The wicked socio-environmental challenges of our time such as climate change, water pollution and scarcity, and emerging infectious diseases disproportionately affect marginalized communities around the globe.  These environmental injustices will only escalate in years to come without innovation and purposeful intervention.  Recognizing this urgency, the Global Change Center seeks to provide interdisciplinary training to a diverse community of aspiring leaders.  Our broad aims are to engage students in difficult discussions of complex socioenvironmental problems, learn from their diverse perspectives and life experiences, and equip them with the skills needed to drive change in communities in the U.S. and abroad.

Because environmental injustices must be solved in collaboration with the underserved communities most affected by global changes, we seek to attract the next generation of leaders from under-represented groups to Virginia Tech. With support from the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and the Virginia Tech Graduate School, we will award two Diversity Fellowships to outstanding applicants in the upcoming academic year.

Incoming first year PhD students are eligible to apply (to begin Fall of 2022).  Fellows will enroll in a degree-granting program as well as the Interfaces of Global Change Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGC IGEP), where they will be part of a vibrant community of students and faculty from 22 diverse academic departments at Virginia Tech.  Fellows will gain their technical depth of expertise through their degree granting program, while broadening their interdisciplinary perspective and collaboration skills through the IGC IGEP.

The 2022-23 application information is available now.
Application deadline is March 1, 2022. 

GCC Diversity Fellowship_2022 Request for Applications

Please direct any questions to Jess Zielske, Global Change Coordinator, at jcoker@vt.edu. 


Gabriel Borba

PhD Student, Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Gabriel Borba will conduct his research in the laboratory of Dr. Leandro Castello of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. As a direct descendant of the Pardo ethnicity of South America, which refers to descendants of the collective European, Amerindian, and West African diasporas, Gabriel intends to study the impact of climate change, habitat loss, and overfishing on the lives of indigenous Amazonians. Specifically, he intends to investigate how climate change and floodplain deforestation affects the hydrology of Amazon rivers and fish habitat, thus impacting fish catch and the livelihood of Amazonians. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Gabriel completed his undergraduate degree in Biological Science at the Federal University of Rio Grande in Rio Grande, Brazil followed by a Master’s in Ecology at the National Institute for Amazonian Research in Manaus, Brazil.

Advised by Dr. Leandro Castello

Idowu Kayode Okeshola

PhD Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Idowu joins the research group led by Dr. Peter Vikesland of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Through his research, Idowu intends to build upon his interdisciplinary background to gain expertise in the development of nanotechnology-enabled platforms for the detection of environmental contaminants. Knowing the impact that environmental contaminants have on climate change, species extinction and agriculture, his research will explore methods to reduce the production of pollutants for sustainable growth in areas undergoing urbanization.  Before joining Virginia Tech, Idowu completed his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Nigeria followed by a M.Sc. in. Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. Upon completion of his Ph.D. research, he intends to return to Nigeria to continue his work in addressing the consequences of environmental contaminants and creating early detection systems to eradicate them.

Advised by Dr. Peter Vikesland