image of award recipient

Doctoral Candidate in Organismic Biology, Mariamar Gutiérrez Ramirez, LOVES birds. In fact her research on migratory birds has taken her all over North and Central America, making literal and figurative connections between her home of Nicaragua and her work in western Massachusetts. Driven by her long-time passion for songbirds and conservation, Ramirez has secured a 2019-2020 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship to complete her doctoral work.

Rising to the top of a national applicant pool comprised of more than 600 applicants, Ramirez was awarded a one-year stipend of $25,000, an invitation to attend the yearly Conference of Ford Fellows, and mentoring from a vast network of Ford Foundation alums. Meant to accelerate progress on doctoral theses, the fellowship allows students to focus exclusively on research and writing for nine or twelve consecutive months while providing professional support soliciting and obtaining future funding, publishers, and mentors, among others.

For Ramirez, receiving the Ford Fellowship was both a surprise and a relief. Having previously applied to both the Ford’s pre-dissertation and dissertation fellowships three separate times and being unsuccessful, Ramirez was reticent to go for it again. Ramirez credits Associate Director for Grants and Fellowships, Heidi Bauer-Clapp, in the Office of Professional Development, for her encouragement and success.