Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Scholars of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking

SOC CEF Sylvia Johnson 2011 Scholar

Center Scholars

CEF's Center Scholar program supports the next generation
of environmental and wildlife filmmakers.

Scholars of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at AU's SOC

A message from Chris Palmer:
The Scholars program recognizes and salutes graduate students who show outstanding leadership qualities as reflected in their thesis films. Five or more Scholars are selected annually based on their ability to further the Center’s mission. Each Scholar receives a $2,000 stipend.

Our world faces unprecedented environmental challenges, from climate disruption to species extinction. The Center for Environmental Filmmaking was founded on the belief that powerful films, images, and stories can play a key role in fostering conservation and bringing about change. We are committed to raising awareness and empowering action through the innovative use of media.

Our mission is to inspire a new generation of filmmakers and media experts whose commitment to environmental stewardship drives them to produce creative work that is informative, ethically sound, entertaining—and makes a positive difference.

Center Scholars are selected each year as they embark on their thesis projects and chosen during the second year of their graduate program when they have accumulated at least 18 credit hours. Part time students are eligible.

Scholars must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be in good standing, have a record of excellence in film, video or new media production, and a minimum GPA of 3.5.
  2. Exhibit outstanding intellect, leadership, and ambition.
  3. Show they are determined to make films that matter, that make a difference, and that make the world a better place.
  4. Demonstrate in past work perseverance, creativity, passion, diligence, and integrity.
  5. Have a thesis topic which advances the Center’s mission.

By December 1, please submit a one page letter describing how you will use a $2,000 grant to further your thesis film.

Include with the letter your project proposal, which should include a synopsis of your film, a list of anticipated expenses, the name of your lead faculty advisor, an up-to-date resume, and a note from your advisor that the project has been approved. A faculty committee will judge the entries and grant awards based on each student’s merit and commitment to the mission of the Center. Scholars will be announced by December 20.



Vanina Harel 

Harel is producing Vey nou Lagon, a 30-minute documentary about a fisherman who, when he discovers that his livelihood is in jeopardy because of his own actions, decides to lead a movement to protect the ocean. The film will be broadcast on public television in Mauritius and designed to engage and inspire the local fishing communities to demand marine protected areas around the island. For more information visit


Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath

Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath 

Herzfeldt-Kamprath is producing a 15-minute documentary film about a declining Golden Eagle population and an organization working hard to learn about and advocate for the population migrating through Western Montana. This film will also examine how raptors are bioindicators of our ecosystem and protecting them can benefit our environment.



Sam Sheline 

Sheline plans to produce a short film about the Clinch River in southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee. The river is home to some of the highest freshwater biodiversity in the world, but it's threatened by coal fired power plants and agricultural run-off. Sam and his Dad will canoe the entire 300-mile length of the Clinch and along the way meet some of the people fighting to protect this gem of the Southeast.


Kent Wagner 

Wagner will be making a film about the accelerating deforestation of Indonesia, focusing on the plight of Bornean orangutans which are a key umbrella species of the region’s peat forests. By featuring biologists working for International Animal Rescue, and park rangers in the threatened Sabangau National Park, he will examine what is at stake and how the destruction might be stopped.

Nick Zachar

Nick Zachar

Zachar's thesis film Invasion will explore issues related to the invasive lionfish in Atlantic waters, including the negative effects on coral reef ecosystems and how local fishermen and economies are being affected. The film will also search for solutions that will help alleviate the negative pressures of these "alien" fish.

The next round of the Scholars Program will be fall 2016 (deadline December 1). Please contact Chris Palmer with question.

Past Winners

  • 2014/2015: Vanina Harel, Jamey Warner, and Nick Zachar.
  • 2012/2013: Maria Arreguin, Erin Finicane, Sarah Gulick, Sylvia Johnson, Brian Kelley, Ana Sotelo, Jenny Stratton, and Corin Wilson.
  • 2011/2012: Sarah Gulick, Helenah Svedberg, Jennifer Stratton, Aditi Desai, and Sylvia Johnson.
  • 2010/2011: Aditi Desai, Kai Fang, Jeremy Polk, Irene Magafan, and Sylvia Johnson.
  • 2009/2010: Ellen Tripler, Danny Ledonne, and Shanon Sparks