Postdoctoral Fellowships


Please note we are no longer accepting proposals for the postdoctoral program. Postdoctoral fellowships provide two years of funding to support ambitious, synthetic research on any aspect of evolutionary science and relevant disciplines. . Proposals in any area of evolutionary science are welcome, but proposals in the following areas are of particular interest: Evolutionary Medicine, Synthetic Biology and Origins of Life, Evolution and the Social Sciences, and K-12 Minority Education in Evolution. Annual stipends will be $41,000 with $5,000 in research expenses, plus medical and dental coverage. Proposals can include any type of synthetic project, but fellows should plan on mainly working on-site, to add to our intellectual community.

Postdoctoral Fellowship applications 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. Examples of recently supported postdoctoral fellows can be found on NESCent’s funded project page.


Before you Apply

All applicants are encouraged to read our postdoctoral fellow frequently asked questions sheet for more information. Applicants may also contact Allen Rodrigo, Director of NESCent or Susan Alberts, Associate Director of Science and Synthesis, for feedback on project ideas. Please review our NESCent Postdoc Policy and Data and Software Policy before applying.  Please note that the earliest possible start date for the fellowship each year is May 1st. 

Joining the Postdoctoral Community Using External Funding

We encourage postdoctoral fellows with outside funding interested in joining the NESCent community to contact Allen Rodrigo, Director of NESCent or Susan Alberts, Associate Director of Science and Synthesis. Research conducted by fellows with outside funding must still be synthetic and evolutionary in nature. Contact with NESCent should be made at least 6 months prior to the proposal due date and clarify both the pre- and post-award contributions and responsibilities of NESCent.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals for postdoctoral fellowships are short, not to exceed 5 single-spaced (12-pt type) research proposal pages including bibliographic references. CVs may be up to an additional 2 pages.


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 specific data (include citations or urls) and analytical tools that will be required for the project.  You must demonstrate that, if you propose to construct a database, you can obtain the relevant data from existing literature. Letters of support are required from the proprietor of datasets, analytical tools, or software not publically available or not owned by the applicant. The proposal should also include a clear statement on how synthesis will occur. 
  7. Rationale for NESCent support - Why can this activity be most effectively conducted at NESCent?
  8. Proposed Timetable - include start date, month, and year
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  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)
  13. Name, address and email for 3 references (see below).


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 to

Letters from you referees will also be submitted electronically as part of submitting the application. Applicants will enter the referees' names, addresses and email addresses. Our system will automatically generate an email to each referee with instructions on how to submit the reference through our web site. It is the responsibility of the applicant to insure that the references are submitted within 2 weeks after the proposal deadline.