Cornell Atkinson seeks outstanding, creative, and highly motivated individuals to work with Cornell faculty in collaboration with external organizations and communities to discover and implement sustainable solutions to world needs. Applicants from all areas of study are encouraged to apply (please see attached file for more details about the 2021 request for proposals).
Cornell Atkinson Overview
Founded by a generous gift from David and Pat Atkinson, the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability empowers researchers to think and work across disciplines to address the threats to local and global sustainability and to create a healthy and resilient future. By providing funding across all campus colleges and prioritizing partnerships with external entities Cornell Atkinson supports radical collaborations for knowledge-to-action programs and projects.
Applications are welcome in one or more of the following thematic goals:
Building resilient rural-urban systems
With the population moving toward 9 billion and increasing urbanization, it will be essential for rural communities and urban centers increase self-reliance in food, energy, and water. Cities need to create and renew built environments that reduce resource consumption and stress on rural areas and the environment.
Increasing Food Security
Improving the interlinked systems of food production, processing, and distribution to meet the nutritional needs of current and future populations. Enhancing the quality of life of those who are earning a livelihood within food systems and improving the state of the ecosystems on which they depend.
Reducing Climate Risks
Innovating technology, financial instruments, and policy to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations and mitigate their impact, while adapting agriculture and the built environment for a low-carbon future.
Accelerating Energy Transitions
Improving the generation, distribution, and storage of clean energy through smart-grid technology, solar and wind installations, and the promotion of smart-energy practices.
Advancing One Health
Incorporating into our agriculture and the built environment the understanding that human health and happiness are inextricably linked with environmental, livestock, and wildlife health.
Social Cost of Water
Creating an effective tool for decision-making by the U.S. federal government, states, NGOs, and private industry on water quality, analogous to the ‘social cost of carbon’ estimates.
Creating long-term, diversified sources of revenues that support biodiversity conservation through innovative investment products, providing financial returns, and targeting private investors.
Applicants working in areas other than the above are also encouraged to apply.
Fellowship Program Objectives
Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for motivated individuals to expand their research programs by collaborating with bridging academic disciplines and working with non-academic external organizations to achieve real world impact in sustainability.
Our postdoc fellowship program seeks to enable the participation and engagement of non-academic external organizations, individuals, and communities in the research project and help take knowledge to action by incorporating diverse backgrounds, perspectives and expertise.
Diversity, inclusion and social justice are critical to sustainability, and at Cornell Atkinson we encourage and seek to support proposals and projects that demonstrate a commitment to these values. This may be through the inclusion of social justice and equity issues in the research agenda, including economic conditions, race, gender, or ethnicity. It may also be through partnering with external organizations which prioritize these values or underserved or underrepresented groups or communities.
These fellowships strengthen and expand the center’s work with external organizations, by:
Stimulating original interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and the development of sustainable solutions that address the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.
Developing and deepening connections with external parties in order to strengthen the impact of Cornell research through the real-world implementation of viable sustainability solutions.
Developing a cohort of postdoctoral fellows on campus working in sustainability fields who are trained in skills such as science communication, collaboration, and policy.
Building a core group of leaders capable of creating effective, workable solutions to the most serious sustainability challenges.
The postdoctoral candidate must have completed a Ph.D. in a relevant field by the start of the fellowship. We welcome applications from any scholarly field, including life and physical sciences, social sciences, engineering, business, the humanities, and the arts.
The factors in making selections will include intellectual merit, creativity, originality, the feasibility of the project, the significance of the challenge being addressed, and expected outcomes of the work, including engagement with external parties to achieve real world impact. The center will also consider the qualifications and accomplishments of the applicant and the potential for the applicant’s intellectual and professional growth.
Intellectual Merit: Evaluate the originality, coherence, and clarity of the proposed project. Will the proposal advance understanding and address important sustainability issues?
