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Writing Effective Applications for Graduate Fellowship & Traineeship Opportunities Mary Jo Ondrechen Dept. of Chemistry & Chemical Biology Northeastern.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing Effective Applications for Graduate Fellowship & Traineeship Opportunities Mary Jo Ondrechen Dept. of Chemistry & Chemical Biology Northeastern."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing Effective Applications for Graduate Fellowship & Traineeship Opportunities Mary Jo Ondrechen Dept. of Chemistry & Chemical Biology Northeastern University Boston, MA

2 Outline My background & experience Some general resources Graduate Fellowship opportunities My experience as a panelist Writing effective proposals Resources for application process

3 My experience Theoretical & computational chemistry (currently working on understanding spatially extended active sites in enzymes; functional genomics; computationally guided drug discovery) Served as a panelist for: ◦ NSF-GRFP ◦ NDSEG ◦ SMART

4 Why fellowship? FREEDOM !!! Prestige $$ - (Stipends vary) Also benefits your institution Application preparation = good experience If you don’t play, you can’t win

5 Some general resources Science.gov – Internship and Fellowship opportunities: ScienceCareers.org (AAAS): (the musing of Philip J. Guo, a successful NSF- GRFP & NDSEG applicant from Stanford) ACS (students → graduate → fellowships & grants) Faculty (particularly former panelists) Successful recipients

6 Graduate Fellowship Opportunities NSF-GRFP SMART NDSEG NIH other

7 NSF – GRFP Deadlines vary by field – Engineering 11/13; Chemistry 11/14 Overall, about 1 in 6 applications was successful in 2012 (2,000 out of 12,000) Odds may improve – NSF has been trying to increase the # of awards made See Solicitation NSF

8 My experience as a panelist Diverse panel Read applications in selected sub-fields All applications get 2x readings; top applications get a third read Generate a rank-ordered list Top category – all are awarded fellowship Second category – NSF considers other factors; some will receive fellowship

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10 The application – some tips Start now – get proposal and personal statement written ahead, so that you can give them to your references & also get feedback Select sub-field carefully – this will determine who reads your application Which address to use – esp. if you are from an EPSCOR state (ME, NH, VT, …)

11 Three written components Personal statement Previous research experience Research proposal

12 1. The Personal Statement This is your opportunity to convey what is special about you Here show can show breadth of interest Incorporate outreach activities – have you worked with children? Promoted science to the lay community? Convey love for science and commitment to success / scientific career

13 Personal Statement – con’t Maturity Sense of direction in life What is your life’s purpose? Commitment to diversity – broadening participation (by gender, race, persons with disabilities) READ Program Announcement (12-599) carefully and speak to ALL of its criteria

14 2. Previous research experience Describe any scientific research activities you have participated in, and what you learned from this experience Explain the purpose of the research and your role, including the extent to which you worked independently and/or as part of a team If you have no direct research experience, describe any activities that you believe have prepared you to undertake research

15 3. The Research Proposal Must be focused Intro – describe why the work is important Make sure that your passion and zeal for the subject come through Make sure that your in-depth knowledge of this topic comes through Describe what you have already done Don’t copy your adviser’s grant proposal

16 NSF Review criteria are: ◦ INTELLECTUAL MERIT ◦ BROADER IMPACTS Be very certain that both are addressed in your application!

17 Intellectual Merit For example, panelists may consider the following with respect to the Intellectual Merit Criterion: Strength of the academic record Proposed plan of research Description of previous research experience or publication/presentations References Appropriateness of the choice of institution relative to the proposed plan for graduate education and research.

18 Broader Impacts For example, panelists may consider the following with respect to the Broader Impacts Criterion: Personal, professional, and educational experiences Future plans and prior accomplishments in the integration of research and education Potential to reach diverse audiences Potential to benefit society.

