The Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship Program offers merit-based awards for graduate students enrolled in a Ph.D. program to conduct research related to the International Ocean Discovery Program. The Fellowship year begins in either June or August (summer or fall semester) and runs one year. During the following summer, at the conclusion of the fellowship, Schlanger Fellows may attend a meeting of the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling (USAC) to present the initial results of their research and take part in U.S. Science Support Program-related activities.

Award Information


Fellowship awards are $30,000 for a 12-month period and are made to the fellow’s home institution. The entire amount is intended to be applied to the research project, student stipend, tuition, benefits, and, if necessary, related travel. No part of the award is to be used to cover institutional overhead, administrative costs, or permanent equipment. Award start dates can be negotiated on an individual basis—but in general are based on the academic year and following summer.


Applicants are discouraged from proposing projects reliant on data from IODP expeditions that are scheduled but have not yet taken place. USSSP cannot fund projects based on prospective datasets.


The fellowship is open to all graduate students currently enrolled at U.S. institutions in full-time Ph.D. programs. Approval of the research project by the student’s faculty advisor is necessary to begin the application process. Qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, creed, sex, age, or national origin.

The Schlanger Fellowship winners for the 2020-2021 academic year are:

What Drives the Indian Summer Monsoon? New Perspectives from the Bay of Bengal



Understanding the mechanisms that control the variability of the Indo-Asia monsoon system is vital to over half of the world’s population who depend upon monsoonal rains for water and agriculture. Competing hypotheses yield significantly different interpretations of Indo- Asia monsoon forcing mechanisms. One hypothesis, based on Arabian Sea wind proxy records, indicates that monsoon changes are strongly coupled to internal changes in greenhouse gases, ice volume, and cross-equatorial transport of latent heat. Another hypothesis, based on East Asian speleothem δ18O, hypothesizes that external insolation forcing is the primary driver of monsoon intensity changes. Expedition 353 records offer an unprecedented opportunity to test these hypotheses by investigating hydrologic changes surrounding and within the Bay of Bengal. Introduction: Indian summer monsoon rainfall is a critical source of water for Southeast Asia, the most densely populated area of the world. Variability of Indian summer monsoon rainfall can be disastrous, leading to flooding or droughts. Projections of changes in Indian summer monsoon rainfall is a key challenge for global and regional circulation models, particularly under climate change scenarios. In order to understand Indian summer monsoon rainfall variability, we need to understand the forcing mechanisms.



Born in Alaska and raised in New England, I’ve always been curious about the world around me. Through paleoclimatology, I can appreciate the Earth’s past while having an eye to our future. I got my BA in geology at The College of Wooster in Ohio. As an undergraduate, I participated in paleoclimate studies with researchers from Wooster, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and was a Clare Booth Luce Research Scholar and a Goldwater Scholar. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Brown University in the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences where I am working with Steve Clemens and Yongsong Huang. I study sediment cores from the Bay of Bengal using water isotope proxies to understand Indian summer monsoon system. The Schlanger Fellowship will allow me to create an orbital scale Dleaf wax record adding to multiproxy examination of Indian summer monsoon rainfall that will address local, regional, and systematic monsoonal variability and forcing mechanisms, advancing the physical understanding of monsoonal rainfall variability.

Fire and famine: Controls on microbial activity in the deep hydrothermal subsurface of the Guaymas Basin



Up to 33 percent of the Earth’s total living biomass is estimated to be within the marine subsurface, but the activity of these extremophiles, and their role in biogeochemical cycling, is largely unknown. The Guaymas Basin, Mexico, is characterized by active rifting producing steep geothermal gradients and dynamic geochemical environments. Preliminary results indicate cells are detectable down to ~300 meters below the seafloor and at in situ temperatures up to 90ºC, but the activity of these microorganisms remains a mystery. We propose to use stable isotope incubations to quantify single-cell anabolic activity and investigate how temperature and energy availability control activity. This study will improve our understanding of the energetic and thermal limits of life in the hydrothermal deep marine biosphere.



