Science Communication Fellowship

Connecting Scientific Research with Communities

Sunset Zoo Behind the Science initiative is a growing network of trained researchers, professionals, graduate students and post-graduate students working together to connect the community to science and elevate the understanding of science-related work taking place in the region. Launched in 2015, with the Science Communication Fellowship, these efforts are part of the national Portal to the Public Network and has received additional support from Kansas State University's Graduate School. 

The Science Communication Fellowship is specifically designed for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, and is Sunset Zoo's flagship program of it's Behind the Science initiative.  Certification takes place at minimum once per year.  Applications for the 2021 Cohort are being taken now.

Benefits of Becoming a Fellow

  • Enhance your science communication skills

    through a dynamic, engaging and participatory workshop series.
  • Develop a hands-on educational activity that is yours to use in multiple settings at Sunset Zoo and beyond.
  • Receive letters of acknowledgement and certification suitable for sharing with supervisors and for grant reporting.
  • Join a growing network of certified Fellows who participate in public programs throughout the year facilitated by Sunset Zoo.
  • A personalized webpage to engage multiple audiences with your work on Sunset Zoo's Behind the Science website.

Expectations of Fellows

  • Complete an official Science Communication Fellowship application.
  • Participate in an initial interview and cohort selection process that evaluates commitment, intent and availability to participate.
  • Participation in required workshops totaling ten hours
  • Additional training may be offered, but will be optional.
  • Participate in a one-on-one activity development and communication meeting between workshop sessions.
  • Develop and prototype a hands-on activity related to your current work.  Concept support will be provided by Sunset Zoo Education Staff.
  • Sign up for a minimum of two public programs facilitated by Sunset Zoo’s Education Department by the end of March 2022.
  • Commit to working with Sunset zoo to identify and participate in one specialized engagement opportunity connecting you with a group of your choosing by the end of March 2022.

General Timeline for 2021 Fellows Program

  • MAY 9, 2021: Application due to Zoo by 5pm (CDT)
  • MAY 21, 2021: Applicants notified by Zoo staff regarding acceptance into the cohort; the cohort is limited to ten fellows.
  • JULY 5 - AUGUST 29, 2021: Professional development workshops hosted by Zoo staff; exact dates to be determined with input from fellows.
  • SEPTEMBER 2021 - MARCH 2022Public programs by fellows.
Certification of Fellows will be achieved after completion of all workshops and participation in three public programs.

Application Process

Interested individuals should complete the Science Communication Fellowship Application and return to Zoo staff by Sunday, May 9 at 11:59pm (CDT). Completed applications can be mailed, emailed or faxed to:

Sunset Zoo
Attn: Science Communication Fellowship
2333 Oak Street
Manhattan, KS 66502
email: | fax: 785-587-2730

More About the Portal to the Public

Portal to the Public was launched in 2007 through funding from the National Science Foundation and a collaboration between Seattle’s Pacific Science Center, Albuquerque’s Explora, Lancaster’s North Museum of Natural History, and London’s Institute for Learning Innovation. Their work created an guiding framework that informal education sites - like zoos, aquariums, and science centers - can use to build programs that connect scientists and the public. The Portal has since received two additional grants including one through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, expanding the network to 44 institutions. Sunset Zoo was invited to join the Network in 2015 and completed a year-long mentoring opportunity provided by Portal staff. To learn more, visit the Portal's website.