The Organization for Economic and Cooperation Development (OECD) is once again sponsoring travel fellowships between member countries. Fellowships are awarded under the “Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems” program. Details of the program are available at www.oecd.org/agr/prog. The newly designed web site provides ready access to components that address most commonly asked questions. Fellowship applications are now an on-line process.
Briefly, OECD sponsors travel fellowships for Ph.D. scientists (or equivalent) between 26 member countries (see web site for list of member countries). The average fellowship is for about ten weeks, but the range is from 2 to 26 weeks. The individuals must have a permanent position or similar post in a home laboratory to return to after the fellowship (i.e., this is not a short-term post-doc program).
The program is generally intended to help younger scientists gain international experience. Senior scientists are not discouraged from applying, but should recognize the need to prepare a strong application in that the program has been sponsoring fellowships for over 25 years. Scientists holding a position in a foreign laboratory (i.e., post doctorate) will not be eligible to apply for a grant to remain in that laboratory. However, a scientist working in a foreign laboratory with a grant from another source may apply for a fellowship to remain in that laboratory to complete work under way (i.e., sabbatical leave). OECD pays for transportation to the host laboratory and per diem at EUR 400 to 450/wk directly to ARS through a Specific Cooperative Agreement (form 425 required before submission of the fellowship application) and then the scientist is reimbursed through standard Agency travel procedures. OECD directly deposits reimbursements to non-federal government employees.
The approval rate in the past has been ~50%. Approval is based largely on the scientific merit of the proposal. Emphasis is also placed on cross-discipline exchanges that strengthen relations between the scientific community and communities in general. A letter of invitation from the host country must accompany applications. Fellowships will be awarded annually through 2009. Please note that the deadline for 2008 fellowships is September 30, 2007. Individuals receiving OECD fellowships within the past five years are not eligible. Travel for 2008 fellowship recipients cannot begin until February 15 and must be initiated by December 15, 2008 at the latest.
For questions, contact Dr. Jim Schepers (firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-472-1513), who is the national correspondent for the U.S. and one of the scientific coordinators through 2008. You can also contact Dr. John Sadler (John.Sadler@ARS.USDA.GOV) who began a term as scientific coordinator in 2007.
OECD also sponsors four to six workshops annually on topics related to the three Themes. Funding is usually adequate to support the travel for 8 to 10 scientists and in when the topic cover two Themes the funding can be doubled. Information about the workshops can be obtained from the internet, but interested individual are strongly urged to contact Drs. Schepers or Sadler early in the planning process.
Suggestions for preparing a strong fellowship application.
- Excellent justification is required if the traveler has already published with the host or obtained advanced degrees at the host institution.
- Develop some clearly defined objectives that are achievable within the time requested.
- Communicate your objectives to the host and seek their involvement and suggestions (something more than a blanket invitation).
- Review the evaluation criteria and make a special effort to address opportunities for cross-discipline research.
- Interact with Drs. Schepers or Sadler for coaching and suggestions before submitting fellowship applications.