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Molecular Evolution Fellowship Program

Molecular evolution


The Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellowship in Molecular Evolution is offered to support research at the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian’s molecular research facilities are located at National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), National Zoological Park (NZP) in the Washington, D.C. area, and at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in the Republic of Panama but collaboration with other facilities (SERC, MCI, etc.) is encouraged. Applicants must propose to conduct research in-residence for a period of 12 to 24 months.


The Molecular Evolution Postdoctoral Fellowship is open to scholars who hold a Ph.D. or equivalent. Molecular Evolution Applicants must propose to conduct research in-residence for a period of 12 to 24 months. Applicants must have completed or be near completion of the Ph.D. Recipients who have not completed the Ph.D. at the time of application must provide proof of completion of the degree before the fellowship begins. Applicants interested in conducting research at these facilities are strongly encouraged to contact potential advisors/hosts at any of the Smithsonian’s various Museums and Research Institutes prior to proposal preparation and submission. Please consult the research staff listed in SORS.

These fellowships are offered through the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships (OFI), and are administered under the charter of the Institution, 20 U.S. Code section 41 et seq. Fellowship awards under this program are contingent upon the availability of funds.

Applicants must propose to conduct research at the Smithsonian in one of its areas of research as outlined in the publication, Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study.  Past or current fellowship recipients are eligible to apply for another award.

No employee or contractor of the Smithsonian Institution may hold a Smithsonian fellowship during the time of his/her employment or contract, nor may an award be offered to any person who has been employed by or under contract to the Institution in the previous year, without the prior approval of OFI.

Applicants whose native language is not English are expected to have the ability to write and converse fluently in English. All application materials must be presented in English (foreign transcripts may be translated, see below).

How it Works:

Molecular Evolution fellowships are awarded for periods of 12 to 24 months in accordance with the applicant’s proposal for the research. Less tenure time than requested may be offered if the time period proposed is considered by reviewers to be more than required, and/or according to the availability of funds. A major portion of the appointee’s research must be conducted at the Smithsonian. In accepting an appointment, the fellow will be expected to devote full‑time effort to the research proposed. Financial support, in addition to a Smithsonian fellowship, for such purposes as research travel and equipment may be received from other sources provided that no special demands are made upon the fellow’s time. Permission to receive additional stipend support must be requested in writing from the Office of Fellowships and Internships. It is important that applicants consider the following factors carefully when choosing the dates for the proposed fellowship: their academic schedule; completion dates of their dissertation; the schedule of their proposed advisor/host and the availability of required resources. The dates of tenure proposed in the application (and any change of dates if the fellowship is awarded) should be selected in agreement with the proposed principal advisor. In submitting an application for a fellowship at the Institution, the applicant does not incur any obligation to accept the appointment if selected. Fellows will be provided with space to conduct their research within the department in which they are working. Applicants should consult in advance with their proposed advisor(s) regarding the availability of facilities and necessary equipment. The amount of support services available to the fellow will be determined by the workload of the department and the policy of the department chairperson and/or unit director. Fellows have access to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries with privileges which include borrowing library materials, interlibrary loans, intralibrary loans, document delivery, database searching, and reference assistance. The stipend for Molecular Evolution Fellows is based on $47,500 per year and is prorated for periods between 12 and 24 months. In addition to the stipend, a travel allowance to assist with the fellow’s temporary relocation to the Smithsonian is offered. Research supplies will be provided by the host unit. To the extent possible, all equipment and supplies necessary to complete the research will be provided by the host department, but applications should include a budget detailing the project’s research equipment needs and explain any other anticipated sources of support. This budget should not include costs for relocation to the Smithsonian, which are awarded separately. Travel or living expenses of dependents are not provided. All funds provided under Smithsonian fellowships, including stipends and research and travel allowances, are subject to tax.   Proposals Involving the Use of Live Animals Applicants who wish to conduct research using live animals must submit their proposals for review by one of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC). Review for animal welfare concerns and approval of procedures by one of these committees must occur before a fellowship can begin. Applicants who wish to conduct research at the National Zoological Park must discuss their research with proposed mentors to clarify any potential issues with Institutional Animal Care and Use process. Applicants to other Smithsonian Museums and Research Institutes should contact their advisor to determine the appropriate procedures for that unit.

