a copy of the student’s report.  Fellowship recipients should also acknowledge this funding support in future publications and presentations.