Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research (PIER)

PIER is an approved UCSD Specialization available in 9 UCSD departments.  The Specialization will acknowledge interdisciplinary skills trainees acquire beyond a traditional Ph.D.

Training for UCSD Ph.D. Students
Solving threats to the oceans and human society in the face of global change requires collaboration between disciplines.   PIER is designed to train students to find creative and practical solutions within ecological, social, economic, and ethical constraints.

CMBC is seeking the next generation of scholars capable of confronting the biological and societal issues with respect to the health of the world’s ocean.   We are interested in people that bring unusual and valuable skills to the program and think creatively about how to solve environmental problems.

PIER Proposal as amended approved June 6, 2016 available for download:
PIER Proposal

afe667dec8d14dad1e2bf8404b0f72b0Key Opportunities:
16 unit summer boot camp
2 unit interdisciplinary forum (IFER)
Group research project
Internship (subject to available funding)

How to apply:
Existing UCSD Ph.D. students in most departments are eligible to participate after their first year of study. Only SIO allows candidates to UCSD to participate in their first year of study. Applicants must submit a two page PIER essay to essay should expand on the applicant’s personal and research goals and how they will benefit from the integration of that natural and social sciences.  Existing students will also need a letter of support from their graduate advisor. Departments who nominate candidates to PIER are responsible for summer stipend.  The graduate advisor letter must acknowledge this. The essay and support letter are due by the last day of FEBRUARY for existing students.

Candidates to SIO only (2017-2018)  Candidates must  submit a separate 2 page PIER essay as part of the application.  Beyond what is in your statement of purpose, this essay should describe your personal and research goals and how these will benefit from the integration of natural and social sciences. Upload this essay on the Academic Program Areas page of the application. In addition, if you qualify, please apply for a San Diego Fellowship.

For more information – please email

The specialization is NOT a funding mechanism but a way to acknowledge interdisciplinary skills and training beyond a traditional Ph.D.

UCSD Office of Graduate Studies has provided the program with three one-year San Diego Matching Fellowship awards of  $33K.  PIER program donations to SIO will provide the match to this program.

San Diego Fellowships and how to apply
San Diego Fellowship support is available to those U.S. Citizens who qualify.  Candidates to SIO who qualify should follow instructions during the application process.
Existing UCSD students who qualify should send their San Diego Fellowship essay along with the PIER essay and faculty support letter to

San Diego Fellowship essay should include all relevant information in responding to these two questions:

  1. How have you demonstrated a commitment to diversity in the past, and how would you work to increase campus or departmental diversity at UCSD? Describe personal experiences, contributions, commitments, and impacts that demonstrate your commitment to improving educational access or quality of life for diverse groups.
  1. What significant and unusual educational, social, cultural, economic, or other barriers have you overcome in pursuit of your education? Describe, in sufficient detail, the challenge as well as any unique insights, perspectives or skills you gained while overcoming this challenge. Describe how overcoming the aforementioned challenge will enable you to contribute to the campus community in a unique and positive manner that enhances campus diversity.

We thank our generous donors and participating departments for supporting this program. We continue to seek support for participants, for group research projects,  and  for internships.
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