UM Student Wins EPA Graduate Fellowship

November 04, 2016

Ranalda Tsosie (Photo by UM student Stephen Chase) MISSOULA – A University of Montana student was one of 50 students nationwide awarded a Science to Achieve Results Graduate Fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ranalda Tsosie earned a $132,000 grant in May for her project “Addressing Longstanding Groundwater Contamination using Silica Polyamine Composites in the Tsétah Area in Arizona.” Tsosie is a doctoral student in interdisciplinary studies with a research emphasis on chemistry, environmental studies and geosciences. She will receive the grant over the next three years, until her expected graduation from the doctorate program.  

A member of the Navajo Nation, Tsosie was awarded under the funding opportunity for sustainable and healthy communities for tribes and American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Pacific Islanders. Her research focuses on developing a filter for the removal of contaminating metals, such as uranium and arsenic, from wells on the Navajo reservation in Arizona.

“It’s opportunities like the EPA STAR Fellowship that provide a foundation for STEM graduate students like myself and foster up-and-coming scientists to address the Nation’s environmental concerns,” Tsosie said.

Tsosie said the grant will help her complete her graduate studies, pay for travel to and from her study sites in Arizona and purchase research supplies. She also was offered a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, but declined.  

UM offers other opportunities for Native American graduate students, such as Native American Student Scholarships and the Alfred P. Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership.

“There are numerous funding sources for Native American students across all disciplines, and I encourage every student to take the time to develop an outstanding personal statement and apply for these opportunities and others that are available,” Tsosie said.

The EPA’s STAR Graduate Fellowships program for master’s and doctoral students is part of a national effort to ensure the United States meets current and projected human resource needs in environmental science, engineering, mathematics and technology.

“These exceptional students will conduct innovative research while pursuing advanced academic degrees,” said Thomas Burke, EPA science adviser and deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development. “These STAR Fellows are the future environmental and public health leaders, and their research will help move the field forward.”

Since its beginning in 1995, the program has awarded 1,884 fellowships to students in every state and helped educate new academic researchers, government scientists, science teachers and environmental engineers. To learn more about fellowship opportunities from the EPA, visit

To learn more about scholarships for Native American students at UM, visit


Contact: Ranalda Tsosie, UM doctoral student,