Earth Futures Announces 2022/23 Undergraduate Frontier Fellows Program

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The UCSC Earth Futures Institute is pleased to announce a new program of undergraduate
research opportunities called EFI Frontier Fellowships. Each Frontier Fellowship provides
the chance for an undergraduate student to do meaty interdisciplinary research on topics
relevant to planning Earth's future. Supervising these projects is also a chance for faculty to
pursue project ideas that have long interested them but are difficult to fund from traditional
funding sources. Each award includes a summer stipend of $5000 for the student and
$2000 for research expenses and/or a faculty honorarium. Information on the Earth Futures
Institute and its goals are available on the Institute’s website

Submit proposals by sending an email with a pdf document attached to

The due date for proposals is March 1, 2022.

For additional information, please contact EFI Director Prof. Sandra Faber at
Please put “Frontier Fellows Project” in the subject line.

The EFI Frontier Fellows Program is open to students and faculty (including emeriti) from
all departments across all five academic divisions.

Program description:

1) The duration of the program is from the beginning of Spring Quarter 2022 to the end of
Spring Quarter 2023, inclusive.

2) Students and faculty will jointly write a short proposal outlining the goals of the project, the
approach, and the deliverables. Proposals are due March 1, 2022. The proposals will be
reviewed by the EFI Frontier Projects Review Committee, with the goal of having them in place
by the beginning of Spring Quarter 2022. Three awards are anticipated.
-- One project is for an interdisciplinary project involving the Genomics Institute.
-- One project is for an interdisciplinary project involving the Humanities Division.
-- The third project is open to all divisions.

3) To facilitate the interdisciplinary nature of the projects, two faculty advisors are
recommended, preferably from separate academic divisions but in any case, from different
fields. One faculty advisor is acceptable if the advisor possesses the requisite breadth of
expertise. Each faculty team is limited to one student.

4) How to apply: Project proposals should briefly describe the proposed work to be done and
its impact and importance. A proposed budget for the faculty allocation (up to $2000) should be
provided. Projects will be judged on the following criteria: 1) importance of the work to planning
the future of Earth over both short-term (decades) and/or long-term (millions of years). 2)
Originality: has this idea been thought of before or is it new? 3) Interdisciplinary nature: Is the
project consonant with EFI’s strategy of viewing Earth’s Future through multiple disciplinary
lenses? 4) Feasibility: Is it likely that the project as envisioned can be completed with the
available time and resources? 5) Faculty commitment: Are faculty with the required expertise
available and committed to the success of the project? The impact of possible continuing
COVID restrictions should be taken into account and addressed.

5) It is envisioned that students will do foundational background reading and project planning
during Spring Quarter, giving them a running start to focus full-time on project work over the
summer. Students are expected to work full-time during the Summer Quarter of 2022
under the direction and supervision of their faculty advisors. Students will receive a $5000
summer stipend, and the $2000 allocation per project to faculty is intended to cover
research expenses, salaries for possible graduate student mentors, faculty honoraria, etc.
Students are not academically enrolled or employed by UCSC during the summer and do not
receive academic credit; their stipends are paid through UCSC student fellowships.
The student will continue work on the project during the 2022-2023 academic year, and the
project must be completed and submitted by the end of Spring Quarter 2023.

6) The deliverables together with a short summary report will be evaluated by the Frontier
Projects Review Committee. Work deemed to meet the high standards of the program will be
denoted an Earth Futures Institute Frontier Project, and students who successfully complete
the program will receive the designation Earth Futures Institute Frontier Fellow.

7) Deliverables: Each project must have at least one clearly defined deliverable, but its
nature may vary depending on the nature of the research. The standard model is the senior
thesis, which is a substantial original document written by the student under the guidance of
their advisor(s). It is hoped that in many cases the results will develop into publishable papers.
This mode is appropriate to the methods of documenting and promulgating research results in
the sciences, engineering, and social sciences but may not properly reflect the nature of
scholarly work in other divisions. To encourage participation by faculty from all five divisions,
faculty may define other types of deliverables that are more appropriate to the nature of their

8) In addition to the deliverables, a short summary report is required of all projects as part
of the final materials submitted to the Frontier Projects Review committee. These reports will be
archived and posted on the Earth Futures Institute website as a permanent record of the
program. If the results are exciting and of sufficient interest, students and their faculty advisors
may be asked to provide information about the work to media and other interested groups (e.g.,
UCSC alumni) both on and off campus.

9) UC Riverside collaboration opportunity: The Earth Futures Institute at UCSC has a
partner institution at UC Riverside. Frontier projects that involve collaborating faculty between
UCSC and UCR are particularly welcome. To locate potential faculty partners, please contact
Prof. Bahram Mobasher ( at UCR.

10) Faculty roles: In this first year of the program, we are counting on faculty to take the
initiative to develop project ideas and single out students to work with. Faculty and students

should then write their research proposal together. (In future years, the program will be
announced campus-wide by the UCSC Honors Program, and interested students will contact
participating faculty, who have posted research topic ideas on the EFI Frontier Projects
webpage.) Faculty will supervise students over the summer and will continue to supervise the
research during the academic year 2022-2023, possibly by offering one or more quarters of

Independent Study. They will actively assist the student in successfully completing the agreed-
upon deliverables and promulgating the results according to the proposed plan.

12) Eligibility: All Academic Senate members are eligible to supervise an EFI Frontier
Project; emeriti faculty are specifically welcome. Students must be in academic good
standing in order to apply, with the prospect of receiving their undergraduate degree by June
2023 or before.

13) Relationship to UCSC departmental senior theses and graduation requirements: The
nature and magnitude of the research to be undertaken is comparable to that envisioned in
original, research-oriented senior theses (as distinct from literature reviews), and it is therefore
lpossible that some students will want to satisfy their senior thesis requirements through a
Frontier Fellows Project. It is the responsibility of each student to make sure that their project
permits them to fulfill all UCSC and departmental requirements.

Additional background: Background on the Earth Futures Institute and its goals is available at
the EFI website: The present program is the outgrowth of an
originally proposed EFI Senior Thesis program, which is described more fully in this GoogleDoc:


For reference, a list of senior thesis requirements and options for all UCSC academic
departments and programs is can be found here.