Kristian Fauchald Polychaete Research Fellowship

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This fellowship was established through a generous donation from the estate of Leonard P. Hirsch (Smithsonian Institution Office of International Relations and Office of the Undersecretary for Science) and Kristian Fauchald (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Curator of Polychaetes).


The Kristian Fauchald Polychaete Research Fellowships provide financial support to enable polychaete biologists from graduate students through senior researchers to conduct independent collections-based research in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology (IZ) at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH).  These funds enable Kristian’s legacy of encouraging and including polychaetologist from around the world in USNM Polychaete Collection research.


Fellowships are available to active polychaete researchers from graduate students through senior researchers who are actively involved in collections-based research (e.g. systematics, phylogeny, biogeography, comparative morphology, functional morphology, diversity, etc). Both US and non-US citizens are eligible at apply. Awardees are expected to be in residence in the Washington, D.C. area and to spend a significant amount of time working in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology during their tenure. Applicants should contact Karen Osborn, Curator of Polychaetes, well in advance of submitting their application to discuss feasibility of the proposed research.


Fellowship proposals are solicited biannually for projects ranging from one week to six months.

Spring applications due April 1, awards announced by May 15, tenure terms begin after August 1.

Fall applications due October 1, awards announced by November 15, tenure terms begin after February 1.


The Department of Invertebrate Zoology can provide access to the historical collection, provide equipment used to work with specimens including basic handling/dissection tools, imaging consumables, chemicals, and standard dissecting and compound microscopes with attached cameras, imaging facilities equipped with standard, low vacuum, environmental and field emission scanning electron microscopes, a compound fluorescent microscope, and digital microscopes with z-stacking capabilities, a histology lab equipped for paraffin sectioning and whole mount preparation.  Fellows will also have access to the main NMNH Library and the polychaete reprint collection.  Applicants interested in access to the microCT or genetics labs should apply to the SIFP fellowships program.


Eligible expenses include (more details below):

  • Relocation expenses such as train/airfares, travel visas, shipping visa forms.
  • Up to a maximum of $800 per week in subsistence, which includes all lodging, meals, local transportation, and incidentals.
  • Direct expenses required to complete research at NMNH.  Can include, but is not limited to, specialty handling/dissection equipment and consumables. See resources section to determine what is available at NMNH.  Direct any questions about available resources to Dr. Osborn.

Budgets should not exceed USD $10,000, which is approximately the annual program budget. 

The number of fellowships awarded will depend on the impact of the research and available funding, so please balance your research budget carefully with the potential impact of your work.


Applicants are expected to be proficient at working with and care of historical collections prior to arrival for their fellowship.  Applicants must write and converse well in English.

Any dissection requests necessary for completion of the project must be submitted along with the proposal and be justified in a short paragraph. 

How to apply:

All application materials should be submitted through the SOLAA portal in pdf format.  Applications that do not conform to the guidelines will not be considered.

Title page: title of the project, name and academic affiliation of applicant and any collaborators/supervisors, proposed start and end dates, abstract identifying the research question addressed (200 words maximum).

Proposal narrative (maximum 4 pages, double-spaced, 12 pt. font): detail the purpose and significance of the project, the methods to be used, and rationale for use of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Polychaete Collection. Figures included as separate pages do not count toward the maximum number of pages.

Budget (1 page): An itemized list of expenses that may include items in the following three categories:

  1. Travel (to and from the NMNH only, all other travel belongs in the research category below). Includes air or train fare, ground transportation to air/train, J1 visa fees and shipping.
  2. Stipend. Denoted as “X weeks subsistence @ $XXX/wk. Do not itemize lodging, meals, local transportation, or incidentals within subsistence as these are all included. Maximum request $800/wk).
  3. Research expenses. Research equipment, consumables for lab work, sequencing, permit fees, travel to the field, etc.
  • Matching funds from any other source, either pending or in-hand, should be declared.
  • All budget items, except for stipend, should be justified or explained in a short paragraph following the itemized budget.

Dissection request:

  • Less than 1 page narrative explaining the need and nature of requested dissections, how dissected parts will be handled, viewed and retained in the collection.
  • Spreadsheet listing USNM#, types status, number of specimens in lot, number of lots of the species in the collection from the location, expected size of specimen (less than 1 cm, or more than 1 cm). 
  • Available specimens can be found in the online catalogue at

Curriculum vitae: maximum 2 pages, single spaced.

Letters of support: Graduate student applicants should arrange to have up to two letters of recommendation submitted by the deadline through the SOLAA portal. Applicants with a Ph.D do not need to submit letters of support but may include them if they wish.  Letters should address the importance of the proposed research to the applicant’s career and to the field.


Submissions will be evaluated based on the quality and impact of the proposed research, feasibility of the project, relevancy of the proposed work to the US National Polychaete Collection, and the importance of the project to polychaete biology. 

Other requirements:

Awardees will submit a short report (1-2 pages) summarizing their NMNH research activities to Dr. Osborn within 1 month of completing their visit to the collection. 

Awardees will present a 20-30 minute research seminar on their project to the Department of Invertebrate Zoology as part of the No Bones Seminar series, preferably before or during their visit.

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