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Smithsonian Institution and Conservation International Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

SI-CI Postdoctoral Fellowship: Call for Proposals

Submission Deadlines


Concept Note: March 4, 2019

To be considered please submit a brief, two page or less, concept note to no later than 11:59 PM (EST) on March 4, 2019. If your concept note is approved you will be notified and invited to submit a full application.

Common Goals for both SI’s Working Land and Seascapes and CI’s Sustainable Landscapes Partnership

  • Connect ecological data/conservation action to supporting biodiversity and human well-being.
  • Establish common language, methods and framework to replicate work across land and seascapes, and among the conservation community and land/seascape managers.
  • Assessment of existing initiatives and current data (ecological, social and economic) for SI and CI as well as external resources to evaluate program effectiveness and ensure we are including the most important variables and using the most effective approaches for meeting shared objectives.


Application: May 17, 2019

If you are invited to submit a full application please follow the guidelines below and create an account in the Smithsonian’s Online Academic Appointment system.

Expected start date: July 8, 2019. Flexibility for international candidates to allow for visa processing.

The Smithsonian and Conservation International are embarking on a partnership to leverage the resources of both institutions to tackle landscape and seascape scale conservation challenges. With a rapidly changing global environment, it is imperative that we develop science-based solutions to address the biodiversity loss and climate change that is impacting the landscapes and seascapes upon which we depend for our livelihoods. We are looking for a fellow to help us advance this ambitious partnership; an individual that can bring together science, conservation and action to identify what’s working in conservation. We are seeking someone to innovate new methods to expedite the implementation of solutions, and develop metrics that allow us to measure impact and demonstrate the value of conservation to people and nature, allowing for economic and ecological prosperity.

Successful applicants should have a solid background in environmental sciences, possess strong analytical skills, have a keen interest in or experience with social science and transdisciplinary conservation, and approach conservation challenges from a systems perspective. Concept notes and proposals should have clear conservation applications.

Because this Fellowship is designed to directly support ongoing conservation science programs, interested applicants are asked to design their approach in a brief, one page, concept note to address one of the research topics below. Please indicate in which topic(s) you are interested. A successful concept note should demonstrate how the candidate will utilize existing data, collect new data sets (preferred) and/or adapt/innovate protocols/metrics to identify conservation solutions that have real world applicability. If your concept note is approved you will be invited to submit a full proposal. Deadline for concept note submission is March 4, 2019. Concept notes should be emailed to

Concept notes should address one of the following initiatives.

  1. Landscape/Seascape Assessment—The Recipe for Conservation Success: The Smithsonian and Conservation International have been working to conserve critical landscapes and seascapes for decades (Appendix 1). Both organizations realize the need to move from a patchwork of independent projects to a cohesive portfolio that addresses conservation challenges globally, but in order to do so we must identify what’s working at local and regional scales to create a framework to expedite our response and improve effectiveness across projects. Project proposals should leverage the existing network of sites and affiliated data sets from over twenty SI and CI projects to conduct an analysis that identifies the common components (approaches, metrics, methods, etc.) that contribute to successful conservation management and restoration. Ultimately, we aim to utilize this analysis to identify and then promote the successful approaches and key ecological and/or social indicators for achieving sustainable landscape and seascape management.


  1. Landscape/Seascape Rapid Assessment Methods:In a rapidly changing environment, there is a need to develop new and innovative field methods, protocols and analyses that will allow us to expedite action while demonstrating the impact of conservation intervention and management. We are seeking new ways to collect and analyze data that can provide a framework that is standardized, cost effective and simple to implement. Applicants may choose to build on existing SI and CI protocols (for example BMAP or RAP) or draw from other resources to develop new approaches and analysis that could be standardized across land and seascapes to allow for rapid and robust biodiversity and/or associated ecosystem and socio-economic surveys. Methods could be piloted or analyses could be applied in two or more field sites where either organization is working.


  1. Measuring the Social Impact of Conservation Action:In order to develop and create successful and sustainable conservation plans we must work with stakeholders and take into account the needs of the people living on and utilizing the landscapes and seascapes we seek to protect. It is a challenge and delicate balance to find solutions that are both economically and ecologically sustainable, and that improve livelihoods while restoring or maintaining ecosystem function. It is even more challenging to capture the intangible value of nature and measure the impact of conservation interventions and its influence on the socio-economic environment of a community. The Smithsonian and Conservation International have extensive (but not uniformly standardized) data sets on a multitude of landscapes and seascapes. Evidence of the benefit of conservation is a powerful tool when trying to balance the needs of people and nature. However, it is difficult to verify that our research and the subsequent action has had an effect on conservation outcomes and how these outcomes impact the well-being of the communities that live within and rely on these systems. Proposed projects could analyze and synthesize a diverse range of data sets to integrate the ecological data from SI and CI, with those of external agencies and governments that track health and well-being in a comparative framework to identify cross-sectoral indicators that demonstrate the benefits of conservation (e.g. UN Sustainable Development Goals, Convention on Biological Diversity, FAO). Proposed projects could apply state-of-the-art methods of quasi-experimental impact evaluation to measure, compare and extrapolate the effectiveness of conservation interventions and correlate that data with indicators of well-being (ie. Economic or health indicators).


In addressing one of the above listed projects, both Smithsonian and Conservation International will commit on-site personnel time and in-kind support to the broader project. If invited to submit a full proposal, proposals should outline how the project will leverage the strength of existing SI and CI networks and involve on-site staff. Fellows are expected to reside in the Washington, D.C. area. If field assistance beyond on-site staff is required (e.g., for diving), proposals should include estimates of those needs.

