Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellowship program supports postdoctoral researchers at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) at Harvard University to pursue the discovery and formal taxonomic description of Earth’s animal species. Fellows will work under the supervision of one or more MCZ faculty-curators, who will provide office space, access to lab facilities and necessary research support. The program aims to achieve broad taxonomic coverage and is not restricted to any particular taxon.

Originally designated as the E. O. Wilson Postdoctoral Fellowship (2019-2022), this program was initiated through generous seed funding by the late Faculty-Curator Emeritus and University Research Professor Emeritus, and with support from additional donors. The change in the name of this program reflects our commitment to encourage diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as part of our core values. Memorial recognition awards disproportionately commemorate only a small fraction of scholars, typically those from privileged backgrounds, as well as individuals whose personal viewpoints may, with time, be at odds with the mission of the MCZ to foster a diverse and vibrant community of active zoologists, who feel supported, respected and able to do their best work.

Learn about the recipients of the Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellowship and the species described during their fellowship.


  • A Ph.D. with relevant research experience in taxonomy and/or systematics is required.
  • All formal requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed before the start of the fellowship, though degree receipt may be forthcoming.
  • Open to both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens.
  • Applicants need to identify at least one faculty-curator who has agreed to supervise the fellowship.

Criteria for selection

Applications will be evaluated by a committee of Harvard faculty who will prioritize the following in the selection process:

  • The likelihood that the proposed work will result in the discovery and formal taxonomic description of animal species new to science.
  • Fully developed and well thought out research programs with significance of proposed research clearly highlighted. 
  • The use of integrative methodologies that combine several data types in crafting solutions to taxonomic problems.
  • A strong academic record of taxonomic/systemics research.

Additional considerations

  • Preference will be given to applicants not currently affiliated with Harvard University, and to those who have received their doctoral degree within the previous three years.
  • In order to encourage a diversity of expertise within the MCZ, preference will be given to individuals studying taxonomic groups not currently under investigation by an active Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellow (please refer to the list of active fellows).
  • At this time, the selection committee will not consider proposals emphasizing the taxonomy and systematics of fossil/extinct species.

Terms & Conditions

  • Stipend of $55,000/year
  • Benefits-eligible
  • Research and travel allowance of $4,000/year
  • Start date flexible, but within 12 months of extended fellowship offer
  • Maximum two-year appointment, with funding for year 2 contingent upon successful performance during year 1
  • Residence in the Cambridge area is required
  • Relocation allowance negotiable after fellowship awarded

Application Components 

  • A cover letter no longer than one page.
  • A research proposal, no longer than four pages and single-spaced, should describe:
    • the nature and scope of the proposed research project;
    • the approach and methods to be employed;
    • how existing MCZ collections would be utilized and augmented with new specimens;
    • laboratory and equipment requirements;
    • the proposed MCZ faculty-curator sponsor, and
    • likely products (publications, etc.) to be completed by the end of the fellowship period.
  • Research budget: Include a simple, one-page budget that itemizes anticipated research and travel costs, not to exceed the fellowship allowance.
  • A curriculum vitae no longer than three pages.
  • Up to five pertinent publications.
  • Three letters of recommendation from non-Harvard scientists. Include names and contact information of the three referees with the application. The letters will be submitted separately from the application through an online system (see below). Letters are due within two weeks following the application deadline. The application is complete only when all three letters are received.
  • Interview: A subset of applicants may be asked to further discuss their proposals with the selection committee via videoconference.
  • Submission through Harvard Academic Recruiting Information eSystem (ARieS)


September 30, 2022


Please email inquiries regarding the Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellowship