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

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About the fellowship

The early-career research fellowship supports emerging scientists as they take risks on research ideas not yet tested, pursue unique collaborations, and build a network of colleagues who share their interest in preventing oil spills and in the well-being of coastal communities and ecosystems. These two-year fellowships are awarded to tenure-track faculty (or equivalent) at colleges, universities, and research institutions. Because the pretenure phase of a researcher’s career is a critical time, the unrestricted funds and mentoring this fellowship provides help recipients navigate this period with independence, flexibility, and a built-in support network.

Get to know our current and past early-career research fellows.

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Benefits of the fellowship

Fellows will receive an award of $76,000 paid to their institution in the form of a two-year grant. Because of this, it is important for potential fellows to ensure compliance with all of their affiliated institution’s requirements for applications for external funding. Fellowship grant funds cannot be used on institutional overhead or indirect charges. $75,000 will be used by the fellow for research-related expenses, including equipment purchases, professional travel, professional development courses (e.g., grant writing), trainee support, summer salary, or any other costs directly related to the fellow’s research. If a fellow wishes to use these funds for other expenses, she or he must secure 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.

Applicants must identify a senior-level faculty member at their affiliated institution willing to serve as a career mentor. The remaining $1,000 of the award will serve as an honorarium for the senior-level faculty mentor. At the beginning of the fellowship year, all fellows will attend an orientation in Washington, DC, in September 2017 and a collaborative workshop held in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans in February 2018. Travel expenses for these events will be covered by the Gulf Research Program; they are in addition to the $76,000 fellowship award.

Who is eligible?
  • Applicants must hold an Assistant Professor position (or equivalent) at a college, university, or research institution.
  • Applicants must not receive tenure before September 1, 2017.
  • We welcome applicants from areas of study including social and behavioral sciences, health and medicine, engineering and physical sciences, earth and life sciences, or interdisciplinary fields relevant to the mission and goals of the Gulf Research Program.
  • The fellowship will be awarded to applicants whose work relates to the mission and goals of the Gulf Research Program.
  • Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident.
  • Applicants must be affiliated with a non-federal U.S. institution that has a valid tax ID number.
  • Federal employees are not eligible for the fellowship.
We consider all of the following to be positive factors that contribute to an applicant’s likelihood for selection and success:
  • Evidence of a strong scientific and technical background and superior scholarship
  • Experience or demonstrated willingness and ability to work in an interdisciplinary field or participate in interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Demonstrated effective verbal and written communication skills to both scientific and non-scientific audiences
  • Evidence of 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
Application Process

Key Dates

December 1, 2016: Applications open (CLOSED)
February 22, 2017 5:00 pm ET: Application deadline (CLOSED)
September 1, 2017: Fellowships begin
September 6-7, 2017: Fellowship orientation, Washington, DC


Required application materials:

  • Personal statements in which applicants respond to the following prompts:
    • Explain why the work you do matters (100 words)
    • Describe how your research is relevant to the mission and goals of the Gulf Research Program (500 words)
    • Describe how this fellowship will help you achieve your professional goals (500 words)
    • Describe a time when you ensured a project or team accomplished its goal or achieved a successful outcome (250 words)
    • Describe how you can benefit from mentoring and your strategy to be a productive mentee (250 words)
  • Resume or CV (up to 5 pages)
  • Research plan (up to 5 pages including figures, tables, and references). The Gulf Research Program Early-Career Research Fellowship funds people, not projects. Therefore, your research plan should include information about your current research portfolio as a whole, not a specific project. It must include the following:
    • A description of your research and why it is important
    • The research goals you hope to accomplish before achieving tenure
    • What you anticipate using fellowship funds for if you are selected as a fellow
  • Three letters of recommendation. Your mentor may not submit one of these letters
  • Statement from your selected mentor. Your selected mentor should be a senior-level, tenured faculty member at your college, university, or research institution. You should choose a mentor who is willing and able to meet on a regular basis (at least twice a month) to provide guidance and advice on professional and career issues such as promotion and tenure, teaching, committee and other professional service, leadership development, and lab and research management. Your mentor will be asked to address:
    • How you as the applicant can benefit from mentoring (500 words)
    • His/her goals for the mentor/mentee relationship (500 words)
All application materials, including letters of recommendation and mentor statements, must be submitted through the online application system. Once applicants have created an account and started an application, they can enter the contact information for their three references and mentor. The system will generate an email to the references and mentor with instructions for logging in and completing recommendations. Please note, applicants cannot submit an application until all reference letters and the mentor statement have been uploaded, and incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

A panel of reviewers will select the top applicants. In making final funding decisions, the Gulf Research Program will be considering, in addition to the review comments, how the applicants fit into the overall goals of the Gulf Research Program, including such considerations as balance of fellows across scientific disciplines and institutional affiliations. Before completing an application, applicants should familiarize themselves with the review criteria and the terms of the fellowship for public and private institutions.

Learn more about this opportunity and get answers to frequently asked questions by watching this video:



Questions? Send questions about the fellowship to GulfFellowships@nas.edu