School of
Integrative Biology

School of Integrative Biology

GAANN Fellowships

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 2020 and Summer 2020 competition: Friday, October 11, 5 PM
    The SIB GAANN Fellowship Committee is now soliciting applications for fellowships for Spring 2020 and Summer 2020. The absolute deadline for receipt of all application materials including two letters of recommendation is Friday, October 11, 2019, 5 PM. A FAFSA for 2019-20 financial aid must be filed immediately so that results are available by the deadline date. The filing of a FAFSA and analysis by our Office of Student Financial Aid are used to determine the fellow’s demonstrated level of financial need. The 2019-2020 application process will use 2017 income and tax data. Be aware that graduate students are considered "independent" and do not need to supply parent information on the FAFSA. Please pay close attention to the additional application instructions presented below, as they are somewhat detailed and incomplete applications will not be considered. All application materials must be emailed or hand delivered directly to Staci Baxley in the SIB office. GAANN fellowships are awarded competitively, on the basis of both academic merit and financial need. Questions should be directed to Stephen R. Downie, GAANN Project Director,

    IMPORTANT INFORMATION: If you previously applied for a GAANN fellowship for AY2019-20 and completed the 2019-20 FAFSA, but were not awarded a fellowship and wish to be considered for the Spring/Summer 2020 competition, just let Stephen Downie know. It's not necessary to formally reapply or have new letters forwarded, unless your teaching experiences have changed substantially and then just submit a revised teaching statement.

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

  • Past and Current GAANN Fellowship Recipients

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. If necessary, GAANN fellowships during the academic year will be supplemented by a TA appointment or a partial RA appointment to ensure that GAANN fellows receive at least the minimum salary SIB offers to all of its graduate students. To be eligible for the summer stipend, the student must be enrolled full-time for the entire summer term. 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. All application materials, with the exception of the FAFSA results (which we will get directly from OSFA), are to be emailed or hand delivered to Staci Baxley in the SIB office. Pay close attention to these instructions, as incomplete applications will not be considered. The information requested is also necessary for our completion of a GAANN annual performance report for each fellow. GAANN fellowships are awarded competitively, on the basis of both academic merit and financial need.

  1. A curriculum vitae showing university identification number (UIN); department graduate program; advisor name; education, research and work experiences; and participation in volunteer work or outreach activities. 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), publications and presentations at scientific meetings, date of passing the preliminary exam (if taken), and anticipated degree date.
  2. A personal statement (1-2 pages) describing your background (e.g., first generation college student, educationally disadvantaged, financially challenged), a brief description of your dissertation research and relevant accomplishments to date, immediate plans after graduation and 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).
  3. A statement (1 page) describing your teaching experiences. 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. If you have already completed the supervised teaching experience prior to receiving a GAANN fellowship, we must specify how this regulatory requirement was met in your GAANN annual performance report. Describe (or tabulate) the courses, labs and/or discussion sections you have taught to date, percent appointments, duties, and how your teaching was supervised and evaluated. Describe your participation in any professional development opportunities (such as, CITL workshops and programs, Merit and AAP training sessions, courses, specialty workshops, TA discussions, peer mentors) that have supported your development as an effective educator. In particular, GAANN wants to know what kind of instruction in effective teaching techniques you’ve received, and the ways in which your teaching performance has been supervised and evaluated. Comment on how your teaching effectiveness and lesson implementation have improved over time.
  4. A current transcript (unofficial is acceptable).
  5. Two letters of recommendation (emailed or hand delivered to Staci Baxley,, SIB office). Ideally, one letter should be from your advisor and the other from an instructor or course coordinator who can comment on the supervised teaching experience(s) you have obtained. Students should inform their advisors that they should indicate if funds for a partial RA appointment are available should the value of the GAANN stipend not reach the minimum SIB salary level.

All applicants must also complete a FAFSA, as the amount awarded by GAANN must not exceed the student's demonstrated level of financial need. Questions on completing the FAFSA should be directed to the Office of Student Financial Aid. The FAFSA is available October 1st for the following academic year. Our federal school code is 001775. A new FAFSA must be filed prior to every academic year. The FAFSA must be filed early enough so that results are available by the application deadline date.

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.


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