Clifford Humphrys Fellowship for Preservation of Water Quality in The Great Lakes

The Clifford Humphrys Fellowship for Preservation of Water Quality in The Great Lakes will benefit students enrolled in any graduate program at MSU studying or doing research on water quality, especially as it relates to the Great Lakes and Lake Michigan in particular.  The Fellowship is intended to encourage students who have demonstrated the capacity to achieve educational and professional goals, the motivation to achieve these goals, and the initiative to seek opportunities to further their progress. Up to five awards will be issued each year provided suitable applicants can be identified. Fellowships will be $15,000 with potential for an increase in $5,000 per student for one year.

This fund provides monies to be used to enhance the educational experience of graduate students at MSU whose research focuses on water quality issues related to the Great Lakes. The Awards shall be made to graduate students pursuing advanced degrees. Funds may be used to support research or for travel. Recipients must acknowledge funding support through the Clifford Humphrys Fellowship for Preservation of Water Quality in The Great Lakes at Michigan State University when appropriate (e.g., research presentations, publications). Recipients will also be expected to attend an annual event for Fellows in the Fall semester.

About Dr. Clifford R. Humphrys

Dr. Clifford HumphryDr. Clifford R. Humphrys was born in the most western part of Virginia, in 1916. He came from a Scots-Irish family of poor Appalachian coal miners. His father left the mines and moved to Detroit for safer/better job, paying $5.00 per day, doing assembly line in the fledgling auto industry. Clifford was the first in his family to finish high school. He attended Michigan State College (now MSU) on scholarship, receiving a B.S. in Forestry in 1939. He received a Masters Degree, in Soils, in a June 1941 ceremony at Jenison Field House. His work toward a PhD was then almost immediately interrupted by the Second World War. Clifford served in both the U.S. Army (Europe) and U.S. Navy (South Pacific) Departments of Military Intelligence. His ability to interpret aerial reconnaissance photos was considered genius.

After the war, Clifford returned to East Lansing and pursued his doctorate under the GI Bill®. In 1953, he was awarded a PhD in Soil Science. He was innovative in applying his skill of aerial photo analysis to the study of soils and lakes and streams. 

In 1961, his concern for Michigan’s water caused him to invite State and Federal agencies to meet with several dozen inland lake associations for the purpose of addressing concerns over water quality, lake levels, aquatic plants, fishing and beach improvement. That meeting was the start of the Michigan Lake and Stream Association, an organization to which he remained committed for the rest of his life. 

In 1987, Clifford retired from MSU as a Professor Emeritus of Resource Development. For years after that, his former students would call, write, or stop by his Laingsburg farm to visit. Besides students, farm and family, his only other hobby was reading thousands of English language dictionaries, including all 3 full Oxford-English sets.

Clifford’s nature was to be watchful, reticent and contemplative. He had an abiding love for MSU and the opportunities that the university provided him to do research and to work with students. As his son, Raymond, wrote: “If he were alive, Clifford would be so very pleased that financial help is going to MSU students... and he’d be very embarrassed to have his name putting the spotlight on him.”

Process and application information

  1. Completed application form
  2. Short statement (not to exceed 1000 words) indicating the relationship of their graduate work to water quality and the Great Lakes. Students should provide a brief statement on how their graduate work is tied to Lake Michigan and/or the Great Lakes and their expectations for how their research will advance the science and/or management. Students should describe how they would use the funds from the fellowship if awarded. Students should indicate types of financial support previously received as a graduate student, current support, and expected support through the duration of their program. 
  3. Confidential Letter of Support from Major Advisor. Students should request a letter from their intended or current major advisor at MSU. This letter should include faculty assessment of student performance, potential to complete their degree in a timely manner, the student’s financial need, and the student’s interest in and commitment to Great Lakes water quality issues. The letter should be sent directly to Dr. Erin Dreelin via email by the major advisor.
  4. Additional Confidential Reference Letter. Students should request a letter of support from someone who is knowledgeable about the student’s academic and/or professional goals. References should comment on the student’s potential for excellence in water research or management and future promise. The letter should be sent directly to Dr. Erin Dreelin via email by the letter writer.
  5. Current CV or resume.

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 P.M. on the due date.

Funding of the award

Recipients will be selected in the Spring Semester with the award efective the following Fall/Spring Semesters. The recipient will express acceptance and appreciation of the award in writing to the donors prior to receiving the funding.

Please contact Dr. Erin Dreelin if you have any questions about the fellowship.

Recipients of the Award

  • The applicant must be enrolled in Michigan State University pursuing a graduate level degree program in the semester awarded.
  • The applicant must be working on a water quality related issue in the Great Lakes watershed.
  • The applicant must demonstrate sound academic achievement and leadership skills.
  • Preference will be given to:
    • Applicants working on Lake Michigan or in the Lake Michigan watershed.
    • Applicants pursuing advanced degrees in areas related to water science and water quality.
    • Applicants who demonstrate financial need.
Due Date: 
Funding Amount: 
$15,000 with potential for an increase in $5,000 per student for one year
Semester Due: 
Spring Semester