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David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowships

The Society for Conservation Biology is pleased to solicit applications for the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program. These Fellowships enable outstanding early-career scientists based at a United States institution to improve and expand their research skills while directing their efforts towards problems of pressing conservation concern for the United States. The Program especially encourages individuals who want to better link conservation science and theory with pressing policy and management applications to apply. We envision that the cadre of scientists supported by the Smith Fellows Program eventually will assume leadership positions across the field of conservation science. Fellows are selected on the basis of innovation, potential for leadership and strength of proposal.

Smith post-doctoral Fellows will be awarded two years of support for applied research in the field of biological conservation. Fellowship applicants must have received their doctorate within the last five years, demonstrate high potential for innovative research and leadership in their field, and propose a research plan that creatively and effectively addresses a pressing conservation question. Each Fellow is mentored by both an academic sponsor who encourages the Fellow's continued development as a conservation scientist, and a conservation practitioner who helps to connect the Fellow and her/his research to practical conservation challenges. Fellows must secure sponsorship from an academic sponsor at an institution in the United States well-suited to carrying out the proposed research. Each fellow will choose a field mentor with expertise and experience in “on-the-ground” application of conservation science and who is associated with a government agency, nongovernmental organization, or other conservation organization. Applicants who arrange for mentors and research sites before submission of their application provide the review panel with strong evidence of initiative and leadership, and help to ensure that proposed research is relevant to conservation practices. Fellowships are spent primarily at the sponsoring academic institution or at the location best suited to conducting the research; up to four weeks each year will be spent in professional development training.

Smith Fellows in 2011 will be selected for their leadership potential, and their ability to conduct innovative applied research that promises to improve the effectiveness of conservation practice. Emphasis is placed on research that will advance conservation science. Research approaches may include comparative studies, synthetic analyses across sites, experimental or observational studies, applied modeling, or any combination.

Individuals with outstanding, innovative skills in research and communication are encouraged to submit Fellowship applications with research proposals aimed at the above or any other issue relevant to conservation biology. The Program expects to select four Fellows in January 2011 for appointments to start sometime between March-September 2011. Fellowship awards include an annual salary of $50,000, benefits, and generous travel and research budgets.

Eligibility and Award Terms

Eligible individuals must have completed their doctorate within the past five years or by the time the award is made in 2011. Applicants who have not yet completed their doctorate must clearly indicate on the application the date the degree is expected.

Each Fellow will receive an annual salary of $50,000 plus benefits, with the post-doctoral position expected to run for two consecutive years. In addition to the stipend, each Fellow receives a travel budget of over $8,000 and a research fund of more than $32,000 across the 2-year fellowship period.

Fellows will spend up to four weeks per year during their fellowship attending orientation and training events. These offerings provide opportunities to cultivate professional networks and to gain better understanding of applied research needs. Fellows will participate as a group in three or more Program-sponsored meetings, conferences, or professional development events each year. Each Fellow also will consult with their mentor(s) to identify and secure additional opportunities to learn about problems and issues in applied conservation. Beyond these obligations, Fellows are expected to pursue the research outlined in their proposal full-time.

Fellows will be employed by the sponsoring academic institution. The Program will provide up to 5% of the total indirect costs as overhead reimbursement to this institution. Second-year renewal of the fellowship is contingent upon satisfactory progress (including but not limited to participation in orientation, training, and professional development events) as well as timely completion of detailed interim and first-year activity reports.

Application Materials

All materials must be submitted electronically to smithfellows@conbio.org. All files should be submitted in PDF or MS Word format. You may submit materials in separate files or all in one file (all in one file and PDF preferred). Please include your last name in some part of the file name. Letters sent on your behalf should include your last name and the sender’s last name in some part of the file name. Please do not *lock* PDF documents as they will be merged with other application materials (such as recommendation letters) to make review more convenient. Many Universities will offer to submit entire proposals on an applicant's behalf. We are accustomed to receiving proposals directly from the applicant and prefer to do it this way. The only item that should come directly from the University/other sponsoring institution is the indirect cost waiver (item 7. below).

