The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
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Science Policy Fellowship


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The Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowship program helps scientists hone their skills by putting them to practice for the benefit of Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems. Fellows gain first-hand experience as they spend one year on the staff of federal, state, local, or non-governmental environmental, natural resource, oil and gas, and public health agencies in the Gulf of Mexico region.

With the guidance of a mentor, fellows delve into activities like policy development, evaluation, restoration planning, grants management, and stakeholder outreach and learn what it takes to make scientific information not just useful but usable. Meanwhile, host offices get a talented technical expert with a fresh perspective and a new network of contacts across the Gulf of Mexico region.

Get to know the work of our current and past Science Policy Fellows.

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What are the benefits of the fellowship?

Detailed information can be found in the terms of the Science Policy Fellowship.

Fellows who have completed an MA, MS, or MPH/MSPH degree or who are currently enrolled in a doctoral program will receive an annual stipend of $55,000. Fellows who have completed a PhD, ScD, EngD, MD, DrPH, or DVM will receive an annual stipend of $60,000. Stipends will be paid directly to the fellow in monthly disbursements. The GRP has increased the stipend amounts to account for cost of living and increased health insurance premiums. 

Professional development
Fellows will receive up to $5,000 in additional support as reimbursement for tuition and/or fees for professional development courses and activities or for professional travel related to their host office duties.

Additional funding
All fellows will attend an orientation in Washington, D.C., in September 2020. Fellows may be required to attend one or more conferences/events during their fellowship term. Travel expenses for these events will be covered by the Gulf Research Program; they are in addition to the fellowship stipend and professional development support.

How does this compare to other fellowship opportunities?

This fellowship is not intended to provide supplemental research training like a traditional post-doctoral fellowship, it’s intended to provide hands-on work experience not typically gained through graduate studies. The emphasis is on building accomplishments for a resume rather than adding publications to a CV.

This fellowship is not intended to support dissertation work. Applicants should not plan to use the fellowship year to conduct data collection, field work, or recruit research participants for a dissertation or thesis.

Read about the recent experiences of our Science Policy Fellows

Am I eligible?

Applicants must:
  • Be currently enrolled in a doctoral program or hold an eligible degree, including MA/MS, MPH/MSPH, PhD, ScD, EngD, MD, DrPH, and DVM. For applicants not currently enrolled in a doctoral program, eligible degrees must be completed by August 15, 2020, and conferred by December 31, 2020. Applicants currently enrolled in a doctoral program must take a leave of absence for the duration of the fellowship.
  • 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 the charge of the Gulf Research Program to focus on “human health and environmental protection including issues relating to offshore oil drilling and hydrocarbon production and transportation in the Gulf of Mexico and on the United States’ outer continental shelf.”
  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident.
  • Not be currently employed by the U.S. federal government. Full-time, paid, permanent federal employees are not eligible for the fellowship.

Finalists are selected based on a set of review criteria, and we encourage applicants to read the criteria carefully before preparing their application materials. Factors that contribute to an applicant’s likelihood for success include:

  • Recognition that the relationship between science and policy is not a one-way street. In other words, evidence of a strong interest in both applying science to public policy and decision making and incorporating policymaking experience into their scientific work. Prior direct public policy experience is valued but not required.
  • A strong scientific and technical background and superior academic achievement.
  • Experience or demonstrated willingness to work in an interdisciplinary field or participate in interdisciplinary collaborations.
  • Experience or achievements outside of the formal classroom such as community and civic engagement.
  • Effective verbal and written communication to both scientific and non-scientific audiences. (Once placed in host offices, applicants will be communicating with peers, senior colleagues, and external stakeholders in a wide range of settings.)
  • 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.
How do I apply?
Applications can be submitted through our online application system.
Key Dates

December 4, 2019: Applications open
March 4, 2020, at 5:00 PM ET: Application deadline
March-April 2020: Review of written applicants & selection of finalists
April 2020: Finalist interviews, selection of fellows
May 2020: Host office interviews & placement
May 2020: All applicants notified of funding decisions

September 1, 2020: Fellowships begin
September 3-4, 2020: Fellowship orientation in Washington, D.C.
February 28, 2021: Progress reports due
August 31, 2021: End of fellowship
September 30, 2021: Final reports due

Required application materials:

  • Your resume or CV (up to 5 pages).
  • A series of personal essays that respond to the following prompts:
    • Using language a non-scientist will understand, explain how your past work or graduate research is relevant to the charge of the Gulf Research Program. (500 word limit)
    • Describe a time outside a research or classroom setting when you helped to ensure a project or team accomplished its goals or achieved a successful outcome (250-500 word limit).
    • Describe your professional goals and how this fellowship will help you achieve them. (500 words)
  • Two letters of recommendation. 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.
All application materials, including the letters of recommendation, must be submitted through our online application system by March 4, 2020, at 5:00 PM ET. If you have difficulties submitting materials through our online application system, contact us at

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

How are fellows selected?

Once the application deadline has passed, all written applications are reviewed by at least three reviewers. Before submitting an application, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the review criteria and the terms of the fellowship.

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.

Top applicants will be interviewed by phone for the final stage of the selection process. Applicants selected for a finalist interview will be notified by April 2020.

Up to ten fellows will be selected in 2020. All applicants will be notified of final award decisions by May 2020.

How are fellows paired with host offices?


Once selected for the fellowship, fellows will participate in a month-long process to match with their host offices. In May 2020 fellows will be provided information about hosting offices, including a list of host offices, contact information, and a description of the potential work fellows will take on during the fellowship year. Fellows will reach out on their own to set up interviews with host office mentors; Gulf Research Program fellowships staff are not responsible for scheduling interviews. Fellows will be provided with a placement interview guidance document that contains suggested questions and topics to discuss with host office mentors.

Host offices are located in each of the five Gulf states and may be federal, state, or local government agencies or non-governmental organizations. For a list of 2020 host offices, please click here. Please note, more host offices may be added to this list before the matching period begins.

We encourage fellows to interview with as many host offices as possible to get a full sense of the range of options. Interviews are intended to give both fellows and hosts a sense of how well they might work together, identify shared interests and goals, and serve as an initial first step in future collaboration.

After the interview period, both fellows and hosts submit their placement preference rankings to the Gulf Research Program fellowships staff. Although we work hard to try to match everyone according to their preferences and needs, we cannot guarantee that fellows or hosts will receive their first choice.

Host offices
The Gulf Research Program identifies host offices, meaning applicants do not need to self-identify their potential host office. However, if you know of an organization that would like to serve as a host office, please encourage them to fill out a host office interest form. Please note that volunteering to serve as a host office is not a guarantee of being selected, and suggesting a host office does not guarantee an applicant will be awarded a fellowship or a fellow will be placed in that host office.


Review our Science Policy Fellowship FAQs, or send us a note at