The Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarship

Former Professor Chris Palmer, Founder of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, and his wife Gail Shearer established a $50,000 endowment at American University to support the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarship, which was set up in 2013. The scholarship honors Chris's parents, Mavis and Sidney John Palmer.

In order to be considered, applicants should send the following in to Professor Maggie Stogner by July 1:

  1. The completed application form.
  2. A one page essay detailing your aspirations and interest in the field of environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking.
  3. A recent/most updated resume.

Merit scholarships will be awarded annually, to an outstanding graduate student in SOC with an interest in environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking. Scholarship recipients will be selected by a faculty committee. Committee members will review and evaluate a one-page essay from applicants, detailing the student's aspirations and interest in the field of environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking.

The History of Mavis and Sidney Palmer

(Written by Chris Palmer and Gail Shearer)

My parents had challenging childhoods, yet they transcended those deprivations and became very successful.

My father, whose father died when he was six, went from being an impoverished child of "working class" parents in Pembroke, Wales, to one of the most powerful men at the top of the British Admiralty. This was no easy accomplishment, especially in such a class-ridden society. He served as head of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, which designs and builds all the warships and submarines for the Royal Navy.

When our three daughters were growing up, my father (their grandfather) told them inspiring stories of his remarkable service in WWII. He used his engineering skills to head a team that solved numerous ship and submarine-related challenges.

My mother was a young woman during WWII and put her brilliant skill at languages to support the war effort. She also served as a volunteer fire warden during bombing raids in Plymouth on the south coast.

She raised four small boys, including my twin brother and me, during post-war rationing in England without today's modern conveniences. She became a central part of my father's work community, welcoming with open arms a series of American naval families who were posted to Bath, England, where we lived. Though naturally shy, she learned how to overcome that and became a deeply loved hostess and friend to scores of visiting families.

My parents instilled in me the same values we hold dear at AU-integrity, service, courage, self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, generosity, hard work, creativity, and tenacity.

2019 Scholarship Recipients

This year's recipients of the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarships are Beth Ebisch, Kathleen Gaeta, Carlos Macher, and Amelia Tyson.

Kathleen Gaeta is a documentary filmmaker who splits her focus between social and environmental issues. She comes from a writing and storytelling background as a reporter and is currently working towards her MFA at American University. She hopes to continue bridging her two passions together into inspiring films about both human beings and the earth.

Beth Ebisch is pursuing her MFA in Environmental and Wildlife filmmaking striving towards a career of impactful storytelling. Beth is interested in producing science and conservation narratives. Her passion is finding stories about the positive influence human experience in the outdoors can have on an individual concerning their relationship with the environment. 

Amelia Tyson is a 2020 MFA candidate in film at American University. Some of her projects focus on stories that foster a sense of environmental stewardship and deepen our understanding of social issues related to justice and equality. She is currently in pre-production on her thesis documentary about the resilience of a small bad of Fijian women making a big impact in addressing the effects of extreme weather conditions and climate crisis facing the archipelago that will be filmed in Fiji in 2020.

Carlos Macher is an award-winning filmmaker and actor from Lima, Peru. Based in Washington, DC at American University. In the U.S. has produced and directed several films including the documentaries "Luigi's Story: The A-Word" and "Third Act", was the director of "45 Willow Drive", assistant director for the series "Sam Dates", segment producer for "Healing Baltimore's Harbor: A Pipe Dream", and collaborated as cinematographer in the series "The Crossroads" for Bertelsmann Foundation. In Peru worked as a director/producer on “Cuarto Cero”, “El Jardín Perdido” and the pilot series “Visiones”. As an audiovisual producer for the Inter-American Development Bank, he participated in over 30 audiovisual projects for MOOCs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

2018 Recipients
Robert Boyd, Mary Alice McMillan, Shannon Shikles, and Amelia Tyson
2017 Recipients
Sirjaut Kaur Dhariwal and Crystal Solberg
2016 Recipients
Ashley Holmes, Megan King, Kent Wagner and Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath
2015 Recipients
Shayna Muller and Sam Sheline
2014 Recipients
Vanina Harel, Marilyn Stone, Jamey Warner, and Nick Zachar
2013 Recipients
Sarah Gulick and Erin Finicane