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Graduate Awards & Scholarships

Judith S. Young Memorial Fellowship

Judith S. Young was a pioneer in radio astronomy and professor at UMass Amherst. This award for exceptional women applicants to our department serves to honor her legacy as a scientist and pillar of the community. Among her many accomplishments are pioneering observations of extragalactic molecular gas and construction of the UMass Sunwheel observatory. In the inaugural year, the recipient of the Young Fellowship will receive the following:

  • Travel funds to attend a scientific conference
  • Stipend for purchase of laptop or other research-related expenses
  • Exemption from TA duties in the first semester

Award Winners

  • 2019 Roxana Popescu
  • 2018 Tazkera Haque

The Five College Astronomy Graduate Research Fellowship

This fellowship is established through a gift from the Irvine Family to the Five College Astronomy Department in memory of Mary Dailey Irvine to encourage and reward excellence in an initial research project undertaken by a student in the Graduate Program prior to admission to Ph.D. candidacy. The fellowship award will consist of support for travel to a scientific meeting to present the results of the research project. It is expected that the final work would be published and would acknowledge the Mary Dailey Irvine Fund.

Award Winners:

  • 2006 Shikui Tang, "Simulations Galactic Bulge Winds"

  • 2005 Yu Lu, "The Origin of Cold Dark Matter Halo Density Profiles"

  • 2004 Zhiyuan Li, "Gone with the galactic wind: observation and theory "

  • 2003 William Fischer, "Near-IR Echelle Spectroscopy of T Tauri Stars: He I 10830 and Paschen Gamma as Wind and Accretion Diagnostics"

  • 2002 Dusan Keres, "CO Luminosity Functions For FIR and B-band Selected Galaxies"

  • 2002 Li Ji, "Four Point X-ray Sourses in NGC4631"

  • 2001 Juan-Hwan Choi, "The Growth of Galaxies in Cosmological Simulation"

  • 2000 Nicolas Bouche

Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a member of the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium, funded through NASA. Astronomy students who are US citizens have regularly received fellowships for summer research through this program. See the Consortium's website for more information.

Spaulding-Smith Fellows

The Spaulding-Smith Fellowship is awarded to outstanding doctoral students from historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Named for two UMass Amherst alumni — Major Franklin Spaulding (the first African American to receive a doctorate) and Elizabeth Hight Smith (the first woman to receive a graduate degree) — this fellowship provides financial support during the first and final year of graduate school. Incoming students seeking admission to UMass Amherst doctoral programs can be nominated by their Graduate Program Director or Admission Chair. More information:


University-Level Honors & Awards


Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA)  

Honoring individual excellence, the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award is highly competitive and prestigious. Only current students and alumni may nominate faculty for this award. Each year faculty, graduate, and undergraduate student committees review more than 100 nominations in a two-step process of data collection and analysis prior to selecting three faculty and two teaching assistant awardees. Recipients receive a monetary prize and are recognized at both the undergraduate and graduate commencements. In April and September, TEFD sends an email to all students soliciting nominations of instructors for recognition of their teaching abilities and interest in student learning.   

Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship  

The Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship Awards—$3,000 and a year's leave of absence—encourage award recipients to concentrate on activities related to graduate education, research, creative work and scholarly attainment. Selection of the awardees is based on demonstrably outstanding accomplishment and potential for continued excellence in research and scholarly or creative activity. 

Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity  

The Chancellor created the Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity in 2005 for faculty members from across campus who have, within the past three years, demonstrated outstanding achievement that has receives national and/or international recognition appropriate to the discipline. Each of the honorees receives a crystal award engraved with the Amherst campus seal at Convocation in the fall.

Distinguished Faculty Lecturer

This lecture series celebrates the value of academic excellence and recognizes the distinguished achievements of faculty. Those chosen for the series also receive the Chancellor's Medal, the highest honor bestowed to faculty by the campus. Past Astronomy winners: Joseph Taylor, 1980-81; Edward Harrison, 1978-79

Distinguished and Named Professors  

The title of Distinguished Professor may be awarded to full professors who have conducted outstanding research, teaching, and/or public service contributions that are widely recognized; an extraordinary level of productivity and impact in his/her field of study that goes well beyond the existing high expectations for full professors on campus; a level of productivity and impact that has been demonstrated for an extended period of time; pre-eminence in his/her field of study; recognition by professional organizations for outstanding contributions to the field (e.g., receipt of national awards); and other qualities exhibiting excellence.      

