GAANN Fellowships

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The School of Integrative Biology (SIB) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a major award from the U.S. Department of Education’s GAANN program to support Ph.D. students in the biological sciences.


  • Deadline for application for Spring/Summer 2017 competition: Friday, November 18, 5 PM
    The SIB GAANN Fellowship Committee is now soliciting applications for fellowships for Spring/Summer 2017. Deadline for receipt of all application materials including two letters of recommendation is Friday, November 18, 2016. The FAFSA for academic year 2016-17 must be filed immediately, as it takes 2-3 weeks to process and we must have this information as close to the deadline as possible. Results of the FAFSA are used to determine the student's level of financial need, that is the amount of the stipend granted. Be aware that graduate students are considered "independent" and do not need to supply parent information on the FAFSA. Only the student's tax and income information for 2015 is used. The letters of recommendation should be emailed or delivered directly to Staci Sears in the SIB office. GAANN fellows will be announced after the Thanksgiving break. Questions should be directed to Stephen R. Downie, GAANN Project Director, at

  • U of I receives $1.2 million to support graduate students in biological sciences

What is GAANN?

The U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program provides fellowships to assist graduate students with excellent academic records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue a Ph.D. in a field designated as an area of national need. For the FY 2015 competition, Biological Sciences/Life Sciences was designated as an area of national need. For more information about the GAANN program, see:

The GAANN fellowship

Approval of our grant application, called Enhancing Opportunities for Research and Training in Integrative Biology, resulted in SIB receiving eight fellowships for the September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2019 award period. Each fellowship includes a competitive stipend plus a waiver of tuition and campus mandatory fees. We intend for the award to ensure enrollment of talented graduate students from groups traditionally underrepresented in organismal and integrative biology. GAANN fellowships are renewable for up to three years and will be supplemented by teaching and research assistantships from SIB or by other campus fellowships to ensure that GAANN fellows are guaranteed five years of financial support. GAANN is not a recruitment grant but it is for a student at any point in his or her course of graduate study.

Eligibility criteria

To be considered for a GAANN fellowship, the student must:

  • Be currently enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, as a Ph.D. graduate student in one of SIB’s three departmental graduate programs (Animal Biology, Plant Biology, Entomology).
  • Have an excellent academic record.
  • Demonstrate financial need. Prospective GAANN fellows must complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The fellow will be paid a stipend at the level of support equal to that provided by the National Science Foundation graduate fellowships, expect that this amount must be adjusted as necessary so as not to exceed the fellow’s demonstrated level of financial need (as determined under Part F, Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended [GAANN regulation 648.51]). The fellow’s stated level of need is determined by FAFSA.
  • Qualify for eligibility according to 34 CFR 75.60 (Code of Federal Regulations). That is, a student must not be in default in repaying a federal student loan.
  • Plan to pursue a Ph.D. degree.
  • Anticipate a career in research and/or teaching in the biological sciences.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or permanent resident of the United States.

How do I apply for a GAANN fellowship?

To apply for a GAANN fellowship, submit the following materials to the GAANN Fellowship Committee, School of Integrative Biology, 286 Morrill Hall, MC-120. GAANN fellowships are awarded competitively, on the basis of both academic merit and financial need.

  1. A curriculum vitae showing relevant education, research and work experiences, volunteer work or outreach activities, and teaching/tutor experience. If you are currently enrolled in a SIB doctoral program, be sure to include awards, honors and grants received, funding applied for (both successful and not), record of supervised teaching experience, publications, presentations at scientific meetings, date of passing the preliminary exam (if taken), and anticipated degree date.
  2. A current transcript (unofficial is acceptable).
  3. Two letters of recommendation (email or deliver to Staci Sears,, SIB office).
  4. A personal statement (1-2 pages) describing your background (e.g., first generation college student, educational disadvantaged background, financial challenges), an overview of your research problem and research accomplishments to date (if already enrolled in a SIB doctoral program), teaching interests, eventual career goals, and reason for applying for a GAANN fellowship. Indicate gender and if you belong to a group traditionally underrepresented in the biological sciences (i.e., American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Latino/Hispanic ethnicity).
  5. You must also complete a FAFSA, as award amounts may not exceed demonstrated financial need. Questions on the FAFSA should be directed to the Office of Student Financial Aid. The FAFSA can be completed any time once it is available for that academic year, whether the student has been accepted or not into a SIB graduate program. The FAFSA is available each year on October 1st for the following academic year. Our federal school code is 001775. A new FAFSA must be filed prior to every academic year.

Additional GAANN program requirements

GAANN fellows are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress, following the degree requirements of their specific departmental doctoral program. Fellows must also maintain full-time status in their graduate program. The GAANN Director will meet with each fellow once per academic year to discuss progress, challenges the student might be facing, possible retention issues, and maintaining financial eligibility for their award.

Students receiving GAANN fellowships will be required to complete at least one academic year of supervised training in instruction at the undergraduate or graduate level at the schedule of at least one-half-time teaching assistant (GAANN regulation 648.61). To accomplish this, GAANN fellows will participate in a number of supervised instructional training opportunities that sustain, enhance and assess teaching effectiveness and student learning.

GAANN fellowship recipients may participate in broader campus social and academic programs geared towards identifying, recruiting, and retaining of students from traditionally underrepresented groups in the biological sciences.

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For further information, contact:
Dr. Stephen R. Downie
GAANN Project Director
239 Morrill Hall