The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), located in Annapolis, Maryland, invites applications from early-career scholars (≤ 4 years post Ph.D.) for two-year postdoctoral fellowships that begin of their choosing that extends the Fellow’s current network of collaborators; the mentor may be affiliated with any organization or institution. Fellows are in residence at SESYNC full time but are provided travel funds to interact with their mentor and attend conferences. . Each Fellow works with a
Successful candidates will use to address a problem arising from, or associated with, the relationship between humans and nature. Priority will be given to projects that have the potential to advance understanding of socio-environmental systems, but the information synthesized may be primarily social or environmental in nature, or some mix. SESYNC particularly encourages applications from candidates who will take advantage of ecological or geoscience data sets (e.g., geospatial, hyperspectral, etc.), ongoing experiments, or modeling results, especially if they wish to link their work with social data or theory.
What is Socio-Environmental Synthesis?
is a research approach that accelerates knowledge production by distilling or integrating existing data, ideas, theories, and/or methods to draw more reliable or generalizable conclusions and to reveal novel areas of study. Socio-environmental synthesis often involves merging large and/or heterogeneous data sets from multiple sources, researchers, or fields of inquiry, as well as critical analysis in evaluating arguments and interpreting evidence. It can employ a diverse array of theoretical and methodological approaches (e.g., statistical/mathematical, structured case studies comparison, cultural analytics, scenario studies, game theory, ethnographic studies, organizational theory, simulation/computational modeling, etc.).
What is the Socio-Environmental Immersion Program?
Unique among environmental postdoctoral programs, a learning component of the program will steep Fellows in theory foundational to understanding socio-environmental systems and prepare them to conduct interdisciplinary and actionable research. The core of this experience is engagement with material and people from diverse disciplines that are relevant to research on socio-environmental systems. This takes the form of interactive workshops and lectures by visiting scholars and policy-makers, discussions motivated by videos, or thought-exercises and activities. The 2020-2021 Immersion Program will include a series of five multi-day workshops.
Regardless of disciplinary background, the SESYNC Postdoctoral Socio-Environmental Immersion Program provides the freedom and support to do cutting-edge synthesis research while increasing capacity to collaborate across disciplinary divides. It offers opportunities to help Fellows chart their own academic and professional path in a vibrant environment focused on actionable science for a more sustainable future.
SESYNC currently has 15 postdoctoral scholars in residence whose expertise spans the social sciences and natural sciences.
Fellowship Elligibility Criteria
Applicants may hold a doctoral degree in any natural, physical, or social science discipline. To be eligible for the program, candidates must have received their doctoral degrees within four years prior to the start of the fellowship appointment (no earlier than June 2016). Candidates must complete all requirements for their Ph.D. by the June 1, 2020 start date.
SESYNC encourages applications from groups underrepresented in SESYNC research, including scholars from developing countries, participants from underrepresented U.S. minorities (African Americans, American Indians including Native Alaskans, Hispanics, and Native Pacific Islanders), and persons with disabilities. Please see NSF’s policy on for more information on such efforts. The University of Maryland is an equal opportunity employer. Candidates must be eligible to work in the United States. International applicants are welcome to apply; however, please note that we follow University of Maryland visa and requirements; visas are not guaranteed.
*Candidates who are offered a fellowship are required to provide proof of Ph.D. degree if they received their degree within the last 2 years. Proof of degree can come in two forms: 1) final transcript showing the Ph.D. was awarded and date the degree was conferred, or 2) an official letter from the institution’s Graduate School or Registrar office stating the candidate met all of the requirements and the date in which the degree was conferred.
Appointments will be through the University of Maryland, and . The fellowship provides a competitive annual stipend, full University of Maryland employee benefits, and a small annual travel allowance to attend meetings or to meet with collaborators. Postdoctoral fellowships are awarded for a maximum of two years and include professional development and mentoring opportunities beyond the Immersion Program workshop series, as well as opportunities to participate in ongoing Center activities. SESYNC Collaborating Mentors will also receive support to travel to SESYNC to work with the Fellow.
