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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Gulf Research Program
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Early Career Research Fellowships

The Gulf Research Program’s Early-Career Research Fellowship supports emerging scientific leaders as they take risks on research ideas not yet tested, pursue unique collaborations, and build a network of colleagues who share their interest in improving offshore energy system safety and the well-being of coastal communities and ecosystems.

Because the early years of a researcher’s career are a critical time, the relatively unrestricted funds and mentoring this fellowship provides help recipients navigate this period with independence, flexibility, and a built-in support network. Get to know the work of our current and past early-career research fellows.

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What are the benefits of the fellowship?

An award of $76,000 is paid to each fellow’s institution in the form of a two-year grant. Potential fellows must ensure compliance with their institution’s requirements for applications for external funding. Funds cannot be used on institutional overhead or indirect charges. Detailed funding information can be found in the Early-Career Research Fellowship sample grant agreement for public and private institutions.

Research Funding
$75,000 is available for the fellow to use for research-related expenses, including equipment purchases, professional travel, professional development courses, trainee support, salary, or any other costs directly related to the fellow’s research. The use of these funds for any other expenses requires pre-approval from the Gulf Research Program.

If a fellow moves to a different institution during the fellowship, transfer of the remaining fellowship funds to the fellow’s new institution will be approved only under extraordinary circumstances.

Mentor honorarium
The remaining $1,000 of the award serves as an honorarium for a mentor. Applicants must identify a senior-level researcher at their affiliated institution willing to serve as a career mentor.

Additional funding
All fellows will attend an orientation in Washington, D.C., in September 2018 and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans in February 2019. Travel expenses for these events will be covered by the Gulf Research Program; they are in addition to the $76,000 fellowship award.

Am I eligible?

Applicants must:

  • Be early-career scientists who have received their final degree within the past 10 years (on or after September 1, 2008). Eligible degrees include PhD, ScD, EngD, MD, DrPH, and DVM.
  • Hold a fully independent position as an investigator, faculty member, clinician scientist, or scientific team lead in industry or academia. Applicants must not receive tenure before September 1, 2018 if in a tenure track position. A postdoc is not considered a fully independent position.
  • Come from an area of research including social and behavioral sciences, health sciences and medicine, engineering and physical sciences, earth and life sciences, and interdisciplinary scientific fields relevant to one or more initiatives of the Gulf Research Program.
  • Be involved in research relating to one or more initiatives of the Gulf Research Program.
  • Be affiliated with a non-federal U.S. institution that has a valid tax ID number.
  • Not be currently employed by the U.S. federal government. Full-time, paid, permanent federal employees are not eligible for the fellowship.
Fellows are selected based on a set of review criteria. Factors that contribute to an applicant’s likelihood for success include:
  • A strong scientific and technical background and superior scholarship.
  • Experience or demonstrated willingness to work in an interdisciplinary field or participate in interdisciplinary collaborations.
  • Effective verbal and written communication to both scientific and non-scientific audiences.
  • The initiative, creativity, organization, and interpersonal skills needed to help ensure projects, teams, or individuals accomplish their goals and achieve successful outcomes, whether small or large.
  • Membership in one or more groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the applicant’s scientific discipline.
  • Affiliation with primarily undergraduate or minority-serving institutions.
How do I apply? 

Key Dates

December 1, 2017: Applications open
February 21, 2018 5:00 pm ET: Application deadline March-May 2018: Review of written applications & selection of fellows
June 2018: All applicants notified of funding decisions

September 1, 2018: Fellowships begin
September 5-6, 2018: Fellowship orientation in Washington, D.C.
February 2019: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference, New Orleans
September 30, 2019: Progress reports due
August 31, 2020: End of fellowship
October 31, 2020: Final reports due


Required application materials:

  • Your resume or CV (up to 5 pages).
  • A series of personal essays (totaling up to 1,750 words) that respond to the following prompts:
    • Explain your research using language a non-scientist will understand. (500 words)
    • Describe how your research is relevant to one of the initiatives of the Gulf Research Program: Healthy Ecosystems, Thriving Communities, or Safer Offshore Energy Systems. (500 words)
    • Describe a time when you ensured a project or team accomplished its goal or achieved a successful outcome. (250 words)
    • Describe how the mentoring provided by the fellowship will be beneficial to your career and your strategy to be a productive mentee. (500 words)
  • A research summary (up to 5 pages, including any figures, tables, and references) that describes your research, why it is important, and the research goals you hope to accomplish in the next five years. A budget is not required.
    • Note: the early-career research fellowship funds people, not projects. Your research plan should include information about your research portfolio as a whole, not a specific project.
  • Two letters of recommendation. Your mentor may not submit one of these letters. We encourage applicants to choose references who know you well and can provide reviewers with insights about your experience, skills, and abilities beyond what can already be gleaned from your resume/CV.
  • A statement (up to 1,000 words) from your selected mentor.
    • Your selected mentor must be in a senior-level position at your affiliated college, university, research institution, or organization.
    • Choose a mentor who is willing and able to meet at least twice a month to provide guidance and advice on professional development and career topics, such as work/life balance, time and project management, promotion and tenure, teaching and mentorship, committee and other professional service, community engagement and outreach, leadership development, and lab and research management.
    • In their statement, your mentor should address how you, the applicant, will benefit from mentoring. Your mentor should consider your professional development holistically, beyond research productivity alone, and identify areas for improvement or potential growth. (1,000 words)
    • If you are unable to find a mentor at your affiliated organization, the mentor honorarium will be waived and you will be asked to answer an additional question justifying your selection of an external mentor.
All application materials, including the letters of recommendation and mentor statement, must be submitted through our online application system by February 21, 2018, at 5:00 PM ET. If you have difficulties submitting materials through our online application system, contact us at GulfFellowships@nas.edu.

References and mentor
Once you have created an account and started an application, you can enter the contact information for your two references and mentor. The system will generate an email to the references and mentor with instructions for logging in and uploading letters of recommendation or the mentor statement, as applicable. We encourage applicants to complete this task as soon as possible because final applications cannot be submitted until all reference letters and the mentor statement have been completed. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

How are fellows selected?

Once the application deadline has passed, all applications are reviewed by at least three reviewers. Before submitting an application, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the review criteria and the fellowship grant agreement (sample for public and private institutions).

In addition to reviewer comments, the Gulf Research Program will be considering how applicants fit into our overall goals as well as balancing fellows across scientific disciplines and institutional affiliations. Up to twenty fellows will be chosen in 2018. All applicants will be notified of final funding decisions in June 2018.


Questions?

Send questions about the fellowship to GulfFellowships@nas.edu