Traditional Sabbaticals

  • Open to scholars of all nationalities.
  • Terms of a full academic year are preferred.
  • Research projects should be carried out primarily on-site.

Sabbatical applicants can request stipends equivalent to one half of their salary while in residence at NESCent (matching contribution of home institution) to support ambitious, synthetic research on any aspect of evolutionary biology and relevant disciplines. Full-salary fellowships may be requested for applicants from historically minority-serving institutions and from senior researchers (see Targeted Faculty Sabbaticals). A housing allowance up to $1000/month can also be provided.  If there are questions about specific funding contact Craig McClain, (919) 668 4590.  Proposals can include any type of synthetic project, but fellows should plan on mainly working on-site, to add to our intellectual community. Sabbaticals may be from 3 months to 1 year in duration.

Applications from prospective Sabbatical Scholars will be evaluated on the extent to which they

  • address an important and outstanding evolutionary question,
  • are "risky" endeavors but with a reasonable chance of success,
  • reflect NESCent’s scientific mission to advance research that addresses fundamental questions in evolutionary science by integrating methods, concepts, and data within and across disciplines (For more on the context and a classification of synthesis in evolutionary science please read Linking Big: The Continuing Promise of Evolutionary Synthesis.),
  • provide evidence that sufficient data are available to tackle the question,
  • provide evidence that appropriate analytical tools are available or will be developed during the project,
  • generate products that typically fall into (but are not restricted to) three broad categories:
    • Synthetic papers and reviews,
    • Databases allowing others to build on your foundation,
    • Software or mathematical tools that solve a major analytical problem.

NESCent will not support collection of new data or field research, but encourages the mining of public and private databases.  NESCent is committed to making data, databases, software and other products that are developed as part of NESCent activities available to the broader scientific community. Applicants should review the Data and Software Policy for NESCent.

Examples of recently supported sabbatical scholars can be found on NESCent’s funded project page.

Graduate Fellows attached to Sabbatical Scholars

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center is now including graduate training in its portfolio; Graduate Fellows will be attached to Sabbatical Scholars, Working Groups, or Postdoctoral Fellows. To be eligible, a student must have completed one year of their graduate program by the time the NESCent Fellowship commences. Graduate Fellowships are one semester; the research should be in line with the goals of the sabbatical scholar and may include integrating datasets, developing databases, performing analyses, programming and software development, etc.  Support will not be provided to collect or generate new data.  Ultimately we expect the graduate student to lead and author aspects of the research.  For further details see our graduate fellowship webpage. Interested graduate students should consult with the sabbatical scholar before submitting an application through our online proposal system.  In the proposal, applicants should make explicit how the fellowship will interface with the work of the sabbatical scholar.

Before you Apply

All applicants are encouraged to contact Allen Rodrigo, Director of NESCent, or Susan Alberts, Associate Director of Science and Synthesis, for feedback on project ideas.  Please note that the earliest start date of a sabbatical for the July 10th deadline would be Nov 15th, and for the December 1st deadline would be the following April 15th.  Please review our Conflict of InterestReporting Requirements, and Data And Software policies before applying. 


Proposals for Sabbatical Scholars

Proposals for sabbatical scholars are not to exceed 5 single-spaced (12-pt type) pages of the research proposal (including references), and a 2-page CV.  Proposals should be organized as follows:

  1. Title (80 characters max)
  2. Name and contact information
  3. Project Summary (250 words max)
  4. Public Summary (250 words max) - written for the public and visible on the NESCent web site
  5. Introduction and Goals – A statement of the outstanding question in evolutionary science being addressed and a concise review of the concept and the literature to place the project in context.
  6. Proposed Activities – This should include a clear statement of any specific data (include citations or urls) and analytical tools that will be required for the project.  It should also include a clear statement on how synthesis will occur.  Letters of support are required from the proprietor of datasets, analytical tools, or software not publically available or not owned by the applicant.
  7. Rationale for NESCent support - Why can this activity be most effectively conducted at NESCent?
  8. Collaborations – We greatly encourage synergy between sabbatical scholars, short-term visitors, working groups, catalysis groups, and postdoctoral fellows at NESCent.  If you plan for such collaboration please provide specifics. Please contact expected collaborators before proposal submission and indicate this within the body of the proposal.
  9. Proposed Timetable - include start date, month, and year. Note that projects may start no earlier than 5 months after the submission date.
  10. Anticipated IT Needs - Briefly describe any needs for IT support that are important to the success of the proposed project. Please indicate whether development of a database or software will be required. Also, briefly describe your plans to make resulting data and software available; including any conditions that might limit your ability to make these available.
  11. Anticipated Results - include a clear statement of anticipated papers, data and software products, and anticipated public release of data and products
  12. Short CV of the applicant (2 pages)

Proposal Submission

Proposals will be accepted in digital format only as a pdf file. Graphics should be embedded directly into the proposal document. Note that proposals should be submitted as a single pdf file including all of the components listed above, including the CV. Proposals are submitted electronically. Please login first if you have already created a profile. For technical support, write Help Desk

Data, Software and Publication Policy

The open availability of data, software source code, methods, and results is good scientific practice and a key ingredient of synthetic research. NESCent expects that all data and software created through NESCent-sponsored activities be made publicly available no later than one year after the conclusion of the NESCent award, or immediately upon publication of an associated article, whichever comes earlier. For more information please visit our Data, Software and Publication Policy.