The Application Process
Step 1: Selecting a Collaborating Mentor
Step 2: Proposal Co-Development with Collaborating Mentor
Step 3: Application Components
Applications must be submitted as a , using single spacing, , and with all sections in the following order:
- Cover Sheet
- Research Proposal
- Status of Synthesis Material
- Anticipated Cyberinfrastructure Needs
- Interdisciplinary Goals
- Full CV of the Applicant
Components of an Application
 Cover Sheet (1 page)
- Descriptive title
- Short title (25 characters max)
- Name and contact information
- Date of Ph.D. defense: If the defense has not yet occurred, applicants need a from their graduate advisor or committee member verifying the expected data of completion.
- Name, title, and affiliation of Collaboating Mentor(s)
- Project summary (250 words), appropriate for the public and to be posted on the SESYNC website if applicant is awarded a fellowship
- Keywords (up to 5 keywords different from those used in the title)
- Potential conflicts of interest with members of the or A conflict of interest will not disadvantage your application. Rather, we need this information to follow proper review protocol.
 Research Proposal (4 pages max, excluding references)
- Clear and concise statement of the project goals including specific research questions and how the project will advance understanding of socio-environmental systems.
- Methods to be used for the synthesis project. For computational synthesis proposals, it is particularly important to describe why proposed computationally-intensive methods are necessary to investigate the research topic.
- Description of prospective Fellow’s and Research Collaborator’s respective roles in the project and plans for maintaining communication throughout the project.
 Status of Synthesis Material (1 page max)
- Type of material (datasets, models, case studies, theories, etc.)
- Location and accessibility of material
*Please note: Reviewers look at this section in detail, thus we ask that you please be specific and thorough.
 Anticipated Cyberinfrastructure Needs (1 page max)
If applicable, briefly describe any anticipated needs for cyberinfrastructure support. This information should include descriptions of: data sets to be used during this project; new data sets or software/databases to be developed; high-performance computing needs; required data aggregation or fusion; and visualization software needs. Applicants should review SESYNC's Cyberinfrastructure Support Information to familiarize themselves with the types of CI support SESYNC can provide. If the project’s needs are beyond the scope of services outlined, applicants should contact the SESYNC Cyberinfrastructure Team, prior to submission (email@example.com).
 Interdisciplinary Goals (~1/2 page)
In a paragraph (~300 words), . Be specific by providing, for example, one or two topics and/or methods outside your disciplinary area of expertise that could enhance your proposed or future work. Please note: This
 Full CV of the Applicant
In order to be considered, each application requires two letters of recommendation. Referees should briefly discuss how long they have known the applicant and in what capacity. Recommendation letters should also include comments on the applicant’s ability to carry out both independent and collaborative research. You will be prompted on the application page to enter the names and contact information of your writers. We've provided an email template that you will be able to personalize before you send the letter request, if necessary. The letter writer will receive a unique link to upload their letter to the application system. Only two letters should be included in your application file.
Letters are due by .
You will be prompted on the application page to enter the name and contact information of your Collaborating Mentor(s). The letter of committment should address the following:
- Their expected role in the project;
- Their view of and enthusiasm for the proposed collaboration;
- How they envision staying engaged with you and the project; and
- Endorsement of the proposed project and your ability to conduct the proposed research.
We've provided an email template that you will be able to personalize before you send the letter request, if necessary. Your mentor(s) will receive a unique link to upload their letter and CV to the application system. each mentor will be able to upload their CV, but only one mentor will be prompted to upload the joint letter of commitment.
Only one commitment letter should be included in your application file, due by
Postdoctoral applications will be evaluated by the following criteria. Each is given equal weight by the Review Committee:
- Explanation of how the proposed research will advance understanding of socio-environmental systems or the potential for the project to contribute to the solution of socio-environmental problems;
- Novelty, creativity, and/or urgency of proposed activities;
- Feasibility of producing meaningful synthetic research within a two-year time frame, including identifying and showing ability to access appropriate data and methods;
- Applicant qualifications and experience;
- Clear delineation of the value of the collaboration and the respective roles for the Fellow and Collaborating Mentor in the project;
- Potential to contribute to and benefit from other research activities at the Center; and
- Explanation of how progress on their proposed projects may benefit from participation in the Immersion program or how the applicant’s specific career objectives align with the interdisciplinary programs of SESYNC.
Please contact SESYNC at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Maryland is an Equal Opportunity Employer
Minorities and Women Are Encouraged to Apply