Skip to main content


The Brinson Foundation logo

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is collaborating with The Brinson Foundation to further 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, in particular that which complements and capitalizes 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 administers the program. STScI  provides logistical assistance for the program to broaden community access to this opportunity.

Three fellowships are planned to be awarded this cycle, with starting dates in 2024. Fellowships will be held at a limited number of participating institutions. 

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, 2020. The Brinson Prize Fellowship is only available to U.S. citizens.

Fellowship Policies


The Brinson Prize Fellowship is only available to U.S. citizens who received their doctoral degrees in astronomy, physics, or related disciplines on or after January 1, 2020, or who will receive their degree before September 1, 2024. 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.

Host Institution

At the present time, the Brinson Prize Fellowships may only be held at the following universities:

  • California Institute of Technology
  • Cornell University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Northwestern University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Washington

At most, two fellows will be hosted at any single institution beginning in the same year.

Applicants are asked to list three prospective host institutions in their order of preference. Applicants should also identify one faculty member contact at each of their listed top choice institutions. Mutual interest must be established prior to listing any faculty contact and institution. 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.

Salary and Benefits

The annual salary 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, unless otherwise approved by the Foundation.

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.

A full description of the policies and budget guidelines for the Brinson Prize Fellowship Program is given here. 

Application Procedure

Application Deadline

Thursday, November 2, 2023, 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 9, 2023, 7:00 PM EST (4:00 PM PST)

Materials Submitted by the Applicant

Applicants must submit their materials via 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.

Cover Page

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.

Research Overview

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.

Research Proposal

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 9, 2023, 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 each of their listed top choice host institution(s). Applicants must communicate with the faculty member to determine a mutual interest before listing them on their application. 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 2023 and January 2024. 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 2024 will be made in early February 2024, and acceptance or refusal must be made no later than February 15, 2024.

Review Criteria

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. [50%]

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. [45%]

Science Communication: Science Communication encompasses activities that connect science and society, by informing, educating and inspiring the public. The applicant need not have past experience. The committee will assess their interest and proposed engagement plan for creativity and likely impact. [5%]

Commencement of the Fellowship

The Brinson Prize Fellowship should generally begin in September 2024, 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 2024.

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.