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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Katharine H. Putnam Fellowship in Plant Science

Stacey Leicht Young, Putnam Fellow, collects samples for research in the collections.

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University invites applicants for research fellowships in plant science. Putnam Fellowships offer excellent opportunities for advanced research and study using the Arboretum’s living collections of woody plants and research facilities. Scientists with a PhD and who have identified an independent research project that would utilize the Arboretum’s living collections are encouraged to apply.

Putnam Fellows conduct basic and applied research in the plant sciences. The goal of the program is to facilitate the research use of the Arboretum’s living collections, thereby stimulating their use within the larger scientific community. The research topics of past Putnam Fellows have included evolutionary biology, taxonomy and systematics, molecular and developmental biology, physiological ecology, propagation, and plant-insect and/or -pathogen interactions. The Putnam Fellowship Program has attracted a diverse array of scholars, and many have gone on to be leaders in academia and public horticulture.

The Arnold Arboretum provides exceptional resources for woody plant research. The living collection, numbering more than 15,000 plants, in over 2,200 species, is distinguished as one of the most thoroughly documented collections of temperate woody plants in the world. Taxonomic diversity and breadth within the collection are noteworthy, and the floras of China, Japan, and Korea are particularly well represented.

The next deadline for applications for the Katharine H. Putnam Fellowship in Plant Science is January 11, 2024. The deadline for applications for the Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship is January 11, 2023 and is a postdoctoral fellowship that supports scientists focused on utilizing the Arnold Arboretum’s resources to tackle any area of global change research.

Eligibility:

Applications are sought from early-career individuals with a PhD in plant biology, evolution, plant genetics, plant ecology, horticulture, or related discipline. Applicants must have their PhD when they initiate their term at the Arboretum. Applicants should be well positioned to conduct original, independent research and to publish their findings in peer-reviewed publications. We encourage applications from those under-represented in the sciences. Applicants are expected to be fluent in English.

The Putnam Fellowship is an independent post-doctoral position. As an independent scholar, Putnam Fellows have access to shared laboratories, equipment, desk space, resources, and interactions with fellow scientists, students and staff. It is not necessary to have a specific faculty host. Applicants are encouraged to develop collaborations and work closely with any and all other members of the Arboretum and broader Harvard communities to refine and develop their project.

Fellowship Details:

Putnam Fellows are full-time employees of Harvard University during their tenure and are eligible for health insurance benefits. In addition, annual support of up to $10,000 for professional expenses including research, travel, and relocation to Boston ($2,500 maximum for relocation) is available. Putnam Fellows are expected to be in full-time residence at the Arboretum during their 2-year tenure and are provided office and research space. Fellows can start between July 1 and the beginning of September.

Putnam Fellows are expected to publish the results of their research in professional or academic journals and present their work at professional meetings and workshops. Putnam Fellows are also expected to engage fully in the Arboretum community. While the primary work of Putnam Fellows is conducting original independent research that utilizes the living collections of the Arboretum, Putnam Fellows are also expected to work collaboratively with the staff of the Arboretum on institutional efforts for education and outreach, for example, participating as an instructor for Arnold Arboretum education programs or writing for Arnoldia, the Arboretum’s quarterly magazine.

Application Information:

Fellowships are awarded through a competitive review process. To be considered for an award, online applications should include the following:

  • Cover letter. The cover letter should clearly state (i) the applicant’s interest in the program; (ii) the length of the term desired by the applicant and potential start-date; and (iii) the applicant’s contact information.
  • Research statement. The statement should be no longer than 4 pages, single-spaced, and should describe the research project the applicant proposes to conduct as a Putnam Fellow. The statement should describe (i) the nature and scope of the proposed research project; (ii) the approach and methods to be employed; (iii) how the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum would be utilized; and (iv) how the project will advance knowledge about the plant kingdom. References should be included but do not count as part of the 4-page limit.
  • Research budget. A modest level of funding (up to $10,000 annually) is available for research, travel, professional expenses and relocation to Boston. Applicants should submit a simple, 1-page budget that includes a paragraph detailing all laboratory and equipment requirements and an itemized budget by year for all research, travel and professional costs. Travel expenses for professional conferences as well as up to $2,500 for relocation to Boston should be included in the total budget. The budget should accurately reflect and justify what is required for the proposed project.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Three letters of recommendation. As part of the online submission, you must send a request to the referee to submit a letter of recommendation (via the “request” section). The referee will be automatically sent an email with a link to an online submission form where they will upload a letter of recommendation. It is highly recommended that you contact your referee prior to sending the request. Please inform the referee to expect an email from Admin@communityforce.com with instructions for submitting a recommendation letter. Each referee must upload their letter of recommendation via the link by January 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Selection Criteria:

The selection of Putnam Fellows will be based on:

  • The range and depth of the applicant’s education and professional experience and their potential future contribution to scholarship.
  • The track record of the candidate as an independent researcher. The proposed project should represent an independent line of inquiry, extending beyond the PhD research of the applicant.
  • The overall quality of the applicant’s research proposal. The applicant’s research proposal will be assessed with regard to the nature and scope of the work, the approach and methods to be employed, the feasibility of the proposed effort with respect to the term of the fellowship, and how it would advance knowledge about the plant kingdom.
  • The relevance of the research with respect to the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum. The applicant’s research proposal will also be assessed with respect to how the living collections of the Arboretum would be utilized, and how the project fits into ongoing Arboretum programs.

Additional Information:

The Katharine H. Putnam Fellowships in Plant Science are made possible by the generosity of George and Nancy Putnam through the Putnam Fellows Fund.

For questions about the award, Arboretum resources, research proposal or submission process, contact the selection committee (Email).

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions or any other characteristic protected by law. The position requires pre-employment reference and background screening.