Grand Challenges Water Science Communication Fellowship

Empowering Creativity, Celebrating Achievement

Grand Challenges Water Science Communication Fellow, Spring 2024

What are Grand Challenge Water Science Communication Fellows?

Students work with mentors (faculty, research scientists, graduate students) to create a communication project to educate the public on a water resource related issue that is currently being researched. The research used to produce the communication project can either be the student’s own or the research of their faculty mentor. Students select their own communications venues (paintings, podcasts, videos, etc…) and work together as a cohort to develop and refine their individual projects. Projects are then presented at the UNM Undergraduate Research Opportunity Conference (UROC) in the spring semester, and are posted on UNM websites.

Why Participate in Grand Challenges?

Many undergraduate students are interested in research within their discipline but struggle to figure out how to get started. The Grand Challenge fellowship offers an avenue for students to create relationships with mentors who are currently working on real water-resource related issues within the student’s area of interest. Water resource issues affect every facet of life which is why our faculty mentors come from an assortment of different departments across UNM. This includes Environmental Studies, Biology, Geography, Water Resources, Economics, Law, Civil, Construction, & Environmental Engineering, and many more. The Grand Challenges team is passionate about helping students step out of their comfort zone and getting them involved with important, current research happening right here at UNM.

Build Your Communication/Presentation Skills

The issues within the realm of water resource research can quickly become complex and technical, limiting the potential impact the research can have. Grand Challenge Fellows learn how to communicate these complex issues to a broader audience in a way that they feel will have the greatest impact. Scholars meet as a cohort throughout the semester to get feedback on their projects and practice their presentation skills. Public speaking is an important tool to have in the professional world, but it can be intimidating to get started. The cohort is designed to ease fellows into public presentations and the process of peer review.

Passionate About Water Resource Issues?

Students who have conducted their own water resource related research are also encouraged to participate. In April, Grand Challenge scholars present their communication projects at the UROC conference which is a fantastic opportunity to bring attention to your research beyond the scope of your department. After the conference the projects are posted on UNM websites, all designed to bring awareness to developing water resource issues across departments. If you do decide to use your own research you will still receive the same support from the GC team as the rest of the cohort, including a faculty mentor.

$1000 Stipend

Each Grand Challenge Fellow who is accepted to participate receives a $1000 stipend and an additional $100 for materials and supplies. The stipend is dispensed in two increments of $500. The first is to be received after the application and mentor-matching process and the second comes after the completion of the project and presentation at the UROC Conference.

Student Application Information:

  • Applications available here November 6.
  • Applicant Requirements: Degree-seeking undergraduate students at UNM; Interest in sustainable water resource development
  • Approximate Time Commitment: Once a week cohort meeting (in person or over zoom) 30-60 minutes. The frequency at which you meet with your faculty mentor is something that will be decided by both the fellow and their mentor after the matches have been made, the minimum requirement is once a month. UROC Conference is a one-day presentation forum in April at UNM in the SUB. This schedule will be implemented Jan-Apr 2024
  • You are not required to commit to the project idea that you apply with.
  • You will be able to request a specific mentor if you would like to be matched with specific faculty mentor in the program. Make sure to mention this in your application
  • If you have any questions, feel free to contact Kamryn Zachek (she/her) at

Click here to see a few projects from the 2023 Fellows



Grand Challenge Water Resource Scholars Application Form 

Apply Here 

Contact for students: Kamryn Zachek at

Grand Challenge Mentors

If you are conducting water research and would like to mentor a Grand Challenge Water Science Communications Fellow, please complete the following form..

Faculty Mentors Form 

Contact for faculty mentors:

Anjali Mulchandani at