Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-sponsored Einstein Fellowship Program provides an opportunity for highly qualified, recent postdoctoral scientists to conduct independent research that is broadly related to the science goals of the NASA Physics of the Cosmos program. This includes high energy astrophysics relevant to Chandra, Fermi, XMM-Newton, and future NASA X-ray missions, cosmological investigations relevant to Planck, WFIRST, or new dark energy missions, and gravitational astrophysics relevant to LISA Pathfinder and subsequent related missions. The proposed research may be observational, instrumental, theoretical, archival or study sources from these missions at other wavelengths. The main criterion for proposal selection is the contribution of the proposed research program to the scientific return of the Physics of the Cosmos missions. A Fellow's program in this area may be specifically appraised for continuation of the fellowship after the second year.

The Fellowship provides support for up to three years including a generous stipend plus health insurance, relocation costs, and funding for research related travel, computing needs, and other research costs. Contingent upon NASA funding, 5 - 10 Einstein Fellowships will be awarded in 2017.

Proposals will be reviewed by an independent panel of scientists. The Einstein Fellowship Program is administered by the Chandra X-Ray Center (CXC) for NASA. Awards will be made to support each Einstein Fellow through a United States Host Institution designated by the Fellow.

An application for the Fellowship consists of a research proposal and supporting documentation, as described below. Applicants must have received their Ph.D. or equivalent degree in 2014 or later, although rare exceptions can be made (see Eligibility below). The deadline for receipt of applications is THURSDAY NOVEMBER 3, 2016 11:59PM EDT. Fellowships are expected to begin in Fall of 2017.


  1. Eligibility
  2. Applicants must have received a Ph.D., Sc.D., or equivalent doctoral-level research degree in astronomy, physics, or a related discipline after January 1, 2014. Applicants who have not yet formally received their degree must present evidence of having completed the academic requirements before commencing the Fellowship.

    Eligibility may extend to those who received their Ph.D. as early as January 1, 2013, if professional work was necessarily delayed by personal or family considerations. Such extended eligibility must be justified by emailing efellows@cfa.harvard.edu, in a timely fashion so as to be directly approved by the Einstein Felowship Program at least 2 weeks in advance of the full application deadline.

    Einstein Fellowships are open to citizens of the United States and to English-speaking citizens of other countries. Non-US applicants should read the VISA requirements under the "Additional Information" section below before applying. Qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, creed, color, age, sex, or national origin. Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

  3. Host Institution
  4. Contingent upon the availability of funding from NASA, Einstein Fellowships are awarded through grants to Host Institutions. Applicants may select any United States institution for carrying out their research as long as the choice is suitably justified in their proposal. Justification is particularly important in cases where the selected institution is the institution at which the applicant earned his/her degree, or is the current home institution of the applicant.

    A faculty member or a member of the scientific staff of the Host Institution shall serve as the principal contact for scientific purposes and will be the Principal Investigator of the Fellow's grant for administrative purposes.

    Applicants are asked to propose three prospective Host Institutions, in order of preference. Only one Fellow per year will be approved at any single institution. This is to avoid a concentration of Fellows at any one host.

    No prior endorsement letter is required from any Host Institution at the time of application. However, should the applicant be offered an Einstein Fellowship, an endorsement letter from the Host Institution will be required within two weeks of acceptance.

    In general, Fellows will work full-time on the research programs proposed in their applications and will be in residence at the proposed Host Institution during the entire period of the Fellowship. Under extraordinary circumstances and subject to approval from the CXC Director through the Einstein Fellowship Program Office, a Fellow may relocate to an Institution other than the original Host Institution, in which case the grant to the Host Institution will be closed on an equitable basis (termination for convenience), and the grant awarded to the new Host Institution.

  5. Compensation and Benefits
  6. Einstein Fellows will receive a competitive salary and benefits, subject to annual review and adjustment. In addition, the Einstein Fellow can receive health insurance, relocation costs, and moderate support for research related travel, computing services, publications, and other direct costs.

