IRIS Graduate Student Summer Fieldwork Award

About the Award


The purpose of these awards is to support graduate students at the UW-Madison planning to conduct a minimum of 6 weeks of summer fieldwork outside of the United States.


Any continuing graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison may apply for these awards.

Award Details:

These are one-time awards of $3,000 to be used in support of 6 or more weeks of summer fieldwork conducted outside the United States. Time abroad outside the summer months will be considered though applicants should address these circumstances in their statement and should have their advisor address this in their letter of recommendation as well.

Notes on awarding:

  • Awards are considered taxable income.
  • Awardees who have non-resident alien status will have taxes deducted from their award prior to payout.
  • All other recipients will receive their awards through the Bursar’s scholarship system: if you have an outstanding balance on your student account all or part of your award may be used to pay that balance before being disbursed to you.
  • Changing your proposed travel dates after receiving an offer is allowable. If, however, changing those travel dates reduces your time abroad, the award amount will be reduced proportionally; any change that results in less than 6 weeks abroad will result in forfeiture of the award.

Please Note:

The application period for the 2024 awards is now closed. The deadline to submit an application was Wednesday, February 14, 2024.

Letters of recommendation must be received by the application deadline.

Please address any questions to the IRIS Awards Office at

We hope to announce the outcome of the 2024 competition in late March/early April.

BLAC Foundation Supplemental Award

In collaboration with the Black Languages, Arts, and Culture Foundation (BLAC Foundation), IRIS is pleased to offer a $1,000 supplemental grant to students pursuing international field research in the global south on topics related to art, language, or culture. After reading the BLAC Foundation’s mission statement on its website – – those interested should indicate that they wish to be considered for this additional funding. Note that awardees will be required to submit a 3-page paper detailing their activities and accomplishments abroad no later than 30 days after their return to the US for posting on the BLAC Foundation website. Applicants for research on the Mvet musical tradition in Equatorial Guinea will receive priority consideration.


Application Deadline:

The application period for the 2024 awards is now closed. The deadline to submit an application was Wednesday, February 14, 2024. Letters of recommendation were due by the application deadline as well.

Application Procedure:

  • Submit an application packet as a single pdf to Your application packet should include the following:
    1. cover sheet clearly listing the following: your name; campus ID; email address; department of study & current degree program; proposed destination/s; proposed departure and return dates (be specific); other sources of support received or applied for (for the proposed fieldwork); a brief statement of language competency (as appropriate); and the names, departmental affiliation, and email addresses of your two recommenders (see below) indicating which is your advisor; if you wish to be considered for the BLAC Foundation supplemental award (see above) clearly indicate that here as well;
    2. a project statement (750-word maximum): statements should clearly address the specific work applicants intend to undertake during their time abroad as well as how the proposed fieldwork fits an applicant’s overall research plan and prior experience in the country/region;
    3. brief curriculum vitae (2 pages maximum)
    4. a copy of your UW-Madison student record/transcript and, if appropriate, graduate transcript/s for courses taken at other institutions. Unofficial transcripts are fine.
  • Arrange for two (2) letters of recommendation, one of which must come from the applicant’s advisor. We recommend applicants contact their references before listing them in their applications. Letters of recommendation should arrive as pdfs, on letterhead and signed, and be sent directly to IRIS at

Important Travel Guidance

UW-Madison Travel Policy precludes university-affiliated student travel to locations that are under a current U.S. Department of State (DoS) Level 3 or Level 4 advisory designation, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 notice, and locations specifically designated as a “Travel Warning” location by the Provost. To read this policy and potentially request a waiver, see information on UW-Madison International Safety and Security website. Students hoping to travel to a location currently under a travel advisory are allowed to apply for a IRIS Fieldwork Award but it is the responsibility of awardees to secure any necessary waivers via the UW-Madison’s international travel policy. Notice that the above information applies to your planned travel if any part of your itinerary takes you through an area that is under a travel advisory. Also, please note that health insurance is required per UW policy and proof of coverage will be required of awardees. Questions regarding the UW-Madison travel policy should be directed to Ron Machoian, the UW-Madison ISSD, who can be contacted at, or at 608.890.2446.



All awardees are required to submit a brief report at the conclusion of their time abroad. You can read the reports from previous award recipients below.

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Nicholas Barnes (Political Science)

Hannah Chapman (Political Science)

Philip Janzen (History)

Tamara Polyakova (History)

Rachel Schwartz (Political Science)

Ben Shannon (History)

Jillian Slaight (History)

Bridgette Werner (History)


John Boonstra (History)

Sarah Farr (Sociology)

Kayci Harris (History)

Julian Lynch (Ethnomusicology/Anthropology)

Upenyu Majee (Educational Policy Studies & Development Studies)

Joseph Patteson (Spanish and Portuguese)

Will Porter (Music)

Alyssa Ramírez Stege (Counseling Psychology)

Christy Wahl (Art History)


Abigail Lewis (History)

Wan-Jun Lu (Communication Arts)

Piotr Puchalski (History)

Mariam Sedighi (Curriculum & Instruction, Educational Policy Studies)

Hermann von Hesse (History)

Lei Zheng (Curriculum & Instruction)


Robert Christl (History)

Nona Gronert (Sociology)

Kyungso Min (Art History)

Janey Myers (History)

Margarita Orozco (Journalism & Mass Communication)

Patricia Ruiz-Rivera (Comparative Literature & Folklore Studies)

Molly Teague (Geography)

Charlotte Whatley (History)


Peng Ai (Anthropology)

Sarah Alexander (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Conrad Allen (History)

Rita Benissan, BLAC Foundation Award Recipient (Art)

Esther Bettney (Curriculum and Instruction)

Kate Carter (Political Science)

Gioconda Coello (Curriculum and Instruction)

Vikas Gawai (Agricultural and Applied Economics)

Deepika Guruprasad (Nelson Institute)

Colleen Henegan (Nelson Institute)

Tarsha Herelle (Educational Policy Studies)

Tyler Hook (Anthropology, Educational Policy Studies)

Emily Hutcheson (History of Science)

Shanshan Jiang (Educational Policy Studies)

Kaan Jittiang (Sociology)

Erik Katovich (Agricultural and Applied Economics)

Maryam Khan (Law)

Ruo-Fan Liu (Sociology)

Alice Main (History)

Elizabeth Neary (Spanish and Portuguese)

Aijie Shi (History of Science)

Khine Thant Su (History)

Kevin Wamalwa (African Cultural Studies, Anthropology)

Steven Wang (Journalism and Mass Communication)

Chagai Weiss (Political Science)

Kelsey Wright (Sociology)


Vincent Ogoti (African Cultural Studies)

Leslie Sabakinu (History)

Alison Shepherd (Educational Policy Studies)

Jorge Trinidad (History)


Tinashe Hofisi (Law)

Sameera Ibrahim (Geography)

Addison Nace (Design Studies)

Prerna Rana (Civil Society and Community Studies)

Peter Russella (French and Italian)

Matthew Zinsli (Sociology, Development Studies)


Kathleen Cawley (Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies)

Erin Clancy (Geography)

Christopher Hulshof (History)

Omotola Okunlola, BLAC Foundation Award Recipient (African Cultural Studies)

Yue Qin (Sociology)


Johnny Bassett (History)

John Bennett (Communication Arts)

Thomas Brami, BLAC Foundation Award Recipient (Film Studies)

Juan Camilo Franco (History)

Harry Kiiru, BLAC Foundation Award Recipient (African Cultural Studies)

Napakadol Kittisenee (History)

Sarah Tolbert (Geography)