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2022 Tibor T. Polgar Undergraduate Fellowship


2019 Tibor T. Polgar Fellows with their mentors

Applications for a Polgar Fellowship should include:

  • The HRF cover page PDF; (please use Adobe Reader or Acrobat)
  • A letter of interest in the program including how the experience will be of value to the applicant and their future interests;
  • A short description (4-6 pages) of the research project, including a statement of its significance;
  • A timetable for completion of the research (maximum of one summer season);
  • An estimate of the cost of supplies, travel, etc. (up to $1,500);
  • The applicant’s résumé and transcripts;
  • A letter of support from the student’s mentor. Mentors’ letters should be submitted separately and should indicate not only the qualification of the student, but also an explanation of why the experience will be of particular value to the student; Mentors are asked to complete a survey from the student’s primary mentor that includes the time and resources they are willing to commit to the student’s project, and include this with their letter.
  • Eligible applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate program to qualify for this program.

    Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the description, merits, and feasibility of the proposed research, the endorsement and involvement of the mentor, and the potential of the project to have an impact on the student and the student’s career.

    Application Submission

    Polgar applications are due Monday, March 21, 2022.

    Applications, in electronic PDF format, must be received by the Foundation by 5:00 pm, March 21, 2022. The electronic copy of the application should be sent in one PDF file to info@hudsonriver.org. with the subject heading “Polgar Proposal Submittal.” Reference letters should be submitted separately to the same email address with the same subject heading that also references the student’s last name.

    One original hard-copy, postmarked no later than March 21, 2022, must be sent to:

    Polgar Fellowship Committee
    Hudson River Foundation
    17 Battery Place, Suite 915
    New York, NY 10004.

    Questions should be addressed to Helena Andreyko at helena@hudsonriver.org, or 212-497-1010.

The deadline for 2022 Tibor T. Polgar Undergraduate Fellowship Applications has passed.

The Tibor T. Polgar Fellowship program is a student research program of the Hudson River Foundation (HRF) conducted in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Named in honor of Dr. Tibor T. Polgar, a major participant in the early planning and development of the Foundation, this program provides a summer grant ($5,500 for each fellowship) and research funds (up to $1,500) for up to eight undergraduate students to conduct research on the Hudson River, under the guidance of a faculty mentor (mentors to receive a $1,000 honorarium).

Beginning in 2022, the Polgar Fellowship will be open to undergraduate students only. Students beginning their junior or senior year in the Fall of 2022 are encouraged to apply.

The objective of the program is to enhance opportunities for students to conduct scientific and public policy research with a specific focus on projects studying the Hudson River, its watershed, and the people who live there. A primary goal of the program is to introduce and expose students to the research process through a career-stage appropriate, summer research experience, guided by strong mentoring. The Foundation therefore encourages all interested students, including those with no prior research experience, to apply.

The 2022 program:

  • Focuses specifically on undergraduate students, in particular prioritizing rising juniors and seniors, with exceptions made for students who show special promise after their freshman year;
  • Encourages BIPOC students as well as first generation science (including natural and social sciences and public policy) undergraduates to apply; no prior research experience is required;
  • Welcomes projects that facilitate interactions with research mentors who come from communities that are historically underrepresented in the environmental sciences.

Application Requirements and Procedures

Projects must be relevant to the Hudson River and Watershed but may approach those subjects from a variety of disciplines. Appropriate topics include: studies of the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of the River; or examinations of the social, economic, public policy, and environmental justice issues related to the River and Watershed. Projects must be designed to be completed no later than September 2022, allowing for submission of the final written report November 2022. Students will be expected to attend an orientation, mid-term progress, and final reports meeting; they are also required to submit a final written report due November 2022.

The Role of the Mentor

Because of the training and educational aspects of this program, each potential fellow must be sponsored by a primary mentor. The mentor must be willing to commit sufficient time for supervision of the research, to review fellow’s draft and final reports, and to attend the orientation and final report meetings with their students. Mentors will receive a stipend of $1,000. We ask all prospective mentors to read a brief description of our goals for the Fellowship and a mentor’s responsibilities. We strongly encourage potential mentors to contact the Foundation prior to the student submitting an application.

HRF is committed to serving the diverse communities of the Hudson River and to facilitating an ongoing and inclusive dialogue with scientists, managers, policy makers, other stakeholders, and the general public to address the environmental and societal challenges facing the community of the Hudson River and Watershed. We seek to enhance this work by supporting researchers and students, with the unique and varied backgrounds, circumstances, needs, and perspectives that reflect the diversity of our community.

The Hudson River Foundation and the NYS DEC HRNERR awarded six Polgar Fellowships in 2022.

Matthew DeMilt, Farmingdale State College SUNY: Explore Algae and Sessile Invertebrate Distribution and Composition Across Hudson River Sites. Supervisors: Peter Park and Amanda Shore

Jayda Smith, Mercy College: The Impact of Dams on Benthic Macroinvertebrate Diversity in the Bronx River. Supervisor: Robert Habig

Viviana Chavez, John Jay College of Criminal Justice CUNY: Pharmaceuticals and Drugs of Abuse in New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Water. Supervisor: Marta Concheiro-Guisan

Noel Grace D’Antonio, Cornell University: Microplastics Pollution in the Hudson River Estuary. Supervisor: Maija Liisa Niemisto

Valentina Cerda, Marist College: Experimental Investigation of Water Chesnut’s Influence on Cyanobacteria in the Hudson River. Supervisor: Zion Klos

Gabrielle Robb, Pace University: Investigation the Distribution and Drivers of Invasive Trapa Natans in the Hudson River Estuary with a Multi-Scaled Approach. Supervisor: Wei Fang

Copies of previous Polgar Fellowship Program annual reports can be found here.

Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve

Since 1985, the Polgar Fellowship program has produced a large body of research relevant to the Hudson River watershed, with a concentration on the four marshes of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve (Stockport Flats, the Tivoli Bays, Iona Island Marsh, and Piermont Marsh), compiled in the annual Polgar Fellowship reports published by the Foundation. Anyone interested in obtaining this material in order to plan projects building on the work of previous Polgar fellowships or in discussing potential research topics should contact the Foundation. Copies of previous Polgar Fellowship Program annual reports can be found here.