Jackson Scholars Program

Directors: Dr. Mary Poteet (mpoteet@jsg.utexas.edu), Dr. Joel Johnson (joelj@jsg.utexas.edu)

The Jackson Scholars Program is a learning and engagement initiative designed to foster and recognize achievement in scientific and community leadership. A primary goal of the program is to develop scholars who are defined not solely by classroom performance but also by enhancing their university experience through engagement in student-tailored combinations of geoscience-related scholarship, outreach and service. Students who complete the Jackson Scholars Program will develop leadership, professional and community service skills, a diverse portfolio of accomplishments to present to prospective employers, and receive special acknowledgement at graduation.


Admission to the Jackson Scholars program is by application. Applications are due by October 15th.

First-year, 2nd year and 3rd year students can apply. Applications are accepted in the Fall for admission to the program. For questions contact Dr. Joel Johnson (joelj@jsg.utexas.edu) or Dr. Mary Poteet (mpoteet@jsg.utexas.edu).

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General Requirements

Each Jackson Scholar must complete three of the five experiences that are described under the Scholarship and Service categories. These experiences will be documented in a professional e-portfolio curated by each Jackson Scholar, describing their academic and professional experiences in the Jackson School. This portfolio will be useful for documenting educational skills and successes to future employers as part of professional development. In most cases, the experiences must be completed after admission to the program. Students will set goals each semester for making progress on the tasks. Remaining in the program (and eligibility to participate in program benefits such as field trips) requires regular attendance at program meetings and demonstrable progress towards Jackson Scholar tasks each semester.

In order to graduate with special recognition as a Jackson Scholar, a student must also remain in good standing, be continuously enrolled in a JSG degree program for a minimum of 12 hours each semester, and achieve a final minimum overall UT GPA of 3.0 as well as a final minimum GPA of 3.0 within the major.

Scholarship Categories

Undergraduate Research

The research option involves organized experimental, empirical, and/or theoretical scientific research, supervised by a faculty member or research scientist in the JSG. The research must culminate in a written report or publication approved by the research supervisor and Jackson Scholar program directors. The research project is to be carried out over a minimum of two long semesters, and must include a defined research question, a brief proposal, and a final written research report. The student must register for GEO 379K or 371C for at least one semester during the research project. The format of the project report is open, but cooperatively determined by the student and supervisor.

Study Abroad

A study abroad program is a challenging and rewarding experience that broadens perspectives and enhances understanding of global challenge. Jackson Scholars may include a Study Abroad experience in their portfolio via one of two options.

  • Option 1. Students may participate in one of the UT-recognized study abroad programs for a full semester, and be enrolled at the host university. Courses taken at the host university must be for credit, with a grade of C or better, and the course credit must be recognized either by direct course equivalency or as 391S or 329S.
  • Option 2. Students may participate in two UT-recognized Maymester courses for which the entire course is spent abroad (outside of the United States). Maymester courses must be taken for credit, with a grade of C or better. The Jackson Scholars program will run international Maymester courses in alternate years which could fulfill this requirement.

Work Experience in the Geosciences

Internships are a valuable way to explore career opportunities, gain hands-on work experience, and establish connections with employers. To count toward Jackson Scholar recognition, an internship must be for a minimum of both summer sessions or one long semester (minimum of 11 weeks) in a supervised internship program. At the conclusion of the internship the student must prepare a report of accomplishments and advances made during the internship and secure a letter of evaluation from the internship supervisor for inclusion in the student portfolio.

Service Categories

Governance and Leadership

A Jackson Scholar is expected to be a leader in the Earth Sciences and an active member of their professional community. Leadership positions that qualify for inclusion in a Jackson Scholars portfolio include elected positions in student organizations or clubs (not restricted to organizations in the geosciences), participation in City, County, or state legislative affairs, or elected or promotion-based leadership in a volunteer organization. Portfolio documentation must include evidence of leadership initiatives and activities beyond just holding a titular office.  In addition, to fulfill the Governance and Leadership requirement, students are expected to participate in a leadership training workshop or short course (e.g., Spark LeadershipProject Advance AustinLeadershape Institute, or at least 3 of the leadership modules of  Pathways to Leadership, or others approved by the Jackson Scholars program directors).  Plan/prepare/apply for these programs early since they all require registration well in advance of participation.

Community Service

Active participation in service to local communities is recognized as an important avenue of engagement for Jackson Scholars. A range of community engagement avenues exist within the Jackson School, including participation in GeoForce, Geoscience Ambassadors, and other mentoring and outreach opportunities. Community service could also take many other forms unrelated to geoscience and UT, including volunteer EMS, community hotlines, or volunteering in schools or hospitals. Additional volunteer opportunities are available through the UT Longhorn Center for Community Engagement. Community Service is intended to reflect a significant commitment on the part of the student, for at least one academic year. Supporting material for the portfolio could include a supporting letter from the governing board of the organization, flyers of posters announcing events organized by the student, photos or videos documenting events and activities, and/or comparable materials that document active, committed, long-term involvement in community service.