National Science Foundation – East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (NSF EAPSI)
Tina Cheng was a master’s student at San Francisco State University in the Department of Biology when she won an NSF – East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Fellowship to Taiwan.
Tina’s personal account of applying for the National Science Foundation – East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (NSF EAPSI) provides a behind-the-scenes look at the fellowship application process and the benefits of this NSF summer fellowship. Thank you,Tina!
Tina is currently in a Ph.D. program at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is funded on a National Science Foundation Emerging Infectious Disease (NSF EID) grant studying an invasive pathogen,Geomyces destructans, that causes White-nose Syndrome in bats. The lab in which she works received a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under a proposal that she led; the resulting study of antifungal skin microbes as tools for White-nose Syndrome management will become a chapter in her dissertation.
I am a master’s student at San Francisco State University in the Department of Biology where I have been working with Dr. Vance Vredenburg studying the role of an emerging infectious disease in the recent worldwide decline of amphibians.
In the summer of 2010, just after the second year of my master’s program, I participated in the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. This fellowship strives to connect student researchers from the U.S. with academic researchers in Asia (participating countries are Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand).
The NSF EAPSI program provided the perfect opportunity for me to conduct a short independent research project in Taiwan. However, I found that the benefits of participating in the EAPSI program were much more than just that. First of all, it gave me the opportunity to travel and experience a new culture. Secondly, the EAPSI program put me in contact with Taiwanese researchers within my field of interest; the collaborations I made over the summer can now serve as a foundation for future or continuing work as a PhD student. Lastly, I was able to conduct an independent research project in Taiwan in just two months. I am currently preparing this work for publication, which in addition to helping my academic career, will also serve to inform the research community of the state of emerging infectious disease in Taiwanese amphibians, and help guide possible conservation efforts.
I did not have any negative experiences during my trip, but like all cases of international travel, it takes some adjustment to be in a different country. While most people speak English at the University and within Taipei, you might be hard-pressed to find an English speaker if you travel away from the big cities. Also, if you don’t like Chinese food, you might have a hard time being in Taiwan for two months! There are also, of course, cultural differences, but most of these are pleasant surprises, such as Buddhist parades and cultural festivals.
To apply for the EAPSI fellowship you must fill out an application, prepare a short project summary, a lengthier project description (five pages, single-spaced), a biographical sketch (two pages, single-spaced), two letters of recommendation. You must also include the following supplementary documents: undergraduate and graduate transcripts, proof that you are currently enrolled in a graduate program, a letter of support from your host.
In total, the EAPSI application took me about one month to prepare, but it was well worth the effort.
I am currently finishing my Master’s thesis and applying to PhD programs. I hope to apply for the EAPSI fellowship again (they often fund students more than once), and encourage all those who have interest in working in Asia to also apply for this program!