The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is collaborating with The Brinson Foundation to support the Brinson Prize Fellowship program. These fellowships are awarded to early career astrophysicists and cosmologists who are committed to chasing bold ideas with creative, nimble, and innovative research.
These awards focus on supporting research in observational cosmology, particularly complementing and capitalizing on space science, including topics such as the first stars, the cosmic distance scale, and the development of large-scale structure. The program conditions are set by The Brinson Foundation, which will administer the program. STScI is providing logistical assistance to broaden community access to this opportunity.
Three fellowships are planned to be awarded in this pilot program, with starting dates in 2023. Fellowships will be held at a limited number of participating institutions. The intention is to expand the number of fellowships and participating institutions in future years.
A fellowship application consists of a research proposal and supporting documentation, as outlined below. Applicants must have received a PhD or equivalent doctoral-level research degree in astronomy, physics, or a related discipline. The date of the PhD award should be on or after January 1, 2019. Currently, the Brinson Prize Fellowship is only available for applications by U.S. citizens.
The Brinson Prize Fellowship is presently only available to U.S. citizens who received their doctoral degrees in astronomy, physics, or related disciplines on or after January 1, 2019, or who will receive their degree before September 1, 2023. Graduate-student awardees who have not yet received their doctoral degree at the time of application must present evidence of having completed all requirements for the degree before commencing their fellowships.
At the present time, the Brinson Prize Fellowships may only be held at the following universities:
- California Institution of Technology
- University of Chicago
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
The intention is to expand participation to additional institutions in future years. At most, two fellows will be hosted at any single institution.
Applicants are asked to list two of the four prospective host institutions in their order of preference. Applicants should also identify faculty member contact at their top two choice institutions. In general, fellows will work full time on their research programs and will be in residence at their designated host institution during the entire period of the fellowship. Should there be a compelling need to transfer to a different institution, The Brinson Foundation will consider the request, but transfers are limited to participating institutions.
Stipend and Benefits
The annual salary or stipend for a Brinson Prize Fellow is comparable to that of other prize fellowships, including the NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP) and is subject to annual review and adjustment. In addition, Brinson Prize Fellows will receive support for health insurance, relocation costs, travel, computing services, publications, and other direct research costs. No additional stipend, salary, or other remuneration may be accepted from any other appointment (such as teaching), fellowship, or similar grant during the period of the fellowship. Additional honorary named appointments intended to be linked with the title of "Brinson Prize Fellow” are similarly not allowed.
While the salary of fellows is set by The Brinson Foundation, benefits such as retirement and family leave depend on the rules of the host institution.
Duration of Fellowship
Brinson Prize Fellowships are awarded through grants to host institutions for up to three years. Funding will be provided initially for the first year of the fellowship. Renewals for the second and third years will depend on satisfactory annual performance reviews.
Thursday, November 3, 2022, 7:00 PM EDT (4:00 PM PDT)
Incomplete applications and/or applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
Letters of Reference Deadline
Thursday, November 10, 2022, 7:00 PM EST (4:00 PM PST)
Materials Submitted by the Applicant
Applicants must submit their materials at the application website. These materials should be submitted as a single pdf file and must include:
- Cover page
- Curriculum vitae
- List of publications
- Research overview (described below), limited to eight pages including tables and figures
Please do not attach any additional materials. All materials must be in at least 12-point font, single-spaced, and all pages must be numbered.
The cover page includes the applicants name, current institutional address, year of PhD and graduating institution, the first and second preferences for the host institution, and the faculty point of contact at both institutions.
The research overview provides a summary of the research you have already worked on, and your plans for future research should you be awarded a Brinson Prize Fellowship. The overview should be broken up into two sections:
- Summary of past and current research
- Research proposal
Summary of Past and Current Research
Please provide an overview of your research up to the present time. Figures and tables may be placed as needed within the proposal and may be shared between this section and the research proposal. References should be placed at the end and do not count against the page limit. In general, this section is expected to be allotted three of the eight available pages, with approximately 40% of the total spaces used for figures or tables. However, applicants are free to divide the use of the eight pages as they deem appropriate.
Each applicant must articulate a specific research program in the field of observational cosmology that is compatible with the research activities of the host institution. Applicants should also describe how the host institution(s) listed would support their proposed fellowship research (e.g., potential collaborators at the institution(s), access to facilities and/or specific expertise).
Letters of Reference
Applicants should arrange for letters of reference to be submitted by three individuals who are familiar with their scientific abilities. Letters must be no more than three pages in length.
These letters must be uploaded no later than November 10, 2022, 7:00 PM EST (4:00 PM PST).
Referees will receive an email with the link to upload their letters. Applicants should emphasize to their referees that the letters must be uploaded as PDF files by the deadline to allow the review panelists to read the letters.
Point of Contact
Applicants must identify an active faculty member at the host institution(s) listed as their point of contact. Applicants must communicate with the faculty member to determine a mutual interest before proceeding. No endorsement letter is requested as part of the application process, but the faculty member will be contacted in the event that the applicant is offered a fellowship. This point of contact is expected to be responsible for coordinating communication with The Brinson Foundation about the grant agreement, the annual award disbursement, and submission of an annual report describing the progress of research undertaken by the fellow.
Selection and Award of Fellowships
The Panel Review
The application materials will be reviewed by The Brinson Foundation Selection Committee between November 2022 and January 2023. Applications will be read both by experts in the area of proposed research, as well as by astrophysicists from other areas of research. Applicants are advised to write a proposal that will appeal to experts and non-experts alike.
The Selection Committee will develop a ranked list of candidates as a recommendation to The Brinson Foundation. If there are requests for the same host institution, preference will generally be given to the higher ranked candidates. Fellowship offers for 2023 will be made in early February 2023, and acceptance or refusal must be made no later than February 15, 2023.
The primary criteria used by the Selection Committee are as follows:
The proposed research program: This is the most important element. Fellows should develop a persuasive case for an important program that will advance observational cosmology with the potential for a lasting impact.
Preparation and past research: Preparation encompasses the applicant’s education, experiences, and technical abilities. Past research includes an assessment of the productivity, publication record, and scientific impact. The assessment will distinguish preparation from pedigree (i.e., high-profile institutions or advisers) and will take into account the availability of resources and opportunities.
Commencement of the Fellowship
The Brinson Prize Fellowship should generally begin in September 2023, but other starting dates may be negotiated between the fellow, the host institution, and The Brinson Foundation. All fellowships must commence before the end of 2023.
Brinson Prize Fellowship Budget
A budget is not submitted with the fellowship application. After the selection process, The Brinson Foundation will work with the host institution to develop the appropriate budget. The annual salary and research funds allocated to a Brinson Prize Fellow will be comparable to that of NHFP fellows.