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  • SI-CI Postdoctoral Fellowship

    Melanie Colón
    • Employer: Smithsonian Institution and Conservation International
      Location: Washington D.C.
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 10/31/2018
      Open Until Filled: No

    Smithsonian Institution and Conservation International Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

    SI-CI Postdoctoral Fellowship: Call for Proposals


    Submission Deadline: September 27, 2018

    Expected start date: November 2018

    The Smithsonian Institution (SI) and Conservation International (CI) invite proposals for the SI-CI Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Proposals should advance the goals of SI’s Working Land and Seascapes Initiative and CI’s Sustainable Landscapes Partnership.

    SI’s Working Land and Seascapes (WLS): Through science, community engagement and capacity building Working Land and Seascapes aims to establish and maintain healthy and productive land and seascapes for the benefit of humans and nature.

    CI’s Sustainable Landscapes and Seascapes (SLS):  SLS fosters operational models of globally significant places where people steward natural capital alongside sustainable production systems, at a scale that encompasses multiple levels of governance, a wide range of uses, and essential natural capital, to enhance long-term human well-being in a changing world.

    Common Goals for both SI’s Working Land and Seascapes and CI’s Sustainable Landscapes Partnership

    Connect ecological data/conservation action to supporting biodiversity and human well-being.

    Establish common language, methods and framework to replicate work across land and seascapes, and among the conservation community and land/seascape managers.

    Assessment of existing initiatives and current data (ecological, social and economic) for SI and CI as well as external resources to evaluate program effectiveness and ensure we are including the most important variables and using the most effective approaches for meeting shared objectives.


    Research Proposals

    To develop a proposal, applicants initially should consult with an SI and CI scientist listed below under Contacts for guidance. Research themes of interest include: ecosystem structure and function, ecosystem services, quantifying the value of biodiversity, bioinformatics, socio-economics, GIS

    Proposals should address one of the following initiatives.

    1. Landscape/Seascape Assessment and Analysis: The Smithsonian and Conservation International have been working in conservation critical landscapes and seascapes for decades. Both organizations realize the need to move from a patchwork of independent projects to a cohesive portfolio that addresses conservation challenges on a global scale.  Project proposals could leverage an existing network of sites and affiliated data sets of over twenty SI and CI projects to identify unifying themes, effective methods and approaches and components of successful projects, as measured through ecological and social indicators.

    2. Advancing Field Methods: In a rapidly changing environment there is a need to develop new and innovative field methods and protocols that can provide a standardized framework and are cost effective and easy to implement. Applicants may choose to build on existing SI and CI protocols or draw from other resources to develop new approaches that could be standardized across land and seascapes to allow for a rapid and robust biodiversity and/or associated ecosystem and socio-economic surveys. Methods could be piloted in two or more field sites that either organization is working in.

    3. Measuring Impact: The Smithsonian and Conservation International have extensive data sets on a multitude of landscapes and seascapes we’ve been working in for over twenty years. However, it is difficult to verify that our research has had an effect on conservation outcomes and how these outcomes impact the health and well-being of the communities that live within and rely on these systems. Proposed projects could analyze and synthesize a diverse range of data sets to integrate the biodiversity and ecological data from SI and CI, with those of external agencies and governments that track health and well-being in a comparative framework to identify cross-sectoral indicators for conservation success and human well-being. (e.g. UN Sustainable Development Goals).

    4. Time-Series Mapping: In order to demonstrate that our efforts are having an impact it is important to establish a baseline. While we have archival images for some of our land and seascapes, we do not have a comprehensive review that would allow us to visualize changes and assess drivers of change over time. Through new technologies and a partnership with NASA we have the opportunity to update these images and create a visually compelling story demonstrating the need for and efficacy of conservation. Proposed projects could focus on: identifying and collecting archival images, acquiring new imagery, conducting remote sensing analyses to illustrate change over time, identifying corridors and/or critical land/seascapes, developing models to predict future changes in land/seascapes.

    The proposal’s project, work plan, and budget should be arranged in consultation with SI and CI advisors prior to submission. In addressing one of the above listed projects, both Smithsonian and Conservation International will commit on-site personnel time and in-kind support to the broader project. Therefore, proposals should outline how the project will leverage the strength of existing SI and CI networks and involve on-site staff. If field assistance beyond on-site staff is required (e.g., for diving), proposals should include estimates of those needs.

    Eligibility and Award Amount

    Applicants must have completed their Ph.D. before commencing the fellowship. Individuals who have been Smithsonian employees or contractors within the previous year are not eligible.

