Alaback & Brewer Melipal Fellowship

Fellowships for Field Studies in Conservation and Public Education in Patagonia and Latin America

Criteria for selecting applicants for this award:

This fellowship is for extended research study in Latin America for students with an interest in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development as well as public education and outreach for these topics. Priority is given for students in the Resource Conservation program that wish to work in Chile or Argentina; secondary priority is for students of any CFC major wishing to work on these topics anywhere in Latin America. The fellowship is open to undergraduates to do a field-oriented senior thesis project, or for graduate students to enhance their thesis research. The fellowship can be used for travel and per diem expenses for extended study (not to be used to simply attend a short conference or course). The fellowship will fund studies related to 1) conservation biology and sustainable development, and/or 2) conservation education to bring scientific knowledge of this region to the public. Applications that propose to integrate science with educational outreach are especially encouraged. Recommended institutions of collaboration:

Universidad de Concepcion, Concepcion, Chile
Universidad Austral, Valdivia, Chile
Universidad de Comahue, Bariloche, Argentina

History behind the establishment of this award:

Melipal is the Mapuche Indian word for the southern cross constellation, a nighttime sight emblematic of being in the southern hemisphere, and for us doing research in the mountains, forests and on the steppes of Patagonia. The Patagonia Region is in many ways analogous to the landscapes and ecosystems in the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest north to Alaska and therefore provides University of Montana students with an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the role climate, geology, human history, and evolution play in explaining the ecological patterns and processes that occur in these regions, and their implications to natural resource conservation and the relationship of people to place. By learning about these processes in Patagonia, students should gain new perspectives and insights on how these ideas may apply to Montana as well. We hope that this fellowship will also promote an exchange of ideas and cultures between scholars in these two regions. Ecosystems on either side of Patagonian Andes and elsewhere in Latin America are facing increasing stress from anthropogenic influences, including climate change, exotic forest plantations, forest degradation, ecotourism, development, land-use conversions, and invasive species, to name just a few. 
Ecological studies of many plant species and communities in Patagonia (including a high percentage of endemics), and indeed all over Latin America, are in their infancy. Moreover, there is an urgent need for the public to better understand the history, management and ecology of local ecosystems. Because we have a deep connection to this beautiful landscape, and care deeply about its future, we have established this fellowship to ensure students have a source of funding to explore and teach others about plant conservation and associated land stewardship in Patagonia and beyond.


  • Prepare a two-page proposal giving a brief description of the research activity proposed, as well as including information about the applicant’s Spanish proficiency (if applicable) and interest in studying at one of the recommended institutions above (if applicable).
  • Deliver or mail one copy of the proposal to:
    Laurie Yung
    College of Forestry and Conservation
    University of Montana
    Missoula, MT 59812.

Applications are due by March 31, 2017.


Applicants shall be notified of a decision by April 7, 2017.