Julie and Rocky Dixon Graduate Student Innovation Award

The Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation and the Graduate School are pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2018-19 Julie and Rocky Dixon Graduate Innovation Awards. This fellowship is designed to support up to four doctoral students who are interested in developing their skills and experience in innovation and/or entrepreneurship in preparation for careers outside of academia. Fellowship recipients will carry the title of Dixon Fellow and will join a community of current and former UO graduate students who have combined learning and innovation.

The activities that comprise the fellowship experience should help enhance the career possibilities of students in areas such as industry, business and the non-profit sector, while remaining integral to the applicant’s doctoral research. Furthermore, the experience gained during the fellowship would ideally extend beyond the value to the individual student by enriching the student’s academic department, lab, research center, or other UO unit by fostering broader connections and engagement between the unit and the community of related companies, agencies, non-profits, national laboratories, etc.

Eligible career development experiences and opportunities should be integrated into the nine-month period of fellowship support and can vary in intensity over the course of the fellowship period. Experiences may include the current summer term in which the award is given, although funding will commence in fall of the upcoming year. Eligible activities could include:

  1. Developing a business plan around the Fellow’s dissertation research, and then seeking funding and partnerships to launch a company.
  2. Working with a foundation or government agency that funds grants for research and innovation to create solutions that address issues such as economic inequity, lack of resources, or sustainable land use planning and building practices.
  3.  Interning with an organization to:
    1. bring top technology industry research scientists to the University of Oregon to discuss directions and preparation for social scientific research positions in corporate and private sector settings.
    2. learn new methods and create policies that shape our understanding of issues within the social or natural sciences, business and product marketing, or urban planning.

The selection committee looks forward to reviewing all kinds of creative ideas that meet the spirit of this award. Students are responsible for seeking out and arranging these opportunities and developing an individual plan of activities (that should include their doctoral research and may include other departmental obligations) for the fellowship award period. The host entity must agree to provide evaluation and assessment of the student’s experience and performance.

Award Information

Up to four awards will be made. Each fellowship carries an award of $14,000 to be used either to support the recipient's graduate employee (GE) salary or for specific activities tied to the project or both. In either case, the recipient will be appointed as a research graduate employee (GE appointment) at .40 FTE or greater (whichever is consistent with the standard departmental GE appointment) for the academic year. In addition, recipients will receive a GE tuition waiver, all but $61 of the mandatory fees, and all but 5% of the health insurance premium for fall, winter, and spring terms to support that appointment. The award may, in full or in part be used toward specific activities tied to the innovative career development experience. The department (or a sponsoring research center/institute or school/college) is expected to obtain and provide funding to ensure that the total salary is assigned at an FTE consistent with the standard departmental GE appointment and equal to what that student would receive at the GE level III. This departmental support, and how the $14,000 will be applied, needs to be outlined in the department nomination letter.

All research GEs are required to be enrolled full-time (9-16 credits) toward the degree. During the academic year, award recipients will be required to be enrolled in research or internship credits (three or more) commensurate with the time spent on award-supported experience.

Award recipients are expected to:

  1. Participate in a “launch” meeting at which they will meet other Dixon Fellows.
  2. Interview at least one prior fellowship recipient about their experiences and advice.
  3. Share short monthly progress reports with other Dixon Fellows and with the Dixon Fellows faculty mentor.
  4. Participate in the Graduate Student Research Forum by presenting what they learned and accomplished during the fellowship.
  5. Prepare a final report that details activities supported by the fellowship, how this experience helped develop and advance their career goals and academic progress, and how this experience was used to enrich either the department or the university.

Eligibility, Nomination Process and Deadline

UO doctoral students in all programs who will be advanced to candidacy by the end of spring term 2018 are eligible to apply. The award will be rescinded in the case of an awardee that has not advanced to candidacy by the end of spring 2018. All applicants must be accepted to the external program or internship at the time of applying.


To be completed and submitted by the student:

  1. An Individualized Development Plan (IDP). More information and templates can be found at https://gradschool.uoregon.edu/faculty/idp.
  2. A summary of the proposed innovative experience which addresses how it complements your academic research and goals; and how it will contribute to your career development. Be specific about the arrangement worked out with the sponsoring organization and when this experience will occur, the kinds of expected activities involved during and after the experience, and how this opportunity enhances your career possibilities. Please describe any related activities in which you will be engaging, before and/or after the experience that complement the internship. The strongest applications are those that also address how your innovative experience could benefit and enrich the department or the university through the sharing of expertise and learning gained through the beyond-the-academy experience. (Summary should not exceed 1,500 words, nor exceed three pages.)
  3. A CV or resume.

Nomination/Letters of Recommendation

This award requires a letter of nomination from the department head or institute/center director and two letters of recommendation—one from the student’s advisor and one from the external mentor at the organization providing the experience.

  • DEPARTMENT NOMINATION LETTER: A brief statement from the department head or institute/center director nominating the applicant on behalf of the department and describing the department’s financial support for the nominee and their project.
  • ACADEMIC ADVISOR LETTER: This letter should:
  1. Confirm that the student is expected to be advanced to candidacy no later than Spring 2018.
  2. Characterize the student’s academic achievements, address the proposed innovative career development experience, and how the associated activities will contribute to the student’s academic progress or career development.
  3. Describe how the advisor will support the applicant’s vision and goals for the career development experience.
  • EXTERNAL MENTOR LETTER: This letter should describe how the mentor will support the applicant’s vision and goals for the career development experience and what kind of support and mentorship will be offered to the student during and after the experience.

To apply for this award, please click here:

Awards and Fellowships Application

Deadline: Friday, April 27, 2018


Note for Graduate Students with Financial Aid:
Receiving this award may reduce your financial aid award. Please contact the Financial Aid Office prior to applying for this (and any other type of) support.

For more information, please contact: Jered Nagel at jnagel@uoregon.edu.



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