2015 Distinguished Science of Learning Fellowship Program (Closed)

The Distinguished Science of Learning Fellowship Program provides fellows the opportunity to gain experience beyond their current training in (a) conducting interdisciplinary research in the science of learning and (b) learning how to effectively communicate and translate scientific findings to practitioners, policymakers, and the general public. The fellowship program is open to pre-doctoral and post-doctoral applicants within and outside of Johns Hopkins University. Applications are due December 15th, 2014 at 11:59pm EST.

Deadline: 12/15/2014


In an effort to prepare the next generation of leaders in the science of learning, the Distinguished Pre-doctoral and Post-doctoral Fellowship Program provides young scientists opportunities to obtain interdisciplinary research and dissemination training beyond the scope of their prior undergraduate and graduate education. The goal of the program is to train scientists to think broadly about learning, yield innovative scientific discoveries about learning, and use these discoveries to drive research, practice, and policy. The fellowship program draws upon the existing expertise of Johns Hopkins faculty to direct innovative research efforts that cross the disciplinary boundaries of basic and applied sciences. 

The fellowship program is sponsored by the Science of Learning Institute (SLI) of Johns Hopkins University. The mission of the Institute is to understand and optimize the most essential part of our human capital: the ability to learn. The Institute supports interdisciplinary research that will generate innovative scientific discoveries and build meaningful connections between research, practice, and policy. Through its research and training activities, the Institute seeks to create an integrated understanding of learning at all levels, from molecular and cellular mechanisms to cognitive functions to education in informal and formal settings. Key issues of interest concern how learning varies as a function of basic learner characteristics (e.g. across the life span, among learners who are typically developing, challenged, or gifted), how learner characteristics interact with different environments and learning settings to produce variation in learning outcomes, and how interactions with intelligent artificial learning systems can enhance and optimize human learning. For more information about the Institute’s mission and goals, please see: http://www.scienceoflearning.jhu.edu.


The Distinguished Science of Learning Fellowship Program provides fellows the opportunity to gain experience beyond their current training in (a) conducting interdisciplinary research in the science of learning and (b) learning how to effectively communicate and translate scientific findings to practitioners, policymakers, and the general public. The fellowship program is open to pre-doctoral and post-doctoral applicants within and outside of Johns Hopkins University.

A. Topical Areas

The Fellowship Program supports research that aligns with the mission of the Science of Learning Institute. We support interdisciplinary research across a variety of disciplines and using a wide range of approaches to advance our understanding of learning. The research project may represent an original thesis that was generated by the fellowship applicant or a novel extension of a currently existing project. 

B. Research Training

Each fellow’s research project must be motivated by a compelling research question that requires an interdisciplinary approach for successful investigation. Interdisciplinary research refers to “a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice” (National Academies Report, 2004, p. 2). Successful applications will clearly indicate the need for new skills and expertise that are beyond the scope of the fellow’s current or past training to achieve the goals of the proposed research.

Fellows will carry out their interdisciplinary research and training under the direction of two faculty mentors from different disciplines and departments or divisions across Johns Hopkins University. Each mentor should compliment (not merely reinforce) the expertise of the fellow and the co-mentor. Successful applications will clearly demonstrate the role that each mentor will play in advancing the post-doctoral applicant’s intellectual growth in the designated area, investigation of the driving research questions, and future career development.

C. Dissemination and Translation Training

Within the 2-year fellowship period, each fellow will be required to develop a dissemination or translation project relevant to his or her particular interdisciplinary area of interest. Examples include, but are not limited to, the creation of scientific dissemination materials for professional training of educators; policy briefs; novel digital applications that disseminate scientific information in meaningful ways; creation of museum exhibit programs or materials, etc. Translation and dissemination projects should clearly build on the fellow's scientific project and novel ideas are welcome. Fellows and mentors will participate in activities designed to introduce dissemination science and translational research practices (see below) in order to support this training component.

