Graham Sustainability Institute

Robert and Judith Marans/Kan and Lillian Chen Fellowship in Sustainability & Survey Research

"Not only was the Marans Chen Fellowship instrumental in providing me with a strong methodological background to design and implement a large-scale survey for my dissertation research, it has also helped me to define myself as a scholar.  Whether I'm revising questionnaire wording or deciding upon methodological tweaks to boost response rates on one of the surveys that I manage, or incorporating survey research into an undergraduate environmental policy course, I daily draw upon my Survey Methodology coursework, made possible with the summer funding provided by the Marans Chen Fellowship."

—Sarah Mills

The Robert and Judith Marans/Kan and Lillian Chen Fellowship in Sustainability and Survey Research (Marans/Chen Fellowship) will support a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan who is completing a dissertation dealing with human aspects of environmental sustainability. The Marans/Chen Fellowship fund is intended to support the collection and analysis of survey data.


The Marans/Chen Fellowship is based on the belief that the answers to complex sustainability challenges can only be developed through technology solutions that incorporate an understanding of human behavior. The Award linking the Graham Sustainability Institute (Graham) and the Institute for Social Research (ISR) is one way to be sure that interdisciplinary problem solving occurs.

The purpose of this fellowship is to provide support for a doctoral candidate from any unit at the University of Michigan who intends to conduct a survey on environmental sustainability problem that is central to their dissertation. The Award will support a student who demonstrates a strong commitment to fostering sustainability using survey research methods in combination with creativity and other disciplinary specific technical skills.

The Fellowship is offered under the auspices of Graham and ISR to assure that interdisciplinary problem solving occurs.

Level of Support

The Marans/Chen Fellowship will provide $10,000 for relevant data collection and training.

Application Deadlines

  • The deadline for submission is the last Friday in February at 4:00 p.m. 
  • Final decisions will be made by March 31st
  • Funds will be available as early as May 1st

Application Procedures & Requirements

Applications are accepted in electronic format. Please submit your application in as few files as possible in Portable Document Format (pdf), and named with the applicant’s last name (e.g., Smith-Marans/Chen.pdf) to Jennifer Puckett,

Submit a three-page description of the proposed activity that includes:

  1. A detailed description of the problem related to sustainability that is being studied, with sufficient details about the theory, hypotheses, and methods
  2. A justification for the need for collecting data using surveys
  3. A detailed description of the approach for analyzing the data
  4. A description of the nature of the questions, data collection methods, sampling, etc.
  5. Implications of the findings for policy
  • A one-page budget with description of the proposed uses of the funding and how these uses will assist in meeting the project goals
  • A letter of nomination from your advisor, including a statement that the applicant will complete their dissertation in one year Current
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Current U-M Transcript


Applications and questions about the fellowship should be sent to Jennifer Puckett ( Note: letters of recommendation may be sent directly by the writer in either electronic or hard copy format. Hard copy applications should be sent to or dropped off at 6065 ISR (Campus Mail 1248), Attn: Marans/Chen Fellowship.


The goal of the fellowship is to give dissertation candidates the resources and a set of technical skills and data that will enable them to develop interdisciplinary solutions to some aspect of sustainability. The successful applicant will be a doctoral candidate (completed all requirements except defending dissertation) from across campus who is interested collecting and analyzing survey data about relevant aspects of environmental sustainability. Award and acceptance of the Marans/Chen Fellowship does not preclude the incumbent from holding a simultaneous Graduate Student Instructor or Graduate Student Research Assistant.

Selection Process

Fellows are selected by a committee comprising representatives from the Graham Institute and the ISR Program in Survey Methodology. Once the winner has been selected, the fellow must apply for admittance to the Certificate Program.

Additional Expectations:

  • Acknowledge Marans/Chen support in publications and presentations
  • Share project outputs with ISR and Graham Institute
  • Deliver a presentation on final outputs to ISR/Graham audiences, if requested

Form and Scope:

The Marans/Chen Award may be spent in the following ways:

  • Developing and conducting surveys  
  • Taking courses in the Survey Research Center Summer Institute in Social Research Techniques or the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research Summer Program in the Quantitative Methods of Social Research to improve survey research skills
  • Awards are intended for use within one year


Robert W. Marans is a research professor at the Institute for Social Research Survey Research Center and of professor emeritus of architecture and urban planning in U-M's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Since the 1970s, Dr. Marans has conducted evaluative studies and research dealing with various aspects of communities, neighborhoods, housing, and parks and recreation and recreational facilities. His current research considers the impact of the built and natural environments on quality of life, the role of a neighborhood in the health of Detroit residents, and issues of sustainability and energy conservation in institutional settings.

Prior to his retirement, Kan Chen was a professor of electrical engineering in U-M's College of Engineering and computer science and is known for his efforts to apply systems engineering principles to societal problems. Both Chen and Marans served consecutively, as directors of the University-wide interdisciplinary doctoral program in urban, technological and environmental planning between 1980 and 1992.

Questions about Robert Marans or Kan Chen may be directed to Patrick Shields, ISR Director of Development and External Relations ( or 734-764-8369).

Past Fellows: