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The mission of the University of California's Natural Reserve System is to contribute to the scientific understanding and wise management of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research and public service. Under this guiding principle, the UC Merced Reserve is available for a wide variety of research investigations by university faculty and students.


Research Grants Available

Swarth-Fogel Grant

The UC Merced Natural Reserve System is pleased and honored to announce the premier application for the Swarth Fogel NRS Undergraduate Research Scholarship, which supports undergraduate research projects at any of our four NRS or affiliated sites ( The application is now open (apply here: If you have any questions about this scholarship, please contact NRS Faculty Director Jessica Blois,

“Through field research in the out-of-doors, students can get sparked and excited about science in ways that don’t always happen in the laboratory or classroom setting.”

-Christopher W. Swarth

“I think that when students are at [this] stage of their career, [giving] them any experience in a research setting… it really enforces what they want to do with respect to science. You [open] up their eyes and let them see what they could do and what their potential is.” -Marilyn L. Fogel

This new scholarship is made possible through the generosity of two trailblazers who helped establish and grow UC Merced and are now making their already formidable footprint even more significant. This July, Christopher W. Swarth, former Reserve Director of the Merced Vernal Pool and Grassland Reserve and Project Scientist for the Natural Reserve System (NRS), and Marilyn L. Fogel, former Professor and Chair of the Life and Environmental Sciences Department in the School of Natural Sciences, now Professor of Geo-Ecology and Director of the Environmental Dynamics and Geo-Ecology Institute (EDGE) at UC Riverside, established the first-ever endowed scholarship for the UC Merced Natural Reserve System.

Specifically in support of undergraduate student research, Swarth and Fogel established the scholarship because they recognize the long-lasting value and transformative power that field research can have on undergraduate students’ academic and professional careers. It is their desire to assist undergraduate students at UC Merced to become involved in field research, especially those students who have historically been excluded. It is their hope to increase the breadth, depth, and scope of scientific discovery and research through support of the talented and driven undergraduate students conducting field research at the newest and most diverse University of California campus.

Additional information about the vision of Swarth and Fogel, the scholarship they have established, and ways you can contribute to help it grow will be coming in the near future. In the meantime, if you are interested in contributing additional funds to support undergraduate student research at the UC Merced NRS, please click here:


UC NRS Mildred E. Mathias Graduate Student Research Grants

Mildred E. Mathias Graduate Student Research Grants are available to any graduate student enrolled at a University of California campus who is conducting research at one or more of the 39 sites in the UC Natural Reserve System.  A total of $38,000 will be available in grants, with a maximum award of $3,000 per applicant.  Students from any academic discipline are eligible.  To learn more about this program visit the UCNRS website.

The annual Mathias grant competition is announced in July and closes mid-September. Awardees are expected to produce a paper or report, or present their findings in a suitable forum. Recipients of Mildred E. Mathias Graduate Student Research Grants are invited to present their findings before peers at the NRS’s Mathias Symposium, which is held every two years.


UC NRS Field Science Fellowship

The UC NRS Field Science Fellowship provides financial support to UC undergraduate-faculty teams conducting scientific research in the field at NRS reserves. The fellowships enable students to focus on gaining valuable hands-on research experience under the guidance of a faculty researcher. Each $6,000 award consists of a $5,000 student stipend and $1,000 to cover project costs. A maximum of $24,000 will be awarded annually.

Projects enabling the student to perform full-time research over the summer are preferred. However, we will also consider proposals that explain why the research must be conducted during another season, and how the student will be able to accomplish the research while enrolled in classes during the academic year.  At the conclusion of the fellowship, student recipients are expected to report on progress achieved with fellowship funds.

Funding for the Field Science Fellowships are made possible through the Samuelsen Conservation Scholars Initiative.

All applications are welcomed and will be considered. We especially invite applications from students from ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds historically underrepresented in the sciences, including but not limited to African-American, Latinx, Native American, Pacific Islander, and first-generation college students.

Eligibility requirements, evaluation criteria, and complete application information can be found here.