Kenneth Jay Boss Fellowship in Invertebrate Zoology


This fellowship was established through a generous donation from the estate of Kenneth Boss (1935-2014), a longstanding Curator of Malacology and Professor of Biology at Harvard University who made important contributions to the study of mollusks.


Kenneth Jay Boss fellowships provide financial support enabling graduate students to conduct independent collections-based research in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology (IZ) at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH).


Fellowships are available to currently enrolled graduate students engaged in collections-based research (e.g., systematics, phylogeny, biogeography, comparative morphology, species conservation). Students seeking support for conducting molecular studies at the museum should apply to the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program.

Both US and non-US citizens are eligible; applicants must write and converse well in English. Local investigators (based in the Washington, D. C. metropolitan area) are not eligible for these fellowships.

Applicants must contact an IZ research scientist to serve as the fellowship advisor well in advance of submitting their application.


The Department of Invertebrate Zoology can provide access to 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; standard dissecting and compound microscopes.  Fellows will also have access to the main NMNH Library and the specialized library collections in the department.

How it Works

The fellowships are awarded preferentially to students investigating mollusks, although proposals focused on other invertebrate groups (exclusive of insects, arachnids, and myriapods) will also be considered.

Fellowship proposals are solicited biannually for projects generally ranging from one week to three months (and up to six months); the awards provide a stipend to cover housing and subsistence while visiting the museum.

The number of fellowships to be awarded each review cycle will depend on the quality of proposals and available funding.

Awardees must be in residence in the Washington, D.C. area and spend a significant amount of time working in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology during their fellowship tenure.

How to Apply

Apply through: Smithsonian Academic Appointment System (SOLAA) found at Search for “Kenneth J. Boss Short-term Fellowships in Invertebrate Zoology”. Applications that do not conform to the guidelines will not be considered.


Prepare a short (not to exceed 300 words) abstract of the research you propose to conduct as part of this fellowship.


  • Title page containing the title of project, name and academic affiliation of applicant, proposed start and end dates, and name of NMNH advisor.
  • Narrative (maximum 5 pages, double-spaced, 12 pt. font) detailing the purpose and significance of the project, the methods to be used, and rationale for conducting this research in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology.
  • Budget (no more than 1 page). Stipend award amounts are $800/week for housing and subsistence.  Additional funds (up to $2,000) may be requested for any supplies that will be needed to conduct the research at the museum.  A relocation allowance (up to $1,000) can also be included in the budget request.

Curriculum vitae

  • Maximum 2 pages, single-spaced.

Letters of Support

  • Applicants should arrange to have two letters of recommendation submitted separately to the Boss Fellowship Program Coordinator ( by the deadline via email in pdf format.


Fellowships must be sponsored by a Research Scientist in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology (IZ-affiliated scientists and research associates can serve as co-advisors).  Applicants must contact a potential advisor (see well prior to submitting the proposal.  Ask this individual to send an email to confirming that he/she will serve as the fellowship advisor.


Submissions will be evaluated based on the quality of science and feasibility of the proposed research, and the importance of the project to pertinent disciplines.  Worthy proposals focused on mollusks will be preferentially funded.


Spring application deadline, March 1. Awards announced, April 1 for tenure term beginning after May 15.

Fall application deadline, September 1. Awards announced, October 1 for tenure term beginning after November 15.

Other Requirements

Awardees must submit a short report (1 to 2 pages) summarizing their research activities at the NMNH to the Boss Fellowship Program Coordinator at the end of their project.

Awardees that visit the NMNH for more than 2 months are expected to present a lecture in the department concerning their current research.

For questions about the Kenneth Jay Boss fellowship, please contact Dr. Ellen Strong, Boss Fellowship Program Coordinator (

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