When is the deadline for receipt of applications?

The 2020 fellowship application process is now closed. Applications for 2020 fellowships were accepted December 1, 2019 through January 31, 2020.

What is needed to complete the application?

You must submit via email to Katika Bade (kbade@sandiegozoo.org) the following three documents: 1) a cover letter or letter of intent, introducing yourself and stating why you are the best applicant for the fellowship to which you're applying - within this letter, you must be clear as to which research team fellowship you're applying; 2) a current resume or curriculum vitae; and 3) a statement containing the following: a. confirmation that you will have a mode of personal transportation during your 12-week fellowship if you are selected; b. confirmation that you are able to complete the selected 12-week fellowship (indicate which start date works with your schedule), start to finish; c. if you are graduating in Spring 2020, you must confirm that you will be actively pursuing acceptance into a graduate program by Fall 2020; and d. confirm you have read and fully understand the Frequently Asked Questions on this site.

What is the start date for the 2020 fellowship?

The start date for our 12-week fellowships is determined based on academic schedules (semester vs. quarter), with two start dates: Monday, May 18 and Monday, June 15, 2020. The 12-week fellowships will run May 18-August 7 and June 15-September 4, 2020. 

Are letters of reference and transcripts required or advised?

One letter of reference is recommended, but is not required. Letters may be addressed to the Selection Committee and should be sent to Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global, Attn: Katika Bade, 15600 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido CA 92027. If emailed, they should be sent directly by the author of the letter to kbade@sandiegozoo.org. Neither official nor official transcripts are required; however, if you'd like to submit yours, please send to the same person and address noted above.

When do the interviews take place?

So that all applicants, no matter where they are located, have the same opportunity, there are no in-person interviews. Each research team reviews all the cover letters/letters of intent, resumes/curriculum vitae, and statements, and discusses the merits of each applicant. The team will select a few applicants, reach out via Skype, telephone, or email to further engage with the applicant, and make selections after this connection.

Are specific core biology courses required?

There are no required courses for summer fellows.

Is the program open to any college student?

The program is only open to undergraduate students who are actively enrolled in a degree granting Institution, or who will receive their degree in the year they apply and are continuing on to a graduate program in the fall of the same year (e.g., Masters, Veterinary, PhD).

Can international students apply for the fellowship program?

At the time an application is submitted, international candidates must be able to show proof of proper documentation that they are legally allowed to live and work in the United States during the tenure of the fellowship in order to be considered.

Is the summer fellowship paid?

The summer fellows are full time, 40-hour-per-week, 12-week fellowships. Summer fellows are not classified as employees of San Diego Zoo Global; rather, they are classified as fellows and paid via a stipend to help offset costs associated with traveling to and living costs during the fellowship. The current stipend amount is $7,000 for the 12-week program. Fellows receive half the stipend amount at the end of the first two weeks of fellowship and the remainder at the end of the sixth week of fellowship.

What hours are summer fellows expected to work?

Fellows are expected to participate in a minimum of 40 hours per week. Depending on the specific nature of the fellow’s project, after-hours scheduling may be involved, including weekends and/or evenings.

Are fellows given holidays/days off?

Typically, fellows beginning in May will have Memorial Day off. Typically, fellows beginning in June will have Independence Day off.

What are the typical duties of summer fellows?

Specific research projects are not chosen until the fellow is chosen, meets with the research team's Director and other employees within the team, and discussion ensues. Directors will communicate duties once the specific research project is agreed upon, but typically involve the application of standard laboratory or field techniques to conservation questions. Fellows are assigned a mentor(s) that will communicate closely with them during their fellowship.

Can course credit be obtained through the fellowship program?

No credit can be obtained through this fellowship program unless your home campus considers it worthy of credit. This would need to be arranged by fellows independently.

Is public transportation to the Beckman Center available?

It is required that all summer fellows have their own personal mode of transportation. Bicycles are not a safe mode of transportation due to the high speed of vehicles and incline of roads to the Beckman Center. Access via public transportation is extremely limited and time consuming, and there is no public transportation on the weekends. Fellows without access to a car will need to arrange in advance to share transportation with other fellows, and should be prepared to provide appropriate compensation for any transportation provided. Parking for private vehicles is available at the Beckman Center.

Is housing provided?

Housing is not provided, but is generally available through online sources such as Craig's List, Airbnb, and VRBO. We also maintain a list of employees that may offer housing during the fellowships. Katika Bade shares this list with all fellows needing housing once our selections are made.

Are fellows given each other’s contact information in advance?

Contact information (phone, email, address) for all the summer fellows will be shared as soon as all fellows have been offered and accepted their fellowships.

How can I make my application more likely to succeed?

Obtain more research experience (field and/or lab), provide strong letters of recommendation, keep grades high, and write a thoughtful and meaningful statement of interest that is relevant to the types of projects that occur at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Helpful details to include: interests that separate you from the large group of applicants that “like animals” and want to contribute to conservation; scientific expertise; details of practical experience; independent work skills; a strong commitment to learning about research design, data collection and analysis, and disseminating results in the form of presentations and publications.

Where can I gain the experience needed to be competitive for the fellowship program?

Volunteer in a research lab on campus or in industry and/or volunteer on a field project. Many colleges and universities have opportunities for students to volunteer in the field or in the lab with graduate students or professors. Gain as much hands-on research experience as possible!

When will fellows be informed that they have been accepted into the program?

An official offer is e-mailed shortly after verbal contact and acceptance. The fellowship decisions will be finalized by February 28 each year; selected applicants are notified within the week following February 28.

Is there an orientation to the program for incoming fellows?

All fellows attend a “Registration Day” with Human Resources to fill out required paperwork. Social gatherings and other events are arranged throughout the fellowship by Human Resources. There are also poster session presentation days for fellows to share their work, as well as weekly seminars and monthly all-staff meetings, held at the Beckman Center.

How many research team opportunities may an applicant apply to?

Applicants should only apply to their top selection of research teams. If more than one application is submitted, only the first one will be accepted.

What are the details of the student poster session presentations?

At the end of the summer, two celebratory lunches are held, after which fellows participate in a poster and presentation session to present their work. Dates are based on when the students start/end their fellowships. Typically poster sessions fall on the Wednesday of the 12th week of fellowship. For 2020, presentations will be Wednesday, August 5 for May-starts and Wednesday, September 2 for June-starts. If two students are working together on a project, their poster and presentation may be combined. Outside guests and family members are welcome to attend.

What is the dress code at the Beckman Center?

Casual business attire is appropriate while in the Beckman Center. Depending on whether fellows will be working in animal enclosures or laboratories, there may be other requirements (for example, closed-toe shoes are required in labs). Attire should be professional in appearance and design (T-shirts with graphics, denim jeans, and flip flops are all examples of what should not be worn). Hair should be neatly combed, clean and well groomed; piercings are restricted to one per ear with no other piercings allowed; visible tattoos are not allowed.

Should fellows bring personal computers?

It is useful for fellows to bring a laptop computer. Fellows will have access to an Internet connection, and it will make data collection and analysis easier. If it is not possible to bring a laptop, there are shared computers that will be available most of the time.

Do fellows receive passes for visiting the Zoo or Safari Park?

Human Resources will allot complimentary passes to fellows to visit the Zoo and Safari Park. Passes will be available to fellows around 6 weeks after arrival through the Human Resources office.