Microorganisms play a fundamental role in cycling carbon and nitrogen, and in shaping our planet’s habitability. I investigate the links between marine sediment microorganisms and their environments, and thus I’m pursuing a Ph.D. at Stanford University in Anne Dekas’ group. Using microcosm experiments and stable isotope techniques, I track the activity of subseafloor archaea and bacteria and investigate their physicochemical controls. In particular, the Guaymas Basin deep subsurface is an ideal site to explore the role of microorganisms in cycling climate-warming methane. Sailing on IODP Expedition 385 was an amazing experience; I met wonderful colleagues from all around the world, was at sea for two months, and was challenged to think in an interdisciplinary fashion. I’m excited to pursue my research through the Schlanger Fellowship and am eager to see what we discover in Guaymas Basin’s deep subsurface.

The integration of astrochronology and constrained optimization (CONOP) to resolve the history of the Southern Ocean during the Neogene



To improve the temporal resolution of geologic histories in deep time, I propose to integrate the global synthesis capabilities of constrained optimization (CONOP) with the geochronologically rich outputs of astrochronology. Method development will proceed using data from Neogene cores in the Southern Ocean as a case study. Although the best-constrained histories of this region are restricted to the Quaternary, modern warming will likely exceed the hottest climates of this era within centuries. An “astroCONOP” method could provide useful insight into the behavior of the Antarctic ice sheet and the Southern Ocean during the warmer climates of the Pliocene and Miocene and could be a versatile tool throughout geologic time.



Inspired by a lifelong passion for ancient life and volunteer work at the Paleontological Research Institution in my home-town of Ithaca, NY, I was encouraged to pursue a career in the study of Earth history. I started with an undergraduate degree at SUNY Geneseo, where I took part in biostratigraphic research of Devonian strata in Mongolia under the direction of D. Jeffrey Over. I built on this experience with a Master’s Degree, advised by Carlton Brett at the University of Cincinnati, where I honed stratigraphic skills in a regional study of Silurian sedimentary units in Ohio, Kentucky, and New York. I was subsequently employed as a staff geologist for Chemostrat Inc., where I gained hands-on experience in the study of elemental geochemistry and its widespread applications to a variety of geological questions. I leveraged this experience into my current Ph.D. work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I am advised by Stephen Meyers. My research seeks to integrate several methods of timescale calibration to build better histories, focused particularly on Neogene climate and biotic change in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. With a Schlanger Fellowship, I look forward to devoting myself entirely to a goal of building tools for better resolution of geologic time in the Southern Ocean and beyond.

Quantifying magnetofossil assemblages: Implications for paleoecology, diagenesis, and past, present, and future global change



Non-destructive, inexpensive, and widely available magnetic measurements on bulk sediments can often detect environmentally-sensitive biogenic magnetite and magnetofossils. Although some studies associate different magnetic signatures to redox-sensitive magnetofossil preservation, a mechanistic relationship between distinct magnetofossil sizes and morphologies, their magnetic fingerprints, their marine ecology, and their taphonomy is missing. I will test the relationship between magnetically unmixed magnetofossil signatures, distinct magnetofossil sizes, and morphologies, and marine redox conditions recorded in a coastal marine depth transect of archived IODP materials. Specifically, I will use visual observation of magnetofossils and statistical analyses that compare magnetic magnetofossil signatures to well-studied benthic foraminifera biomarkers and marine geochemical proxies for productivity and sedimentary redox conditions. The methods developed and tested herein will be broadly applicable to other IODP archives.



My lifelong interest in geobiology began where I grew up, in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. I was drawn to the fascinating world of magnetotactic bacteria (microbes that make tiny magnetic particles) through undergraduate research at the University of Rochester. For my Ph.D. research at the University of Utah, I am studying the extent to which we can use magnetotactic bacteria to fingerprint specific environmental conditions in aquatic environments. For example, I am testing whether we can use the fossil remains of ancient magnetotactic bacteria to understand how marine oxygen levels change during periods of rapid global change. My own experience as a first-generation student from a rural community inspires me to make science accessible and relevant to everyone. I enjoy sharing my research with the public and practicing my science communication skills. I especially like sharing how my work will help us predict how today’s oceans will respond to climate change. In addition to playing with microbes and magnets, I also enjoy backpacking, soccer, skiing, yoga, and painting.

