Important Note: The deadline to submit an application for the 2018 Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards is June 15, 2018, 15:59 CDT (20:59 UTC).
The Understanding Dynamic and Multi-Scale Systems program supports scholarship and research directed toward the development of theoretical and mathematical tools contributing to the science of complex, adaptive, nonlinear systems. While the program's emphasis is on the development and application of the theory and tools used in the study of complex research questions and not on particular fields of research per se, JSMF is particularly interested in the continued development of complex systems science, and in projects attempting to apply complex systems approaches to coherently articulated questions.
Important Note: JSMF supports research in the brain sciences through its topical program Understanding Human Cognition. The Foundation recommends that researchers in the neurosciences not submit applicationss to the Dynamic and Multi-scale Systems Postdoctoral Fellowship Award. Typically, such applications are unsuccessful.
Important Note: To receive notifications when these guidelines are updated, please sign up to the Guideline Update mailing list: http://eepurl.com/dpHtf-/.
Students completing doctoral training, desiring to continue gaining experience in a multi-disciplinary field such as complex systems science, benefit from postdoctoral training providing an opportunity to broaden research experience and acquire additional skills prior to pursuing a career in academia or elsewhere. Success in securing a postdoctoral position, particularly those providing training that adds new dimensions to a student’s doctoral education (adding theoretical skills to one’s experimental training or vice versa; pursuing work in a new topic or field), oftentimes depends on the availability of funds to support positions via institutional training grants or faculty research grants. The latter case can result in a postdoctoral fellow engaging a research project dictated by the needs of the research grant rather than pursing a self-directed training program based on his or her interests or goals.
The James S. McDonnell Foundation 21st Century Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Understanding Dynamic and Multi-scale Systems provides fellowships to students completing doctoral training in the multidisciplinary field of complex systems science. The JSMF Fellowship is intended to provide students in the final stages of completing a Ph.D. degree more freedom in identifying and securing postdoctoral training opportunities in complex systems research. The program, following review of applications, provides selected pre-doctoral students with “letters of intent to fund” that the student can use in negotiating with potential postdoctoral training institutions while the student is in the final phase of graduate school. The JSMF Fellowship is designed to provide students with an opportunity to seek potential postdoctoral research opportunities on the basis of the student’s interest and desire to obtain additional skills and experience that will further their pursuit of careers in complex systems science.
The total amount of the JSMF Fellowship is $200,000 USD to be expended in no less than 2 and no more than 3 years.
Important Note: JSMF Fellowships are not awarded until the student applies to and is accepted as a postdoctoral fellow at a qualified institution and the institution submits an acceptable application to JSMF.
The JSMF Fellowship is a unique opportunity for students with complexity science training who are in the final stages of completing their Ph.D. looking to make a significant change in direction for their first postdoctoral fellowship (field of study, model organism, theory vs experimental, etc.) that will either be difficult or impossible without an external source of funding. Students should anticipate activating the fellowship between June 2019 and February 28, 2020.
In prior years, upwards of 70% of submissions are not advanced past the first review phase due to poor fit with this goal of the program.
Important Note: It is not intended for individuals that already have a Ph.D. or students that have already identified a postdoctoral position and a postdoctoral mentor as there are traditional funding mechanisms available for these students.
For more detailed eligibility information, complete the Eligibility Quiz.
Applications and letters of support can be submitted beginning May 1, 2018. The deadline for applications and letters of support is June 15, 2018, 15:59 CDT (20:59 UTC). All materials must be submitted electronically through the specified process.
Applications that meet the eligibility requirements will be reviewed by an expert advisory panel. The panel will use the quality and appropriateness of the proposed fellowship plan, academic productivity, and letters of support as the basis for recommending applications for funding consideration.
Final funding decisions will be announced at the end of October after the JSMF Board of Directors meets and considers the advisory board’s recommendations.
It is planned that JSMF could support up to 10 Fellowships, possibly more, each year.
It should be clear from the application that the reason for pursuing a post-doctoral position is qualitatively adding to the student’s training by pursuing a postdoctoral position. Ideally, the fellowship will allow the applicant to broaden their skills, knowledge, and scientific contacts. Complete applications must be uploaded to the JSMF website. Submissions for the letter of intent to fund phase must contain the two parts below to be considered complete:
Applications will be accepted beginning May 1, 2018, up until the deadline of June 15, 2018, 15:59 Central Time (20:59 UTC). Late applications will not be reviewed. We recommend submitting applications at least 24 hours before the deadline to allow for unforeseen circumstances.
Use this link to submit an application: https://www.jsmf.org/postdoc
A complete applicant application consists of the below items in order in a single PDF. Word counts, where specified, should be included at the top of the section.
To submit an application the following additional information must be entered into the online form:
Upon submission a confirmation email will be sent to the student indicating the application was received.
Students must request two letters of support to be submitted that address the student’s qualifications and benefits anticipated to be gained during a period of postdoctoral training. Letters of support should not be included in the application file. Letters must be submitted directly by the letter writer.
