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Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship

It's an exciting two-year fellowship program that provides the opportunity for graduate students to conduct collaborative research at one of the 30 national estuarine research reserves.

Through a research project, fellows address a key reserve management need to help scientists and communities understand coastal challenges that may influence future policy and management strategies.

The research reserves represent the apex of estuary science. At these coastal sites, fieldwork, research, and community engagement come together to create the scientific advances that change our communities and our world.

Fellow assembling equipment on a boat in the ocean.

Specific fellowship benefits include the following:

  • The ability to develop meaningful cross-discipline research projects in conjunction with scientists, community leaders, and other organizations

  • Networking opportunities with the annual fellowship class, plus the other professionals across the reserve system, NOAA, and community partners

  • Professional development and mentoring in a variety of disciplines, including facilitation and communication. Fellows will also have quarterly career-readiness training.

  • The development of research partnerships between universities and reserves

Fellow kneeling and smiling in marsh grass with water and shrubs in the background.

Students who participate in the Davidson Fellowship can become eligible for a noncompetitive direct hiring authority at NOAA. Visit this website for more information about what this means.

Pending congressional appropriations, NOAA anticipates an annual budget of up to $45,000 in direct costs. Direct costs should support the fellows and their research and may include stipend, supplies, travel, and tuition.

For Applicants

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of U.S. states or territories admitted to or enrolled in a full-time graduate program at a U.S. accredited college or university, working to obtain a master’s or doctoral degree. Applicants must plan to be enrolled for all of the first year, and the majority of the second year, of funding.

When are applications due?

The request for applications will be posted through every odd-numbered year and includes all application instructions and requirements for the upcoming cohort. Please note that the prospective fellow’s institution of higher education is the applicant for the fellowship, so students are encouraged to work with their advisor and Office of Sponsored Programs, or equivalent, well in advance of the deadline to prepare the application package.

See the “Timeline” section below for more details.

Check out this Guide to Collaborative Science for more information and resources to plan and implement a collaborative research project.


December 4, 2023 Applications due in
May/June 2024 Applicants notified of selection results
August 1, 2024 Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship begins

Meet the Fellows

Congratulations to the third cohort of Margaret A. Davidson Fellows! These students will work collaboratively with mentors, scientists, and the local communities on their identified projects over the next two years. Sign up for email updates and stay connected with the program by emailing

Check out the recordings from our fellowship webinar series and learn more about the important work of current and former fellows.

Fellows at the 2022 NERRS Annual Meeting.

For More Information

Margaret A. Davidson

About Margaret A. Davidson

This fellowship honors the legacy of NOAA’s Margaret A. Davidson. Margaret was a true visionary in the coastal management world, someone who saw the future with clarity and knew how to push for innovation and, frankly—shake things up. She defined excellence in many categories, always raising the bar with the goal of helping coastal communities thrive. This approach is what NOAA and the research reserves are striving to achieve with the Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship program.