Sea Duck Joint Venture Student Fellowship Program

The 2018 update of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) identified a critical need to maintain and expand formal education and field experience of university students to ensure that an appropriately skilled workforce meets NAWMP conservation goals.  In addition, the 2020 North American Waterfowl Professional Education Plan developed under NAWMP called for academic institutions to increase opportunities for students interested in waterfowl research and management.

To help address this need, the Sea Duck Joint Venture in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited, Inc. has developed a graduate student fellowship program to support research on North American sea ducks.  The goal of the program is to increase the number of skilled early career professionals interested in sea duck research, management, and conservation and related fields.

Past recipients of the SDJV Student Fellowship Awards

Application Information

Eligibility: Students pursuing a M.S. or Ph.D. degree at a U.S. or Canadian university with a research focus on biology or conservation of North American sea ducks are eligible to apply. Master’s students are eligible for one year of funding. Ph.D. students are eligible for two years of funding, depending on funding availability and satisfactory progress in their first year. If PhD students are requesting two years of support, that should be reflected in the research proposal description and budget request.

Three to five awards of $10,000 USD each will be made annually, depending on funding availability.

To Apply: Please submit the following, combined into one .pdf document, to  by December 31, 2024

  1. Research proposal (maximum length 5 pages, not including budget table) that includes:
    • Research statement
    • Objectives/hypotheses being tested
    • Methods
    • Timeline (include the entire project timeline, but identify which activities are included in funding request to SDJV)
    • Literature cited
    • Budget that outlines total project costs, sources of funding, and brief description of items/services to be funded (use this template). Allowable expenses requested from SDJV include research costs, publication fees, travel to scientific conferences, tuition, or student stipends.  Funds requested from SDJV must be spent from January 1 to December 31, 2025 (M.Sc. Students) and January 1, 2025 to December 31, 2026 (Ph.D. Students).
  2. Resume including three references (maximum length 3 pages) that includes:
    • Previous field, laboratory, or other experience important for successful completion of research and degree; and,
    • Three professional references, two of which may be the same as those who write letters of endorsement. References may be contacted by a member of the selection committee.
  3. Unofficial academic transcripts (may be a photocopy)
  4. Statement of career objectives (maximum length 1 page)
  5. Two letters of endorsement, one of which must be from the student’s academic advisor

Selection:  An ad hoc award committee of up to six members will be established to review applications and make a recommendation to the Sea Duck Joint Venture Management Board for approval.  The award committee may be comprised of current SDJV Continental Technical Team and Management Board members and/or outside professionals involved in sea duck research and management in North America. Application scoring criteria can be found here.

Application scores will be based on:

  1. Strength of the research proposal, including:
    • a. the scientific merit of the proposed project
    • b. quality of writing and clarity of objectives, methods, and budget
    • c. appropriateness of methods and budget relative to objectives
    • d. probability of successful completion, and
    • e. applicability to sea duck conservation/management.
  2. Applicant strengths, including:
    • a. academic qualifications
    • b. previous field, laboratory, or other experience relevant to successful completion of project
    • c. articulation of career goals, and
    • d. letters of endorsement and references.

Requirements of successful applicants:  Awardees will be required to submit an annual progress report to the SDJV by 30 September of each year of funding, including statement of expenditures showing funds were spent according to the agreed-upon budget, present results of research to the SDJV Continental Technical Team and Management Board at the annual SDJV meeting, and provide a popular account of their research for use in SDJV and Ducks Unlimited publications, including photos.

For questions or more information, please contact Kate Martin, SDJV U.S. Coordinator,  .