Understanding Dynamic and Multi-scale Systems

21st Century Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards

 


Overview

The Understanding Dynamic and Multi-Scale Systems (formerly 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.

 

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.

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 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 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 2017 or in 2018. The earliest start-date for a fellowship is December 1, 2017.

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 be in a fellowship position prior to the earliest start date for this grant is December 1, 2017.
  • 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:


Part 1: To be submitted as a single PDF file by the applicant

 

A complete applicant application consists of the following:

  1. A JSMF Coversheet (use this template .docx or create one with the same information)
  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.
    • How does the student envision this fellowship changing the direction of his or her research?
    • Finally, what is the student’s plan after the fellowship? Does the student plan to seek another fellowship, obtain employment in industry or government, pursue a faculty career in academia, or start a business? Note: These are all equally acceptable responses.
  4. The student's curriculum vita
    • 2 page maximum

 

Applications will be accepted beginning May 15, 2017, up until the deadline of June 26, 2017, 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.

 

Applications should be submitted using this link:  https://www.jsmf.org/postdoc

 

To submit an application the following information must be entered into the electronic form:

  • The information contained on the coversheet.
  • Up to 4 key words that categorize the student's current and future research interests.
  • Summary information in plain text format (devoid of references or identifying information)
    • A brief description of the student’s current and future research interests (150 word maximum).
    • A description of the postdoctoral position the student will seek to obtain and what he or she intends to achieve during postdoctoral training. (75 word maximum).
  • Select and upload a PDF version of the application.

 

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

 


Part 2: To be submitted separately as single PDF files by the Ph.D. mentor and other faculty member

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 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 2017 or in 2018.
    • Letters must be on institutional letterhead (if available) and in PDF format.
    • No more than two (2) pages in length. Letters exceeding this length will be truncated without acknowledgement.
    • 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 exceeding this length will be truncated without acknowledgement.
    • Letters of support that are emailed, faxed, or sent by physical mail will not be processed.

 

Letters of support will be accepted beginning May 15, 2017, up until the deadline of June 26, 2017, 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.

 

Letters of support should be submitted using this link: https://www.jsmf.org/letter

 

To submit a letter of support the following information must be entered into the electronic form:

  • The letter writer's 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 submission both the individual submitting the letter of reference and the applicant will be emailed a confirmation receipt.

 


Deadline

The deadline for applications and letters of support is June 26, 2017, 15:59 CDT (20:59 UTC). All materials must be submitted electronically through the specified process.

 

Applications and letters of support can be submitted beginning May 15, 2017.

 

 

 

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

Last updated April 12, 2017

 

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 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.


If I apply and receive a letter of intent to fund, when can I activate the award?
Letters of intent awarded in 2017 may be activated beginning December 1, 2017.


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 will be processed.


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.

 

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 info@jsmf.org.