Skip to main content

Big Ten Academic Alliance Smithsonian Institution Fellowship

These one-year fellowships are offered through the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships in partnership with the Graduate Dean's of Big Ten Academic Alliance in order to support research in residence at Smithsonian Institution facilities. The fellowships carry a stipend of $40,000 (plus tuition and health benefits) shared on a 50/50 basis by the Smithsonian Institution and the Fellow’s university. The Graduate School is pleased to partner with the Smithsonian in sponsoring UMD students.

Eligibility: Students must have completed all course work for their programs, and must have been admitted into doctoral candidacy and satisfied all requirements except completion of the dissertation in order to qualify. Only students enrolled at Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions are eligible to apply.

Application Process: Application materials must be submitted electronically between by November 1, 2020, at 5 PM through  For additional information and application instructions, please visit

Since 2014, eight outstanding students from UMD have been awarded the Big Ten Academic Alliance/Smithsonian Institution Fellowship.

UMD BTAA Smithsonian Fellows

Gussie MacCracken, Department of Entomology, 2018 Fellow
Ms. MacCracken is a fifth-year doctoral candidate and is advised by Professor Jeffrey Shultz in the Department of Entomology.  Her research focuses on insect herbivory during the Late Cretaceous of western North America.  She explains how insect damage on fossil leaves provides direct evidence of plants and insects interacting in the distant past and is vital for reconstructing ancient ecosystems.

Leann Biancani, Biological Sciences Graduate Program, 2017 Fellow
In order to sense light in the deep sea, hyperiid amphipods, a group of pelagic crustaceans, have developed a wide array of unique eye types. In order to study this extreme diversity, Leann is using an integrative approach that includes analyses of hyperiid phylogeny, morphology, and ecology. Leann ' s research aim s to understand the origin and diversification of hyperiid visual strategies by reconstructing the evolutionary history of these complex traits.

Rachel Walker, Department of History, 2017 Fellow
Rachel's research focuses on physiognomy: a popular transatlantic science, rooted in the premise that individuals could empirically analyze facial features to discern the internal character of others. By unearthing how people used and abused physiognomy, Rachel's dissertation reveals how eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Americans crafted a science of beauty to rationalize the racial, class, and gender hierarchies that defined their worlds. 

Danielle O'Steen, Department of Art History and Archaeology, 2017 Fellow
Danielle's research focus is on the history of plastics in American sculpture of the 1960s and 1970s. For her Big Ten Academic Alliance Smithsonian Institution Pre-doctoral Fellowship, she will be in residence at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, starting this summer. There she will be researching artworks relevant to her dissertation in Smithsonian collections, under the guidance of Karen Lemmey, SAAM's curator of sculpture.

Miriam Hiebert, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, 2017 Fellow
Miriam's research focuses on developing novel methods of preserving glass cultural heritage objects. The current options available for conserving glass objects are very limited, so Miriam's work is intended to determine if applied coatings can slow, stop, or prevent degradation.

Calandra Stanley, Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 2016 Fellow
Calandra is investigating how seasonal interactions are contributing to the decline of a migratory songbird, the wood thrush. During her fellowship year, she will be using stable isotopes to quantify how carry-over effects from the non-breeding season are created and sustained through to the breeding season.

Madhvi Venkatraman, Biological Science Program, 2015 Fellow
Madhvi’s research uses genomic transcriptomics tools to study population history and adaptation in island birds. Her work focuses on three island systems: the California Channel Islands, Malaysian Borneo and the Hawaiian Islands. 

Amy Marquardt, Materials Science and Engineering, 2014 Fellow
Amy is using her expertise in materials science to help museum conservators analyze, clean, and preserve their art and artifacts.

Back to Top