Coffee Food System Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship


With the generous support of the MacKenzie Scott Foundation, Whittier College has established the Coffee Food System Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship.

The fellowship will support one fellow who has an interest in food and food systems, coffee production systems, agronomical practices, and a desire to engage in a fulfilling experiential summer undergraduate research project with a faculty mentor in the Whittier College Research Coffee Orchard.

Coffee is an agricultural product that almost every family and individual has experienced. It is one of the most traded commodities in the world, and demand for coffee continues to increase. Whittier College is home to a Research Coffee Orchard, in which students and faculty learn about coffee systems and engage in original research. The goal of this fellowship is to continue collecting data regarding plant growth, health, and production, and to assist with current field research. The fellow will lead the summer harvest and bean processing, including data organization and analysis. Conversations with local roasters and site visits will be integrated into this fellowship to connect field experience with the coffee industry.

Among the main objectives of this fellowship are:

  • Systematic data collection pertaining to coffee bean production;
  • Completion of field procedures pertaining to coffee harvest and processing;
  • Establishment of trials pertaining to different methodologies to process coffee beans;
  • Introduction to the complexity of the coffee supply chain.

The selected student fellow will work under the direct supervision of Professor Cinzia Fissore (Biology and Environmental Science).

Eligibility Criteria

  • First-years, sophomores, or juniors in good academic standing; Seniors eligible if graduating the following Fall semester
  • Open to students of any major or academic program

Selection Criteria

  • Demonstrated ability to work independently. 
  • The project will enhance the student's academic experience.
  • The personal essay is compelling and well-written.
  • There is an evident passion and interest in the topic at the core of this guided fellowship.
  • The ability and/or experience to conduct fieldwork.

Program Benefits

  • A stipend of $4,000 (to be used for research activities).
  • The faculty mentor will also receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the fellowship.

Applying to the Program

The application is due on March 4, 2024. Use this guide to gather your application documents. Request these items two weeks prior to the deadline.

A complete application consists of:

  • Unofficial academic transcripts.
  • Current semester Course Progress Report for each 3-4 credit course you are enrolled in.
  • Signed sample Student Contract.
  • Signed Mentor Agreement.
  • A reference contact from someone outside your major and the project’s focus. This can be a faculty member or, when applicable to the project, a personal reference (e.g., employer, internship supervisor, volunteer coordinator).
  • An essay (less than 1000 words) explaining how you became interested in the project, why you want this fellowship opportunity, how you will benefit from the fellowship both personally and professionally, and what personal qualities (skills, attributes, and/or abilities) you possess that will ensure a successful fellowship experience, including your ability to work independently, organizational skills, and how you will contribute to the team.
  • Selected semi-finalists may be interviewed.

Fellowship Advisor

Professor Cinzia Fissore