Samantha Helle Awarded Boren Fellowship for Nepal

Photo courtesy of Samantha Helle.

Samantha Helle, Conservation Biology PhD Student, was awarded a Boren Fellowship!

Helle will use the Boren Fellowship to help fund research on the endangered tiger population across the world, but specifically in Nepal. She is no stranger to the jungle, as she has already visited Nepal several times. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Helle has paused in-person research. She is now excited to return and continue researching tigers in community forests in Nepal, where relatively little is known about this growing population of big cats.

Helle’s first time visiting Nepal introduced her to the social aspects of environmental studies as well. Some of the most rewarding times for her have been interacting and speaking with locals who were also passionate about tiger conservation.

“I love working with people from different departments across the world. Meeting new people, new scientists, and supporting scientists on the other side of the world are the most entertaining parts of my work,” Helle said.

The environmental and resources PhD student has always aspired to work with animals, but it was as an undergraduate that she saw the opportunity to explore conservation. Since then, she has become extremely interested in conservation project management, which fits well with the one-year service requirement to work in the federal government that comes along with accepting a Boren Fellowship.

Helle’s experience has set her apart from other applicants and puts her in a position to be more competitive for professional opportunities.

“I would love to do conservation project management for a federal agency,” Helle said. “This would enable me to take my knowledge that I have as a wildlife biologist, as someone who has previously done project management, and as someone who also understands social contexts in South Asia to take a grant on paper and execute a conservation project on the ground,” Helle said.

She also recognizes how special the Boren Fellowship is and how this gives her many opportunities to continue her research, and respects the fact that Boren puts an emphasis on language and the cultural aspect of her research as well.

“Getting the opportunity with a fellowship that recognizes how important language learning is makes me really happy, because I understand that from a practical perspective,” Helle said. “My language skills help make my partnerships a two-way street.”