    It is expected that Fellows will devote their full-time effort to their research programs. No additional stipend, salary, or other remuneration may be accepted from another appointment, fellowship, or similar grant during the period of the Fellowship. Einstein Fellows shall not be offered a housing subsidy or allowance beyond what is routinely offered to astronomy and physics fellows connected with that institution.

  7. Duration of Fellowship
  8. Contingent upon the availability of funding from NASA, Einstein Fellowships are awarded through grants to Host Institutions for up to a three-year period. New Fellowship Awards are issued with a two-year period-of-performance and funded on an annual basis. Renewal for the third year will depend on a review of scientific activity, particularly as related to Physics of the Cosmos research.

  9. Status
  10. These Fellowships are analogous to prize research fellowships or similar temporary programs at the postdoctoral level at universities. They are not intended to be, nor to compete with, permanent professional career positions.

    It should also be understood that a Einstein Fellowship carries with it no guarantee of observing time on Physics of the Cosmos missions.


  1. General Information
  2. Awards are made on the basis of a review of the applicant's research proposal as well as the curriculum vitae, list of publications, summary of previous and current research, and three letters of reference. The details of the application are described fully below. Please direct any questions to efellows@cfa.harvard.edu.

  3. Application Deadline
  4. The deadline for application for the current cycle is THURSDAY NOVEMBER 3, 2016 11:59PM EDT. All application materials, including those not sent directly by the applicant, must be received at the CXC by this date. Incomplete applications and/or applications received after November 3, 2016, will not be considered. We strongly suggest that applicants begin the online application process early so all questions and issues that arise from this process are resolved before final submittal of application materials. All questions, including technical questions, related to our online program, may be directed to efellows@cfa.harvard.edu.

  5. Application Procedure
  6. Applications are submitted via the Einstein Fellowship web application.

    When signing in for the first time, click "New User" on the front page and proceed to enter in a login and password, and information about yourself. When finished, clicking "Submit" will take you to your homepage.

  7. Materials Submitted Directly by the Applicant
  8. The applicant should upload the following files directly through the Einsten Fellowship Application:

    • a Curriculum Vitae;
    • a list of publications;
    • a summary of previous and current research (limited to three pages including figures, tables and references.);
    • a copy of the research proposal, described below.

    All materials submitted must be in at least 11-point fonts.

    Each file must not be more than 2 MB in size.

  9. Research Proposal
  10. Each applicant must formulate a specific research plan that is related to Physics of the Cosmos (PoC) science and is generally compatible with the research activities of the Host Institution. The proposed research need not be based directly on PoC data, but its relevance to PoC science must be stated clearly and unambiguously. Relevance to the PoC missions will be interpreted broadly, and encompasses observational, instrumental and theoretical research.

    The text of the research proposal should be AT MOST FIVE PAGES in length, including all references, figures and tables. Reviewers will be instructed to ignore any pages in excess of the stated limits. It is valuable to reviewers if the proposal includes a plan showing how the work is expected to progress throughout the three years.

  11. Letters of Reference
  12. Applicants should arrange for letters of reference to be submitted by three individuals familiar with their scientific abilities, whose names are to be listed on the standard application form. Applicants should emphasize to their references that LETTERS MUST BE RECEIVED AT THE CXC BY NOVEMBER 10, 2016. These letters must be in PDF format.


  1. The Panel Review
  2. The Einstein Fellowship Program Office at the CXC will receive all application materials and supporting documents. These will be reviewed by the Einstein Fellowship Selection Panel in January 2017.

    The evaluation and recommendation by this external review panel forms the basis on which the Director of the CXC grants the Einstein Fellowship awards.

    Offers for 2017 Einstein Fellowships will be made by the Director of the CXC after the selection panel has finished its deliberations. Offers must be accepted or declined by Thursday February 16, 2017. After this date further offers may be made if some Fellowships are not accepted.