Distinguished Community Engagement Award for Research

The Distinguished Community Engagement Awards for Research and Teaching recognize and encourage superlative individual achievement in outreach as an incentive to further community engagement on the part of the academic enterprise. In recognizing excellence in engaged scholarship, the University of Massachusetts Amherst joins other universities that demonstrate commitment to the social, geographic, economic, cultural, and environmental betterment of the communities they serve.   

The University's Lilly Teaching Fellow

The Lilly Fellowship Program for Teaching Excellence enables promising early-career faculty to cultivate teaching excellence in a special year-long collaboration. Each year, up to eight teaching fellows are selected to work closely with TEFD on individual projects that typically involve developing or redesigning a course. This is a competitive award program with a long history at UMass Amherst that extends back to 1986. 

Armstrong Fund for Science

The goal is to encourage faculty at UMass Amherst to pursue research that has a significant likelihood of major science or engineering impact. Grants of up to $40,000, which may be spread over two years, are made from this fund on an annual basis; they are administered by the Office of Research Development.  

Spotlight Scholars

Selected scholars will receive a cash award and be prominently featured in campus publications. Anyone can nominate a scholar. All full-time tenure- and non-tenure system UMass Amherst faculty members are eligible to be nominated. Self-nominations are also accepted. Scholars are faculty who have demonstrated academic quality and leadership.

Accomplishments may include:

  • External grants, honors, or awards 

  • Innovations in teaching or research 

  • Collaborations with external partners 

  • Publication in a book or prestigious journal 

  • Appointment to a board 

  • A conference presentation, theatrical production or show of creative work 

  • Other activity that demonstrates quality and leadership in research, 

  • Scholarship, or creative activity

Teaching for Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Equity (TIDE) Ambassadors Fellowship

TIDE Ambassadors explore how they can enhance students’ learning and academic success across cultural, social, and learning differences by adopting a strength-based, inclusive, and equitable approach to teaching and learning grounded in the value of diversity. The program acknowledges the potential of faculty functioning as catalysts for change through intensive professional development of faculty across disciplines and career stages.  

UMass System Awards

These are awarded by the Office of the President, Office of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and International Relations.

Zuckerberg Leadership Prize/Chair

The Roy J. Zuckerberg Endowed Leadership Chair/Prize is designed to reward leaders of courage, conviction, and selflessness who have devoted their time and talent to helping the University of Massachusetts to accomplish its goals. Recognizing that leadership may be found anywhere, faculty, coaches, and staff of the University of Massachusetts are encouraged to apply. The award will alternate between a faculty member (when it is termed the chair) and a coach/staff member (when it is termed the prize). The Roy J. Zuckerberg Endowed Leadership Award equals $100,000 for two years. Each year, the awardee will receive $30,000 to support research, teaching or service linked to a demonstration of leadership and an award stipend of $20,000. The recipient will be selected by a committee consisting of the Chancellor of the Lowell campus; representatives designated by each Chancellor in the University of Massachusetts system, including Lowell, and the President of the University of Massachusetts or the president's designee. The committee will be chaired by the Provost of UMass Lowell.The committee will grant awards to coach or staff of exemplary character, high standards, and the proven ability to lead others at the university, nationally, or internationally in their field of research, in teaching or in service to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Awardees will have distinguished themselves through their commitment to the goals and mission of the University of Massachusetts, as well as public education more generally.

Science and Technology Fund

The intent of the program is to provide seed funding to researchers to help position them for larger and longer-term investment, such as major grants from federal, state, and private sponsors. It is also a goal of the program to help create partnerships with industry that leverage UMass faculty effort and expertise to make Massachusetts companies, industries and clusters more competitive and robust.