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Peter Buck Fellowship Program


Established with an endowment from Peter Buck in 2011, the Peter Buck Fellowship Program is considered the most important contribution to the intellectual vibrancy and influence of Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in its 100-year history. Long-time member of the NMNH Board, Peter Buck, is a physicist, restaurateur, and philanthropist. To help support the intellectual growth of the next generation of scientists and foster intellectual exchange between the NMNH community and a diverse pool of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers he endowed this fellowship program.

The Peter Buck Fellowship Program is designed to complement the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP), allowing NMNH to offer more and longer fellowships.


The purpose of the Peter Buck Fellowship program is to support full-time, resident, independent research focused on utilizing the NMNH collections and facilities.  Awardees are expected to be actively involved in the scholarly activities of the Museum.

The two central goals of the Peter Buck Fellowship Program are to train the next generation of scientists and museum professionals, and to increase the flow of new ideas, perspectives, and skills into the Museum.

To accomplish this we mainly award multi-year postdoctoral fellowships, generally paired with first year awards through the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP), to external postdoctoral scholars who have received a Ph.D. or equivalent within the last five years.  In addition, we also award some pre-doctoral fellowships to students conducting original research and enrolled in a degree-granting Ph.D. program.

Peter Buck fellowships are open to citizens of any country for them to conduct resident research as part of the NMNH community under the advisorship of an NMNH staff scientist.


Applicants should have a proven record of research accomplishment.  Fellowships are available to US and non-US citizens.  Applicants must write and converse fluently in English.

To be considered for a postdoctoral Buck Fellowship award, researchers must have received their Ph.D. or equivalent degree and all formal requirements for a Ph.D. must be completed before the start of the tenure.

To be eligible for a predoctoral Peter Buck Fellowship award, students must be enrolled in, or admitted to, a Ph.D. program (or equivalent).

A Peter Buck Fellow may not also be a Smithsonian employee or contractor during the period of his/her fellowship appointment and may not hold another type of Smithsonian academic appointment (e.g., Research Associate or Internship) during his/her appointment as a fellow.

All Peter Buck Fellows are expected to be resident at NMNH (NHB, MSC, or SMS) full time and actively engaged in the NMNH community during the entire fellowship tenure.

Off-site absences of up to four weeks, annually, such as to conduct/participate in field work, attend professional meetings, and otherwise actively pursue complementary scientific endeavors are generally permitted.

Only top candidates from the SIFP will be considered for support through the Peter Buck Fellowship Program.  Only applicants who name an NMNH research scientist as their primary advisor and with review through the Evolutionary and Systematic Biology (ESB), Anthropology (ANTHRO), and Earth Sciences (EASCI) committees will be considered for complementary Peter Buck fellowship funding.

Research projects must actively make use of NMNH collections and facilities.

How it Works

Proposals for the Peter Buck Fellowship Program must be submitted through the central SI Fellowship Office, SIFP fellowship call.

Applicants may propose both a one-year and two-year version of their research project, but must specifically address what would be accomplished in year one as a stand-alone award and, if a second year is requested, provide sufficient justification and benefit of a second year.

Applicant proposals will be reviewed by SI staff with expertise in the appropriate discipline and then reviewed, discussed, and ranked by the central fellowship committee who will assess the relative merit of proposals, candidate’s eligibility, and appropriateness for placement as part of the NMNH community.

Stipend:  Stipend rates for Peter Buck postdoctoral researchers and predoctoral students are the same annual base stipend as other SIFP Fellows.  Fellows in earth/planetary sciences receive an additional $5,000 over the base stipend rates.

Research Allowance:  In addition to stipend, Peter Buck Predoctoral and Postdoctoral applicants may request a research allowance of up to $4,000 each year.  This includes budget and justification for equipment, supplies, research-related travel costs, and other support required to conduct the research itself (excluding stipend and relocation costs).  Applicants are highly encouraged to include travel to, and participation in, professional meetings.  The amount of research allowance awarded will be based upon the budget and justification presented by the applicant. Applicants are encouraged to discuss potential research costs with NMNH staff, specifically proposed advisor(s), before submitting your application.

