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What is the Shukla Doctoral Fellowship?
Each year, the Shukla Doctoral Fellowship is offered to one exceptional student in the Climate Dynamics Doctoral Program. The one-year fellowship is designed to be continued by a graduate research assistantship for the student’s remaining four years in the program. Fellowship includes an annual stipend of $32,500 and tuition waiver.
The Shukla Fellowship is open to applicants to the Climate Dynamics Ph.D. program with awards contingent on enrollment as a full-time student. Applicants may be in-state, out-of-state, or international students. Applicants to the Climate Dynamics Ph.D. program are automatically evaluated for the fellowship. A committee of AOES faculty will select the recipient based on academic merit.
About Jagadish Shukla
Dr. Jagadish Shukla was the founding chair of the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences (AOES) whose faculty includes internationally renowned scientists, the founding director of the Climate Dynamics Ph.D. program, and the founding director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), a center of excellence at Mason. His seminal works on predictability in the midst of chaos, reanalysis, and land-atmosphere interactions established a scientific basis for prediction beyond weather by showing that the slowly varying boundary conditions of ocean temperature and land surface properties can produce dynamically predictable and societally beneficial climate variations.
During his more than 40 years in weather and climate research, he has led the field, either through his own scientific contributions or by creating lasting, high- impact institutions within the United States and other countries. His work has had an enormous impact on advancing climate science, establishing international climate research programs, and the practice of predicting climate variations.
Shukla Doctoral Fellowship Recipients
Ms. Heidi Nsiah was born and raised in Ghana. She earned her bachelor's degree in Meteorology and Climate Science from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2022. During her undergraduate studies, she conducted research assessing flood and drought episodes over selected synoptic stations in Ghana using the Standardized Precipitation Index. This research, together with coursework and her internship at the Ghana Meteorological Agency, fueled her curiosity of the underlying climate mechanisms, and in particular how interactions among various components of the Earth’s system drive climate variability and change. Upon graduating, Ms. Nsiah served as a teaching assistant in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science in 2023. She then joined George Mason University this Spring, 2024, where she is currently working with Professor Straus. Her research interest is broadly in the area of sub-seasonal to seasonal interactions within the tropics and extra-tropics. Beyond academic pursuits, she loves to sing, dance and take on leadership roles.
Ms. Alia Wofford is the first recipient of the Shukla PhD Fellowship. She hales from North Carolina where she completed a BSc in Biology and Comprehensive Science with a Teaching Licensure at Elizabeth City State University. She joined the Climate Dynamics PhD program in Fall 2021, after graduating with an MS in Atmospheric Science from Howard University. Ms. Wofford has a passion for research, as evidenced by her diverse research experiences leading up to her joining Mason. She has worked on research projects ranging from studying the effects of antimalarial drugs on chick embryos, to studying how dense gas contributes to star formation, to modeling biological methane fluxes in early Earth’s atmosphere. When Ms. Wofford was a postbaccalaureate research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center she became interested in planetary atmospheres and oceans and their interaction with life. Her master’s thesis at Howard focused on changes in the Martian dust cycle throughout the planet’s recent geological history. Having now joined the Climate Dynamics PhD program at Mason, she aims to apply her diverse set of knowledge and expertise towards studying Earth’s paleo (which means ancient) climatic history. Her current research focuses on the Proterozoic (2500-539 Ma) era which is most recognized by its intervals of the most severe glaciation episodes that have ever been recorded in Earth’s history. Specifically, the Paleoproterozoic (2500-1600 Ma) glaciation event when the intense cold conditions completely covered Earth’s continental and oceanic surfaces in ice, known as a “hard” snowball climate state. Her work explores deglaciation mechanisms such as increasing CO2 forcing that could have led to the termination of the Paleoproterozoic “hard” snowball climate state.