Letters of support will be accepted beginning May 1, 2018, up until the deadline of June 15, 2018, 15:59 Central Time (20:59 UTC). Late letters of support will not be included with the applicant’s application. We recommend submitting letters of support at least 24 hours before the deadline to allow for unforeseen circumstances.
Use this link to submit a letter of support: https://www.jsmf.org/letter
Letter submitters will be required to enter into the form:
Upon a successful letter submission, both the individual submitting the letter of support and the applicant will be emailed a confirmation receipt.
Advice to Share with the Letter Writers
Letters of support are considered an important part of the JSMF Fellowship application and are used as key information in the review process. Letter writers should use the text to describe the student’s skills, abilities, achievements, and provide information that the advisory panel can use to evaluate the applicant’s fit with the opportunity afforded with the JSMF Fellowship.
Requirements for both letters of support:
Last updated May 22, 2018
Am I eligible to apply for a JSMF
Students should not already have a Ph.D. but be on track to complete all degree requirements and be ready to start their first postdoctoral fellowship between June 2019 and February 28, 2020. There are no geographic restrictions for applicants. For more information, take the Eligibility Quiz.
I have a question about font, margin, page requirements, references, image captions, etc.
There are no specific guidelines related to these types of questions. Use your best judgment, and understand that the application file submitted needs to be easily readable. References and image captions are not included in word counts.
I’ve decided the institution I want to go to for my postdoc
position. How can I explain this in the application?
If you’ve already made a decision on where you are going for a postdoc then you are not eligible to apply for this fellowship. This fellowship is not intended for individuals that already have a Ph.D. or students that have already identified a postdoctoral position and a postdoctoral mentor as there are traditional funding mechanisms available for these students.
I have more than one Ph.D. mentor. Should I have each mentor submit a letter of support?
No. Only one Ph.D. mentor letter of support will be included with your application file. If you have more than 1 mentor please ask them to write a joint letter that is up to 2 pages in length. Letters exceeding 2 pages will be truncated without acknowledgement.
I have more than one letter for the non-mentor letter of support. Should I have each letter writer upload a letter?
No. Only one non-mentor letter (up to 2 pages in length) should be submitted for your application file. Letters exceeding 2 pages will be truncated without acknowledgement.
Will you accept a late application or letter of reference?
No. All materials must be received on or before the official deadline. Late applications and letters of reference will not be reviewed. It is up to the applicant to verify with the letter writers that letters of support are submitted prior to the deadline.
For various reasons, should I receive a letter of intent to
fund I would like to stay at my doctoral institution for a
postdoctoral position. Is that acceptable?
The intent of this program is to allow students to broaden their training and experience. If a letter of intent to fund is received, it is unlikely that an application to remain at the same institution as the doctoral work will be approved.
I’m considering applying for the JSMF Fellowship, but if I
receive a letter of intent to fund I am unable to commit to
Applying to the JSMF Fellowship is highly competitive. By applying for a letter of intent to fund, the student indicates his or her strong intention to activate the award, if received. Students should contact us firstname.lastname@example.org and withdraw their application from further review if at any time this is no longer true.
What institutions can be used for a JSMF Postdoctoral Fellowship Award?
Please note that due to changes in U.S. Treasury regulations, the Foundation no longer maintains a list of grantee institutions on file.
If awarded a letter of intent to fund, applicants must select a postdoctoral position at a qualified institution. Any U.S. or foreign institution with IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exemption status qualifies. Domestic or foreign institutions that are instruments of the government (supported financially by the state or national government) also qualify. In all cases, potential grantee institutions require supporting documentation of the institution’s tax status.
I applied to the program in a prior year. Am I eligible to apply again this year?
No. Once you have applied to the JSMF Postdoctoral Fellowship program you are not eligible to apply again in future years.
I haven’t received an email confirmation for submitting an
application or a letter of support that I know was submitted.
Check your spam folder to see if the confirmation email was mistakenly classified as spam. Verify that the email address entered on the form was not entered incorrectly. The confirmation code provided on the submission page serves as the verification that a submission was successfully received.
I made a mistake with my submission, and the submission
deadline has not passed. How do I correct the error?
If the mistake is significant (e.g., missing pages or application sections) then you should go through the application submission process again. If there are duplicate submissions for an applicant only the most recent is used.
I'm having a problem with an electronic application or a
particular program guideline. Whom can I contact for help?
For the fastest response, send an email to email@example.com.
March 23, 2018
Application guidelines posted on the website.
Applications and letters of support can be submitted via the website beginning this date
June 15, 2018 15:59 CDT (20:59 UTC)
Deadline to submit an application and letters of support
June 16 - September
Applications will be reviewed during this time
Advisory panel will meet to discuss the finalists
Notification of decisions will be sent by email on or before this date. If you do not receive notification on this date first check your spam filter and then contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
JSMF Board of Directors will consider the advisory panel's recommendations
Earliest anticipated activation date for a fellowship awarded in 2018
February 28, 2020
Latest anticipated activate date for a fellowship awarded in 2018