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Post-doctoral Fellowship Grants and Funding in North America. Jordan Karubian UCLA. The Post-doc Paradox. “Purgatory” or “the best year(s) of my life”? Purgatory : Uncertain future, status and respect issues. Best Year(s) of My Life : Little responsibility Focus on research

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Post-doctoral Fellowship Grants and Fundingin North America

Jordan Karubian


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The Post-doc Paradox

  • “Purgatory” or “the best year(s) of my life”?

  • Purgatory:

    • Uncertain future, status and respect issues.

  • Best Year(s) of My Life:

    • Little responsibility

    • Focus on research

    • Lots of freedom in your lifestyle

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How to Fund It?

  • Apply for an advertised position

  • Obtain your own funding

    • Co-PI on a grant with a professor

    • PI on your own grant

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Advertised positions

  • An established scientist has already obtained funding for an established project.

    • Pros:

      • Don’t have to worry about funding the position

      • You step into an already established project with successful and established scientists

      • This should increase quality of research and number of publications

    • Cons:

      • You have a boss

      • Potential for conflicts of interest, micro-managing, etc.

      • Suggestion: elaborate a written agreement with post-doc advisor, speak to former advisees, etc.

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Advertised Positions, contd.

  • Teaching post-docs

    • Offered by departments and/or professors

    • Explicitly include teaching at least one class

      • Pros:

        • Gain valuable teaching experience while continuing research

      • Cons:

        • Teaching will detract from research

    • A good option if you plan to focus on teaching in the future

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Funding Your Own Post-doc

  • Write a grant with an established scientist

    • Identify appropriate collaborator and secure approval and involvement

    • Write the grant (NSF, NASA, NIH, large foundation or NGO)

      • Pros:

        • Design your own project

        • Greater leverage in relationship with advisor

      • Cons:

        • These proposals take a long time to write, have a long turn-around time, and are extremely competitive.

        • You need to start this early and have full support and active involvement of potential advisor

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Funding Your Own Post-docGet your own money

  • International Research Fellowship

    • NSF, must work outside USA

    • 2 years salary plus funding

    • You are the PI on this grant

  • Fulbright Fellowship

    • Must work outside USA

    • Shorter term funding ( 1 yr max)

    • You are PI

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Funding Your Own Post-docGet your own money

  • Smith Fellowship

    • Society for Cons Biology (formerly TNC)

    • 2 years salary plus funding

    • Work must have conservation focus and take place within USA but applicants need not be from USA

    • Work closely with a mentor from a conservation-oriented NGO.

  • University-specific opportunities with varying degrees of autonomy.

  • National Association for University Women (NAUW)

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Latin American Post-docs

  • Most Latin Americans conduct post-docs abroad or with funding from abroad but there are also some good sources in Mexico.


    • Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT)

      • 1-3 yr, repatriation program for students who conducted their PhD abroad.


    • Instituto de Ecología AC

      • 1-2 yr, usually for people they are thinking of hiring


    • UNAM, must identify faculty sponsor.

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European post-docs

  • Most are restricted to EU members, but there are

  • some options for foreigners

  • NATO Fellowships

  • Marie Curie Fellowships

    However, the best option for research in Europe

    Is probably to get an NSF or other funding within

    your own country.

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Research Funds: NGO’s

National Geographic Society

Research only, $15-25,000 per year.

Wildlife Conservation Society Research Fellowship

  • Research Only - $20,000 max

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Research Funds:Foundations

  • Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund

    • $20,000 / yr., conservation oriented project

  • Conservation, Food and Health

    • $25,000 / yr., conservation oriented project

  • Moore, MacArthur, Packard

    • Large projects, several years, multiple collaborators, conservation focus.

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Research Funds: Zoos and Museums

  • Usually smaller ($1 - 5,000) awards

  • Lincoln Park Zoo

  • Chicago Zoological Society

  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

  • American Museum of Natural History

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Take Home Messages

  • Plan your post-doc in the context of your future professional goals

    • Do you want to end up at a teaching college or an R-1?

  • Start looking early

    • Identify suitable post-doc advisors and projects

    • Write them or introduce yourself early on

  • Salary can be tough to find on your own but there are some sources:

    • NSF Intl. Research Fellowship

    • Smith Fellowship (Soc. For Cons. Biol.)

    • Fulbright Fellowship

    • University-specific opportunities

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  • Coro Arizmendi, Elena Berg (european specialist), Regina Macedo, Borja Mila, Katherine Renton, Oscar Rios Cardenas, Melissa Rowe, Ernesto Ruelas Inzunza,