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EDF – Cornell Atkinson Joint Postdoc Projects 2024 RFP

Downtown Montreal skyscrapers and trees in autumn

Environmental Defense Fund –
Cornell Atkinson Joint Postdoc Projects
Instructions for 2024 Proposals

Key Dates:

  • Full proposals due: Nov. 30, 2023 at 5:00 P.M. ET
  • Response to proposal teams: Dec. 15, 2023
  • Selected teams submit final EDF job description: Jan. 10, 2024
  • EDF advertises postdoc opportunities on their website: Jan. 22, 2024
  • Usual postdoc start window: Jul. 1 – Sept. 1, 2024


The Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have a longstanding collaborative partnership that accelerates problem-solving research relevant to national and international environmental policy discussions. The David R. and Patricia D. Atkinson Foundation has generously provided funds for up to six 2-year postdoctoral fellowships, co-led by an EDF researcher and a Cornell faculty member. In this supplemental Call for Proposals, we are looking to select two 2-year postdoctoral fellowships.

We invite research proposals to fund a postdoctoral fellow, who will hold a research staff appointment at EDF. Priority will be given to research aligned with Cornell Atkinson and EDF strategic priority areas, and that has an identifiable pathway to actionable, impactful results.

In addition to mentorship by the co-PIs, postdocs are afforded professional development support via the Sustainability Leadership Program (SLP), a joint initiative between Cornell Atkinson and EDF. As part of the SLP, fellows select from a variety of options to complete two long (2–3 day) and four short (1–2 hour) workshops during their 2-year appointment. SLP workshops are tailored to advance participants’ professional position at the intersections of academic research, public engagement, and impact.

Program Objectives

EDF–Cornell Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellowships are intended to infuse the research being done at EDF and Cornell Atkinson with greater energy, innovation, and impact by:

  • Stimulating original cross-disciplinary research and development of impactful solutions that address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges
  • Developing and deepening collaboration between Cornell Atkinson and EDF in order to speed the creation and implementation of viable sustainability solutions
  • Building a cohort of environmental scientists with the intellectual skills and experience to create effective, workable solutions to the most serious sustainability and environmental questions

Program Structure

  • The fellowships cover a competitive salary and benefits and up to $4,000 per year for research/travel/publication-related expenses.
  • The fellowship term is two years. The second year is contingent on performance and on mutual agreement between the fellow, the mentors, EDF, and Cornell Atkinson.
  • Fellows participate in the Cornell Atkinson–EDF Sustainability Leadership Program and are also welcome to participate in related Cornell Atkinson–EDF activities during the fellowship.
  • Fellows can spend variable portions of their fellowship period at EDF, with external collaborators, in other relevant facilities, or at Cornell as dictated by their research.
  • While their primary appointment is at EDF, fellows will be provided a Cornell NetID, which offers privileges such as library access and resources offered by Cornell’s Office of Postdoctoral Studies.
  • The fellows will spend the majority of their time conducting the research proposed and guided by their EDF and Cornell Atkinson mentors. However, the fellows should be afforded up to 20% of their time to complete research and/or manuscripts emerging out of their dissertations or previous research.


  • We invite proposals for research requiring a 2-year postdoctoral position that will advance joint Cornell–EDF research efforts relevant to informing policy and practice.
  • The central aim of the funding is to advance the careers of recent PhDs by enabling critically important research, specifically at the science-policy interface.
  • Only applications involving collaborations between EDF researchers and Cornell faculty, as described above, are eligible.
  • Specific attention is given to the mentoring plan for the postdoc who will be conducting the proposed research.
  • Funding is available for postdoc salary and up to $4,000/yr to support research costs; the proposal should address how any additional research costs will be met.
  • Proposals will be reviewed quickly by a joint Cornell Atkinson–EDF review panel, with notification anticipated on December 15, 2023. Research must commence on or before September 1, 2024.

Application Process


Proposals not to exceed three pages must be submitted by the EDF and Cornell co-PIs using this online form by November 30, 2023, by 5:00 P.M. ET. Proposals received after November 30 will not be considered.

Proposals should include:

  • Research topic that the postdoctoral fellow would focus on
  • Alignment with Cornell Atkinson and EDF strategic priority areas
  • Potential impact of proposed research, including a description of the conceptualized pathway to impact
  • Primary location where the fellow will be housed (preferably EDF or Cornell) and why
  • Anticipated start date for the postdoc
  • Description of the mentoring plan that the two PIs have developed for the postdoc, including the role that each will play specific to the topic and area of research, how often and in what capacity the postdoc will meet with each PI, and any additional professional development opportunities you plan to provide in addition to the Sustainability Leadership Program described above
  • Anticipated work products by the PIs and the postdoc resulting from this project
  • Description of your recruitment plan to ensure a diverse set of applicants, as diversifying the next generation of sustainability scholars is a shared goal of EDF and Cornell Atkinson

Criteria for Selection

  • Degree to which the proposal offers opportunities for new science/economics that will be valued and publishable in the relevant field within the available budget and timeframe
  • Degree to which the work proposed is integral to development of a clear path of knowledge to action toward joint EDF and Cornell Atkinson priorities
  • Availability and qualifications of the co-PIs to mentor the postdoctoral fellow
  • Timing and plan for recruiting candidates, and for orienting them to relevant EDF and Cornell Atkinson programs once onboard

The Cornell Atkinson–EDF review panel will review and respond to your proposal by mid-December. If your proposal is selected, you will have until September 1, 2024 to have the postdoc start work on the project. The timeline for hiring is as follows:

  • A final (EDF) job description (in EDF format) submitted by January 10, 2024, for an expected active job posting in late January 2024
  • A check-in on March 15, 2024 with Doria and Patrick to see how the candidate selection process is progressing. If at this time you are not far enough along in the hiring process, the Committee will determine if the postdoctoral position will be awarded to another project.
  • The postdoctoral fellow starts between July 1, 2024 and September 1, 2024.

Co-PIs awarded postdocs will report annually on progress and any presentations, publications, or other products of the research. Co-PIs will also report on any additional funding for the project obtained during or after the postdoctoral fellowship, so this information can be reported to the Atkinson Foundation.

Contacts for questions:

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