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Triton Research & Experiential
Learning Scholars (TRELS)

The Triton Research & Experiential Learning Scholars (TRELS) program is sponsored by the Council of Provosts of the Undergraduate Colleges at UC San Diego and the Undergraduate Research Hub. TRELS empowers students to pursue intellectual opportunities beyond the classroom, by providing support in the form of funding and mentorship. This program is intended to expose students to experiential learning, including, but not limited to research, guided artistic or creative projects, and public service opportunities, under the guidance of a UC San Diego faculty member. There is a particular emphasis on serving students who may face obstacles in pursuing such opportunities.

Program and Application Dates

2024 Program Dates
Program Dates  Application Open Application Closes
Winter TRELS Winter Quarter Mid-October Mid-November
Spring TRELS Spring Quarter


Early March
Summer TRELS June 24 - August 30, 2024 Early March Early April

TRELS-BE (Black Experience)

TRELS-BE (Black Experience)

Beginning Fall 2020, the Undergraduate Colleges at UC San Diego pledge at least one TRELS scholarship per quarter per college for student projects engaged in experiential learning related to the Black Experience (TRELS-BE). Since Winter 2019, Triton Research & Experiential Learning Scholarships (TRELS) have provided students with opportunities to participate in learning outside the classroom, including, but not limited to research, artistic expression, community service, and study abroad. TRELS scholarships support experiential learning and encourage students to investigate/design immersive experiences that are best suited to the goals of their projects.

Although it is not a requirement for the award, we encourage TRELS-BE projects that are consistent with the mission or theme of the student's Undergraduate College. TRELS-BE applications not selected for a BE award will automatically be considered for a general TRELS scholarship.

OAYA (Outdoor Access for Youth Award)

The OAYA is a separate option from TRELS, but utilizes the TRELS application.


The Undergraduate Colleges at UC San Diego will award up to 3 UC San Diego undergraduates who are committed to introducing young people (ages 6-24) from marginalized communities to the outdoors and outdoor adventure, and helping others to experience the physical, social, cultural, and mental health benefits of spending time in outdoor spaces. Ideal candidates should have both an interest in expanding outdoor access and a desire to grow their own knowledge, skills, attitudes, and experiences. The Outdoor Access for Youth Award supports students who envision a just, equitable, and sustainable future where all people benefit from a healthy, thriving planet and a direct connection to nature. 

How to apply

Award Description 

Today, far too many communities suffer from polluted air, contaminated water, and a lack of access to open spaces. Fewer than half of all people in the United States live within walking distance of a park. The greatest disparities in access are found in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color resulting from a long history of discriminatory policies and practices regarding control and use of land. For those without cars or reliable public transportation, access to parks and open spaces is even further limited. 

An entire generation is growing up indoors with little to no connection to nature, with serious health effects resulting from these increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Youth spend more than fifty hours a week on electronic media and just minutes a day playing outside. Furthermore, our country’s long history of racism and exclusion prevents many people of color from feeling welcomed or safe outdoors. For example, the origin story of our national parks, often considered “America’s best idea,” includes the near-genocide and forced removal of Native nations from their lands to ultimately create natural playgrounds for white and wealthier Americans. During the era of Jim Crow, our national parks were racially segregated, with only the lowest quality facilities made available to African Americans. To counter the legacies of racism and exclusion, the Outdoor Access for Youth Award supports students who work alongside to empower youth to lead in, learn from, and love the restoration of human-nature relationships.

This award is intended for students who are interested in researching and/or developing a project to increase outdoor access for youth on a small or large scale, with an impact upon their future education or career goals. The award period is for summer 2024, but the chosen candidate can begin work in spring 2024 quarter and complete the project by the end of the fall 2024 quarter. The award is available to all registered UC San Diego undergraduate students with at least sophomore status.

Examples may include students who propose to:

  • Envision a summer project to get youth outside and want funding to implement.
  • Work in an outdoor setting with youth and want to connect their academic interests in ways that impact youth outdoor access.
  • Create a summer project to study and document the effects of outdoor activities for young people.
  • Connect youth and young adults to the outdoors and outdoor adventure and want to document their experience.
  • Conduct research into strategies for incorporating the outdoors into school or out-of-school time for youth.
  • Draw connections between racism, bias, and access to the outdoors and develop potential solutions.
  • Research the bridge between outdoor experiences as a youth and becoming a climate or environmental activist as an adult.

Selection criteria / eligibility

  • The impact of receiving the award on the education and career of the awardee.
  • The potential long-term impact on young people who will be served by the work of the awardee.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the effects of, and possible antidotes to environmental discrimination and dispossession.
  • A supportive faculty mentor who will help advise the project.


