Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards in Studying Complex Systems

2016 Competition


Overview

Please note the following guidelines are also available in PDF form.

The Studying Complex 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.

The Fellowship

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 his or her interests or goals.

The James S. McDonnell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Studying Complex 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 leeway 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.




Award Details

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.

  • The cost of the full postdoctoral salary or stipend and fringe benefits must be paid in full from the fellowship.
  • Institutions cannot request that other funding sources be used to cover the Fellow’s salary or stipend; JSMF Fellowship funds are not intended to be used primarily as a source of laboratory support.
  • If the institutional postdoctoral salary scales are set such that there are funds in excess of what is needed for stipend and benefits, the excess funds can be used by the institution to support the Fellow’s research.

Important Note: JSMF Fellowships are not awarded until the student applies to and is accepted as a postdoctoral fellow at a qualified 501(c)(3) institution or foreign equivalent and the institution submits an acceptable application to JSMF.


Eligibility

This fellowship is intended for Ph.D. students with theoretical and/or experimental training in Complex Systems Science that anticipate completing their graduate training in late 2016 or in 2017. The earliest start-date for a fellowship is November 1, 2016.

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.

  • Applicants must not already have a Ph.D. or expect to receive one before the application deadline.
  • Applicants should have theoretical and/or experimental training in Complex Systems Science.
  • Applicants should not have already identified a postdoctoral position and postdoctoral research mentor.
  • Applicants should understand that if a letter of intent to fund is received, it is unlikely that an application to remain at the same institution will be approved.

JSMF Fellowships can only be used to support postdoctoral training at a qualified institution. This includes institutions with IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exemption status, institutions that are government instrumentalities or foreign equivalent institutions. More information on JSMF Tax Status policy can be found here.


Applying for the Letter of Intent to Fund Phase

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:


To be submitted as a single PDF file by the applicant:

  1. A JSMF Coversheet (template: .docx)
  2. A brief description of the student’s current and future research interests written in essay format
    • 2500 word maximum. (include the word count at the top of this section)
    • Include how the student's future plans fit this specific program.
    • Explain how the student's research principles are connected to the field of complex systems.
  3. A description of the postdoctoral position the student will seek to obtain and what he or she intends to achieve during postdoctoral training.
    • 1000 words maximum. (include the word count at the top of this section)
    • Evidence of thoughtful decision making concerning the expectations and goals of further research training will be an important selection factor.
  4. The student's curriculum vita
    • 2 page maximum

To be submitted separately by the Ph.D. mentor and other faculty member:

Two letters of support are required for each application.

  • LETTER 1: Letter of support from Ph.D. mentor
    • Should address the student's qualifications and the benefits anticipated to be gained during a period of postdoctoral training.
    • Must provide assurance that the student will complete all Ph.D. degree requirements and be able to start a postdoctoral position in late 2016 or in 2017.
    • Letters must be on institutional letterhead (if available) and in PDF format.
    • No more than two (2) pages in length.
    • Letters of support that are emailed, faxed, or sent by physical mail will not be processed.
  • LETTER 2: Letter of support from a faculty member familiar with, but not directly involved in supervising, the student and the student’s research.
    • Should address the student's qualifications and the benefits anticipated to be gained during a period of postdoctoral training.
    • Letters must be on institutional letterhead (if available) and in PDF format.
    • No more than two (2) pages in length.
    • Letters of support that are emailed, faxed, or sent by physical mail will not be processed.

How to Submit an Application

The deadline for applications is June 30, 2016, 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.

Beginning May 1, 2016, you may use this link to submit an application: https://www.jsmf.org/postdoc

To submit an application the following information must be entered:

    • A descriptive application title (200 character or less).
    • The applicant's contact information (name, email, current institution).
    • The name, institution, and email address of the Ph.D. mentor that will be providing letter #1 of support.
    • The name, institution, and email address of the person that will be providing letter #2 of support.
    • File upload: Select and upload a PDF version of the application containing all the required information.

Upon submission a confirmation email will be sent to the student indicating the application was received.


How to Submit a Letter of Support

The deadline for letters of support is June 30, 2016, 15:59 Central Time (20:59 UTC). Late letters will not be reviewed. We recommend submitting letters of support at least 24 hours before the deadline to allow for unforeseen circumstances.

Beginning May 1, 2016, you may use this link to submit letters of reference: https://www.jsmf.org/letter

Students must request two letters of support 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.

Letter submitters will be required to enter his or her:

  • Name, institution, and email address
  • The applicant’s name and email address
  • Select and then upload a PDF version of the letter of reference.

Upon successful upload, both the individual submitting the letter of reference and the applicant will be emailed a receipt.


Deadline

The deadline for applications and letters of support is June 30, 2016, 15:59 CDT (20:59 UTC). All materials must be submitted electronically through the specified process.


Decisions and Notification

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.


Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to apply for a JSMF Postdoctoral Fellowship Award?

I have a question about font, margin, page requirements, references, image captions, etc.

I have more than one Ph.D. mentor. Should I have each mentor submit a letter of support?

I have more than one letter for the non-mentor letter of support. Should I have each letter writer upload a letter?

Will you accept a late application or letter of reference?

If I apply and receive a letter of intent to fund, when can I activate the award?

What institutions can be used for a JSMF Postdoctoral Fellowship Award?

I’m having a problem with an electronic application or a particular program guideline. Whom can I contact for help?

I applied to the program in a prior year. Am I eligible to apply again this year?

If I receive a letter of intent to fund, am I able to stay at my current institution?

 

Am I eligible to apply for a JSMF fellowship award?
Review the eligibility requirements to determine if you are eligible to apply for a fellowship award.


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 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.


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 will be included with your application file.


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.


If I apply and receive a letter of intent to fund, when can I activate the award?
Letters of intent awarded in 2016 may be activated beginning November 1, 2016.


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'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 help@jsmf.org.


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.


If I receive a letter of intent to fund, am I able to stay at my current institution?
The intent of this program is to allow students to broaden their training and experience. It is unlikely that an application to remain at the same institution will be approved.