Sustainability and Conservation Science Postdoctoral Fellowship

Sustainability and Conservation Science Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania in partnership with The Nature Conservancy

The application deadline was Friday, February 16, 2024 and applications are not currently being accepted.

This postdoctoral fellowship program aims to bridge the excellence in academic research at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and in conservation practice at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to confront climate change, while creating a new generation of sustainability and conservation leaders who combine the rigor of academic science with real-world application.

Penn and TNC join in recognizing climate change as the single greatest environmental threat to humanity. Climate change is an issue that tightly integrates the health of the planet with the economy, access to clean and reliable energy, water, and food production, and equity. To tackle these challenges, our world needs science that blends climatology, physics, economics, business, chemistry, engineering, technology and communications with conservation and ecology. As well, it must marry the best academic research with opportunities for rapid testing and deployment in the real world to address human well-being.

The specific program goals are to:

  • Invest in the talent potential of a new generation of climate change leaders
  • Recruit scientists who bring a diversity of culture, experience, and ideas to Penn and TNC
  • Support innovative and impact-oriented research that helps deliver TNC outcomes
  • Provide the fellows and Penn research community as a whole with access to real-world conservation professionals and issues.

Postdoctoral Fellows will be supported annually with a $65,000 stipend and benefits, a $10,000 research fund, and up-to $2,000 for professional travel. A one-time relocation reimbursement of up-to $2,000 is also available. Fellows will be eligible for support for up-to two consecutive years.

For this round of applications, the project areas and Penn faculty/TNC Scientist mentor teams participating are:

  • Soil microbes/tree ecosystems capable of sequestering carbon.
  • 3D printing of artificial coral for restoration and marine resilience.
  • Impacts of mineral mining related to semiconductors or batteries.
  • Interventions for reducing the environmental impact of mining.
  • Agriculture-based soil carbon sequestration.
  • International research that informs climate adaptation interventions.

Ideal candidates for this fellowship are outstanding, early-career scientists or engineers who seek to improve and expand their research skills, while directing their efforts toward problems at the interface of climate, conservation, research, technology, and people. Recognizing that science is best advanced through contributions by individuals of diverse backgrounds, we seek to attract promising researchers from varying backgrounds, races, ethnic groups, and other diverse populations whose life experiences, research experiences, and employment backgrounds will contribute significantly to their research. Applicants must have completed all requirements for their doctorate by the fellowship start date, and their PhD should have been awarded no longer than three years before the application deadline. Fellows are expected to begin their appointment by September 1, 2024.

Complete applications are due by Friday, February 16, 2024, and must include:

  • Cover letter (limited to 1 page). Applicants should describe their research experience, interests in research and conservation, long-term career goals, and illustrate how their previous experience strengthens their ability to develop and implement the proposed research.
  • Research proposal (limited to 2 pages; citations may be on a separate page). Applicants must engage in co-development of a research proposal with a Penn faculty member and a TNC scientist, and proof of co-development will be assessed during proposal review. Teams at TNC and Penn who are available to work with applicants, their contact information, and general research topics of interest are listed above. The proposal should
    • highlight the research question of interest,
    • clearly articulate the research approach and methods,
    • outline the project’s scientific significance, and
    • demonstrate a clear potential for delivering results for The Nature Conservancy’s global priorities.
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • The cover letter and research proposal must be standard letter-size page, 1-inch margins, and at least 11 pt font.
  • The CV, proposal, and personal statement must be combined into one pdf file and emailed to by no later than 5 pm ET on February 16, 2024. Please use the subject “Postdoctoral Fellow Application [Your Name]” and name the pdf attachment “YourNameApplication.pdf”.
  • Three letters of recommendation. One letter must be from the applicant’s thesis advisor and comment specifically on the applicant’s ability to learn from and contribute to a multi-disciplinary and collaborative research environment. The other two letters should be from individuals well acquainted with the applicant’s PhD research.
  • A joint letter of support with mentoring plan from your proposed Penn and TNC mentors. Mentors should speak to the importance of the applicant’s proposed project to Penn and TNC, the role they will play in jointly mentoring the applicant through the project, and the leadership taken by the applicant in developing the research proposal.
  • The recommendation and support letters must be on letterhead and emailed directly to by no later than 5 pm ET on February 16, 2024.


For general questions, contact Dr. Nadine Gruhn,

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