Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
The Earth Institute Postdoctoral Research program is the premier program in the world for those dedicated to a better understanding of critical scientific and social issues in global sustainable development. Earth Institute Postdoctoral Researchers will join multidisciplinary teams of outstanding, committed scientists from across the Earth Institute and Columbia University.
The program provides innovative postdoctoral scholars with the opportunity to build a foundation in one of the core disciplines represented within the Earth Institute (i.e. social, earth, biological, engineering, and health sciences), while at the same time acquiring the breadth of cross-disciplinary expertise needed to address critical issues related to sustainable development. Specific areas of research include food security, energy systems, climate change impacts, poverty reduction, disease, and environmental degradation. The program offers a unique intellectual surrounding that fosters cross-disciplinary interaction, research and education.
To apply, candidates must complete the online application and submit a proposal for research that would contribute to the goal of global sustainable development. Proposals may suggest participating in, contributing to, or extending existing multidisciplinary Earth Institute projects. Candidates are also encouraged to develop new, innovative projects that connect Earth Institute expertise. In addition to submitting the application and proposal, candidates are encouraged to identify and contact their desired multidisciplinary mentoring team, i.e. two or more senior faculty members or research scientists/scholars at Columbia University with whom they would like to work during their appointment.
Start Date and Duration
EI Postdocs are appointed for twenty-four months and appointments typically begin September 1. However, depending on individual circumstances, as well as the needs of a postdoc’s host research unit, appointments may begin as early as July 1.
EI Postdocs will receive an annual salary of $65,560. They are also awarded a research stipend of $12,000 over the two-year term for reimbursable expenses related to the appointment. These funds can be used for relocation and moving expenses, as well as for computer, travel, conference, journal, book, software, equipment, and other research costs.
EI Postdocs are encouraged to participate in the development and submission of research proposals in cooperation with their mentors, host research units, or other researchers. When doing so, they must follow all Columbia University rules applicable to postdoctoral scholars.
Columbia University only grants limited-term J1 visas for non-US citizens.
EI Postdocs are considered Officers of Research and are eligible for benefits provided by Columbia University for full-time employees. For more information, please visit Columbia's Office of Human Resources online. The rules, regulations and policies that govern employment at Columbia are also listed on the website.
The Earth Institute does not provide housing allocation for postdoctoral researchers. Postdocs may contact Columbia's Housing Office for informal guidance on acquiring housing in the areas near the university.
The program hosts a series of activities that explore interdisciplinary issues in sustainable development, bring the postdocs together as a community, and introduce the postdocs to a diverse array of Columbia faculty and researchers.
- Orientation: A weeklong series of information sessions and visits to Earth Institute research units.
- Spring and Fall Symposia: Two public symposia per year in which both first-year and second-year postdocs present their research and participate in discussions with the audience. The symposia provided a great opportunity for postdocs to engage the Columbia research community as well as the larger public in innovative research in sustainable development.
- Earth Institute Postdoctoral Seminars: A weekly seminar series in which each postdoc presents her or his ongoing research. Visiting speakers also participate in the seminars. Postdocs may also coordinate group projects that are designed, discussed and implemented during these times. The meetings are informal and designed to foster interdisciplinary and problem-solving discussions among EI Postdocs, faculty and researchers. Lunch is provided. Two second-year EI Postdocs coordinate the seminars each year.
- Earth Institute Postdoctoral Retreats and Special Events: Special outings to unique locations in the New York City area that seek to create a sense of community among the postdocs, to connect them to New York, and to provide intellectual stimuli.
- Other Earth Institute Seminar Series: EI Postdocs receive invitations to other events and speaker series at Columbia, including those sponsored by the Earth Institute's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC), Earth Engineering Center (EEC), Center for Global Health and Economic Development (CGHED), Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development (CGSD), Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), and Center for Hazards and Risk Research (CHRR).
To be eligible for the program, candidates must have received their doctoral degrees (Ph.D., M.D. or J.D.) within five years prior to the start of the appointment. All doctoral requirements must be fulfilled and the degree awarded before the start of the appointment. People holding current positions with rank above post-doctoral scientist are not eligible for appointment under university rules. Those holding current post-doc positions should contact our office to determine eligibility. The program is open to U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. Columbia University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.
To apply to the program candidates must submit the following documents:
- Online Application
- Curriculum Vitae
- Brief Personal History
- Research Proposal
- 3 Recommendation Letters
In addition to submitting the application and proposal, applicants are encouraged, but not required, to contact their desired multidisciplinary mentoring team, i.e. two or more senior faculty members or research scientists/scholars at Columbia University with whom they would like to work during their appointment. Please note that an endorsement from a faculty member or researcher does not guarantee acceptance into the program.
Brief Personal History Format
Two (2) page maximum, double-spaced; one-inch margins, minimum 11 point standard font. The personal statement should include the following elements based on their relevance to your situation
- Brief personal introduction and research statement
- Summary of any discussions you have had with potential mentors. Note: endorsement from a faculty member or researcher does not guarantee acceptance into the program.
- Explanation of gaps in employment or studies (these will be considered on a case-by-case basis).
- Prior postdoctoral positions - Columbia University policy only allows a cumulative maximum of 3 years in a postdoctoral position, whether held at or outside of the university. If you have prior postdoc experience, please contact Samantha Ostrowski to discuss your application.
Three (3) recommendation letters are required by November 9, 2018, 5 p.m. EST. Once an application is successfully submitted, the references listed will receive an email with the Applicant ID and the link to upload their letter.
Note: We strongly recommend informing your references of the request for a letter in advance of submitting your application. We also recommend following up with your references after you have applied to ensure that they have received the information to upload their letter.
Research Proposal Format
Five (5) page maximum; double-spaced; one-inch margins; minimum 11 point standard font.
Bibliographic references are required but not counted toward the 5-page maximum. They should be included in the same document.
The research proposal should address how the proposed work will contribute to the goal of global sustainable development. Proposals may suggest participating in, contributing to, or extending existing multidisciplinary Earth Institute projects. Candidates are also encouraged to develop new, innovative projects that connect Earth Institute expertise.
Research Foci and Mentors: Research foci are determined by the postdocs themselves. Thus, EI Postdocs play an active, independent role in developing their own areas of expertise and research agendas. Candidates are encouraged to review the list of the Earth Institute's research units and relevant Columbia University and Barnard College departments to see the breadth of potential mentors and collaborators actively engaged in research at the university.
Applications are reviewed by the Earth Institute Postdoctoral Selection Committee, which is composed of senior Earth Institute faculty from across the Institute. Care is taken to ensure that all of the Earth Institute's core disciplines are represented in the Committee.
An initial, rigorous review of the applications examines several factors, including the following: educational and professional merit; relevance and strength of the research proposal; quality of the recommendations; relevance of the proposed research to the core interest of the Earth Institute to seek solutions to obstacles to sustainable development; and current needs and priorities of the Earth Institute.
Applications that merit further consideration are moved forward to the directors of one or more relevant Earth Institute research units. Based on feedback received from the research units, the Selection Committee reevaluates the applications in great detail before reaching a final decision.
Appointments will be announced in late February, 2019.