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Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity

The Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity program is part of Penn’s ongoing efforts to diversify the academic research community.


The University of Pennsylvania Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity is a prestigious program aimed at enhancing diversity within the university’s academic community. Designed to support early career postdoctoral scholars interested in faculty and research careers, this program contributes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education through teaching, research, and service. It expands efforts to diversify the postdoctoral community and cultivate a pool of exceptional candidates for future careers in academia and industry. Recipients receive research fellowships, faculty mentoring, travel and research funding, and academic networking opportunities within their respective schools, fostering their professional development and research independence.


Eligibility for the fellowship program mandates that candidates possess US citizenship, permanent residency, or DACA recipient status. Additionally, prospective applicants must fulfill specific educational criteria: graduate students hailing from the University of Pennsylvania or other academic institutions are eligible if they have either completed their Ph.D. requirements or anticipate fulfilling them by the fellowship’s commencement. Furthermore, postdoctoral scholars from external institutions qualify if they have obtained their doctoral degree within the preceding two years. Professional applicants, encompassing those with degrees such as M.D., D.M.D., V.M.D., or J.D., are eligible if they are within one year of concluding their post-degree professional training. It is important to note that individuals currently holding positions as postdocs, residents, or fellows at the University of Pennsylvania or Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) are deemed ineligible for participation in this program. Individuals currently in a faculty position at any institution of higher education are also ineligible to apply.


Consistent with the University’s postdoctoral trainee policy, appointments are for one year. Renewals to the second and third year of the program are made annually and will be based on satisfactory performance and mutual agreement between the fellow and the postdoc’s primary mentor. Annual reports on the postdoc’s progress are required.


The current 2024-2025 stipend rate begins at $65,000 in year one with $2,000 increases in years two & three. Additionally, the fellow will receive annual allowances for research and travel-related expenses of $6,000. The University and CHOP also provide a benefits package to their respective fellows. Successful candidates will receive highly mentored scholarly and research training and have access to courses and workshops provided by partners on campus to enhance their research skills and prepare them for faculty positions in a major university.

The program is designed to provide postdocs with time to focus on research and publishing activities that will enhance their career prospects for either a faculty appointment in an academic institution or an appointment in other sectors of the economy such as industry, government, or nonprofit organizations. Start dates will be arranged in consultation with the faculty mentor and will begin as early as July 2024.

Application Procedure

The Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity program is open to all areas of study at Penn. Individuals interested in the program should review the application procedure below:

  1. Online application form which includes:
    • Education history
    • Teaching history (if applicable)
    • A curriculum vitae, including publications, awards, honors, current and pending funding, if any.
    • A personal statement, no longer than three pages, single-spaced with one-inch margins. Must address all of the following elements in the following order:
      • Review your previous research accomplishments.
      • Outline your proposed research plan and future research goals.
      • Describe your commitment to pursuing an academic or research focused career.
      • Detail your academic, employment and life experiences that would bring new perspectives to the University community and your chosen field.
  1. Three letters of reference from people acquainted with your work including one letter from your thesis advisor.
  2. A letter from a Penn or CHOP faculty member with compatible research interests who you have contacted and who has agreed to act as a mentor for the duration of the fellowship.

Roles and Responsibilities

The University of Pennsylvania acknowledges that postdoctoral trainees are just that, trainees, who are operating in an apprenticeship mode, as they prepare for future roles in industry or academia. The mentorship offered by faculty mentors plays a pivotal role in the career development and progression of postdoctoral trainees. Moreover, within Penn’s intricate and decentralized environment, postdoctoral trainees are typically anticipated to function responsibly and independently. Independent thinking and action are indeed essential elements for cultivating successful research careers.

Responsibilities of postdoctoral trainees include the following:

  • Postdoctoral fellows are expected to reside in the Philadelphia area unless their research program has global implications.
  • Participate in the intellectual life of the department, school, and university by attending and engaging in department meetings, seminars, colloquia, conferences, etc.
  • Focus primarily on research endeavors leading to publications or other significant contributions such as patents.
  • Identify and pursue training and professional development activities.
  • Regularly schedule meetings with mentors to review and document research and professional achievements.
  • Collaborate with faculty mentors to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) upon arrival, outlining both short-term and long-term research goals.
  • Utilize provided templates for IDPs tailored to Life or Biomedical Sciences and Social Sciences and Humanities for guidance.
  • Annually submit a copy of the IDP to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.
  • Participate in scheduled professional and social programming with Provost Postdoctoral Fellows across campus.
  • Offer programmatic feedback upon request, such as through surveys, to ensure continued engagement and success in the postdoctoral fellowship program at Penn.
  • Fellowship renewals are contingent upon satisfactory performance and mutual agreement between the mentor and fellow, aligning with the University’s postdoc policy.

Faculty Mentors

  • Prior to writing a letter of support, the proposed mentor should meet or engage with the applicant to determine compatible research, scholarly or creative work interests with the applicant and agree to serve as a mentor.
  • The letter included in the applicant’s submission should provide details on the research project, research goals and your plans for mentoring.
  • In consultation with the postdoctoral trainee, develop an Individual Mentorship Plan (IDP) shortly after their arrival on campus. This includes:
    • IDP should define expectations for scholarly work to be completed.
    • IDP should include a timeline for implementation of the fellow’s proposed goals or plan.
    • Schedule annual meetings to review IDP and review fellow’s accomplishments.
  • Respect the postdoctoral trainee’s individuality, working style, and career goals and be aware that the rate of progress of PDT’s will vary.
  • Provide support and guidance in the fellow’s work while allowing a degree of autonomy to cultivate research independence.
  • Maintain an atmosphere in which the postdoctoral trainee feels comfortable to approach you for advice or discussion of differences.
  • Establish clear plans for how projects will be divided when fellows complete their training.
  • Serve as a bridge to assist the postdoctoral trainee’ to establish a visible, active presence in the department, school, and with colleagues.
  • Meet regularly (for example, once a month) to establish and foster a career development plan and to assess important aspects of the postdoctoral trainee’s progress.
  • Encourage the postdoctoral trainee to attend orientations, trainings, and professional development activities. Facilitate professional development opportunities when available.
  • Assist the postdoctoral trainee in networking with mentors from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, thereby facilitating a comprehensive and multifaceted experience.
  • Serve as a professional resource and advise them about the job market and help facilitate connections.
  • Promote ethical standards for conducting research, including compliance with all institutional and federal regulations.
  • Accord full recognition of the postdoctoral trainees’ contributions to scholarship, including appropriate authorship of published work.
  • Support the postdoctoral trainees use of the full benefits available to them, including vacation time.

Applicants may send mentors to this direct page with instructions.

Department / School

  • Provide adequate workspace within the first week, which should include a private office, shared office space, or a private cubicle. This space should include a desk, chair, computer, and light fixture.
  • Onboard and assist in establishing a Penn presence (ID card, email address, etc.)
  • Welcome the postdoctoral trainee and provide information about departmental meetings, colloquia, seminars, other events, and important matters.
  • Add the postdoctoral trainee to the appropriate department, center, and school listservs.
  • Provide contact information for administrative staff in the department.
  • Provide information about department business and administrative practices.
  • Provide information about stipends and benefits.
  • Administer the postdoctoral trainees research and professional travel funds.
  • Commits to providing a successful training environment for the postdoctoral trainee.
  • Work with the postdoctoral trainee and mentor to assign teaching responsibilities if part of the PDT’s responsibilities.


Dawn Bonnell headshot

Dawn Bonnell, PhD

Senior Vice Provost for Research

Key Contacts

Marta Bartholomew,
Ken Lambert Jr.Program