Relocation Allowance: Predoctoral and Postdoctoral fellows may also be awarded a relocation allowance to assist with the fellow’s temporary relocation to the Smithsonian facility in which they will be primarily stationed. Relocation costs should NOT be included in the research allowance budget.  This is awarded separately.

How to Apply

Apply through:  SOLAA

Follow all guidelines for the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP).

Applicants do not need to identify the Peter Buck Fellowship Program separately.  The top candidates will automatically be considered.  However, candidates specifically interest in selection through the Peter Buck Fellowship Program should submit a multi-year proposal, but with a clear annual research description, timetable and budget.  Multi-year fellowship award is not guaranteed.   Research proposal (timeline and research budget) should reflect a one year tenure, and separately what research could be accomplished with an additional year, including timeline and research budget for the additional year.

To receive consideration for a Buck Fellowship award, you must apply to the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program with a research proposal in an area of study related to Natural Museum of Natural History (NMNH) facilities, collections, and select as your primary advisor an NMNH research scientist.

The application deadline and notification date for the Peter Buck Fellowship Program are the same as the SIFP.  Applications are due December 1.  Notification can be anticipated by March.

Selection Criteria 

In addition to the selection criteria for the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP), applicants will be considered for the Peter Buck Fellowship Program based on:

  • Research of the highest intellectual and ethical standards
  • Research topics with a clear connection and purpose for NMNH on-site investigation utilizing our collections and facilities
  • Well justified benefit of a multi-year fellowship




BARCLAY, Richard. Northwestern University.

Reconstructing changes in the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere that occurred during an interval of rapid global warming 56 million years ago. (PETM).

Primary advisor: Wing, Scott.


BRANSTETTER, Michael. University of California, Davis.

Reconstructing the evolutionary relationships within the tribe Stenammini using a combination of molecular and morphological evidence.

Primary advisor: Schultz, Ted.


GOBLE, Emily. Yale University. Miocene and Pliocene East African Fauna Relative to Global Climate Change. Primary advisor: Potts, Rick.


GROCHOLSKI, Brent. University of California, Berkeley.

Investigating Earth’s water cycle by measuring the water storage capacity of key mantle minerals and the effect of water on the melting behavior of these minerals under the extreme conditions of Earth’s interior.

Primary advisor: Cottrell, Elizabeth.


GUTIERREZ, Elicier. City University of New York.

Investigating the evolutionary relationships of South American white-tailed deer, an important group from a conservation and wildlife management perspective.

Primary advisor: Helgen, Kristofer.


HAMILTON, Allison. University of California, Los Angeles.

Investigating species boundaries, biogeography, and genetic variation in lizards that inhabit the Vanuatu Archipelago.

Primary advisor: DeQuieroz, Kevin.


JUD, Nathan. University of Maryland, College Park.

Investigating ecological changes associated with the rise of flowering plants.

Primary advisor: Wing, Scott.


SOSA-CALVO, Jeffrey. University of Maryland, College Park.

Investigating the coevolution between ants and their fungi through the systematics and taxonomy of the primitive fungus-growing ant genus Myrmicocrypta, and their fungal cultivars.

Primary advisor: Schultz, Ted.


THOMAS, Daniel. University of Cape Town.

Reconstructing the plumage colors and diets of extinct birds using spectroscopic analysis of fossils.

Primary advisor: James, Helen.


VAN BOCXLAER, Bert. Ghent University.

Biodiversity and evolution of late Cenozoic freshwater mollusks of Africa integrating data from fossil and living mollusks to explore their evolution, natural history and biogeography through time.

Primary advisor: Strong, Ellen.


WILEY, Anne. Michigan State University.

Using novel methods, including stable isotopes in feathers, to study the diets of highly mobile pelagic seabirds and to detect change in ocean food webs through time.

Primary advisor: James, Helen.



BALDWIN FERGUS, Jamie. Duke University.

Visual adaptations of hyperiid amphipods in the mid-water zone.

Primary advisor: Osborn, Karen.


BLAIMER, Bonnie. University of California, Davis.

Patterns of phylogenetic community structure in Malagasy ants.

Primary advisor: Schultz, Ted.


CASADO-ZAPICO, Sara. University of Oveido.

