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Smithsonian Stable Isotope Postdoctoral Fellowship

Background & Purpose

The Office of Fellowships and Internships is offering an Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship in the area of stable isotope sciences.  Research proposals must integrate the use of stable isotopes (2H/1H, 13C/12C, 15N/14N, and 18O/16O) into their specific research questions.  Stable isotope analysis must comprise a significant portion of the research. The successful applicant will conduct analyses at one of the two Pan-Institutional isotope facilities (OUSS/MCI Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry Facility in Suitland, MD or at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama).



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.

Who is Ineligible?

No employee or contractor of the Smithsonian Institution may hold a Smithsonian fellowship during the time of his/her employment or contract.

A fellowship may not be awarded to any person who has been employed by or under contract to the Institution in the previous year without the prior approval of the Office of Fellowships and Internships.


How it Works

Applicants must propose to conduct research in-residence for a period of 12 months, at least 4 months of which will be spent on-site at the MCI or STRI laboratory. Applicants who wish to be considered for both the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship – Postdoctoral and the Smithsonian Stable Isotope Postdoctoral Fellowship should submit separate applications for each program.

For additional information on the OUSS/MCI Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry Facility in Suitland, MD (http://si.edu/mci/irms/index.htm) please contact Christine France (francec@si.edu).

For additional information on the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Mass Spectrometry Facility in Panama City, contact Ben Turner (turnerbl@si.edu).


Applications must be submitted by December 1, 2015.


Postdoctoral Researcher: $48,000 annually; research allowance up to $4,000 total.

Smithsonian fellowship stipends are not salary or compensation. They are meant to support study and research during the tenure of the appointment and cannot be issued retroactively.

All funds provided under Smithsonian Institution fellowships, including stipends and research and travel allowances, are subject to tax. Fellows awarded stipends receive a financial summary at the end of each calendar year and are responsible for meeting their own state and federal tax obligations.

In addition to a base stipend, awardees may receive allowances to assist with the fellow’s research related expenses and for temporary relocation to the Smithsonian. The budget for the research allowance should not include costs for relocation to the Smithsonian, which is awarded separately. A maximum research allowance of $4,000 is available. The amount awarded will be determined based upon the budget and justification presented by the applicant.

The Office of Fellowships and Internships cannot provide funds for the travel or living expenses of dependents.


How to Apply

Applicants interested in this fellowship are strongly encouraged to contact potential advisors/hosts at any of the Smithsonian’s various Museums and Research Units prior to proposal preparation and submission. Prior Isotope Fellows are not eligible.  Please consult the research staff listed in SORS.


Applications for the Stable Isotope Postdoctoral Fellowship apply in SOLAA to the Smithsonian Stable Isotope Postdoctoral Fellowship listed under the Office of Fellowships.  The application is not listed under the museum, research facility or office in which the applicant proposes to conduct research.

Apply Through: SOLAA

  • Applications must be received no later than 11:59 pm EST on December 1, 2015 via SOLAA
  • You should correspond with your proposed Smithsonian advisor(s) as you prepare your proposal (being sure to discuss potential research costs) with your proposed advisor(s) before submitting your application
  • All application materials must be presented in English (foreign transcripts may be translated)

Once you have created an account and logged into SOLAA you will need to complete all the required information including:

  • Mailing address
  • Academic history
  • Current university or college
  • Identifying the grand challenge under which your proposal fall

Please be sure to apply for the correct year program cycle.

The following must be uploaded with your application:


  • No more than one page

Research Proposal

  • The full statement of your research you plan to undertake at the Smithsonian
  • Maximum six pages double spaced
  • Paper size should be 8.5 by 11 inches (210 mm x 297 mm)
  • 12 point type

In preparing your proposal, be sure to provide and address the following:

  • Methodology
  • The importance of the work both in relation to the broader discipline and to your own scholarly goals
  • Justification for conducting your research at the Smithsonian and utilization of research facilities and resources
  • Identification of the member of the Smithsonian’s research staff who might serve as your principal advisor/host
  • Identification of potential co-advisor(s) and/or consultant(s) if applicable

Time Table

  • Estimate of time period for each phase of the research proposed
  • This needs to be uploaded for the application material name “Other” in SOLAA
  • Applicants should consider the following factors carefully when choosing the dates for the proposed fellowship: academic schedule, completion dates of their preliminary exams, course work, dissertation (if applicable), 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

Budget and Justification

  • Budget and justification for equipment, supplies, research-related travel costs, and other support required to conduct the research itself
  • Do not include stipend and/or relocation costs
  • If the funds exceed the maximum research allowance, please explain the source of additional funds


  • Bibliography of literature relevant to the applicant’s proposed research

Curriculum Vitae

  • Including previous and current fellowships, grants, and/or awards, and a description of your research interests.
  • 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
  • Applicants for postdoctoral fellowships need only submit graduate transcripts
  • If transcripts or other materials are not in English the applicant should provide translations


  • Names and email addresses of two persons familiar with your work. Ideally, don’t make your proposed SI advisor one of your referees because they already will have an opportunity to offer feedback about your proposal as part of the application review process
  • All reference letters are considered confidential unless confidentiality has been waived by the reference
  • Provide a copy of your proposal and a copy of Letter to Reference (downloadable pdf) to your references
  • Through SOLAA you will send an email to these referees so they can provide references through the web


Selection Criteria:

The complete application will be reviewed by Smithsonian scholars in appropriate fields.  Applications will be evaluated on the following:

  • The proposal’s merit
  • The proposal’s relevance in terms of the Smithsonian’s Strategic Plan and how the research reflects one or more of the Four Grand Challenges
  • The ability of the applicant to carry out the proposed research and study
  • The extent to which the Smithsonian, through its staff members and resources, can contribute to the proposed research

Notification of decisions will be made no later than 4/8/16 

The Smithsonian does not discriminate on grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, parental status, marital status, sexual orientation, or participation in protected activity (find out more here).

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