1. Cover letter: Applicants should provide a compelling narrative of her/his interest in conservation, evidence of leadership and innovation, and how the fellowship could facilitate a unique and interdisciplinary plan for professional development. Applicants should not use cover letters to restate or extend material presented in the proposal, personal statement, and vita. Thoughtful, well-crafted cover letters improve the likelihood that competitive proposals will be identified during the initial stages of proposal evaluation.
2. Title Page: Include applicant's name, contact information, project title, academic sponsor and research institution, reference names and institutions, and conservation practitioner sponsor (if known).
3. Research Plan: The 8-page research plan should include the following:
1. abstract,
2. background section,
3. statement of objectives,
4. approaches and methods,
5. anticipated results,
6. research schedule,
7. relevance to conservation science and practice

Literature cited is not included in the 8-page limit. Research approaches may include comparative studies, synthetic analyses across sites, experimentation or observational studies, applied modeling, or any combination. Proposed research may include intensive work at one site, work at multiple sites, or comparative evaluations of studies by other scientists across many sites. In all cases, the central questions of the inquiry must be clearly articulated. Proposed study sites must be noted; an explanation of how the results will inform conservation practice is required. The research plan (excluding literature cited) must not under any circumstances exceed 8 pages. Font size must be at least 11 point; margins must be at least 2.5 cm; line spacing must be at least 1.5. The cover letter, literature cited, personal statement, and curriculum vitae are not included in the 8-page limit for the research plan. Deviations from these requirements may be grounds for disqualification.
4. Applicant’s Curriculum Vitae.
5. Personal Statement: Please address the following questions (<200 words each):
1. Give an example(s) of an accomplishment you believe demonstrates your leadership skills or entrepreneurial abilities.
2. How is your research “cutting edge” or innovative?
3. What will be the greatest impact of your research? Who or what will be most greatly affected?
6. Letters:
1. Three (3) letters of recommendation addressing the merits of the candidate and the candidate’s proposal. Letters should be written by individuals familiar with the applicant's skills, experience, and research. Letters should emphasize the qualifications of the applicant, in particular any unique abilities to contribute significantly to conservation science and practice. Each letter writer must submit an electronic copy of their letter to smithfellows@conbio.org. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that reference letters are submitted by the deadline.
2. Sponsor Support Letter: Letter from the sponsoring scientist expressing their commitment to support the applicant’s research and to encourage her/his professional development as a conservation scientist. The sponsor’s letter should verify the availability of laboratory/office space, libraries and other relevant institutional resources, and describe how the applicant’s research relates to the sponsor’s ongoing research.
3. Sponsor’s Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae: A 2-page version of the sponsoring scientist’s CV (similar to that required by NSF).
4. Support letter from practitioner mentor: If a conservation practitioner has already agreed to serve as a mentor, s/he should submit a letter expressing their support and describing how the proposed research will benefit conservation efforts. Applicants who arrange for mentors before submission provide the review panel with strong evidence of initiative and leadership.
7. Indirect cost waiver: A letter verifying that the sponsoring institution will waive indirect costs in excess of 5%. Request the waiver early to ensure your application will be complete by the deadline. This item may be submitted via fax to 703.995.4633 or email.

Deadlines and Contact Information All application materials, including letters from sponsors and references, must be received by Society for Conservation Biology to smithfellows@conbio.org by 5pm EST on September 24, 2010. The selection process begins immediately after this date. There are no extensions to this deadline and incomplete applications may be disqualified. Questions about the application process may be directed to the Smith Fellows Program at smithinfo@smithfellows.org.

Selection Criteria, Process, and Notification

Fellows are selected according to four criteria: 1) professional record, 2) perceived potential for innovation and leadership, 3) commitment to biological conservation, and 4) the strength of their proposal. An ideal Smith Fellow is an innovative, practical-minded researcher with strong leadership potential. S/he will have excellent communication skills and a keen interest in applied research that improves conservation practice. The ideal proposal will clearly articulate concepts and objectives that are both innovative and feasible. The Fellowship funders require that the Fellow be based at a U.S. institution and that the research be primarily conducted in the U.S. However, U.S. citizenship is not required.

Proposal evaluation will emphasize clarity of thought and evidence of leadership potential. A broad spectrum of external research scientists and other conservation professionals initially conduct written reviews of all applications. A separately convened review panel selects a pool of semi-finalists deemed eligible for interviews. Personal interviews are then conducted before making the final selection.

Moreinfo: http://www.conbio.org/smithfellows/
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