 D. Bi-Weekly Meetings & Presentation Requirements

To facilitate training and interaction among the fellows, all fellows will participate in a bi-weekly meeting over the course of the two-year fellowship. This meeting will include invited presentations from mentors and other faculty, focused sessions on topics relevant to translation and dissemination, seminars conducted for the Science of Learning community more broadly, and opportunities for fellows to interact and discuss their projects as a community.  Fellows will present their research projects in a small symposium at the end of their fellowship tenure.


We anticipate funding 2 pre-doctoral fellowships and 3 post-doctoral fellowships in 2015.

A. Duration and Tenure

Fellowships are awarded for up to two years. Tenure will begin on July 1, 2015 and conclude on June 30, 2017. The second year of funding will be contingent upon acceptable progress as described in the end-of-year progress report. 

B. Award Amount and Budget Allowances

Awards will not exceed $65,000 for post-doctoral fellows and $35,000 for pre-doctoral fellows per year. The fellowship budget and budget justification must include the following allowances:

  1. Salary: Fellows will be paid a 12-month salary commensurate with distinguished federal fellowship scales and the fellow’s qualifications and experience. JHU departments and divisions typically require fellows’ salaries to adhere to a particular federal fellowship scale. Relevant fellowship salary scales include the NIH NRSA Fellowship (pre-doctoral and post-doctoral salaries), the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (pre-doctoral salary),  and  discipline-specific NSF Post-doctoral Fellowships. Fellowship applicants should verify salary requirements with both of their mentors. Please note that salaries for mentors are not allowed in the budget.
  2. Research and Travel Expenses: Up to $10,000 may be budgeted per year for research-related equipment, supplies, and travel expenses.
  3. Training and Professional Development: Up to $2,500 may be budgeted per year for training and professional development to foster the fellow’s intellectual growth and methodological expertise in new areas. This may include graduate courses, workshops, training programs, and corresponding expenses (e.g., texts, software, etc).  
  4. Benefits:Fringe benefits will be covered by the SLI. Do not include fringe benefits in the budget or budget justification.


A. Fellowship Applicants

1. For pre-doctoral fellowships, the applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Johns Hopkins University.
  • In his or her 3rdor 4th year of their graduate program.

2. For post-doctoral fellowships, the applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, national, or legally admitted permanent resident alien of the United States.  International applicants are welcome to apply, but the costs of work/education visas will need to covered by the hosting departments/ divisions.
  • Candidates within 3 years of earning their Ph.D. or M.D. will be preferred.  The relevant doctoral degree must have been earned by May 2015.

B. Mentors

The mentors must be full-time tenure stream faculty at JHU who are eligible to serve as PIs in their division. The mentors must be from (a) at least two different disciplines and (b) two different departments or divisions from Johns Hopkins University. Divisions include Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Whiting School of Engineering, Carey Business School, School of Education, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Peabody Institute, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and School of Advanced International Studies (for more information about JHU schools, see http://webapps.jhu.edu/jhuniverse/academics/schools/).

 C. Other Criteria

Applications will be returned without review if: 

  • The fellowship applicant or the mentors do not meet the stated eligibility requirements.
  • The research project does not align with the mission of the Science of Learning Institute.
  • The application does not adhere to the formatting guidelines or include all relevant application materials listed in the “Application Preparation and Submission” section.


Priority will be given to proposals that are strongest in meeting the following criteria, which will be explicitly evaluated in the review process:

A. Project Merit Criteria

  1. Innovation: The project seeks to discover principles about learning that break traditional barriers and generate truly new insights within its own field and across different fields.  
  2. Strength and Interdisciplinarity of the Approach: The project’s design, methods, and analytic plan are well-developed, integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the proposed project and the research environment. The project uses two or more empirical approaches to address the same learning problem, and clearly draws on expertise spanning more than one discipline, department,and/or school in the university. 

