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AAG Marcus Fund for Physical Geography

Deadline: December 31, yearly
No applications will be accepted by the Dec. 31, 2020 deadlline, due to insufficient funds.

The objective of The Mel Marcus Fund for Physical Geography is to carry on the tradition of excellence and humanity in field work espoused by Dr. Melvin G. Marcus. Grants from the Mel Marcus Fund for Physical Geography will foster personally formative participation by students collaborating with faculty in field-based physical geography research in challenging outdoor environments.

Eligibility: Marcus Fund grants of up to $2,000 will be awarded to faculty applicants to support travel and logistical costs of including students in field research in physical geography. Student submissions will only be accepted if the faculty member writes an accompanying letter stating how she or he will work with the student in the field. The faculty member must join the student for a significant portion of the field work. In general, the award is intended to support the inclusion of one or more students in field-based research, but not an entire class.  Research sites may include international as well as national locations. Marcus grant funds may be used to cover travel to the research site, as well as expenses related to the logistical support of the student, such as food, fuel and lodging. Student stipends are not eligible expenses under this grant. University or department overhead charges are not permissible budget items.

Criteria: The evaluation committee will select proposal(s) that in its judgment best address the objective of the fund as stated above. No awards will be made in years when funds are insufficient or if proposals are not suitable.

Applications: Digital submissions are required. All information must be entered on our online application form
The form asks applicants to describe the research opportunity for the student and the manner in which the field experience will challenge the student to grow both personally and professionally. The review committee is aware that the personal experience and physical abilities of students will vary widely, and that what is challenging to one student may not be to another. Field experiences therefore may cover a large range of activities, so long as the outdoor experience will help the student to grow and excel in new ways. A budget and budget justification for the requested funds should be included on the form. The proposal should address how safety of the participants will be insured. The most successful proposals typically identify the individual students who will be involved in the study. Please view the application form before trying to submit, so that you have all information ready when you are ready to apply.

Submissions: Submissions must be sent using the online application form. In exceptional cases, paper submissions may be accepted, but only with prior approval (requests should be sent to Acknowledgement of receipt will be returned within a maximum of 2-3 business days. All applicants will be notified of the status of their submission within approximately 3 months after the deadline. Awardees may anticipate receiving their grants by late Spring, in time for summer scheduled activities.

Reports and Acknowledgment: By accepting an AAG Grant you agree to submit to the AAG Executive Director a brief (two-page) report that summarizes the project and documents the expenses underwritten by the grant. Please include photographs of the field experience. You should submit your report upon completion of your research. Please acknowledge AAG support in presentations and publications.

About Dr. Marcus: Melvin G. Marcus, past president of the American Association of Geographers and an internationally recognized physical geographer, structured his career around a balance of field work, theory development, teaching, and enjoyment of the geographic endeavor. Making physical geography accessible to everyone with a love of the outdoors, including women, minorities, and the less privileged, was one of Mel’s life-long objectives.

To put this objective into practice, Mel created and oversaw programs that emphasized excellence in field studies and the translation of field studies into scholarly achievement. He also believed in socializing and relaxing at the end of a field day, and encouraged collegiality and creative expressions of the enthusiasm and joy that often accompany field work.

In his own career, Mel took students on research expeditions to the Yukon and Alaska (especially the Juneau and St. Elias icefields), the Himalayas, the Southern Alps, the Colorado Rockies, and the Grand Canyon, as well as many other locations. These expeditions were often life-transforming experiences for those students fortunate enough to participate.

Previous Marcus Fund Recipients

Frederick (Fritz) Nelson of Michigan State University

Elizabeth Watson, a Phd student and an undergraduate student, Drexel University

Sally Horn and two graduate students, University of Tennessee

Hannah Cooper, and three colleagues, two of whom are graduate students, Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Carol Sawyer and two undergraduate students, University of Southern Alabama

Dr. Yarrow Axford and his graduate students, Northwestern University

Johnathan Sugg, Appalachian State University, “Cordillera Vilcanota Research Expedition."

Dr. David Butler, with graduate student Melanie Stine (Texas State University, San Marcos)

Geoffrey Kershaw of the Department of Geography and Environment at Mount Allison University

Dr. Dawna Cerney, with two undergraduate students at Youngstown State University (Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada)
Dr. Patrick Hesp, with graduate doctoral student Katherine Renken, Louisiana State University (Veracruz State, Mexico)

Dr. John (Jack) Schroder, University of Nebraska - Omaha and Dr. Richard Marston, Kansas State University with graduate student Brandon Weihs (Shimshal Valley, Pakistan)

Dr. Wendy Bigler with four students from Southern Illinois University (Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca, Mexico) 

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