Call for Applications: NatureNet Science Fellows program

The Nature Conservancy is pleased to solicit applications for the NatureNet Science Fellows program, a trans-disciplinary postdoctoral fellowship program aimed at bridging academic excellence and conservation practice to mitigate, and adapt to, climate change.

The NatureNet Science Fellows Program

The Nature Conservancy recognizes climate change as the single greatest threat to our mission, and to humanity. Never before has there been an issue that so tightly integrates the health of the planet with the economy, food production, clean, reliable water, health, and equality. The NatureNet Science Fellows program seeks to bring leading early career scientists and engineers from diverse fields into the realm of problem solving at the interface of climate change, technology, and conservation.

This program drives research to tackle the two overarching challenges of climate change:

Theme 1: Halting Climate Change

The majority of projected climate change impacts can be avoided, if we act quickly and aggressively towards a low-carbon energy system. Getting there will require major new advances in the science and engineering behind energy technology — from storage, improved efficiency, and transmission, to new source development–and in how we deploy all energy sources–from encouraging major energy source shifts to siting and operating new infrastructure with minimal environmental impact. Fellows may tackle these challenges from the fields of physics, chemistry, landscape planning, electrical engineering, biology, nanotechnology, political science, meteorology, waste management, computer science, energy technology, geography, or transport engineering.

Theme 2: Adapting to Climate Change

Climate change is already happening, and current levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere have already locked the planet into significant climate disruption. The NatureNet program supports research that will identify new means for reducing these impacts and improving the ability of both nature and people to adapt. Relevant challenges will be addressed by fellows from fields as wide ranging as coral biology, agricultural technology, political economics, coastal geomorphology, ecology, spatial planning, forestry, water and sanitation health, climatology, environmental toxicology, agronomy, irrigation engineering, animal husbandry, fisheries, or coastal engineering.

Through this ground-breaking research, the program will create a network of fellows, university scientists, engineers and conservation scientists that increases the rigor and breadth of thought applied to the issue of climate change, and ensures that breakthroughs will reach well beyond the network to create impact.

Connecting Academia and Practice

Fellows will work with a Nature Conservancy mentor and a hosting senior scholar (or scholars) from one of the NatureNet partner universities to develop a research program. The joint mentorship model is unique, and additional training is provided in science communication and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Fellows spend up to two weeks each year in science communications training and intensive collaboration and problem-solving opportunities.

The program is run in partnership with a diversity of universities that represent traditional and non-traditional disciplines relevant to conservation science. This year’s participating universities and centers are:

  • Earth Institute at Columbia University
  • Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University
  • Stanford University (emphasis on biogeochemistry, agriculture, and climate)
  • Institute of Environment and Sustainability at University of California – Los Angeles
  • Institute on the Environment at University of Minnesota (emphasis on ecological economics and agricultural management)
  • School of Arts and Sciences at University of Pennsylvania
  • Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at University of Queensland
  • College of Arts and Sciences at University of Virginia (Science Division)

Fellows must identify a potential University partner mentor and potential mentor at The Nature Conservancy. A list of suggested mentors at each university and ways to identify a TNC mentor can be found here.

Eligibility and Award Terms

The Conservancy expects fellow appointments to start between May 1 and September 1, 2017. Eligible individuals will have completed their doctorate within five years before the application close date of November 30th, 2016. Applicants who have not yet completed their doctorate must clearly indicate on the application the date the degree is expected.

Each fellow will receive a non-negotiable annual salary of $50,000 plus benefits, with the postdoctoral position expected to run for two consecutive years. In addition to the stipend, each fellow receives an annual travel budget of approximately $5,000 and an annual research fund of approximately $20,000.

Application Materials  

Applications must be submitted by November 30, 2016 via the NatureNet Science Fellows Online Application.


The application requires the following components:

  1. Cover letter and research proposal (2 pages).
  2. Curriculum Vitae or resume.
  3. Three Letters of recommendation to be submitted through the online application system.

Accepted candidates will be notified by February 28, 2017. Funds are available for fellows to start on approximately May 1, 2017.

For further information about the NatureNet Science Fellows Program, please contact