Investigating the relationship between oxidative stress and individual age in human teeth.

Primary advisor: Ubelaker, Doug.


DAVIS, Frederick. University of Minnesota.

Analyzing the mantle beneath volcanic ocean islands in order to understand the evolution of these unique volcanoes.

Primary advisor: Cottrell, Elizabeth.


DIKOW, Torsten. Cornell University.

Working at the intersection of metagenomics and phylogenomics: an example using Marsupial microbiomes.

Primary advisor: Woodley, Norman.


LYSON, Tyler. Yale University.

Investigating the lung ventilation in turtles and the origin of turtles.

Primary advisor: DeQuieroz, Kevin.


SLATER, Graham. University of California, Los Angeles.

Tempo and mode of evolution in living and fossil canids.

Primary advisor: Hunt, Eugene G..


YAMATO, Maya. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Soft tissue anatomy of fat bodies in the skull of minke whales.

Primary advisor: Helgen, Kristofer.


YESHURUN, Reuven. University of Haifa.

Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene faunal remains from Nubia examining changing strategies of animal exploitation during a period of major climate change.

Primary advisor: Zeder, Melinda.



AMES, Cheryl. University of Maryland, College Park.

Box Jellyfish Sting Venomics. there must be something in the genes.

Primary advisor: Collins, Allen.


BETANCUR, Ricardo. Auburn University.

Evolutionary patterns and processes of catfishes.

Primary advisor: Vari, Rich.


CHIRCHIR, Habiba. George Washington University.

Bone density in mammals.

Primary advisor: Potts, Rick.


DUFFIE JUDY, Caroline. Louisiana State University.

Hybridization in streamertail hummingbirds.

Primary advisor: Graves, Gary.


ERICSON, Klint. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Cultural encounters of 17th Century Spanish missions in New Mexico.

Primary advisor: Isaac, Gwyn.


KELLEY, Neil. University of California, Davis.

Evolution of marine reptiles and marine mammals.

Primary advisor: Pyenson, Nicholas.


LARABEE, Fredrick. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Functional Morphology and Evolution of Trap-Jaw Ants.

Primary advisor: Schultz, Ted.


MCDONOUGH, Molly. Texas Tech University.

Understanding the Evolutionary Origins of Smallpox.

Primary advisor: Helgen, Kristofer.


REEDER-MYERS, Leslie. Southern Methodist University.

Chesapeake Bay historical ecology.

Primary advisor: Rick, Torben.


SOHN, Jae-Cheon. University of Maryland, College Park.

Evolution of leaf mining moths (Yponomeutoidea & Gracillarioidea).

Primary advisor: Davis, Donald.


WARNOCK, Rachel. University of Bristol.

Staratigraphic and phylogenetic model for telling evolutionary time.

Primary advisor: Wagner, Peter.


ZHANG, Jing. Miami University of Ohio.

Interaction between microbs, clay minerals and organic matter.

Primary advisor: Santelli, Cara.


ZHANG, Ning. Pennsylvania State University.

Origin and evolution of tendrils in Vitaceae.

Primary advisor: Zimmer, Elizabeth.



BERCOVICI, Antoine. Universite de Rennes.

How to survive a mass extinction.

Primary advisor: Sues, Hans Dieter.


CARLSEN KRAUSE, Monica. University of Missouri, St. Louis.

Plant diversity in the tropics.

Primary advisor: Kress, John.


DARROCH, Peter. Yale University.

Mass extinctions and biogeography.

Primary advisor: Erwin, Douglas.


DOMMAIN, Rene. University of Greifswald.

The environmental context of human – evolution generating a high-resolution paleolandscape and climate record of the Olorgesailie basin (Kenya) for the past 0.5 Ma.

Primary advisor: Potts, Rick.


EVANS, Nathaniel. University of Florida.

Morphological evolution of swimming crabs.

Primary advisor: Lemaitre, Rafael.


HEIKKILA, Maria Aura. University of Helsinki.

Improved time frame for the diversification of Lepidoptera (moths & butterflies): a synthesis of paleontology, next-generation sequencing and morphology.

Primary advisor: Labandeira, Conrad.


JESOVNIK, Ana. University of Maryland, College Park.

