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NatureNet Science Fellows: How to Apply

Seeking Innovators for Nature and Development


The Nature Conservancy is pleased to solicit applications for the NatureNet Science Fellows program, a set of new interdisciplinary conservation science postdoctoral fellowships.

NatureNet Science Fellows seeks outstanding early-career scientists to improve and expand their research skills while directing their efforts towards problems at the interface of conservation, business and technology. The program is run in partnership with the following universities: Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. 

Applicants must identify one of the above six universities as their home institution, but are encouraged to also suggest potential appropriate collaborations with additional universities and institutions (e.g., Danforth Plant Sciences Center for agriculture). Each applicant will be judged on the basis of his or her resume, letters of recommendation, and a short two-page essay that describes why the applicant is the right person for tackling one of the thematic problems described below.

Following selection, fellows will work with mentors based at their selected university and at the Conservancy to develop a research program. Fellows’ research programs will include both important basic research as well as science that addresses urgent challenges for conservation and that can be translated into or used immediately to guide action and policy. The joint mentorship provided by academia and the Conservancy will help fellows to implement this nexus of basic and pragmatic.

 Thematic areas for 2014: Agriculture, Water and Energy 
1. Agriculture – Pathways to Expanding Sustainable Food Productions Systems

We seek fellows who will help develop or identify sustainable crop production systems, grazing systems or aquaculture. Work can include assessment of alternative farming or production systems with an eye towards alternative choices on the cropping systems as well as on certification or standards that might be implemented to promote particular systems. Analyses could also include landscape studies of agricultural systems and ecosystem responses. The goal is to deliver food without damaging ecosystems or causing loss of biodiversity. In this thematic area of agriculture, opportunities exist for collaboration between any of the above universities and the Danforth Plant Sciences Center — especially its programs aimed at tropical crop improvement.

2. Securing Clean Water in Ample Supply

We seek fellows who will help insure that ample clean water is available to both urban and rural people. Strategies for achieving this goal can include new and existing technology, mitigation, regulation and watershed management. Work could also include efforts aimed at reducing particular sources of pollution. 

3. Energy Futures

We seek fellows who will analyze and assess alternative energy portfolios that can meet a region’s or nation’s energy needs over the next 20 years while also achieving the multiple environmental goals of minimal habitat fragmentation and degradation, reduced emissions, minimal risk to people, and sustainable water use or impact. Such work could entail thinking through how to integrate energy innovations into this environmental and portfolio approach. The portfolios to be considered might include shale gas, nuclear, coal, oil, and renewables.

Fellowships are spent primarily at the home institution or at the location best suited to conducting the research; up to one month each year will be spent in professional development training and coming together with other fellows to exchange research lessons and work on joint projects. We envision that the cadre of scientists supported by this fellowship program will eventually assume leadership positions across the field of conservation science around the world.  

The Conservancy expects to select at least six individuals for appointments to start between July 1 and September 1, 2016. The total award value for each fellowship is approximately $100,000 per year. 

Eligibility and Award Terms

Eligible individuals will have completed their doctorate within the past five years. Applicants who have not yet completed their doctorate must clearly indicate on the application the date the degree is expected. 

Each fellow will receive an annual salary of $50,000 plus benefits, with the postdoctoral position expected to run for two consecutive years. In addition to the stipend, each fellow receives an annual travel budget of approximately $10,000 and an annual research fund of approximately $20,000. 

Second-year renewal of the fellowship is contingent upon satisfactory progress and contribution to the collective program

Application Materials  

Applications must be submitted by October 1, 2015 to Lynne Eder at In the subject line of the e-mail place your last name and the host university. Submit the following materials: 

  1. Cover letter (less than one page). Applicants should provide a narrative of her/his academic background, research focus and evidence of leadership and innovation. 
  2. CV or resume.
  3. Short essay (less than two pages). The applicant should indicate (a) the research thematic area, (b) what general types of approaches she or he might take, (c) the host university (from the list of six), and (d) indicate in the cover letter that he/she has made contact with a potential mentor. We do not expect a detailed research plan; such a plan will be developed with the university and Conservancy mentors after one is awarded the fellowship. But the essay should indicate why the applicant has the right skills and background to make a major contribution in the area.
  4. Letters of recommendation. Arrange to have three letters of reference submitted as well. 
Application Process

Send cover letter, CV/resume and short essay to with your name and host university in the subject line (eg. Jane Doe – Cornell).

Letters of reference should also be sent to with only your name in the subject line.

Accepted candidates will be notified by January 15, 2016. Funds are available for fellows to start on approximately July 1, 2016.

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