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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
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Early-Career Research Fellowship 

The application period for 2020 will open December 4, 2019. Sign-up for e-updates to receive notifications relating to Gulf Research Program 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.

ECRF quote 2018

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 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.

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 a required orientation in Washington, D.C., in September 2020. Fellows may be required to attend other events/conferences during their fellowship term. 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, at the time of application:

  • Hold a permanent, fully independent position as an investigator, faculty member, clinician scientist, or scientific team lead in industry or academia. A postdoc is not considered a fully independent position.
  • Be early-career scientists who have received their eligible degree within the past 10 years (on or after September 1, 2010).
  • Hold an eligible degree (PhD, ScD, EngD, MD, DrPH, or DVM) in the social and behavioral sciences, health sciences and medicine, engineering and physical sciences, earth and life sciences, or interdisciplinary scientific fields to the charge ofa 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 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.
  • Have applied to the Early-Career Research Fellowship fewer than two times.
Fellows are selected based on a set of review criteria. The 2020 Early-Career Research Fellowship application review will be conducted in two stages. Applications will first go through an eligibility and relevance review conducted by Gulf Research Program staff. Applications that are eligible and deemed highly relevant to the charge of the Gulf Research Program will proceed to the second review stage focused on merit and impact

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.
  • Experience or achievements outside of research such as community and civic engagement.
  • 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? 

Applications can be submitted through our online application system.

Key Dates

December 4, 2019: Applications open
February 19, 2020 5:00 pm ET: Application deadline
March-May 2020: Review of written applications & selection of fellows
June 2020: All applicants notified of funding decisions

September 1, 2020: Fellowships begin
September 3-4, 2020: Required fellowship orientation in Washington, D.C.
September 30, 2021: Progress reports due
August 31, 2022: End of fellowship
September 30, 2022: 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:
    • Relevance: The charge to the Gulf Research Program is 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." Using language a non-scientist will understand, explain how your research has contributed to and will continue to contribute to the charge of the Gulf Research Program. (500 word limit)
    • Research Portfolio: The Gulf Research Program Early-Career Research Fellowship funds people, not projects. Therefore, your research portfolio statement should include information about your research portfolio as a whole, not a specific project. We encourage you to write your research portfolio statement in a way that is understandable to a scientifically literate lay reader. (2,500 word limit)
      • Your research portfolio statement should include:
        • A description of your relevant research and projects.
        • Why your work is important and how it could be considered innovative.
        • How you plan to incorporate collaborative and interdisciplinary science into your work.
        • The research goals you hope to accomplish in the next two years.
        • Other projects and activities that are relevant to the Gulf Research Program that you are actively involved in. This may include teaching, outreach, community service, etc.
      • Please note: a budget is NOT required, and should not be included in the research statement. You may upload a budget as a separate task if your university requires that one be submitted.
    • Mentoring: How will the mentoring provided by the fellowship help you to address your career goals and challenges? What is your strategy to be a productive mentee? (500 word limit)
  • 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.
    • Do not choose a mentor for a research collaboration. 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 beyond merely promotion and tenure, such as work/life balance, time and project management, teaching and mentorship, committee and other professional service, community engagement and outreach, 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 20, 2019, 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.

Can I re-apply?

If you previously applied for an Early-Career Research Fellowship and were not selected as a fellow, you may be eligible to reapply.

Beginning in the 2019 application cycle, applicants may only submit a maximum of two applications to the Early-Career Fellowship program. For example:
  • If you applied to the Early-Career Research Fellowship in both 2017 and 2018, you have already exceeded the maximum number of allowed applications and are ineligible to reapply.
  • If you first applied to the fellowship in 2018, you may submit one more application.
  • If 2019 is your first year applying to the Early-Career Research Fellowship, you may submit one more application after 2019.
Once you reach the maximum number of allowed submissions, any subsequent applications will be returned without review.

Please note that resubmitted applications must contain significant revisions. Applications that are resubmitted without significant revisions will be returned without review.

If you previously applied for an Early-Career Research Fellowship and were selected as a fellow, you are not eligible to re-apply. This includes applicants who were accepted into the fellowship program but did not go on to complete that fellowship.

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).

The 2020 Early-Career Research Fellowship Application Review will be conducted in two stages. Applications will first go through an eligibility and relevance review conducted by Gulf Research Program staff. Applications that are eligible and deemed highly relevant to the charge of the Gulf Research Program will proceed to the second review stage focused on merit and impact.

In addition, 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 2020. All applicants will be notified of final funding decisions in June 2020.

Questions?

Review the Early-Career Research Fellowship FAQs. Still have questions? Contact GulfFellowships@nas.edu