How to Apply:

All applications must be submitted by December 1, 2014 through SOLAA.   Notification of decisions will be made by March 15.   *The application will be found under the Office of Fellowships in SOLAA NOT under the museum, research institute or office in which you propose to conduct your research. The program is currently accepting application online. Select Smithsonian Molecular Evolution Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (Office of Fellowships). Once registered and logged in you will need to complete the requested information regarding mailing address, academic history, current university or college etc. and including identifying the grand challenge under which your proposal falls. You will need to include the following in your on-line application:

  • Abstract: Abstract of the proposed research, not more than one page.
  • Research Proposal: The full statement of your research, NOT MORE THAN 1500 WORDS. (Maximum six pages typescript, double spaced, excluding all other parts of the application, such as the abstract and bibliography.) Please use paper size of approximately 8 1/2 by 11 inches (210 mm x 297 mm). Type or print legibly in dark ink. Do not use type smaller than 12 point or 10 pitch.In preparing your proposal, be sure to provide and address the following: i. A description of the research you plan to undertake at the Smithsonian Institution, including the methodology to be utilized. ii. The importance of the work, both in relation to the broader discipline and to your own scholarly goals. iii. Justification for conducting your research at the Smithsonian and utilization of research facilities and resources. iv. Identification of the member of the Smithsonian’s research staff who might serve as your principal advisor/host. Also identify potential co-advisor(s) and/or consultant(s) if applicable. The publication, Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study (www.si.edu/research+study), contains the necessary information on staff research specialties and current departmental interests to help you determine which staff members are best suited to your research needs. Research staff may be named by applicants to serve as principal advisors, co-advisors or consultants. Affiliated research staff may be named as co-advisors or consultants if they will be in residence during at least a portion of the tenure period proposed. You are strongly encouraged to correspond with your proposed advisor(s) as you prepare your proposal.
  • Time Table: Estimate of time period for each phase of the research proposed.
  • Budget and justification: Budget and justification for equipment, supplies, research-related travel costs, and other support required to conduct the research itself (excluding your stipend and relocation costs). You are encouraged to discuss potential research costs with your proposed advisor(s) before submitting your application. If the funds required to support the research exceed the maximum research allowance of $4,000, please explain the source of additional funds.
  • Bibliography: Bibliography of literature relevant to the applicant’s proposed research.
  • Curriculum vitae: Curriculum vitae, including previous and current fellowships, grants, and/or awards, and a description of your research interests. Also, if English is not your native language, describe the level of your proficiency in reading, conversing, and writing in English. Transcripts (unofficial are acceptable): Transcripts (or other materials when transcripts are not issued) from all appropriate institutions are required, except for senior fellowship applications. Applicants for postdoctoral fellowships need only submit graduate transcripts. If transcripts or other materials are not in English the applicant should provide translations.
  • References: (see below)

Selection Criteria:

The application, consisting of the proposal, academic records, and two supporting letters (see below for details), will be reviewed by members of the Smithsonian’s research staff.  Applications are evaluated and fellows are selected, by scholars in appropriate fields, on the basis of the proposal’s merit, the applicant’s ability to carry out the proposed research and study, the likelihood that the research could be completed in the requested time, and the extent to which the Smithsonian, through its research staff members and resources, could contribute to the proposed research. Included in the proposal evaluation will be it’s relevance in terms of the Smithsonian’s Strategic Plan and how the research reflects one or more of the Four Grand Challenges outlined in the plan. The number of appointments made each year is determined by the availability of funds for the program. The Smithsonian Fellowship Program does not discriminate on grounds of race, creed, sex, age, marital status, condition of handicap, or national origin of any applicant.


You will need the names and email addresses of two persons familiar with your work. Please note that all reference letters are considered confidential unless confidentiality has been specifically waived by the referee. Do not list Smithsonian staff members as your referees; they will have the opportunity to review your application after it is submitted. Please provide a copy of your proposal and a copy of Letter to Referee (downloadable pdf) to your referees. All reference letters will be considered confidential and the contents will not be revealed to the applicant unless confidentiality has been specifically waived by the referee. Therefore, please have the reference submit in sufficient time to meet the deadline date of December 1. The application, consisting of the proposal, academic records, and two supporting letters, will be reviewed by members of the Smithsonian’s research staff. Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the proposal’s merit, the ability of the applicant to carry out the proposed research and study. and the extent to which the Smithsonian, through its staff members and resources, can contribute to the proposed research. Through the system (SOLAA) you will send an email to these referees so they can provide references through the web.   If you have any questions please contact the Office of Fellowships and Internships at 202-633-7070 or email OFI.   List of Former Molecular Evolution Fellow Recipients