Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Visiting Fellows Program FAQs

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Click Here to watch the VFP Informational Session from November 1, 2021.

Q: Could the Education and Outreach department act as a host? I am interested in submitting a proposal related to Climate Change Education research.A: Anne Gold, the Director of Education and Outreach, can be a sponsor.
Q: Are international candidates eligible to apply? A: Yes. You do not have to do anything special to apply. If your application is approved, our Human Resources department will assist with necessary visas, etc.
Q: Can someone who will be graduating with a PhD in coming months apply to the program? A: Yes. However, it is expected that you will have completed your PhD when you begin your postdoctoral fellowship.
Q: When are decisions normally made, and what is the start date? A: Decisions are made in the spring, and awardees must start within nine months of being notified.
Q: Any general advice for a strong application? A: Follow directions, start early and meet deadlines! If you do not meet deadlines, your application will not be reviewed. If you do not follow the directions, your application will not be reviewed. Reach out to a sponsor early. Please have someone else outside of your field read your application to ensure it is well-written and clear.
Q: How to identify potential sponsors? A: These are people that you can work with when you come for your fellowship. You can review potential sponsors on our website. You can check out their publications and profiles to see if their research aligns with yours. You can email a potential sponsor and say you would like to work with them. Do your research and know how your research fits into what they are doing to initiate the conversation. It is possible to be sponsored by as many as three CIRES Fellows/Senior Research Scientists. You can also set up an information interview with Susan Sullivan, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, for guidance: or Calendly.

Q: What sets people apart when contacting potential sponsors? A: It is helpful to avoid generic messages, to do your homework and try to connect with potential sponsors. You can mention connections to your research and give examples. Please be specific on your expertise and interests.
Q: Should people follow up with potential sponsors if they don’t hear back? A: Yes, do not be discouraged as they may be busy. Send a nice reminder email after a week or two. You can reach out to Christine Wiedinmyer or Susan Sullivan for guidance in this process.
Q: Do sponsors help with the proposal? A: They may help, but this should be written by you and be about your work, your ideas, and your material.
Q: Any advice for cover letters? A: The cover letter should include: information about yourself, your program, when you can start, your expected PhD date or if you already have a PhD. Also include what you want to work on and how it is relevant to CIRES. This is an opportunity to really motivate your application.
Q: Do transcripts need to be official? A: No, we just need to see that you will be receiving your PhD from an accredited PhD program. Sabbatical applicants do not need to submit transcripts.
Q: What format should I use for the CV? A: It should be in NSF format:
Q: Any advice for recommendation letters? A: Applicants will enter the contact information for three reference letters into our system, and this can be done early, before the application is complete. Those named will then receive an automated request for a letter in support of your application. Please choose people who have seen you succeed. Please remind them about your achievements, keep them updated on the process and send reminders. Recommendation letters are due one week after the application deadline. If all three are not received, the application will be considered incomplete.
Q: How to create a strong Diversity, Equity and Inclusion statement? A: The statement can include any work you have done, including engaged scholarship, mentoring, service commitments, outreach, and work in your community. It can be any relevant activity, personal or professional. Details and examples are helpful.
Q: What makes a good proposal? A: Be specific about the problem you want to address. Keep it organized with a clear and testable hypothesis. Remember that your application will be reviewed by a diverse committee who may be unfamiliar with your particular expertise, so it is best to avoid jargon and acronyms. Try to make sure that your proposed research project is achievable, with realistic outcomes for a two-year project. You should motivate the work and show why it is important and needed. Also include how the work meets the mission of the VFP program, CIRES, and/or NOAA. If relevant, describe the potential for development of novel partnerships that could benefit scientific understanding.
Q: Who can I contact for further questions and support?

Q: Is the diversity statement limited to 150 words? A: The diversity statement is now a maximum of 500 words. You do not have to write that much, but please limit the statement to 500 words or less.
Q: Do sponsors vary from year to year (because I may want to apply one year or years later)? Can I find someone (or even anyone) who's not on the sponsor list but works in CIRES to be my future sponsor? A: CIRES Fellows and Senior Research Scientists may be VFP sponsors. Additional sponsors may be added each year, but they do not change significantly from year to year. If you would like to work with someone who is not a sponsor – please reach out to them. They may be able to work with a sponsor internally.

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