Mo's Policy Scholars

Mo's Policy Scholars

Get paid $1400 to be mentored by an expert researcher!


mentors & projects


Are you a junior or senior at UArizona interested in being mentored by an experienced research professional?

Do you want to learn how you can impact environmental policy or strengthen Indigenous governance?

Do you want to get paid to learn and further your professional prospects after you graduate?

If you answered “yes” to all three questions, you may be a perfect fit for the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy’s 'Mo’s Policy Scholars' Program!

What is the Mo's Policy Scholars Program?

Mo's Policy Scholars is a competitive 14-week paid mentorship program for 9 UArizona students (juniors & seniors only) who are interested in having an impact on environmental and Indigenous governance policy.

The program is inspired by the legacy of Arizona's longest serving Congressional leader, Morris K. "Mo" Udall.

What do Mo's Policy Scholars do?

If selected, you will be assigned your own mentor from the Udall Center’s pool of UArizona faculty research professionals, each of whom are experts in their field and have extensive research and publishing experience. This is a great opportunity to get real, professional academic experience in your field of study and in policy-adjacent research in general.

For 14 weeks during the fall semester you will earn a $1400 stipend to:

  • Work approximately five hours per week as a program assistant with your mentor.
  • Attend monthly in-person educational meetings (five total) with your Mo’s Policy Scholars Cohort. You must be available on the following dates and times:
    • August 27, 2024 – 3pm to 6pm
    • September 17, 2024 – 3pm to 4:30pm
    • October 16, 2024 – 3pm to 4:30pm
    • November 19, 2024 – 3pm to 4:30pm
    • December 3, 2024 – 3pm to 6pm
  • Present a final project that summarizes your experience as a Mo’s Scholar.

How do I apply?

Submit the following application materials no later than April 5, 2024 at 12pm:

Access Application Form Here (you will need to be logged in to your UArizona Google account to access the form)

  • Answer the following questions in 50-100 words or less: 
    • Why are you interested in being mentored by an experienced research professional in the Udall Center?
    • How do your academic interests align with environmental policy and/or Indigenous governance?
    • Why are you interested in impacting environmental policy or strengthening Indigenous governance?
    • What do you hope to learn from this experience?
    • How will this experience help you achieve your future goals?
  • Your current resume / CV highlighting the required skills for the research projects.
  • Rank the research projects.

Review the list of Mentor Projects (below) to learn more about the projects and mentors.

Am I qualified?

Applicants must be:

  • A junior or senior undergraduate student at UArizona.
  • Interested in environmental policy and/or Indigenous governance.
  • Eligible to receive $1400 stipend.

Mo's Policy Mentor Projects

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Revitalization of American Indian Food Systems: Enhancing Indigenous Climate-Smart Seed Biodiversity, Native Food Ways Preservation, and Indigenous Data Governance Repository Hub

Mentor: Stephanie Russo Carroll (AHTNA) and Jewell Cummins, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, Native Nations Institute and Collaboratory for Indigenous Governance

Skills Needed: 1) Comfortable speaking with institutions and professionals in multiple disciplines; 2) Organizational skills; 3) Ability to work independently with weekly or bi-weekly check-ins; 4) Knowledge with or willingness to learn how to work with Indigenous institutions and communities.

Skills Gained: Learn: 1) How to build relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and communities; 2) How to create a platform and resources on Indigenous Data Governance principles; 3) the dynamics of working on a grant project with interconnected parts; and 4) building a foundation in Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Governance principles with how it interconnects across disciplines.

Details: The creation of a repository hub is part of a larger Rockefeller grant. For this portion of the grant, the student will aid in compiling documentation, resources, and references to aid in the collaboration between Indigenous communities and outside institutions/organizations holding Indigenous data regarding seeds as well as other cultural materials. The hub will be built on Indigenous Data Governance principles. The student will be working with Graduate Research Assistant Jewel Cummins under the supervision of Dr. Stephanie Russo Carroll in compiling references and resources for the hub, reaching out to Indigenous and non-Indigenous institutions to collect protocols, policies, and documents, as well as analyzing surveys, documents, and other data for information to inform Indigenous Data Governance protocols and other principles.