Impact: Will the proposed research project have significant impact or the potential to implement sustainable solutions to world needs? Are the critical steps on the path to impact clearly articulated? What is the likelihood of impact beyond Cornell, scalability, and real-world applications?
Social Justice & Equity: To what extent does the proposed project integrate social justice and equity into the research agenda? Does the project have clearly demonstrated potential to benefit underserved or underrepresented groups or communities?
Metrics: Does the proposal include clear and appropriate measures of success and explicit milestones with a realistic timeline?
Partner Organization: Is the partner organization appropriate for the proposed project? Does the organization bring increased diversity of perspectives and priorities to the proposed project? Are the mutual goals and the contribution to the project clearly explained in the proposal? Is the experience, engagement, and commitment of the assembled team appropriate to achieve success?
Qualifications and Accomplishments of the Candidate: To what degree does the fellowship candidate have the required background and experience for the proposed project?
Up to four fellows will be chosen each year, so that at any given time, there will be four to eight fellows in the program.
The start date for new fellows will ideally be between January and August 2021. This is flexible and based on agreement between the candidate’s adviser and the Atkinson Center.
The fellowships carry a salary of $62,000 per year, full Cornell University employee benefits, and $15,000 per year for research- and travel-related expenses.
The fellowship term is two years. The second year is contingent on performance and mutual agreement between the fellow, the adviser, and the Atkinson Center.
Postdoc Fellows are expected to participate in a series of professional development workshops around science communication, collaboration, policy, and career design as part of the Atkinson Sustainability Leadership Program.
Postdoctoral fellows can spend variable portions of their fellowship period at Cornell, with external collaborators, in other relevant facilities, or in the field as dictated by their research.
All fellows will have access to Cornell’s Office of Postdoctoral Studies, which provides career services, including CV and resume writing, interview preparation, workshops designed specifically for postdocs including a postdoc leadership program, and social activities.
The fellow’s appointment will be in the department of the Cornell adviser. The postdoctoral appointment and related financial transactions will be handled by the adviser’s department. • Applicants may identify a potential Cornell adviser by searching the fellows list on our website for faculty engaged in relevant focus areas.
Role and Selection of Advisers
Each fellow will have two advisers, a lead adviser from Cornell and a collaborating adviser from an external non-university organization. The Cornell adviser must be a Faculty Fellow with a tenure-track or tenured position at Cornell. The Cornell adviser has primary responsibility for the postdoc’s programmatic and professional progress and for communications with Cornell Atkinson and with the external adviser.
Applicants may identify a potential Cornell adviser by searching the fellows list on our website for faculty engaged in relevant focus areas.
If applicant is currently at Cornell, the postdoc fellowship adviser cannot be the applicant’s current adviser.
The collaborating adviser must be from an external non-university organization that will add value to the proposed research and leverage the project for impact. External advisers can be from business, industry, nongovernment or civil society organizations (NGOs and CSOs), foundations, or government. The collaborating adviser shares responsibility for the postdoc’s programmatic and professional progress and for communications with the Cornell adviser.
The applicant and the Cornell adviser should discuss potential external advisers before inviting them to participate.
Applicants and advisers are encouraged to explore opportunities to work with external organizations that have existing connections with the Atkinson Center.
Examples of such partner organizations include EDF, TNC, Oxfam, Smithsonian, and Resources for the Future.
Please email Carrie Young at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like support identifying an external partner organization.
Application Process and Timeline
August 20, 2020: Program call issued
September 21, 2020: Start full application process (request letters of recommendation)
October 19, 2020: Full application due
December, 2020: Applicants notified
January, 2021: Fellowship can begin
The full application process should be started no later than Monday, September 21, 2020. This allows time for letters of recommendation to be submitted by the proposal deadline. Applications and all letters of recommendation must be submitted online no later than:
11:59 pm EDT on Monday, October 19, 2020
For more details and to apply go to: atkinson.cornell.edu/grants/postdoc/