How are Mendenhall Fellowship applications reviewed? What are the criteria used to evaluate them?

All qualified Mendenhall Fellowship applications are reviewed using a two-step process. First, a review panel made up of subject matter experts (scientists) reviews each application on the basis of the criteria described below and ranks all applications. Research proposals are expected to be fully responsive to the requirements described in the Research Opportunity. The panel forwards its recommendations to the selecting officials (USGS managers), who also review the applications. They make final selections considering the input of the review panel and the Coordinator of the Mendenhall Program.

Qualified applications are reviewed based on the following criteria:

  1. Technical quality of the research proposal: Considers the scientific merit of the proposed research and the probability of achieving positive results within the 2-year postdoctoral appointment period. This factor is double weighted, making it the most critical aspect.
  2. Relevance and Timeliness: Considers the relevance and timeliness of the proposed research as they relate to the science strategies listed under The Basics. The potential for the advancement of science as well as the advancement of USGS science strategies are considered. Research proposals are expected to be fully responsive to the requirements described in the Research Opportunity.
  3. Research performance and academic record: Considers the quality of graduate research and publication record of the applicant (promptness of publication of results, quality of publications, and so on) and the graduate and undergraduate grades.
  4. Budget and Facilities: Considers the proposed budget—if it is commensurate with the level of effort and reasonable with respect to the value of anticipated results. Also considers the availability of necessary facilities at the USGS or proposed arrangements for access to required facilities elsewhere.

Learn more: USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program

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Is it possible to apply for more than one Mendenhall Fellowship Research Opportunity? Can more than one applicant be accepted into the same position?

Yes. Mendenhall Fellowship applicants are strongly urged to coordinate the development of their research proposals with the appropriate Research Advisors. Currently there is no limit on the number of applications an individual can submit. In the event that an applicant ranks highly for more than one Research Opportunity , the USGS retains the...

I am interested in a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellowship. What should I do?

The first step is to become aware of the Research Opportunities available for a given year and the application deadline. Check the table of opportunities and the associated descriptions. Then, contact the Research Advisor(s) listed and express an interest in the project advertised. Applicants are strongly urged to coordinate the development of...

What is the role of the Research Advisor during the preparation of a Mendenhall Fellowship research proposal?

Mendenhall Fellowship applicants are strongly urged to coordinate the development of their research proposals with the appropriate Research Advisor(s). The role of the Research Advisor(s) is primarily consultative. They can provide assistance in the sharpening up of a proposal but should not be actively involved in writing the proposal. The...

What is a “reasonable” budget for a Mendenhall postdoctoral project?

Mendenhall Fellowship application packages are evaluated based on four criteria. One of these considers whether the proposed budget is commensurate with the level of effort and reasonable with respect to the value of anticipated results. This factor also considers the availability of necessary facilities at the USGS or proposed arrangements for...

Can Mendenhall Program research be done jointly with universities or other institutions?

Yes. Each year a number of the Research Opportunities advertised have co-mentors from universities and other institutions. Funding is typically provided by the USGS. However, it's possible to conduct research under this Program with joint funding between the USGS and other sources. Learn more: USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program

Can a Mendenhall Fellowship be extended if the project does not fit neatly into 2 years?

Mendenhall Fellowships are funded for two full years; funding cannot be extended. However, the appointment can be extended for up to an additional two years if appropriate work and funding are available. Some Mendenhall Fellows have been able to extend their employment with the USGS by obtaining additional funds from other USGS funding sources and...

How many Mendenhall Fellowship applications are received each year? Are all advertised Research Opportunities filled?

Approximately 100 Mendenhall Fellowship applications are received each year and about 12 to 20 fellows are hired, depending on available funding. Advertised opportunities might not be filled if there is not sufficient funding. Learn more: USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program

Can aspects of science education be incorporated in to a Mendenhall Fellowship research proposal?

Yes. As a part of the final steps toward career preparation, Mendenhall Fellows are encouraged to take part in educational activities as appropriate. Some examples include preparation of relevant Fact Sheets, involvement with educational committees of professional societies, visiting schools as guest scientists, working directly with teachers to...

What happens after a Mendenhall Fellowship application is submitted (by the deadline)?

Each application for a Mendenhall Fellowship is checked to confirm that all required documents have been submitted, that minimum educational qualifications are met, and that a research proposal has been submitted in the appropriate format. Then the applications are forwarded to a review panel, to the Coordinator of the Mendenhall Program, and to...

Is United States citizenship required for Mendenhall Fellowship applicants?

No. Mendenhall Fellowships are U.S. Government positions, so the USGS must give preference to U.S. citizens. However, citizens of other nations might be considered under certain circumstances, such as when there are no qualified citizen applicants. It is optional for the USGS to consider citizens of other nations, and various laws and regulations...

When will Mendenhall Fellowship applicants learn about the outcome of their application?

Typically, we complete evaluation of applications and begin to make offers approximately 30-60 days after the application closing date. Learn more: USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program

Will the Mendenhall Fellowship lead to a permanent position with the USGS?

Not necessarily. Mendenhall Fellows can apply and compete for permanent USGS positions, but tenure as a Mendenhall Fellow does not lead to any preferred status. If a Mendenhall Fellow obtains employment with the Federal Government, the 2-year employment will be added to the length of service. Learn more: USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program
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