The Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarship

Former Professor Chris Palmer, Founder of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, and his wife Gail Shearer established a $50,000 endowment at American University to support the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarship, which was set up in 2013. The scholarship honors Chris's parents, Mavis and Sidney John Palmer.

In order to be considered, applicants should send the following in to Professor Maggie Stogner by July 1:

  1. The completed application form.
  2. A one page essay detailing your aspirations and interest in the field of environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking.
  3. A recent/most updated resume.

Merit scholarships will be awarded annually, to an outstanding graduate student in SOC with an interest in environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking. Scholarship recipients will be selected by a faculty committee. Committee members will review and evaluate a one-page essay from applicants, detailing the student's aspirations and interest in the field of environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking.

The History of Mavis and Sidney Palmer

(Written by Chris Palmer and Gail Shearer)

My parents had challenging childhoods, yet they transcended those deprivations and became very successful.

My father, whose father died when he was six, went from being an impoverished child of "working class" parents in Pembroke, Wales, to one of the most powerful men at the top of the British Admiralty. This was no easy accomplishment, especially in such a class-ridden society. He served as head of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, which designs and builds all the warships and submarines for the Royal Navy.

When our three daughters were growing up, my father (their grandfather) told them inspiring stories of his remarkable service in WWII. He used his engineering skills to head a team that solved numerous ship and submarine-related challenges.

My mother was a young woman during WWII and put her brilliant skill at languages to support the war effort. She also served as a volunteer fire warden during bombing raids in Plymouth on the south coast.

She raised four small boys, including my twin brother and me, during post-war rationing in England without today's modern conveniences. She became a central part of my father's work community, welcoming with open arms a series of American naval families who were posted to Bath, England, where we lived. Though naturally shy, she learned how to overcome that and became a deeply loved hostess and friend to scores of visiting families.

My parents instilled in me the same values we hold dear at AU-integrity, service, courage, self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, generosity, hard work, creativity, and tenacity.

2020 Scholarship Recipients

This year's recipients of the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarships are Jess Wiegandt, Marissa Woods, and Jessica Marcy.

Jess Wiegandt
Jess Wiegandt is pursuing her MFA in Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking and is eager to bring her enthusiasm for nature and protection of the planet to a wider audience. Jess grew up with environmentalist parents who instilled a passion for wildlife and wildlands from a young age and she hopes to combine her degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education with her studies at American University to pair science education with engaging content. She is a graduate assistant and editor for the Center For Environmental Filmmaking’s monthly newsletter.

Marissa Woods
Marissa Woods is a third year MFA candidate studying Film and Media Arts with a concentration in Environmental and Wildlife filmmaking. Marissa is passionate about protecting the natural world and educating the community about the environment. Marissa hopes to apply the knowledge and skills she has attained during her career at American University toward the creation of engaging and inspiring media for diverse audiences, including children. She acted as Motion Graphics lead and Associate Producer for the Maryland Public Television program, After the Storm: Pollution in the Potomac, and is currently working on a video series with the National Park Service highlighting the importance of National Parks in the history of the natural sciences.

Jessica Marcy
Jessica Marcy is a filmmaker with extensive experience in journalism and non-profit storytelling. She is currently in her final year of the MFA program in film at American University. She is passionate about telling stories about the environment and global social justice issues. She served as writer and producer for Maryland Public Television’s program “After the Storm: Pollution in the Potomac,” which won a Silver Telly Award in the Student General TV Division. The film tells the story of what happens when it rains in Washington, D.C., and raw sewage spills into the Potomac River. She is passionate about stories that connect people to the environment and plans to use the Palmer Scholarship to pursue her Capstone film. She also holds a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and a graduate certificate in documentary filmmaking from the George Washington University.

2019 Recipients
Kathleen Gaeta, Beth Ebisch, Amelia Tyson, and Carlos Macher
2018 Recipients
Robert Boyd, Mary Alice McMillan, Shannon Shikles, and Amelia Tyson
2017 Recipients
Sirjaut Kaur Dhariwal and Crystal Solberg
2016 Recipients
Ashley Holmes, Megan King, Kent Wagner and Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath
2015 Recipients
Shayna Muller and Sam Sheline
2014 Recipients
Vanina Harel, Marilyn Stone, Jamey Warner, and Nick Zachar
2013 Recipients
Sarah Gulick and Erin Finicane