Mingma Norbu 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. Carolina alumni Donald ’77 M.B.A. and Karen ’77 M.B.A. Wagoner created this fellowship in his memory.


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 2017 Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship open Dec. 1 and close Feb. 8. Apply online through the CCPS Application and Nomination Portal.

2017 Sherpa Recipient

Lisa Fouladbash, an ecology doctoral student, received the 2017 Sherpa Fellowship for her project, Groundtruthing Sahelian Greening in Burkina Faso. Her study tested the hypothesis that farmer-led soil and water conservation strategies are contributing to regional greening in Burkina Faso. By conducting focus groups with farmers and pastoralists in areas that are greening and browning, Fouladbash tapped into local insights and collective memory about how landscapes and vegetation trends have changed throughout recent history. Her study set a new precedent for research methodology on Sahelian greening by using a mixed-methods approach that pairs groundtruths coarse-resolution remote sensing data with local scale ethnographic data.