UM Student Wins Prestigious Udall Scholarship

University of Montana student Jonathan Karlen has been named a Udall Scholar, considered one of the most prestigious recognitions awarded to students studying in fields related to the environment and issues related to Native American nations.

Karlen, a junior majoring in wildlife biology with a minor in climate change studies, is one of just 50 students nationally to win a scholarship this year from the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation. Originally from New York City, Karlen came to Montana after high school to study at UM and explore the state’s public lands.

Jonathan Karlen
Jonathan Karlen

“The Wildlife Biology Program and my education here at UM have given me a strong foundation in science, rigorous research methods and skills to address complex problems with an interdisciplinary approach,” Karlen said.

 With support from the Udall scholarship, which provides $7,000 toward academic expenses, Karlen will begin a new joint wildlife biology and public administration degree program at UM. Launched in January 2020, this 4+1 program allows UM students to earn both a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife biology and a two-year master’s degree in public administration at an accelerated pace of just five years.

“Jonathan is part of the inaugural cohort for our 4+1 degree, and we could not be more excited for him,” said Professor Sara Rinfret, director of UM’s Master of Public Administration program.

“Earning an MPA will provide me with a more focused skill set to launch a meaningful career in the field of natural resources policy,” said Karlen, who also is a student in the Davidson Honors College, was a former president of the UM Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society and was just elected to serve on UM’s student government.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate to have Jonathan as a member of our campus community,” said Chad Bishop, director of the Wildlife Biology program. “He is an amazing individual who is the embodiment of a student leader.”

“My experience at UM, specifically with the faculty and administrators, has been instrumental in shaping my career goals and connecting me with extraordinary opportunities,” Karlen said.

UM historically is a top producer of Udall Scholars, and this year’s result brings its total to 43 since the program was launched in 1992 by the Udall Foundation.

For more information about the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, visit To learn more about the 4+1 wildlife biology and public administration joint degree program, go to


Contact: Dr. Sara Rinfret, director of UM’s Master of Public Administration program, 406-243-4702,