Evolutionary biology of ants.

Primary advisor: Schultz, Ted.


KAYAL, Ehsan. Iowa State University.

Sequencing complete mtDNA for demosponges.

Primary advisor: Collins, Allen.


MCLEAN, Bryan. University of New Mexico.

Pattern and process and radiation of ground dwelling squirrels.

Primary advisor: Helgen, Kristofer.


PINTO, Miguel. City University of New York.

Evolution of Trybasome parasites.

Primary advisor: Helgen, Kristofer.


RIBEIRO, Eduardo. University of Chicago.

South American historical linguistics.

Primary advisor: Merrill, William.


SIGEL, Erin. Duke University.

Genome evolution in hybrid ferns.

Primary advisor: Schuettpelz, Eric.


SPEARMAN, Lauren. Rutgers University.

Community phylogenetics and biodiversity of South African grasshoppers.

Primary advisor: Hayek, Lee-Ann.


SUGIYAMA, Nawa. Harvard University.

Analyzing ancient felid bones from the Maya site of Copan, Honduras.

Primary advisor: Rick, Torben.


TURCATEL, Maureen. North Carolina State University.

Phylogenomics of robber flies.

Primary advisor: Dikow, Torsten.


WATERS, Laura. University of Michigan.

Experimental geochemistry of Obsidian Rhyolite lavas.

Primary advisor: Andrews, Benjamin.



BENTLAGE, Bastian. University of Kansas.

Biogeographic patterns and ecological processes that govern species.

Primary advisor: Collins, Allen.


DOUGLASS, Kristina. Yale University.

Extinction of the elephant bird in Madagascar.

Primary advisor: Rick, Torben.


FRAASS, Andrew. University of Massachusetts.

Controls on Species Longevity during Cretaceous Environmental Crises.

Primary advisor: Huber, Brian.


FRASER, Danielle. Carleton University.

Community structure of fossil mammals.

Primary advisor: Lyons, S. Kate.


GOODHEART, Jessica. University of Maryland, College Park.

Nudibranch phylogenetics and evolution.

Primary advisor: Strong, Ellen.


GOSTEL, Morgan. George Mason University.

A conserved ortholog set (COS) for Compositae: A case study in the genus Moquiniastrum and outreach through GGI Gardens.

Primary advisor: Funk, Vicki.


GOTTSCHO, Andrew. University of California, Riverside.

Speciation and Species Delimitation of Zebra-tailed Lizards (Callisaurus draconoides complex).

Primary advisor: DeQuieroz, Kevin.


HARRIS, Wendy “AJ”. Oklahoma State University.

Assembly of the North American woody flora.

Primary advisor: Wen, Jun.


HINKLE, Margaret. Washington University.

Manganese oxidizing in fungi.

Primary advisor: Post, Jeffrey.


LARABEE, Fredrick. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Biomechanics of ant mandibles.

Primary advisor: Schultz, Ted.


LEASI, Francesca. Drexel University.

Genome diversity and evolution in microscopic organisms (meiofauna).

Primary advisor: Norenburg, Jon L..


LECLERC CAFFAREL, Stephanie. University of East Anglia.

American presence in Figi.

Primary advisor: Kaeppler, Adrienne.


LUNNING, Nicole. University of Tennessee.

Melting experiments on chondrites.

Primary advisor: McCoy, Timothy.


MCCURRY, Matthew. Monash University.

Evolution of marine tetrapods.

Primary advisor: Pyenson, Nicholas.


MILLER, Theresa. University of Oxford.

Biodiversity Management in the Canela Indigenous Community of Brazil: Linking People, Plants, and Landscapes.

Primary advisor: Bell, Joshua A.


SMITH, Emily. Harvard University.

Small shelly fossils from the Early Cambrian.

Primary advisor: Erwin, Douglas.


SOUL, Laura. University of Oxford.

Macroevolutionary responses to invasion in the Miocene mammalian fossil record.

Primary advisor: Hunt, Eugene G.


TORNABENE, Luke. Texas A & M University.

Evolution of Gobies.

Primary advisor: Baldwin, Carole C.



BALK, Meghan. University of New Mexico.

Changes in community composition of megafauna-dominated systems.

