“Because my mentor was a grower and a business owner, I even got to drop off the oysters at local restaurants. It was really a complete picture of oyster aquaculture.”

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Information for Mentors

Guidance on Fellow-Mentor Relationships

Mentors provide a unique professional development opportunity by advancing a student’s understanding of how their science may make a difference in coastal and marine communities. We encourage the drafting of an individualized professional development plan to promote the systematic consideration and attention to how experiences grow the fellow’s professional competencies. Selected fellows will work with their mentors and VASG’s Professional Development Coordinator to finalize their individualized professional development plan after award of the fellowship.

Important Considerations

  • Professional mentors should be individuals whose work requires the application of scientific information, research, or rigorous inquiry and evidence-based knowledge; particularly, the information, data, and/or findings that will result from the applicant’s graduate activities.
  • The type of outreach and role of the mentor will be determined and defined by the applicant, their faculty advisor(s), and the mentor.
  • Outreach activities should complement the proposed research and the applicant’s interests.
  • The quality of the plan and relationship will be an important part of the evaluation – see the Review and Selection Process section in the announcement.

Submitting a recommendation: About the Professional Mentor form

Deadline: December 8, 2023

The form indicates a commitment to mentor the applicant and uphold the highest standards of mentorship. Only a single form should be sent (i.e., mentor teams must complete and submit a single joint form). To maintain confidentiality, recommendations should be requested by the applicant and input independently by the recommender through eSeaGrant. The forms must be submitted before the deadline.

Mentors will be asked to respond to the following:

  • Objectives of the professional mentorships from the mentor perspective.
  • Why mentor wants to be a mentor.
  • Role that the mentor will play in the student’s academic and professional experience.
  • How much time the mentor is willing and able to dedicate to the applicant during the fellowship.
  • Willingness to participate in a VASG orientation and mentorship training.

Please provide a statement of commitment to ethical behavior, respect, honesty, and open communication with the fellow (i.e., abiding by standard code of conduct policies including, but not limited to, any: personnel policy, policy regarding sexual harassment, policy regarding workplace violence and policy regarding ethical behavior).

objectives for the fellow-mentor relationships

  • Develop the professional skills of the fellow, including communication, collaboration, project management, and other critical skills for effective engagement between science and end-users.
  • Design effective outreach and engagement strategies, products and deliverables that can move science, technologies, and other pertinent knowledge from the fellow’s research into the hands of a decision-maker and/or stakeholder who would benefit from that information.

Identifying Potential Mentors

A mentor can be from the public, private, or non-profit sector. Mentors are encouraged to review the examples of past fellow-mentor partnerships below and review the VASG website to learn about our extension partners. VASG encourages applicants to reach out to potential mentors early in the application process to discuss your mutual goals, develop a rapport, and identify emerging opportunities.

Katherine L.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Maura B.

Old Dominion University

Jennifer B.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Arslaan K.

George Mason University

While mentors may be extension agents, educators, or communicators with Sea Grant or the Cooperative Extension program, they do not need to be. Many extension agents and other outreach program staff will have ideas and connections to potential mentors.

To discuss mentor roles and responsibilities, and for questions regarding the goals of the fellow-mentor relationship, please contact us at: vasg@vaseagrant.org

“The Virginia Sea Grant Fellowship has been a great fit for me. My professional mentor was great at connecting me with farmers who would be open to my message. In a closed, tight-knit community, that’s a thing to overcome.”

University of Virginia

Tentative Fellowship Completion Timeline

  • Fellowship announcement released: September 1, 2023
  • Registrations are due in eSeaGrant: 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1, 2023
  • Applications are due to VASG: 11:59 p.m. EST on December 8, 2023
  • Stage 1 – Relevancy review: January 2024
  • Stage 2 – Review panel: February 2024
  • Stage 3 – Candidate interviews: March/April 2024
  • Notification of results: Summer 2023
  • Awards begin: September 1, 2024

Award Information

Contingent upon available federal funding, fellowships are available for up to two years, and provide an award of up to $40,000 per year to support the student’s academic expenses. The start date for the fellowship is September 1, 2024. VASG expects to fund up to eight fellowships for the 2024–2026 academic years.

VASG-funded projects require a 50 percent funding match (i.e., budgets must show $1 of match for every $2 of Sea Grant funding requested). Only non-Federal funds may be committed as matching contribution. VASG will make all awards to the applicant’s primary faculty advisor, who must be listed as the principal investigator (PI) on the fellowship application. 

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