Who is eligible for the Bell postdoctoral fellowship program?
Outstanding individuals who have completed their doctoral training in one of a variety of fields including, but not limited to, behavioral and social sciences, health professions, public policy, public health, history of science, and others (e.g., communications and urban planning) are eligible. All requirements for an incoming postdoctoral fellows’ doctorate must be completed by August 20, 2021 in order to begin the fellowship on September 1, 2021.
We have no requirement regarding how much time has passed since completing a doctorate degree; however, since this is a training program, candidates who have significant work/research experience would need to explain in their proposal how this program would benefit them.
Bell Fellows’ work may be domestic or global in scope.
The Bell Postdoctoral Fellowship is open to U.S. and international scholars. We will support a J-1 or F-1 OPT visa for participants who are eligible. We will not support an H1-B visa. Please refer to the Harvard International Office for information on visas.
Harvard University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Applications from women, minorities, people with disabilities, and veterans are strongly encouraged.
What is the situation with the pandemic? Are fellows working remotely?
At the present time, all non-essential employees are working remotely. The requirement that employees live local has been temporarily lifted. Between now and next September 1, should the University give a directive that offices are reopening, all employees, including postdocs, will be required to live/work locally. If the shutdown is still in effect next September, then we will follow the University’s guidelines at that point and communicate to incoming postdocs as far in advance as possible whether they need to be living in the local area.
For international scholars, are visas required, and if yes, is that factored into the review process?
Yes, visas are required for all non U.S. citizens/permanent residents. Harvard and the HCPDS typically support F-1 OPT, TN, or J-1 research scholar visas (not H1-B) for the Bell Fellowship. However, all international applicants should be aware of current U.S. restrictions. Please refer to the Harvard International Office for detailed information.
How are mentors selected at Harvard?
Strong mentorship is pivotal to the success of our postdoctoral fellowship programs. For the Bell postdoctoral fellowship, we advocate a dual mentorship model to ensure that each participating postdoctoral fellow is privileged with one-on-one interaction with scientists familiar with the challenges and opportunities intrinsic to transdisciplinary research. Primary mentors are discussed and decided upon during the interview process. Upon arrival, Center Director Lisa Berkman meets with each scholar to map out a workplan and brainstorm an expanded mentor team. In all cases, faculty close to each fellow’s core discipline(s) will be a mentor in order to ensure that they receive appropriate career-related training in their fields.
In some instances, applicants have very specific ideas about who they would like to select as primary and secondary mentors and should indicate as such in their research proposal.
Since the HCPDS is administered under the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Bell postdoctoral fellow will need to follow the Harvard Chan School’s requirements around completing a career development form and subsequent annual reviews.
At what point should applicants contact potential mentors?
If an applicant already has a connection to a potential Harvard mentor, then they are certainly welcome to reach out to that faculty during the application process. If an applicant does not already have a connection, they should simply indicate in their research proposal who they would like as a mentor(s) or collaborator (no need to reach out at that point). If the applicant makes it to the interview round of the process, we will discuss and then contact potential faculty mentors on the applicant’s behalf.
Can anyone at HCPDS pre-screen applications?
No, we are unable to review applications or comment on a candidate’s research agenda. We encourage everyone to apply if they meet the criteria.
Are there opportunities for teaching or teaching requirements? Can clinicians continue their clinical work during the program?
The Bell postdoctoral fellowship is a two-year program during which the focus must be on training and research. It is not possible to be a part-time fellow. There may be a few exceptions; any potential teaching and clinical activities must be discussed and pre-approved by the Center director prior to being accepted into the program.
As a Bell Postdoctoral Fellow, can I receive other forms of compensation?
Fellows may not receive compensation for teaching or outside work, such as consulting or speaking engagements, unless in rare circumstances and pre-approved by the Center director. Postdoctoral fellows may maintain affiliations with previous institutions, however they must be unpaid. Exceptions to this would have to be discussed prior to being accepted into the program.
In addition to salary, what benefits do fellows receive?
Postdoctoral fellows are offered subsidized health benefits through Harvard University. They also receive paid time off, discounted public transit passes, and gym membership reimbursement (in year 2). Relocation, research/travel, and computer funds are provided as well.
Can I maintain my existing research grants or apply for new grants while participating in the program?
Bell postdoc fellows are allowed to be PIs or collaborators on existing grants, as long as the workload associated with the grant does not negatively affect their ability to participate fully in all aspects of the fellowship program. Applicants should indicate if they will enter the program with an existing grant so that it can be discussed.
It is possible to apply for new grants while a fellow. Proposals should run through the HCPDS and build upon work being done as a fellow. All potential proposals would be vetted first by the HCPDS leadership.
Where do Bell Postdoctoral Fellows sit? What’s the work environment like?
Though administered under the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, the HCPDS is located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, thereby enhancing its visibility as a University-wide endeavor and allowing its affiliates easy access to the breadth of intellectual activities across the campus. A free shuttle bus continually runs between the Cambridge and Boston campuses.
We have two adjacent buildings—a Victorian house and a one level, smaller building. Full-time residents include: an admin team; a “research core” of associates and assistants; postdoctoral fellows; visiting scientists; and Harvard faculty who reside part-time at HCPDS. There is also a flex work area for student assistants and visitors. The environment is casual and congenial. Most residents come into the office daily.
What is it like to live in the Boston area?
Boston and Cambridge combine a wonderful blend of stylish sophistication and historic New England charm, and offer four distinct seasons and variable temperature readings—from 90s (Fahrenheit) in summer to 20s in the winter. Getting around via public transportation, biking, and walking is quite easy. Driving in the city is equivalent to what one would expect in NYC.
The area offers annual events that need no further introduction such as the Boston Marathon, 4th of July celebration, and First Night. Harvard offers The Head of the Charles Regatta in the fall, and an abundance of theater and musical productions. The other New England states are within a one- to three-hour drive. New York City is a four-hour drive away, and is easily accessible via flight, bus, or rail.
Note that the cost of living is quite high in this area—equivalent to New York City and San Francisco. A studio or one bedroom apartment can run $1,000–$2,500 per month.