Postdoctoral Fellowships at the SETI Institute

Two prize postdoctoral fellowships, one focused on astrobiology and the other focused on technosignatures, are taking applications for 2+1 year positions with the SETI Institute.

Page last updated January 13th, 2024


General Fellowship Information

The Baruch S. Blumberg Postdoctoral Fellowship for Astrobiology and the William J. Welch Postdoctoral Fellowship for Technosignature Research offer early-career scientists a unique opportunity to bring their original research projects to the SETI Institute, fostering academic and professional growth guided by mentorship from leading experts. 

As a world-renowned multidisciplinary institute, the SETI Institute boasts over 100 Principal Investigators specializing in fields such as: astronomy and astrophysics; astrobiology; climate and biogeosciences; exoplanets; planetary exploration; and technosignatures. Fellows will benefit from resources such as access to top researchers and industry experts in e.g., AI through the SETI Institute’s connections with Silicon Valley, and access to a premier radio telescope array at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory in Northern California. 

These full-time, two-year fellowships offer the potential for a 1-year extension based on research progress and institutional approval. Applicants must hold a Ph.D. in a relevant field to be eligible for selection, and a competitive application should showcase a proven research track record along with a compelling research proposal. Priority will be given to applicants demonstrating commitment to interdisciplinary research and teamwork. Applications are open to both US citizens and non-citizens.


Deadlines

Date Event
January 16th, 2024 Application submission opens for both Blumberg and Welch
March 1st, 2024 Applications are due for both Blumberg and Welch
April 1st, 2024 Welch Awardees notified of acceptance
April 30th, 2024 Blumberg Awardees notified of acceptance


Scope

Blumberg Fellowship cover

The Baruch S. Blumberg Fellowship, "Innovation in Astrobiology and Exploration," focuses on pioneering biosignature detection methods to push the boundaries of current research. The 2024 Fellowship focuses on the themes listed below, as applied to the origin, nature of life and the detection of life in analogs to early terrestrial and planetary environments.

  • Signatures of Coevolution
  • Universal markers of life
  • Life and complexity
  • Biophysical models
  • Detection pathways (including AI/ML)
  • Intersections of astrobiology with quantum physics

 

Welch Fellowship Cover

The William J. Welch Fellowship, "Engineering the Future of Cosmic Exploration," emphasizes three critical domains:

  • Advanced radio astronomical techniques
  • The interstellar medium
  • The development of cutting-edge instrumentation and technology in radio astronomy

Technosignature proposals are in-scope for this opportunity, including those not primarily focused on radio astronomy observations, and they should demonstrate their synergy with the domains above.


Compensation and Benefits

Base compensation for the Blumberg and Welch Fellowships in 2024 is $85,000/year. Additional funds are available for benefits, travel, and research allowance. 

The SETI Institute is an equal opportunity employer, and we encourage applicants from underrepresented groups in STEM to apply to these positions. Incomplete applications will not be considered. 

For additional questions contact asaroian@seti.org.

 

Application Materials and How to Apply

Applicants should apply to these opportunities by assembling the elements below into a single .pdf format document and emailing the document to fellowships@seti.org with the subject “[Full Name] Application for [Blumberg or Welch] Fellowship”

  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Names and contact information for 3 references (1 page)
  • Previous and Current Research statement (3 pages)
  • Research Proposal statement (3 pages)

Applications that do not provide all of the listed information will not be considered. Additional formatting requirements and guidance is given below.


CV

There are no page limit or formatting requirements for the CV portion of the application, except that it should be submitted in PDF format. The CV should include at least past and current educational and professional positions, publications (especially peer-reviewed publications), and conference abstracts with full references and/or links.


References

Applicants should provide the name, relationship to applicant, email address, and (optionally) phone number for three reference writers. Reference writers should be able to speak to e.g., the applicant’s research activities, educational attainment, work ethic and professional background. Recommenders will not be contacted for the initial round of application review, but will be contacted before an offer is extended.


Previous and Current Research Statement

In this statement, the applicant should demonstrate a strong track record of research excellence, detailing their leadership and contributions to the research activities described in the CV and including any ongoing projects. Applicants are encouraged to highlight activities which are relevant to the project described in the Research Proposal Statement where possible.


Research Proposal Statement

In this statement, the applicant should describe the research that they plan to perform. Successful Research Proposal Statements will describe a feasible research plan which makes use of SETI Institute resources, researcher expertise, and facilities to advance knowledge in a relevant discipline. The motivation for pursuing your plan, i.e., the topic’s scientific case, should be explicitly stated. The research theme should also be linked to 1) the call’s focus areas and 2) the general science mission of the SETI Institute. Strong proposals will provide a case for why the applicant is uniquely positioned to carry out the research they propose, and also a case for why the SETI Institute is uniquely suited to their project.


Page Limits

The Previous and Current Research Statement and Research Proposal Statement should be 3 pages maximum (references excluded from page count). Figures and/or tables may be included to demonstrate significant results — note that these will count towards the page count. The document should not produce text that is denser than 12pt Times New Roman single-spaced, and margins should be at least 1in.


Selection Criteria

Packets from eligible applicants containing all required materials will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of relevant SETI Institute researchers and leadership. 

The selection committees will select fellows whose application packets demonstrate:

  • Sufficient relevant preparation to lead to success, as determined primarily via the Prior and Current Research Statement and the CV
  • Articulation of a scientifically-compelling research project which can be completed within the proposed fellowship duration and that is a good match to the available resources, facilities, and skillset of the applicant, as determined primarily via the Research Proposal statement
  • The potential to be a productive part of a thriving, interdisciplinary team and develop scientific leadership skills during their tenure


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply to both fellowships?

Yes, application to both fellowships is allowed.

Who can I contact for additional information or questions?

Please email asaroian@seti.org with any additional questions.

Will these fellowships be offered every year?

We expect to offer additional fellowships in subsequent years with emphasis in various domains relevant to the search for life.

Do I have to be based at the SETI Institute?

Successful applicants will demonstrate how they and their research proposal will contribute to, and take advantage of, the vibrant SETI Institute community. If an applicant plans to work primarily remotely, or at a location other than SETI Institute Headquarters in Mountain View, California or the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, this should be stated and justified in the Research Proposal Statement. International research collaboration is strongly encouraged.

Will I be able to submit grant proposals through the SETI Institute?

Yes, Fellows will be eligible for Principal Investigator status at the SETI Institute.

I am an international applicant, what kind of visa can I get?

The SETI Institute will sponsor either a J1 or H1B visa for international fellows, depending on individual circumstances. Please contact SETI Institute Director of Human Resources Armine Saroian at asaroian@seti.org for inquiries related to visas.