 B. Future Impact Criteria

  1. Project Impact: The project will benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: increased public scientific literacy and public engagement; improved learning outcomes in society; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; inclusion of women, underrepresented minorities, or persons with disabilities.
  2. Educational Impact: The applicant demonstrates a clear interest in interdisciplinary science of learning research and its practical applications. The project will broaden the fellow’s knowledge and skills relevant to the science of learning and will help prepare him or her for a research career in academia, industry, or government. 

C. Fellow-Mentor Team Merit Criteria

  1. Strength and Interdisciplinarity of the Fellow-Mentor Team: The fellow and the mentors are uniquely qualified with appropriate content knowledge and methodological expertise to carry out all elements of the proposed project. Each mentor compliments the expertise of the fellow and the co-mentor.  
  2. Co-mentoring Plan: The co-mentoring plan is well-developed with clear indications of how each mentor will advance the fellow’s intellectual growth and career development. The plan also includes joint-mentoring activities designed to foster cross-disciplinary conversations and develop synergies across the team.


A. Formatting Requirements:

All application materials must be formatted to fit on 8.5 x 11” paper with 1-inch margins, single line spacing, 12-point Times New Roman font, and consistent with the professional style guidelines of the applicant’s field. 

B. Application Materials (Page limits in Parentheses)

Each application should consist of the following items:

1. Project Description (10 pages maximum, including references; evaluated on Project Merit and Future Impact criteria): The description should include the following sections:

  • Project Impact Summary (1 page maximum): This should be a succinct statement of the aims and anticipated outcomes of the proposal. It should also explicitly describe how the project addresses the first three project evaluation criteria: “Innovation,” “Strength and Interdisciplinarity of the approach,” and “Project Impact."
  • Educational Impact Summary (1 page maximum) This should explicitly address the fourth project evaluation criterion, “Educational impact,” with a succinct statement of the fellow’s career goals and an explanation of how the project will help achieve the goals. It should include a specific section entitled “Why this project requires interdisciplinary training beyond my core graduate training.
  • Project Rationale (1-2 pages maximum): This section should describe the rationale or background for the project.
  • Approach (2-3 pages maximum): This section should outline the research design, measures, data analysis plan, and any preliminary data.
  • Budget and Budget Justification for Year 1 and Year 2 (1 page maximum): This section must include the fellow’s salary, any research and travel expenses requested, any training and professional development requested, and other expense categories, as needed. Awards may not exceed $65,000 for postdoctoral fellows and $35,000 for predoctoral fellows per year. Refer to Section III-B for budget allowances.
  • References (1-2 pages maximum).

2. Fellow-Mentor Team Description (Download template; Evaluated on Fellow-Mentor Team Merit criteria): This is a brief, four-page form that has two sections. The first section is a justification of the applicant’s choice of mentors, written by the applicant.  The second is a co-mentoring plan, written and signed by the mentors. 

3. Brief Biographical Sketches (Download template and instructions; Evaluated on Fellow-Mentor Team criteria). Brief, 2-page statements for the applicant and each mentor.

4. Letters of Endorsement: A brief, 1-page statement of support from each mentor.

5. Abstract of Ph.D. Thesis Research (optional; 1 page maximum).


Applications are due December 15th, 2014 at 11:59pm EST, and should be submitted via the Science of Learning Institute’s grant application system. The fellowship application site will open for submissions starting November 15, 2014. Visit the SLI website for a link to the fellowship application site. Evaluation of proposals will be carried out by a team of internal evaluators who are experts in the science of learning. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by May 1st, 2015.

We strongly recommend that fellowship applicants contact potential mentors at least one month prior to the application deadline to allow adequate time to discuss project ideas, review drafts of the research project, and develop the co-mentoring plan.



Applicants who wish to discuss their project before applying are encouraged to contact us:

Download this fellowship solicitation.


The Distinguished Science of Learning Fellowship Program is supported by the Office of the Provost and a private philanthropic donation. This program also carries the title of "Provost's Science of Learning Fellowship Program."