Heinrich event ocean circulation and iceberg melting in the North Atlantic during the last glacial period



The long-term climate decline during the last glacial period was punctuated by Heinrich events, collapses of ice sheets around the North Atlantic, and pronounced temperature swings. Competing theories exist on a central question of Heinrich events – whether the freshwater from icebergs led to a slowdown in the overturning circulation or the other way around. A precise sequence of events is crucial to answering this question. Here we propose using three ODP and IODP cores forming a transect across the North Atlantic to reconstruct iceberg flux with 230Thxs-based ice rafting flux and overturning circulation with kinematic water mass tracer Pa/Th during the last glacial period. This project will resolve the sequence of changes during Heinrich events, and advance our understanding of how abrupt climate change unfolds.



I was first exposed to Earth science through a fascinating introductory oceanography course taught by professor Will Berelson at the University of Southern California. I was further drawn into paleoceanography through a summer fellowship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution with the wonderful Delia Oppo and Jake Gebbie. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, where I work with Jerry McManus on Heinrich events, episodes of abrupt climate change caused by armadas of icebergs discharged into the North Atlantic. Besides the incredible science, my love for paleoceanography also stems from the supportive and generous community of researchers whom I get to work with.



USSSP convenes a multi-disciplinary panel of scientists to evaluate research proposals and award fellowships. However, keep in mind that the panel may not consist of researchers with specific expertise in your field; thus, proposals should be written for non-specialists. The selection process is based heavily on an evaluation of research potential and quality; applicants are therefore encouraged to propose innovative and imaginative research that can be accomplished in one year. The number of fellowships awarded depends upon the availability of funds, but three to five awards are typically made each academic year. Applicants are permitted to resubmit a rejected proposal in a subsequent year. Financial need is not considered during the evaluation process.





Fellows must implement their research plans over the one-year period of the award and abide by the conditions of the award; major program changes must be approved by both USSSP and the fellow’s faculty advisor. During the award period, fellows are considered guest investigators and not employees of USSSP, IODP, or associated organizations.



Application Materials


The application period for fellowships for the 2021-22 academic year will open this fall.


To submit a Schlanger Fellowship application, please visit the USSSP application portal. The following materials are required for a Schlanger Fellowship application:


1. Application Form: This form includes contact information for the applicant, plus the proposed project title, relevant DSDP, ODP or IODP expedition(s), geographic region, and scientific problem(s) of interest.

2. Recommendation Letters: Two letters of recommendation are required, one from the applicant’s faculty advisor and one from a second reference.

3. Research Proposal: Each research proposal must include a short title, an abstract (about 100 words), and a description of the proposed research (statement of the problem and hypothesis, background and relevance to previous work, discussion of methodology and procedure to be followed, explanation of new or unusual techniques, and discussion of expected results, significance, and application). Research proposals must not exceed four (4) pages of text, not including references or figures. Figures should be included separately at the end of the proposal and should be limited to two (2) pages.

4. Proposal Implementation Form: Applicants are asked to respond to specific questions about other funding sources, their research facilities, and the timeline of their proposed research.

5. Curriculum Vitae: CV should include relevant educational history (degrees and dates awarded); fellowships, scholarships, and awards received; academic honors received; society membership(s); employment experience (including any internships); and any authored or co-authored journal articles, abstracts, or other publications related to your proposed research.

6. Demographic Information Form: This information will not be disclosed to external peer reviewers. If you do not wish to disclose any of the information (excluding your name), please check the appropriate box.

Previous Schlanger Fellows

For a list of previous Schlanger Fellowship winners, please click here.




Contact usssp@ldeo.columbia.edu for more information.