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Indigenous Governance Program Curriculum Development and Support (ONLINE ONLY)

Mentor: Torivio Fodder (TAOS PUEBLO), Indigenous Governance Program Manager, Udall Center/Native Nations Institute

Skills Needed: 1) Timeliness; 2) Attention to Detail; 3) Self-Starter; 4) Proactive; 5) Be Curious

Skills Gained: 1) Program Development; 2) Curriculum Development & Review 

Details: Get hands-on experience in academic programming and curriculum coordination! The Indigenous Governance Program (IGP) stands on the legacy of Morris K. Udall, who championed Native self-determination and Native self-governance throughout his 30 years in Congress. As an IGP Program Assistant, you will have the unique opportunity to engage in the practical development of Indigenous governance curriculum and the chance to participate in one of the most innovative Indigenous education programs in the world. The selected Scholar will meet regularly with the IGP manager, faculty and staff while exploring the link between IGP and Congressman Udall’s legislative vision for Indigenous communities, both in the United States and abroad.

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Reconnect Data to Communities

Mentor: Ibrahim Garba (KARAI-KARAI), Senior Researcher, Udall Center/Native Nations Institute; Assistant Research Professor, College of Public Health

Skills Needed: 1) Curiosity; 2) Communication; 3) Teamwork.

Skills Gained: 1) Policy analysis; 2) Multidisciplinary collaboration.

Details: The Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance has been exploring how Indigenous Peoples are maintaining living relationships with their data both within their communities and at external institutions (e.g., universities, repositories, government agencies). We approach our work assuming that respectful treatment of data is not just the ethical or culturally appropriate thing to do, but also a legal standard to follow based on Tribal laws, national policy, and international agreements. Join us on your choice of several projects aimed at keeping Indigenous data connected, responsive, and beneficial to Indigenous Peoples. Day-to-day activities could include formatting and organizing documents, policy research and analysis and developing recommendations for data stewards. Detours and rabbit holes strongly encouraged!

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Work on the Cutting Edge of Clean Energy + Agriculture

Mentor: Andrea K. Gerlak, Director, Udall Center; Research Professor, Environmental Policy Programs, Udall Center; Professor, School of Geography, Development and Environment

Skills Needed: 1) Team work; 2) Writing; 3) Research; 4) Verbal communication; 5) Collegiality

Skills Gained: Refinement and improvement of the skills listed above.

Details: Work on a $1.2M-dollar research project to help shape the future of agrivoltaics! Agrivoltaics refers to the simultaneous use of land for growing crops and collecting solar energy. When plants are grown in the shade provided by solar panels, agriculture can flourish in previously underdeveloped spaces while solar installations benefit from the cooling effect of plant life. This project involves coordinating with a larger team working on agrivoltaics in Arizona. As a Program Assistant under Dr. Gerlak, you will participate in innovative research on renewable energy that also touches on agriculture development and practices, as well as recent water constraints in Arizona. Your work will also involve engaging with stakeholders in these sectors to better understand challenges and opportunities for the deployment of agrivoltaics in Arizona, helping to organize an in-person event and supporting the team's research efforts.

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Explore What Drives Decision-Making in the Colorado River Basin

Mentor: GINA GILSON, Research Scientist in Environmental Policy Programs, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy

Skills Needed: 1) Time management skills; 2) Interest in working on a team; 3) Written communication; 4) Active listening skills; and 5) Interest in qualitative analysis

Skills Gained: Refinement and improvement of the skills listed above.

Details: The Colorado River Basin is facing a crisis. This vital waterway is the lifeblood for millions of people and vast ecosystems across the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, yet it faces unprecedented threats from prolonged droughts, climate change and over-allocation. There is an urgent need for researchers to investigate the transitions that are underway, and to generate practical insights to inform decision-making. As a Research Assistant on this project, you will have a unique opportunity to join a wider team of researchers working to understand what drives decision-making in the Colorado River Basin. Your work will contribute to ongoing research efforts related to stakeholder engagement, collaborative governance processes and sustainability.

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Explore Innovations in Heat Planning, Policy and Governance

Mentor: Ladd Keith, Faculty Research Associate, Environmental Policy Programs, Udall Center; Assistant Professor of Planning in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture

Skills Needed: 1) Time management; 2) Organization; 3) Collaboration with a team; and 4) Ability to work independently.

Skills Gained: 1) Literature review; 2) Policy analysis; and 3) Stakeholder engagement.