    The award total is $90,000 maximum per year, which is divided into $60,000 for stipend and $30,000 for research allowance, health insurance, and relocation expenses. The fellow may acquire private, open market, or Smithsonian health insurance and should be aware of these costs. If additional funds are desired beyond the $30,000, the fellow would need to find external funding to supplement the fellowship funds. Awards will be made for a maximum of two years, with second year awarded pending first-year performance review and funding availability.

    Proposal Submission

    Applications must be submitted electronically by 11:59 PM (EST) on September 27, 2018 to Smithsonian OnLine Academic Appointments system. An account must first be created. Then, the application for this fellowship can be found under the unit “Conservation Commons.” To be considered for review, prospective applicants must consult with one of the Smithsonian staff scientists and one of the Conservation International scientists listed below during proposal development prior to submission. It is recommended to begin the application on SOLAA several days before the deadline to become familiar with the submission system. Each element of the application should be uploaded to SOLAA as its own document. Applicants must provide the names and email addresses of two references through SOLAA and are responsible for ensuring the references submit their recommendation letters into SOLAA by the application deadline. Applications will not be reviewed if they were not developed in consultation with SI and CI scientists, are missing any elements, or do not meet formatting guidelines.

    Proposal Components

    Proposals are submitted electronically through SOLAA. The proposal must include the following elements:

    Title Page and Abstract (uploaded to SOLAA under Abstract)

    Title page: Project title, name of applicant, proposed advisors’ names from SI and CI, above initiative addressed, names of SI and CI scientists who consulted on the proposal

    Abstract: Brief summary of proposed research and its significance, not to exceed 300 words

    Research Proposal (not to exceed 8 pages, 12-pt font, double-spaced). The proposal body should state how the proposed research addresses SI and CI goals, leverages an above-listed initiative, and utilizes SI and CI resources.

    Introduction: Problem statement, background, rationale, and support from published scientific literature.

    Goals and Objectives: A clear statement of the central questions, specific hypotheses to be addressed, and the major objectives that will address the project goals.

    Methods: A summary of proposed scientific approaches, procedures, experimental designs, technical methods, proposed sites, and data analysis. Summarize the types of equipment and technology required and the frequency of their need.

    Significance: Statement of expected products, outcomes, and their significance for the respective Smithsonian and Conservation International programs.

    Bibliography References cited within the proposal

    Budget and Justification (max. $30,000/year plus any in-kind support arranged in advance with co-advisors): An itemized budget and justification for each year of the following expenses

    Research Allowance to include supplies, equipment needs, and travel for research purposes (including lodging, per diem, and transportation)

    Relocation Allowance to include transportation from point of origin to Smithsonian and return, but not moving expenses

    Health Insurance Allowance, which can be sourced privately, on the open market, or through the Smithsonian plans.

    Curriculum Vitae (not to exceed 4 pages)

    Transcripts from all graduate institutions. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.

    Letters of Recommendation should be sent through the SOLAA system by two referees who are not affiliated with Smithsonian or Conservation International. Please provide a copy of the research proposal to the references. Applicants will send an email to their references through the SOLAA system that prompts the referees to provide references through the web. All reference letters are considered confidential unless the referee has waived confidentiality.

    Proposal Review and Award Notification

    A panel of SI and CI scientists will review proposals for: scientific merit, project feasibility, match with SI and CI common goals and initiatives, and the extent to which SI and CI expertise and resources can contribute to the project. Award notification will be sent electronically to applicants on or before October 31, 2018.

    Progress Reports and Publications

    The following reporting is required:

    A progress report, submitted electronically no later than ten months after the start of fellowship appointment.

    A final report, due on the date of completion of the fellowship appointment.

    Exit seminar summarizing results to-date of the project within three months of the fellowship’s conclusion.

    Acknowledgment of the appropriate Smithsonian and Conservation International research unit(s) in all publications resulting from work (or time) supported by this joint fellowship.


    At least one of the following Smithsonian scientists should be listed as an advisor and consulted in proposal development:

    Tom Akre (WLS Lead, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute) – AkreT@si.edu

    Melissa Songer (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute) – SongerM@si.edu

    Melanie McField (Smithsonian Marine Station) – McFieldM@si.edu

    Jessica Deichmann (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute) – DeichmannJ@si.edu

    At least one of the following Conservation International scientists should be listed as a co-advisor and consulted in proposal development:

    Trond Larsen, Advanced Field Methods (Conservation International) – tlarsen@conservation.org

    Jorge Ahumada (Conservation International) – jahumada@conservation.org

    Daniel Juhn (Conservation International) – djuhn@conservation.org

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