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. SIO requires students   participate in their first year of study. All applicants must submit a two page PIER essay to The 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 JANUARY for existing students.

Candidates (2018-2019) : Incoming Ph.D. 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.

There are hundreds of Ph.D. applicants across the nine departments. All applicants should contact to confirm receipt of their PIER essay.

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 is no longer supporting the PIER program with matching San Diego Fellowships.  Funds provided as matching support for the SDF will be combined in 2019 to support one SIO PIER Candidate.
All students accepted into PIER must have summer support provided their department or advisor.
CMBC provides summer registration fees for all PIER students.

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