Details: Explore innovations in heat planning, policy and governance in the U.S.! Heat is the number-one weather-related cause of death in the U.S. and is an increasing risk, particularly for marginalized communities, due to climate change and the urban heat island effect. Despite this, heat policy and governance are less developed than policies and governance for other climate hazards such as drought, flooding, sea level rise and wildfire. As a Program Assistant under Dr. Keith, you will have the unique opportunity to explore the emerging area of heat policy and governance in the U.S. through work with an interdisciplinary research team on a variety of research projects and other engagement opportunities that reach stakeholders at the local, national and international levels.

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Support Cities to Protect Human and Environmental Health

Mentor: GEMMA SMITH, Assistant Research Professor, Environmental Policy Programs, Udall Center; Assistant Professor in the School of Government and Public Policy

Skills Needed: 1) Attention to detail; 2) Interest in (local) public policy and government; 3) Strong language and writing skills; 4) Experience with GIS/ text analysis/ data science a plus; 5) Experience with qualitative research a plus.

Skills Gained: 1) Qualitative data coding and text analysis; 2) Understanding of public policy and governance processes; 3) Basic data science depending on student interest and ability; 4) Writing for public and professional audiences.

Details: Learn how to work with big data to help local communities! The chemical group known as PFAS, aka “forever chemicals”, is a pressing human and environmental health challenge. PFAS chemicals do not break down, bioaccumulate and are found in the blood of almost every person on Earth. Nevertheless, regulation and governance for this class of chemicals in the U.S. has been slow, fragmented and challenged by political conflicts at every level of government. Join our team working to use text as big data to understand how these challenges are playing out in local government bodies across the entire country. As an assistant on this project, you will receive mentorship from Dr. Smith, attend regular team meetings and learn how to clean and code transcripts of public meetings both qualitatively and quantitatively to identify key themes as local governments work to address PFAS in their communities. Depending on the skill set and interests of the selected scholar, there will be opportunities to write syntheses of thematic findings and/or work on GIS mapping of governance hotspots.

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Field Test the CARE Criteria Assessment Tool for Indigenous Data Governance

Mentor: RILEY TAITINGFONG (CHAMORU), Henry Luce Postdoctoral Researcher, Udall Center/Native Nations Institute

Skills Needed: 1) Understanding of Native American histories, cultures and Indigenous data sovereignty; 2) Awareness of data systems, ethics standards, policy and governance structures; 3) Strong writing, communication and interpersonal skills.

Skills Gained: 1) Understanding of data cycles and repositories; 2) Applying Indigenous Data Sovereignty principles to concrete action and practice; 3) Familiarity with the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance; 4) Experience working with an external organization or project team; 5) Experience collaborating with university researchers and faculty.

Details: Join an international collaboration of leading Indigenous Data Sovereignty experts to build an assessment tool for Indigenous Data Governance. This tool builds on the globally renowned CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance, which have been referenced by diverse entities from U.S. federal funding bodies and government agencies to the United Nations. 

The selected student will work with the members of the Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance and Global Indigenous Data Alliance to help create the CARE Criteria, a tool that will eventually help publishers, funders, repositories, researchers, universities and other data stewards measure and improve Indigenous Data Governance in their settings. As a collaborator on this project, the focus of your work will be coordinating meetings and workshops with a partner organization to pilot indicators that assess CARE implementation, refining indicators with feedback from the partner organization and in collaboration with the project team and writing up and presenting on your progress to our network of collaborators. This work is all about creating concrete change and action for Indigenous Data Sovereignty and your contributions will be key!

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Review of River Revitalization Processes in Urban Environments

Mentor: Adriana Zuniga-Teran, Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy Programs, Udall Center; Assistant Professor, School of Geography, Development and Environment

Skills Needed: 1) Basic research; 2) Reading comprehension; 3) Written and Verbal Communication

Skills Gained: The selected student will learn the methodology for conducting a systematic literature review that can help them in any type of research project they pursue in the future. Other skills gained include: 1) Conducting searches on Scopus; 2) selecting papers using established criteria; 3) coding papers based on research questions; and 4) writing sections of a paper.

Details: Globalization has changed the way the production of goods and services happens around the world, moving industrialization and manufacturing to countries in the Global South that offer cheaper labor. Accordingly, rivers in many cities in the Global North are being revitalized -- from being centers of manufacturing, industrialization, and transportation of goods to being recreational amenities for urban residents. It becomes important to document how these transformations of rivers occur and who are the winners and losers in these transformations. The purpose of this study is to conduct a literature review and synthesize findings around these river revitalizations. This review can serve as the basis for future research that examines the impacts of river revitalization projects on vulnerable communities.


Note that you will need to be logged in to your UArizona Google account to apply.