 Eligibility and Award Amount

Applicants must have completed their Ph.D. before commencing the fellowship. Individuals who have been Smithsonian employees or contractors within the previous year are not eligible.

The award total is $90,000 maximum per year, which is divided into $60,000 for stipend and $30,000 for research allowance, health insurance, and relocation expenses. The fellow may acquire private, open market, or Smithsonian health insurance and should be aware of these costs. If additional funds are desired beyond the $30,000, the fellow would need to find external funding to supplement the fellowship funds. Awards will be made for a maximum of two years, with second year awarded pending first-year performance review and funding availability.



Concept Note Submission

A brief, two page or less, concept note must be email to by 11:59 PM (EST) on March 4, 2019 to be considered. You will be notified on March 13, 2019 if you will be invited to submit a proposal. If you are invited to submit a proposal, please follow the guidelines listed below.



Proposal Submission

Invited full applications must be submitted electronically by 11:59 PM (EST) on May 17, 2019 to Smithsonian OnLine Academic Appointments system. It is recommended to begin the application on SOLAA several days before the deadline to become familiar with the submission system. Each element of the application should be uploaded to SOLAA as its own document. Applicants must provide the names and email addresses of two references through SOLAA and are responsible for ensuring the references submit their recommendation letters into SOLAA by the application deadline. Applications will not be reviewed if they are missing any elements, or do not meet formatting guidelines.


Proposal Components

Proposals are submitted electronically through SOLAA. At least one of scientist from Conservation International and Smithsonian should be consulted in proposal development. The proposal must include the following elements:

  1. Title Page and Abstract (uploaded to SOLAA under Abstract)

Title page: Project title, name of applicant, proposed advisors’ names from SI and CI, above initiative addressed, names of SI and CI scientists who consulted on the proposal

Abstract: Brief summary of proposed research and its significance, not to exceed 300 words

  1. Research Proposal (not to exceed 8 pages, 12-pt font, double-spaced). The proposal body should state how the proposed research addresses SI and CI goals, leverages an above-listed initiative, and utilizes SI and CI resources.

Introduction: Problem statement, background, rationale, and support from published scientific literature.

Goals and Objectives: A clear statement of the central questions, specific hypotheses to be addressed, and the major objectives that will address the project goals.

Methods: A summary of proposed scientific approaches, procedures, experimental designs, technical methods, proposed sites, and data analysis. Summarize the types of equipment and technology required and the frequency of their need.

Significance: Statement of expected products, outcomes, and their significance for the respective Smithsonian and Conservation International programs.

  1. Bibliography References cited within the proposal
  2. Budget and Justification (max. $30,000/year plus any in-kind support arranged in advance with co-advisors): An itemized budget and justification for each year of the following expenses

Research Allowance to include supplies, equipment needs, and travel for research purposes (including lodging, per diem, and transportation)

Relocation Allowance to include transportation from point of origin to Smithsonian and return, but not moving expenses

Health Insurance Allowance, which can be sourced privately, on the open market, or through the Smithsonian plans.

  1. Curriculum Vitae(not to exceed 4 pages)
  2. Transcriptsfrom all graduate institutions. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  3. Letters of Recommendation should be sent through the SOLAA system by two referees who are not affiliated with Smithsonian or Conservation International. Please provide a copy of the research proposal to the references. Applicants will send an email to their references through the SOLAA system that prompts the referees to provide references through the web. All reference letters are considered confidential unless the referee has waived confidentiality.

Proposal Review and Award Notification

A panel of SI and CI scientists will review proposals for: scientific merit, project feasibility, match with SI and CI common goals and initiatives, and the extent to which SI and CI expertise and resources can contribute to the project. Award notification will be sent electronically to applicants on or before May 24, 2019.

Progress Reports and Publications

The following reporting is required:

  • A progress report, submitted electronically no later than ten months after the start of fellowship appointment.
  • A final report, due on the date of completion of the fellowship appointment.
  • Exit seminar summarizing results to-date of the project within three months of the fellowship’s conclusion.
  • Acknowledgment of the appropriate Smithsonian and Conservation International research unit(s) in all publications resulting from work (or time) supported by this joint fellowship.

For questions about application process and status, please contact

Appendix 1

Existing project locations:



Gamba Complex (Gabon)

Masai Mara and Laikipia (Kenya)



Guiana Shield

Mesoamerican Reef (Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala)


Pantanal (Brazil)


United States (Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, Virginia)



Sarawak (Borneo)

Tanintharyi (Myanmar)


Conservation International


Ankeniheny-Zahamena (CAZ) and Ambositra-Vondrozo (COFAV) Corridors, Madagascar

North Kenya Landscape and Seascape, Kenya

Northwest Liberia Landscape, Liberia

South Africa Rangelands, South Africa



Abrolhos Seascape, Brazil

Alto Mayo Landscape, Peru

Bogotá Conservation Corridor, Colombia

Chiapas and Oaxaca Landscape, Mexico

Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, Colombia/Costa Rica/Ecuador/Panama

Rupununi Landscape, Guyana



Bird’s Head Seascape, Indonesia

Cardamom-Tonle Sap Landscape, Cambodia

Lau Seascape, Fiji

North Sumatra Landscape, Indonesia

Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape, Philippines

West Papua Landscape, Indonesia


Example data sets:

Acoustic monitoring

Biodiversity baselines

Camera trap data (eMammal, WildlifeInsights)

Carbon Sequestration

Land use change

Long-term ecological monitoring

Socio-economic Surveys