Ralph Cicerone Fellowship

ACOM Ralph Cicerone Fellowship in Earth System Science
2020 Application Deadline - February 28th, 2020

How to Apply

The Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling Laboratory (ACOM) in NCAR/UCAR is pleased to announce the second annual Ralph Cicerone Fellowship in Earth System Science. Dr. Cicerone was highly respected for both his research on atmospheric chemistry and for his influential leadership on related policy issues. He made important contributions to our understanding of the sources of greenhouse gases — particularly methane and nitrous oxide — and of the ozone layer and how human activities affect it. ACOM’s mission is to advance understanding and predictive capability of atmospheric composition and related processes, and to provide intellectual leadership and facility support to the wider community. This fellowship, in honor of Dr. Cicerone, provides an excellent opportunity to spend time working on a thesis, or final-project equivalent, with guidance from NCAR scientists and engineers.


Ralph Ciceronein 1989.
Ralph Cicerone as ACD Director on 31 August 1989.
NCAR Staff Notes photo by Ginger Hein.

Dr. Cicerone received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois in electrical engineering, with a minor in physics. He held a variety of academic and research positions over the years, beginning with the University of Michigan before becoming a Research Chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. In 1980 he was a Senior Scientist and served as the director of the Atmospheric Chemistry Division (now the Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling Laboratory [ACOM]) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado until 1989. In 1989 he accepted an offer to build an interdisciplinary department of geosciences at the University of California, Irvine and was appointed the Daniel G. Aldrich Professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Cicerone served and chaired the Department of Earth System Science into the early 1990s before being appointed as dean of physical sciences for the next four years, and then Chancellor at the University of California, Irvine until becoming the President of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005. He retired in 2016 after serving the Academy for 11 years as its president.

In 2001, Dr. Cicerone led a US National Academy of Sciences study on the current state of climate change and its impact on the environment and human health, as requested by President George W. Bush. Four years later, Ralph became the President of the National Academy of Sciences. As President of the Academy, he was asked to give testimony to both the US Senate and House of Representatives and also fostered strong links with the Royal Society.

Dr. Cicerone’s research and policy contributions have been recognized with major awards. These include the Franklin Institute’s Bower Award for Achievement in Science in 1999, the 2002 American Geophysical Union Roger Revelle Medal, and the World Cultural Council’s Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2004. Dr. Cicerone passed away in 2016.

The Ralph Cicerone Fellowship in Earth System Science is intended for graduate students from underrepresented communities. One fellowship will be awarded each year for a two year period. Successful candidates will receive financial support for four months, divided over two years, working with NCAR in the ACOM laboratory. The student will come to NCAR for three consecutive months in the summer of the first year to focus on a self-defined research project and one month in the following year to complete the project. Financial support will cover two trips to NCAR in Boulder, Colorado and provide a stipend for lodging and living expenses. For the first year, please plan on arriving in mid-May 2020 and staying through early August 2020 in order to take advantage of the many internship workshops and activities available at NCAR. 


Qualified graduate students will meet the following requirements:

  • attending a North American university

  • living in the U.S. with appropriate work authorization

  • belonging to an underrepresented population (see definition below)

  • holding an undergraduate degree in atmospheric science or a related Earth system science, such as one of the other geosciences (chemistry, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, meteorology, or physics) and currently actively pursuing a graduate degree in atmospheric or related Earth system science.

UCAR strongly believes that increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences is critical for maintaining a strong and vibrant workforce and doing our best science.

Definition of Underrepresented Populations

Racial/ethnic groups: African American, Chicano/Latinx, Native American, Filipino, Pacific Islander, Southeast Asian (i.e. Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese) or mixed race/multiracial groups with at least one parent from the above ethnicities.

First-generation college students: This means neither of your parents received a bachelor’s or four-year degree (or higher) from an accredited college or university in the United States. If you have a sibling in college you are still first generation. If your parents took some courses, but did not complete a degree you are still considered first generation.

From a low-income family: This means you qualified for a free or reduced lunch program while in high school.

Sexual/gender minorities: This means you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, demisexual, or some other sexual minority, and/or you are transgender, and/or you identify your gender as non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer, or some gender other than “male” or “female."

Students with disabilities: This means you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Veterans: You have served in the active military, naval, or air service, and you were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.

How to Apply:

See the attached application. Applications will be accepted beginning in December 2019. Please download the application as a Word document, fill it out with your information, then upload it to ACOM along with two letters of recommendation and your school transcript. Applications for 2020 must be received by ACOM no later than February 28th, 2020 for consideration for starting the fellowship in early summer 2020. 

For questions, please contact Dr. Gabi Pfister at pfister@ucar.edu.




ACOM | Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling