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The Secretary’s Distinguished Research Fellowship


In 2009 an endowed postdoctoral fellowship was established through contributions from members of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents. The Secretary’s Distinguished Research Fellowship recognizes the most promising and innovative scientific research proposals to the one-year Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP) by providing a current SIFP Fellow with a second year of support.



This distinguished award recognizes interdisciplinary scientific research that expands on Smithsonian research through cross disciplinary approaches and/or applications of new methods, tools, or theories.  Such research often involves two or more programs within one museum or research center, or two or more museums and/or research centers.


All applicants for the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP) are eligible for and considered for the Secretary’s Distinguished Research Fellowship.

How it Works

Selection of candidates for consideration of this award is managed through the regular review process of the SIFP. After the science review committees have met and made their award decisions, the committees are asked to nominate their top postdoc awardees. These candidates are then presented to the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support (DUSCIS) for selection of the final award.

How to Apply

No applications are available to apply directly to the Secretary’s Distinguished Research Fellowship. Rather, possible recipients of this fellowship are identified by the various science unit review committees who complete a 2017 SD Nomination Form and submit to


Past Secretary’s Distinguished Research Fellows:

2009 – Tom Mozdzer (SERC): Effects of Global Change on Common Reed and Phragmites Australis

2011 – Dominique Chaput (NMNH): Linking Microbial Community Structure and Environmental Factors to the Bioremediation of Manganese from Coal Mine Drainage

2013 – Habiba Chirchir (NMNH): Trabecular Bone Density and Running Adaptations

2016 – Mary Benage (NMNH): Examination of Air Entrainment through Experiments, Image Analysis of Eruptions, and Numerical Models

2016Kendra Chritz (NMNH): Using the Smithsonian-Roosevelt Historical Collections to Assess a Century of Ecological Change in Kenya

2017 – Jeremy Feinberg (NMNH) & (SCBI): A conservation-based assessment of a cryptic frog species complex across the eastern US.

2017 – Mathew Leslie (NMNH): Determining the Evolutionary Uniqueness and Taxonomic Status of the Critically Endangered Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s Whale

2017 – Eric Griffin (SERC): The Greater Unseen: On the structure and impacts of foliar bacteria on tropical tree species

2018 – Molly Womack (NMNH): Rampant middle ear evolution in frogs and lizards

Habiba Chirchir

2013 Smithsonian Secretary’s Distinguished Research Fellow Habiba Chirchir