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Introducing the Community Science Fellowship

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Our new fellowship program offers the chance to build your skills and make a difference by facilitating a collaborative project to address critical community priorities.


Do you have an interest in managing diverse teams, working across disciplinary boundaries and connecting science to action? Thriving Earth Exchange’s new Community Science Fellowship offers an opportunity to hone those skills while helping to advance community solutions.

Over a period of 6-18 months, Fellows facilitate collaborative community science projects that produce on-the-ground impact in local communities. Fellows serve in a volunteer capacity and are expected to commit to at least 2-3 hours per week in the first month and about 2-3 hours per month after that.

After being matched with a local community, each Fellow is responsible for shepherding a community science project from idea to impact. This includes getting to know the community, identifying ways science can advance community goals, recruiting partner scientists, managing and supporting the project, and helping to share the team’s story and impact. Fellows receive hands-on training from Thriving Earth Exchange staff in a 2-day workshop (travel and lodging provided), as well as ongoing support and mentorship from Thriving Earth staff, a peer group of Fellows and a dedicated community science mentor.

The program is open to people with any background, experience level or location. To be successful, a Fellow must have a general knowledge of Earth science, be organized and proactive, value community science and be committed to engaging with their community and scientific partners for the duration of the project.

We are now accepting applications for cohorts launching in September and December 2019. Learn more and apply here.


Meet a Community Science Fellow: Indraneel Gireendra Kasmalkar


Indraneel Gireendra Kasmalkar is piloting the role of a Community Science Fellow by coordinating a Thriving Earth project on watershed education and restoration in San Diego, California. Kasmalkar is a doctoral student at Stanford University with a background in geophysics and applied math and a particular interest in climate change issues.


What is your role on this project? 

Kasmalkar: “The priority for me is to keep the process on track. One of the main roles is to lead monthly check-in calls with everybody on the team. We look at our progress over the month and the tasks that we assigned ourselves last time. Where are they right now? Which ones have been completed? Do we need to shift resources or increase priority for certain tasks? Sometimes we need to do some reassignment to help each other out and get things done on time. I also keep notes from each call covering what we discussed and the outputs we want [going forward].”


Has anything surprised you about the experience so far?

Kasmalkar: “When I started on this project, I wondered how we would get the team to come together. I was surprised by the level of interest—the team is so enthusiastic about working on this, and they’ve made everything so much easier. All the pieces in terms of team members and skill sets of all the individuals just fell into the right slot. We have a great team with Kristen Hurst, the community lead, and Kirstin Skadberg and Carly Ellis, the scientists, and I just have to make sure we have regular meetings and keep track of the operational stuff.”


How does this work compare to other projects or approaches you’ve done before? 

Kasmalkar: “The process is less structured than I thought at first. Our project is very fluid—for example, we are still thinking about how we want to publicize our results or co-create our results at the end. We especially want the school students involved in this project to come up with their own ideas for presenting their work. There are a lot of moving pieces. Having worked with communities before, I have some experience of how open-ended these projects can be. We just have to be flexible about what we want to do, and take things as they come about.”


What would you say to someone considering becoming a Community Science Fellow?

Kasmalkar: “It’s really rewarding. Given my background in math, I’ve felt that sometimes my research is too abstract, because it’s hard to connect it with real-life things. This is an opportunity to connect with real-life things, where you can really use science to help a community.”

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