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Dan David Solar Fellowship

In 2007, Sarah R. Kurtz was one of the prestigious awardees of the Dan David Prize Laureate for her work toward the development of concentrator solar power systems using multi-junction solar cells.  Kurtz helped pioneer the multi-junction solar cell used by most space satellites and NASA’s Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. It was her desire to establish the Dan David Solar Fellowship, the first of its kind, to support graduate students working in the area of solar power systems. This Dan David Solar Fellowship is meant to provide freedom for a student and his/her faculty advisor to pursue solar-energy-related research projects, especially in the case where the Fellowship could enable a faculty member to expand a research program related to solar energy without the constraint of needing to deliver work to a sponsor.

Eligibility Requirements & Standards

  • Preference will be given to continuing graduate students in a solar energy field, or a project that advances the adoption of solar energy.
  • Preference will be given to those who show academic excellence and a clear desire to pursue a career in solar energy.
  • Preference will be given to a student proposing a research project that will strengthen UC Merced’s ability to do solar-related research (perhaps laying the groundwork for a future proposal) and/or to establish UC Merced as a leader in energy-related research (perhaps through an interesting publication).
  • All continuing graduate students are eligible, regardless of citizenship.
  • Currently be enrolled in 12 units in one of the graduate programs, GPA ≥ 3.0 and good academic standing.
  • Awardee information may be shared with donors, including but not limited to: name, award amount, UC Merced email address, application materials and/or summary of program/research interest.

Financial Support

  • One award will be given per year.
  • A full fellowship will be awarded in the fall (after review of the application in the spring).

Student Loan Impact

  • Per federal guidelines, all fellowship and tuition support is taken into consideration when determining student loan eligibility.  If the student will receive federal student loans during the same academic year as this award, please note that this award could, and most likely will, reduce their student loan eligibility.

Use of Funds

Funds may be used specifically for the pursuit of educational and graduate career goals.

Fellowship Benefits

The fellowship will provide the student the opportunity to pursue a research project without need to deliver results to a sponsor or to take time as a teaching assistant. The fellowship comes with some prestige based on writing the best proposal and having demonstrated previous excellent performance.

Application Procedures

  • Apply by completing an online application.  Please note, the fellowship application is built within the admissions system, so you might see some items that reference admissions.
  • During the application process you will be able to select this fellowship among others, if it is currently open.
  • Please include the following items with your application:
    • Proposal for research plan – in up to 3 pages describe the research you propose to do, why it is of interest, and how it could lead to further funding and/or to improving UC Merced’s reputation in the community.
    • General Statement - 1-2 pages that describe your accomplishments to date (complementing the information in your CV to explain its significance) and long-term career goals.
    • Please note, for your statement, write for a general academic audience, i.e. a faculty reviewer who does not necessarily have expertise in your area of research.
    • Unofficial up-to-date UCM transcript.
    • Curriculum vitae (CV).
    • One page letter from your faculty advisor explaining from his/her point of view how the project would be useful toward increasing solar-energy-related research at UC Merced (especially within his/her research group) and committing access to needed equipment and supplies for completing the research.
  • The fellowship committee will review all complete applications. Review criteria will include adherence to the fellowship guidelines, the academic qualifications of the applicant, and the letter of recommendation. Please note, incomplete applications will not be reviewed.


* The Graduate Division reserves the right not to make an award in any given year for which a call for applications/nominations has been issued.



See the Internal Fellowships page for current deadlines associated with this fellowship.