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Graduate Fellowship Program

Methane Hydrate Graduate Fellowship Program

Benjamin Phrampus, a post doctoral researcher at Oregon State University, was selected as the 2016 recipient of the NETL-National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Methane Hydrate Research Fellowship. Please see page 25 of the 2016 Issue (Vol. 16, Issue 1) of Fire in the Ice for more information on the recipient.

The Department of Energy has a long history of building synergistic relationships with research universities. Funding academic research is a "win-win-win" situation. The U.S. government is able to tap into some of the best minds available for solving national energy problems, the universities get the support they need to maintain cutting edge faculty and laboratories, and the students involved are provided with opportunities that help them along their chosen path of study, strengthening the national pool of scientists and engineers. According to Samuel Bodman, speaking about graduate research in methane hydrates, "Students are the foundation of our energy future, bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives to the energy industry. What better way to assure technology innovation than to encourage students working on the development of a resource that has the potential to tip our energy balance toward clean-burning, domestic fuels."

With this objective in mind, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has launched an additional initiative designed to even more directly support students; an academic research fellowship program to support qualified students in their pursuit of advanced degrees related to methane hydrate science. The 2-year fellowships are being made available to U.S. citizens to support work towards M.S. and Ph.D degrees, or in a Post-doctoral appointment.

Selection of fellows is based on the technical/scientific merit of proposed projects, their potential to advance the stated goals of the interagency R&D program and the nature of the proposed research environment (including mentors and hosting institutions). The program features competitive stipend structures, including a $6000 annual travel allowance. Support for research costs will have limits related to the nature of the work (e.g., laboratory versus field), and awards will not be applicable towards tuition, which is considered an appropriate institutional contribution. Candidates are able to name the institution where the work would be done without prior institutional "certification." Any institution would be considered, but the quality of the institution will be a consideration in the merit ranking of proposals.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is responsible for creating and administering the program in association with NETL and the ongoing interagency R&D effort in methane hydrates. Information on the fellowship program is now available the NAS website [External Site].

Starting with the February 1, 2008 application deadline, the NETL-NAS Methane Hydrate Fellowship began semi-annual rather than quarterly proposal reviews. Open seasons for applications will now occur in December and June with proposal reviews beginning in March and September, respectively.