Frequently Asked Questions

Overview: ELISS is a competitive, national program that prepares graduate and professional students to collaborate across disciplines and institutions to tackle complex problems. ELISS provides fellows a hands–on experience to improve their leadership skills while helping your community and the nation better understand and address tough societal challenges in one of two theme areas: Health and Wellbeing or Energy and Education, depending on their preference. Our goal is to help ELISS fellows prepare for meaningful careers in any sector, from academia to government to industry, and to become more informed and engaged citizens.

For interested or current applicants, please visit our FAQ for Students page.

Below are some questions that faculty may have regarding participation of their students in ELISS. We hope you’ll agree that ELISS is a great opportunity for students and has the potential to bring much broader benefits to your research group, university, and community.

How much time must an ELISS fellow commit to the ELISS fellowship?
ELISS fellows must volunteer between three to five hours of personal time per week and to travel three times over the course of the one–year program. ELISS is designed as an extracurricular activity which must be scheduled around regular work and study. Professional development programs generally help participants to become more productive.i To ensure that ELISS fellows thrive in their work, we will help them craft individual development plans and teach them time and project management techniques.

Will ELISS fellows receive a stipend?
No. ELISS fellows volunteer their time as a public service. The “glue” that bonds ELISS participants is a common desire to contribute to a critical societal challenge. You might think of this opportunity as the graduate/professional student equivalent of participating in a university or government advisory committee.

What are the benefits for participants?
In addition to learning crucial leadership, problem–solving, and team–building skills, ELISS fellows may apply for professional development funds to gain skills or knowledge that they would not acquire through their normal course of study. ELISS graduates will be eligible to apply for seed grants to start initiatives that are aligned with the ELISS mission. Perhaps even more valuable than the skills and knowledge that ELISS fellows will gain is the professional community that they will join, which crosses campuses, disciplines, and institutions. Finally, we will pay for all travel and training and provide a budget for fellows to carry out their ELISS projects.

What will be required of faculty supervisors of ELISS fellows?
ELISS encourages students considering participation to discuss this opportunity with their advisors and mentors. Semi–finalists will be required to obtain the consent of their academic advisor to be considered as finalists. Supervisors of ELISS students will be notified of optional opportunities to participate after the fellowship experience begins in January 2014.

How did you select partner campuses?
In the fall of 2012, graduate and professional students voiced their enthusiasm for ELISS through an online signature drive. More than 1500 students from 110 campuses participated. Many told us about innovative programs already underway at their universities and their eagerness to exchange ideas with students at other universities and to learn from mentors around the country. We invited campuses with the most signatures from a range of disciplines to become founding partners. Provosts and other senior administrators at ELISS partner campuses expressed their support for ELISS and made a financial contribution to the program. Partner campuses are: University of Pennsylvania, Purdue University, University of Washington, and Stanford University. We expect to add additional partners next year.

My students are not participating in ELISS, but I think this is a great program. What can I do to help?
We appreciate your interest! If you are on a partner campus, you can help by recruiting eligible students to apply to ELISS. You can also volunteer to share your expertise in leadership development or one of our theme areas (Health & Wellbeing and Energy & Environment) with ELISS fellows. If you are not at a partner campus, you can help to gain support for a future partnership with ELISS. Sign up to receive notification of the next campus partnership drive.

i Fuhrmann, C. N. et al. “Improving Graduate Education to Support a Branching Career Pipeline: Recommendations Based on a Survey of Doctoral Students in the Basic Biomedical Sciences.” CBE Life Sciences Education 10, no. 3 (2011): 239–249.