Annually, and subject to the availability of funds, Postdoctoral Fellows (normally two) are selected on a competitive basis from written applications made by prospective candidates, upon evaluation of the candidate's academic record and proposed research plan. The Director is responsible for ensuring the Fellowship is advertised in national scientific publications. The advertisements are published in the fall of each year.
The candidate must have completed the degree of Ph. D. (or equivalent) prior to the date of award and must have submitted a completed application prior to the January closing date. Since one of the purposes of the Fellowship is to bring new skills and perspectives to the Observatory, persons currently employed at the Observatory or holding a Ph. D. degree from the Department of Geological Sciences of Columbia University are ineligible.
At the request of the Director, during the months of January and February the applications are open to examination by the scientific staff of the Observatory, who are invited to comment on scientific excellence, academic achievement, ability to contribute to the research needs and goals of the Observatory and potential for obtaining future funding. Assessment is made through consideration of the statement of proposed research made by the applicant, three letters of recommendation [made by faculty advisors and scientific peers], and, in some cases, personal knowledge of the applicant's research and publication records by members of the Observatory staff. The staff's written comments are included in each applicant's file. Personal interviews are not conducted. The recommendations of the Observatory staff are then considered by a committee of five members of the scientific staff, appointed by the Director and representing the disciplinary range of the Observatory, who then make the final recommendation to the Director.
Offers should be made only to those applicants for whom a member of the Observatory Staff has been identified to serve as mentor to the Postdoctoral Fellow. When the files of the recommended awardees are forwarded to the Directors Office they should be accompanied by a short note from each mentor stating that they are willing to take on this important responsibility. The mentor will be identified in the offer letter that is generated by the Directors office.
The mentor is expected to help the newly-arrived fellow assimilate into the Observatory, regularly inquire into the Fellows progress, and most significantly ensure that the fellow give two seminars during their tenure as a Fellow - one towards the beginning of their appointment and one towards the end.
The Fellowship is for one year, and awards, twelve (12) months of salary and a research allowance, the amounts of which are set by the Director. An additional nine (9) months of support is normally granted provided that the Fellow has obtained a prior guarantee of three (3) months of non-institutional support. This support may be obtained from an ongoing contract or grant of any Observatory Principal Investigator. This requirement is not designed to be onerous, but toensure that the Postdoctoral Fellow has developed connections with Observatory scientists or with external funding agencies.
Lamont Postdoctoral Fellows are members of the Junior Research Staff of the Observatory and, as such, are invited to participate in meetings of the full research staff.
The Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow is expected to make a best-faith effort to develop his or her research proposal. No formal review is conducted. Upon completing the term of fellowship, if sufficient funds are available, and with the Fellow's permission, the Director may, with the advice of the Executive Committee, recommend to the President that the Fellow be appointed to the position of Postdoctoral Research Scientist without further review. Alternatively, in cases where the Fellow demonstrates sufficient research productivity and fund-raising abilities, and where his/her research interests are contributing to the long-term goals of the Observatory, he/she may be considered for appointment to Associate Research Scientist, in which case the normal ARS review process is to be followed. PDRS and ARS appointments become effective at the end of the Fellowship period.
Applications for the annual Postdoctoral competition can be found at
or by contacting the Director's Office.