Monday, May 7, 2012

James S. McDonnell Foundation Accepting Applications for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Complex Systems Research

Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards in Studying Complex Systems

Grant Available: Postdoctoral Fellowship in Complex Systems Science, $200,000 over 2 years
Timeline of the 2012 Program:
» Applications and letters of intent accepted online beginning April 15, 2012.
» Deadline: June 15, 2012, 15:59 Central Time
» September Advisory Board Meeting Review
» October/November Email Notifications
» Letters of Intent Must Be Activated in 2013.
» Letters of intent awarded in 2012 and not activated in 2013 expire January 1, 2014.

Studying Complex Systems

The Complex Systems program supports scholarship and research directed toward the development of theoretical and mathematical tools that can be applied to the study of complex, adaptive, nonlinear systems. It is anticipated that research funded in this program will address important questions in diverse fields.  While the program's emphasis is on the development and application of the theory and tools used in the study of complex research questions and not on particular fields of research per seJSMF is particularly interested in the continued development of complex systems science, and in projects attempting to apply complex systems approaches to coherently articulated questions. Proposals intending to apply complex system tools and models to problems where such approaches are not yet considered usual or mainstream are appropriate to the RFA but should be well justified as to why such approaches would be an advance.

Overview of the JSMF Fellowship Program

Students completing doctoral training, particularly in a multi-disciplinary field such as complex systems science, benefit from postdoctoral training providing an opportunity to broaden research experience and acquire additional skills prior to pursuing a career in academia or elsewhere.   Success in securing a postdoctoral position, particularly those providing training that adds new dimensions to a student’s doctoral education (adding theoretical skills to one’s experimental training or vice versa; pursuing work in a new topic or field), oftentimes depends on the availability of funds to support positions via institutional training grants or faculty research grants.   The latter case can result in a postdoctoral fellow engaging a research project dictated by the needs of the research grant rather than his or her interests or goals.
The JSMF Fellowships is Complex Systems research are intended to provide students in the final stages of completing a Ph.D. degree more leeway in identifying and securing postdoctoral training opportunities in complex systems research (as defined above).  The program, following review of applications, provides selected pre-doctoral students with “letters of intent to fund” that the student can use in negotiating with potential postdoctoral training institutions while the student is in the final phase of graduate school.   The JSMF Fellowship is designed to provide students with an opportunity to seek potential postdoctoral research opportunities on the basis of the student’s interest and desire to obtain additional skills and experience that will further their pursuit of careers in complex systems science.   
JSMF Fellowships are not awarded until the student applies to and is accepted as a postdoctoral fellow at a qualified 501(c)(3) institution (or equivalent) and the qualified institution submits an acceptable application to JSMF.  The likelihood of funding being awarded to the institution if JSMF’s criteria are met, makes it possible for the student to identify and pursue post-doctoral training positions best aligned with his or her research interests and offering a genuine opportunity to gain novel research skills in a supportive environment without being limited to institutions with available funds.

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