Sherpa Fellowship

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The fellowship is named for the late Mingma Norbu Sherpa, a pioneering conservationist in the Himalaya who served as an official with the World Wildlife Fund. A protégé of Sir Edmund Hillary, Mr. Sherpa believed that “saving nature need not take place at the expense of the people,” and as example of that, he developed an 800-square-mile conservation area surrounding the 28,169 foot tall Kangchenjunga (behind Everest and K2 in height). He and 23 others died in a 2006 helicopter crash just after they left a ceremony giving control of the area to the local residents.

William Gerhard 2014 UNC Public Service Awards

The inaugural Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship was presented to William Gerhard ’14, a biology major from Charlotte, for his work evaluating the effectiveness of new drinking water infrastructure systems on the Galapagos Island of San Cristobal. After spending two summers researching old and new drinking water systems, Gerhard plans to spend six weeks performing microbial and physical analyses of the new infrastructure systems. By executing this study and providing the results to the local government, funding and resources can be more efficiently allocated to provide clean drinking water to the 7,000 residents of San Cristobal island and the tens of thousands of tourists who pass through each year. In addition, Gerhard plans to work with local scientists to create a lab that can assess the effectiveness of water treatment and distribution systems on the island for years to come.


Eligible applicants must be:

  • undergraduate or graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • continuing their studies at UNC-Chapel Hill in the semester following their fellowship

Submission Guidelines

The online application asks for the following information:

  • a concise description of the project and how you will carry it out;
  • specific outcomes and how you will measure them;
  • a statement of the eventual impact and value of the project;
  • an approximate timeline you will follow; and
  • a project budget that does not request more than $1,250 and describes the sources and amounts of any other funding.

If the project will be conducted in cooperation with or will receive financial or other support from a governmental agency or private sector organization, the application should include, in addition to a proposal, a letter of commitment from each such agency or organization.

Applications for the Sherpa Fellowship are open and will be accepted at the Carolina Center for Public Service Application and Nomination Portal until Feb. 9, 2015. For details, visit For questions, email or call 919-843-7568. Save the date for the 2015 Public Service Awards – April 7, 2015.