Primary advisor: Carrano, Matthew T..


BELL, Kayce. University of New Mexico.

The Impact of Host Hybridization on Parasitism in Western North American.

Primary advisor: Phillips, Anna.


BENAGE, Mary. Georgia Institute of Technology.

Explosive Volcanic Plume Dynamics: examination of air entrainment through experiments, image analysis of eruptions, and numerical models.

Primary advisor: Andrews, Benjamin.


BUENAVENTURA, Eliana. University of Copenhagen.

What Highly Conserved DNA Regions tell us about evolution: Anchored hybrid enrichment and massively parallel sequencing for comparative studies.

Primary advisor: Dikow, Torsten.


DELICADO IGLESIAS, Diana. Justus Liebig University.

Why do taxa differ in species richness? A multifactorial evolutionary investigation of microgastropods.

Primary advisor: Hershler, Robert.


EVANS, Nathaniel. University of Florida.

Patterns of molecular evolution associated with physiological adaptation to low-salinity.

Primary advisor: Lemaitre, Rafael.


FERREIRA DOS SANTOS, Bernardo. American Museum of Natural History.

Evolution of convergent functional systems in a hyperdiverse clade of parasitic.

Primary advisor: Brady, Sean G.


KEATING BITONTI, Caitlin. Stanford University.

Size evolution of single-celled and multicellular eukaryotes across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary (~34 Ma).

Primary advisor: Hunt, Eugene G.


PACE, Marcelo. University of Sao Paulo.

Cambial variants in Malpighiaceae: structure, development, evolution and diversification.

Primary advisor: Acevedo, Pedro.


PATRELLO, Christopher. University of Rochester.

Northwest coast Native American tourist art.

Primary advisor: Bell, Joshua A.


ROA VARON, Adela. College of William and Mary.

Multi-scale phylogenetics of hakes (Merluccius, Merlucciidae), a high-priority group for fisheries conservation.

Primary advisor: Baldwin, Carole C.


WRIGHT, David. Ohio State University.

How do mass extinctions reshape ecologic diversity in the marine biosphere?

Primary advisor: Hunt, Eugene G.



ARMSTRONG, Chelsey. Simon Fraser University.

Indigenous Forest Gardens: Ancient Cultural and Ecological Impacts on Contemporary Landscapes.

Primary advisor: Rick, Torben.


CARABALLO ORTIZ, Marcos. Pennsylvania State University.

Cultural implications of bird population decline to present as public exhibition.

Primary advisor: Wen, Jun.


DE MIRANDA, Gustavo. University of Copenhagen.

Phylogeography of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: whip spiders as a model system using a combination of next generation sequencing and multi-locus approaches.

Primary advisor: Wood, Hannah M.


DONOVAN, Michael. Pennsylvania State University.

Evolutionary and ecological responses of insect herbivores to glacial-interglacial climatic.

Primary advisor: Labandeira, Conrad.


HOLYCROSS, Megan. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Partitioning of vanadium in high pressure systems as a function of oxygen fugacity.

Primary advisor: Cottrell, Elizabeth.


HOSNER, Peter. University of Kansas.

Evolution of flightlessness of rails.

Primary advisor: James, Helen F.


LIN, Chan. University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Comparative neuroanatomy in hyperiid amphipods: how sensory adaptations shape their brains.

Primary advisor: Osborn, Karen.


PRATES, Ivan. City University of New York.

The evolution of sexual signals in mainland anole lizards: a comparative genomic approach.

Primary advisor: de Queiroz, Kevin.


PRITCHARD, Adam. Yale University.

The Early Evolution of Crown-Group Reptiles: New Perspectives on Anatomical Innovation & Ecological Diversification.

Primary advisor: Sues, Hans-Dieter.


PRZELOMSKA, Natalia. University of Cambridge.

Deified to extinction? Insights into human impacts on Hawaiian forest birds through the genomic analysis of `ahu`ula (feather capes).

Primary advisor: Kistler, Logan.


URIBE, Juan. Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.

Phylogenomic Relationships Of Vetigastropoda (Mollusca, Gastropoda): capture by hybridization of DNA of exotic specimens from museum collections.

Primary advisor: Strong, Ellen