OAYA is made possible through generous donations from Julie and Rob Schamberg (c/o 1978). The Schambergs created this award in honor of John Stewart, the first Provost of Muir College, who was also Rob’s professor in the longstanding signature course in Environmental Studies, Wilderness and Human Values. Rob remembers reading and discussing the very best wilderness writing and experiencing lectures from the finest minds in ecology, conservation, environmental science, and diverse fields including social sciences, engineering, philosophy, and psychology. In topical sections led by undergraduate discussion leaders (DLs), students would further discuss readings and lectures and would delve into topics of interest from wilderness photography, to mountaineering, diving, and rock climbing. The final required activity was a five-day backpack trip in the High Sierras at the beginning of summer. This course, which Dr. Stewart led in partnership with the DLs, was the centerpiece of the UC San Diego experience for many students. Lifelong relationships, careers, and passions outside of work were developed.

Rob Schamberg was a student in the course in 1976, and a DL in 1977 and 1978 and spent his career as an educator, school administrator, and leader who promoted outdoors for all in the schools and communities he served in California and throughout the US. He met his wife, Suzy, a sign language interpreter in 1983, when he was training deaf whitewater river guides. Rob is the founder and chair of Reno Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO), a volunteer organization committed to developing leadership skills and social and emotional development to youth through hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, whitewater rafting and other outdoor adventure trips. Suzy is the treasurer of Reno ICO. There is potential for an awarded candidate for mentorship and/or an internship through Reno ICO. Rob and his family are grateful to John Stewart for his vocation as an educator and his outdoor avocations which grew out of the Wilderness class. The Schamberg Family Philanthropy Fund is honoring John Stewart by dedicating this award to him.


  • Scholarship/stipend: Be awarded a $1,000 scholarship during the academic quarter (winter, spring) or a $5,000 stipend during the Summer Research Program (SRP).
  • Network: A close rapport with a faculty mentor can open up your world to a wider research community and the chance to meet leaders, future colleagues, and lifelong friends who share your intellectual curiosity.
  • Mentored research experience: With the TRELS program, you gain mentored research experience, experiential learning, and hands-on learning. Participating in TRELS allows students to learn more about research and allows them to further enhance their knowledge. This can be a great preparation for applying for graduate school, research institution, or learning new skills to apply for the work field.
  • Co-Curricular Record: Recognition of some research-activities on your co-curricular record.
  • Conference travel funding: By participating in TRELS, you are eligible to apply for URH's conference travel funding. Please reach out to your college for more information.
  • Interdisciplinary research topic: With the TRELS program, you can do research outside of your program (e.g., STEM major doing research with a non-STEM faculty member).

Requirements and Exclusions

Quarterly TRELS

  • Commit to be in the program during the academic quarter and spend at least 10 hours per week on research-related activities.
  • Submit a TRELS deliverable at the end of the quarter. This is the research project you will be working on.
  • Exclusions: During the award period, you may not participate in departmental 199 (independent research) or other class credit for the project (e.g., honors thesis), receive payment for the same work being proposed for TRELS, or participate in another structured research program

Summer TRELS

  • Commit to be in the program during the academic quarter and spend at least 30 hours per week conducting mentored research.
  • Create a deliverable (TRELS requirement)
  • Create and give a presentation at the Summer Research Conference (summer requirement)
  • Attend seminars and sessions set by the program coordinator along with the Undergraduate Research Hub (URH).
  • Exclusions: During the award period, you may not participate in departmental 199 (independent research) or other class credit for the project (e.g., honors thesis, receive payment for the same work being proposed for TRELS, participate another structured research program, or take courses or be employed while participating in the summer research program.


Quarterly TRELS

TRELS Scholars will be selected quarterly on a competitive basis. You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria: 

  • All current UC San Diego undergraduates in any major who will be enrolled full-time in the quarter they are applying to receive an award.
  • Having a minimum 2.5 GPA 
    • If you are a first-time freshman or a transfer student without a UC San Diego GPA, you are still encouraged to apply. 
  • There are no class standing, citizenship status, or degree requirements.

Summer TRELS

TRELS Scholars will be selected for the summer program on a competitive basis. You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria: 

  • All current UC San Diego undergraduates in any major.
  • Having a minimum 2.5 GPA 
    • If you are a first-time freshman or a transfer student without a UC San Diego GPA, you are encouraged to apply. 
  • There are no class standing, citizenship status, or degree requirements.

Before Applying

Find a faculty mentor

  • Don't wait! Students should find a mentor and discuss a potential research project before adding that faculty member's name and email to the TRELS application.
  • Students are responsible for finding and contacting their own mentor, but the TRELS coordinator can help if you're having a hard time. For tips, review our page on how to find a mentor. Start looking for a mentor as you're filling out the general application—be proactive!
  • The faculty mentor needs to be at the higher ladder ranked position teaching at UC San Diego (e.g., assistant professor, associate professor). If you have a faculty mentor who is not at the higher ladder ranked position (e.g., lecturer, senior continuing lecturer), you need to email the TRELS program coordinator to see if they are eligible to serve.