  3. Endorsement Letter
  4. If you receive and accept a preliminary offer of an Einstein Fellowship, an endorsement letter from your final designated Host Institution is required within two weeks of acceptance. The letter must confirm your Science Contact (who should have read and approved your proposal), and be signed by an authorizing official (typically the Director or department Chairperson) of the Host Institution. The endorsement letter should be sent directly to the CXC by the Science Contact using a link provided at the time an offer is made. The institutional endorsement is necessary to indicate that adequate facilities will be provided for the Einstein Fellow. A possible endorsement letter is as follows:

    Einstein Fellowship Program Office

    I am writing in regard to [Applicant's Name]'s application for a Einstein Fellowship. Dr. [name of Science Contact] has agreed to serve as his/her Science Contact. We have reviewed [Applicant's] research proposal entitled, "[Proposal Title]". We are pleased to endorse it and inform you that we will welcome him/her here and offer support and facilities.

    Sincerely yours,

  5. Commencement of the Einstein Fellowship
  6. The Einstein Fellowship should generally begin by September 1, 2017, but other starting dates may, in individual cases, be jointly negotiated with the Fellow, the Host Institution, and the Einstein Fellowship Program Office. All Fellowships must in any case commence by the end of 2017.

  7. Employee vs. Stipendiary Status
  8. Some Host Institutions allow Fellows to choose between employee or stipendiary status. This decision must be made exclusively between the Fellow and their Host Institution after acceptance of an Einstein Fellowship offer, and well before a budget is submitted (see below). Many factors (e.g., insurance, taxes, visa status, leave and travel policies, etc.) may come into play in this decision.

  9. Visa Requirements
  10. Any non-US national who is offered an Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship must have a valid Visa for the duration of the Einstein Fellowship Appointment. Non-US nationals will apply for either an Exchange Visitor Visa sponsored by their Host Institution or an Immigrant Visa. If he/she chooses to apply for an Immigrant Visa, the Einstein Fellowship Program cannot participate in the Visa request. Foreign nationals who intend to work at US government institutions should ensure that they are eligible to work at their chosen Host Institution.

  11. Taxes and Insurance
  12. The Host Institution and the individual Einstein Fellow are responsible for complying with matters related to income taxes.

    Fellows are required to have health insurance coverage during the term of the appointment. Funding is provided to purchase health insurance (individual or family plan) and can include dental and vision care. The Host Institution is expected to provide a plan under which the Fellow can enlist. If that is not possible, the Fellow is expected to purchase health insurance privately, with the Host Institution providing guidance on Award compliance and available health insurance plans.

    All exchange visitors and their dependent families are required to have health insurance while they are in the United States that meets US Department of State requirements for exchange visitors.

    It is the responsibility of the Fellow to work with the Host Institution to ensure compliance in these matters.

  13. Einstein Fellowship Budget
  14. After the selection process, Fellows and Host Institutions will be notified of the intent to award a fellowship grant to the Host Institution, as well as instructions for the preparation and submission of the budget and the deadline for submission. The Host Institution should then submit a formal budget, signed by an authorizing official, to the SAO Grant Awards Section. Allowable budget expenses include health insurance, relocation expenses (first year only), and direct support costs, such as research related expenses for the Fellow's professional travel during the appointment, computing services, publication costs, and other direct research costs.

    In preparing the budget, an institution's indirect cost rate may not be applied against either the fellowship stipend or the health insurance.

    Note: A budget should not be submitted with the Fellowship application. Detailed budget instructions will be mailed to successful applicants and their Host Institutions.

  15. Publication
  16. Publication in refereed journals is strongly encouraged. Einstein Fellows should identify themselves as such and should acknowledge the Einstein Fellowship grant as follows: "Support for this work was provided by NASA through the Einstein Fellowship Program, grant xxxxx."


  • You should have received your Ph.D. on or after January 1, 2014.
  • Use the Einstein Fellowship Application to fill in or upload the following:
    • application form, including list of three references;
    • curriculum vitae;
    • list of publications;
    • summary of previous and current research (limited to 3 pages including all references/figures/tables);
    • research proposal (limited to 5 pages including all references/figures/tables). Include relevance to Physics of the Cosmos science;
    • list of Physics of the Cosmos missions relevant to the proposal;
    • do not attach anything else (reprints, preprints, etc.).
    • each file must be less than 2 MB
    • recommendation letters (each not to exceed 2 pages) from three references via the link in the reference request email.