Photo: Foundation fellowships to help scholars seek solutions

My academic career was helped a lot by scholarships and mentors. When I was accepted into Amherst College in Massachusetts in the 1950s, a healthy scholarship made attending possible. I did an honours degree in biology and was inspired by Prof. Bill Hexter to go into genetics after graduating. I went to the University of Chicago, where I studied and worked as a research assistant to fruit fly geneticist Bill Baker and then received a large scholarship that helped me finish my PhD in three years. In 1961, I worked as a research associate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's biology division under Dan Lindsley, one of the world's leading experts in chromosome manipulation.

I understand the value of that kind of help and encouragement for students and academics who want to put their education to good use. That's why the David Suzuki Foundation has embarked on a fellowship program for emerging scholars.

Under the program, the Foundation will foster leadership, provide mentors and reduce financial barriers so fellows can work on solving complex environmental challenges. Fellows will learn communication and public engagement strategies so they can share their research findings and inspire all of you who are part of the Foundation's community.

Thanks to generous donors, the Foundation is offering annual fellowships of $50,000 plus $5,000 for travel and other professional expenses, as well as access to office space and computers. The first three fellows will work in the Foundation's Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto offices on climate change solutions related to transportation, clean energy and Indigenous knowledge. Under the guidance of Foundation staff and mentors, each will be required to complete a one-year research project as well as contribute to Foundation work and initiatives.

The fellowships are open to Canadian citizens or people with work visas, with a master's degree or PhD, or in the final year of a PhD.

I'm extremely grateful to all who helped me academically and financially during my studies. I learned about science and how to communicate complex ideas, and that has led to a fulfilling career and a way to make positive contributions to Canada and the world. I hope we can do the same for some of today's bright students and academics who want to put their ever-growing knowledge to resolving some of the environmental crises we face.

If you'd like to apply for a fellowship, or know anyone who would make a good candidate, please visit fellowships.davidsuzuki.org/findingsolutions. The application deadline is February 1, 2017.