Expectations of faculty mentor - When contacting/meeting with potential mentors, be sure to share this list with them so they know the expectations before agreeing to be your mentor.

  • Mentor and oversee the student's research/artistic endeavor/public service project.
  • Commit resources towards the training of the student.
  • Personally meet with the student to periodically check on their progress or appoint someone in my group to do so.
  • Ensure that the student completes all required training and certifications prior to starting any research, if necessary.

Application Process

There are 4 items required to apply to the TRELS Program:

1. Applications

  • General Application and Undergraduate Application (When you finish the general application, you will be automatically directed to complete the undergraduate application).
  • TRELS Application (After you finish the previous two applications, you will be given the opportunity to choose to complete the TRELS application.)

2. Short-answer questions (as part of the TRELS Application):

  • Statement of interest: Explain how your participation in the TRELS program will help you achieve your educational and career goals. (100 words max)
  • Statement of obstacles: Explain what obstacles you have faced that have limited your ability to do research, participate in creative endeavors, or do community service projects. How will the TRELS program help to alleviate these obstacles? (100 words max)
  • Project Proposal: Please describe the project you would like to conduct in terms that can be understood by a non-expert audience. Each project proposal will be different based on your field of study, but some general points that you MIGHT discuss include: topic, central question(s), methods, and/or a project timeline.(500 words max) 
    • We encourage students to reach out to faculty mentors and/or the Writing Hub ( for support and feedback in writing project proposals.
  • Independence: TRELS is meant to support your independent project, which should be supervised and mentored by a faculty member, but which should be your own work and responsibility. Please explain how your project reflects your independent work. If you are proposing to work on a larger collaborative project, please explain which piece of this project will be your specific responsibility. (100 words max)
  • Deliverable: TRELS requires students to submit a summary of their project (a paper, poster presentation, oral presentation, or creative product) by the end of the academic year during which they receive their scholarship. What will the outcome of your project be, and how will you submit it by the deadline? (100 words max)
  • Progress report (if applicable): If you have previously accepted a TRELS award for this project, please provide a brief update on the progress of your project thus far. Updates might include notes of meetings held with your mentor, a project timeline, a research plan, etc. (100 word max)
  • Duo project (if applicable): If you are proposing a project in partnership with another undergraduate student, write their name here and provide a brief rationale for pursuing this project as a partnership. Why is it necessary to pursue this as a duo project, and how will it improve the project outcome(s)? How will each person contribute to ensure this is a unified project? (100 word max)
    • Please note that both you and your partner must submit your own TRELS application. If you choose to submit a proposal for a duo project, your applications will likely receive a joint decision of either being offered or not offered TRELS awards. If you both are offered and accept a TRELS award, you will each receive your own $1,000 scholarship.

Be sure to proofread and edit your answers many times before submitting. It is also advised to have someone else review it and provide feedback. In addition to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, review your personal statement for clarity, flow, and continuity of points. Remember to use paragraphs to separate the main points.

3. Copies of transcripts

  • If you are an incoming transfer student (You do not have a UC San Diego GPA):
    • A copy of your unofficial transcript(s) from previous school(s) (community colleges, other universities, etc.)
  • If you have attended UC San Diego for at least 1 quarter:
    • If you completed coursework prior to attending UC San Diego (e.g., transfer credits), they will appear on your UC San Diego transcript. You do not need to upload transfer transcripts.

4. Mentor name and contact information

  • Once you save your faculty mentor's information in the application, an email is automatically sent to that person asking them to agree a number of statements with regards to their support to mentor you in TRELS. (NOT a formal letter of recommendation.)
  • The faculty mentor needs to complete this section before the application deadline.

TRELS Conference Funding

TRELS conference funding supports students presenting their research at conferences outside of the San Diego area. These funds may be used to reimburse costs associated with conference registration fees, travel, and/or lodging. To apply, students should follow the process for their specific college

ERC: submit application online here under “Funds for Conference Travel” section

Marshall: email to request more information

Muir: email to request more information

Revelle: submit application online here

Warren: email to request more information

Sixth: complete application form here and email it to

Seventh: find information and submit the application on the Seventh College website here

Eligibility for TRELS travel funding is not limited to students who have participated in other TRELS initiatives, but rather is open to all students.


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Apply to TRELS

The application for TRELS is currently closed.


TRELS Coordinator Contact Information

Undergraduate Research Logo

Contact: Daniel Movahed