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Center Scholars

The Scholars program recognizes and salutes graduate students who show outstanding leadership as reflected in their proposed thesis films. Five to ten Center Scholars are selected annually on their ability to further the Center's mission. Each Center Scholar receives a $2,000 stipend. Last year, nine were selected.

The Center's 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 as they embark on their thesis projects during the second year of their graduate program, when they have accumulated at least 18 credit hours. Part-time students are also 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 perseverance, creativity, passion, diligence, and integrity through their past work.
  5. Have a thesis topic which advances the Center's mission.

To apply, please submit a one page letter by December 1st 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.

Please contact Chris Palmer if you have questions via email or by phone at 202-716-6160.

Current Scholars

Emma Dacol

Emma is producing a short historical documentary film about Dr. Madison Spencer Briscoe, an important, but unknown African American entomologist and parasitologist. Dr. Briscoe overcame many obstacles to become a pioneer in the field of public health and helped advance science education at Storer College, one of West Virginia's first colleges for African Americans.

Sirjaut Dhariwal

Sirjaut is producing a short documentary on the depleting water resources in Punjab, India, where the farmers are struggling to maintain the ecosystem that once was. Covering only a small fraction of the country's land, Punjab provides India with majority of their wheat and rice. This film will delve deep into historical eco-friendly farming practices and explore options for future water conservation.

Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath

Elizabeth's film explores the poignant topics of life and death. Antonia Lance, a bird rehabilitator, has established a bird sanctuary on the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, where her frequent house guests include injured birds. She constantly makes decisions that could mean a path to recovery and release back into the wild, life in captivity and care, or even death.

Ashley Holmes

Ashley is producing a short documentary focused on the effects of climate change on Arctic populations of beluga whales as sea ice retreats and opens up shipping routes in new territory. The film will focus on how this rise in human activity impacts the whales from an increase in noise pollution to changing natural behaviors to how vastly unprepared we are for an Arctic oil spill.

Megan King

Megan is making a film that answers the age old question: what happens when I flush my toilet? If you are a DC resident, that answer includes producing both energy and fertilizers. DC Water's innovative technology, their thermal hydrolysis system, is the only of its kind in the United States. This film will both inform and inspire audiences while taking a closer look at something that is going on right in our own backyard.

Dorian Russell

Dorian is an environmental scientist producing an online video series about her conservation research in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Dorian will host her series as a queer woman in science to encourage others who are minorities to pursue STEM careers. The series will profile her field work examining endangered howler monkeys, showcase Central America's rich biodiversity, and provide context to high-profile issues in human-wildlife conflict.

Sam Sheline

Sam's thesis film will be an extension of his short film Harbinger, about amphibian extinction in Panama. In 2015 Sam joined Panamanian biologist Edgardo Griffith to learn more about the country's national animal—the golden frog—now extinct in the wild. They also went to the slopes of the country's highest mountain to search for the country's largest salamander, not seen in the wild since 2009. Spoiler alert: they found it!

Crystal Solberg

Crystal intends to create a short film revolving around habitat loss in the Central Highlands of Guatemala by exploring the connection between dwindling cloud forests and the nation's many endemic species.

Kent Wagner

Kent is making a film highlighting deforestation on the island of Borneo. It will focus on habitat loss and the exploitation of natural resources, and will examine their effects on climate change and on Borneo's indigenous population - the Dayak people.

2016 Center Scholars
Vanina Harel, Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath, Sam Sheline, Kent Wagner, and Nick Zachar
2014-2015 Center Scholars
Vanina Harel, Jamey Warner, and Nick Zachar
2012-2013 Center Scholars
Maria Arreguin, Erin Finicane, Sarah Gulick, Sylvia Johnson, Brian Kelley, Ana Sotelo, Jenny Stratton, and Corin Wilson
2011-2012 Center Scholars
Sarah Gulick, Helenah Svedberg, Jennifer Stratton, Aditi Desai, and Sylvia Johnson
2010-2011 Center Scholars
Aditi Desai, Kai Fang, Jeremy Polk, Irene Magafan, and Sylvia Johnson
2009-2010 Center Scholars
Ellen Tripler, Danny Ledonne, and Shanon Sparks