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20 Science Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Defense Scholarship for Service Program Deadline: 5:00 pm EST, Dec. 14, US Citizens only Note: Post-tenure service obligation as a civilian employee of the DoD Years of service obligation = years of support

21 SMART – my panel experiences Panel selects most qualified applicants; DoD facilities select the awardees from that set Personal statement must reflect interest in performing defense research Summer internship obligation at a DoD facility Best if your adviser has a contact at a DoD research facility

22 DoD Research Facilities - examples Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), Natick Labs, MA Engineer Research and Development Center - Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab (ERDC-CRREL), Hanover, NH (Army) Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS), Kittery, ME Naval Undersea Warfare Center - Division Newport (NUWC NPT), Newport, RI See announcement for nationwide list

23 NDSEG (opens 9/1/2012) Deadline – 5:00 pm EST, Dec. 14, 2012 NATIONAL DEFENSE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING PROGRAM US Citizens only Note: NO post-tenure service obligation Success rate varies with field Very prestigious & pays well

24 NDSEG – my panel experience Panelists provide a list of the top-ranked applicants DoD decides on its priorities each year These priorities are not known to the panelists at the time of the review Many excellent applicants are not selected Chances of an award are greater if your application is in a priority area

25 NIH Predoctoral (F31) Multiple programs and deadlines dates Next deadline date: Dec 8, 2012 Prof. Hanson (Chemistry) has served as a panelist Check the individual Institutes, e.g. ◦ NCI (Cancer) NIDA (Drug Abuse) ◦ NIAAA (Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism) ◦ NINDS (Neurological Disorders & Stroke) ◦ not all Institutes participate

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27 OTHER OPPORTUNITIES

28 Hertz Foundation Deadline Nov 2, 2012 Very prestigious Very rigorous & difficult interview process Provides numerous valuable connections – a lifetime network of influential people U.S. citizens or permanent residents only Five years of support (can be combined with e.g. NSF-GRFP or NDSEG)

29 Preparing for Hertz interviews Two rounds of rigorous interviews If you are selected for Hertz interview, talk with someone who has been through them previously Best to practice – have knowledgeable person fire questions at you

30 Deadline: November 9, Eligibility (see announcement) ◦ foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens ◦ green card holders ◦ U.S.-born children of foreign-born parents (both parents must be foreign-born & at least one parent must be a naturalized US citizen) Last year – 30 awards across all fields Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

31 Other opportunities Search for opportunities that may be specific to you – for instance: ◦ Environment-related research ◦ Agriculture-related research ◦ Alternative-energy-related research ◦ Research in computation ◦ Chemistry (ACS Analytical & Organic) ◦ Underrepresented minorities (e.g. GEM – gemfellowship.org, Ford Foundation)

32 Other opportunities East Asia – Pacific Summer Institutes (funds research experiences in Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore or Taiwan)

33 Application Process Resources Get the support of your adviser (or future adviser) Identify potential references Ask for feedback on your proposal and personal statement Talk to fellow students Talk to faculty resource person

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35 General grant writing tips Always read the call for proposals carefully Make sure that you cover EVERYTHING that the RFP asks for Write your essays and research proposals ahead of time Ask for feedback from an experienced person

36 Grant writing tips Write to the intelligent generalist Remember that the reader (panelist) may not be in your exact area. Do not assume that the reader knows about your system. In the research proposal, make sure that your points are clear. If you wrote the research proposal yourself, make sure that your references say so in their letter.

37 More tips In the personal statement, convey what is special about you ◦ Show direction and purpose in life ◦ How did you get interested in science? ◦ Why did you choose this path? OK to use humor, but be sure that you come off as mature and serious about science and your future

38 Tips on the research proposal Be sure to cover: ◦ What is the problem and why is it important? ◦ What is the purpose – what needs to be done? ◦ What will you do – methods, approach ◦ What do you expect to learn? ◦ What are the potential impacts of your results? Show that you know the literature and cite references

39 Special tips for the NSF Specifically label intellectual merit and broader impacts Intellectual merit – What is the impact on the field? Why is this work conceptually important? Transformative potential? Broader impacts – Impact to society; Involvement of diverse groups; integration of science and education; building infrastructure

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41 General preparation Research experience Publish! Fellowship applicants with publications have a higher success rate Cultivate future references – talk with faculty about your ambitions NSF prep – Do some type of outreach activity A plus for: Internship, international, military service, community outreach

42 Some general resources Science.gov – Internship and Fellowship opportunities: ScienceCareers.org (AAAS): (the musing of Philip J. Guo, a successful NSF- GRFP & NDSEG applicant from Stanford) ACS (students → graduate → fellowships & grants) Faculty (particularly former panelists) Successful recipients

43 When in doubt – Apply! Valuable experience Proposal writing Promoting yourself Do not feel bad if you are declined Success is possible Start Writing Today! Good Luck!


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