- Is there an age limit for applying to the UC MEXUS-CONACYT Postdoctoral fellowship?
- I do not have a host faculty at the University of California (or in Mexico). Can UC MEXUS put me in contact or place me with someone appropriate to my field of study?
- Whom can I contact if I have questions regarding my current fellowship or the application process?
- Whom can I contact if I have problems submitting my application on-line?
- The Call indicates that "the host department is expected to pay for required University contributions." How much do these contributions cost and what do they include?
- What format should I use for the project plan?
- How many hard copies should I submit to UC MEXUS?
- Why do I have to send hard copies if I've already submitted my application electronically?
- When will I be notified of the results of the competition?
- When do the fellowships begin?
- May I postpone a fellowship from one year to the next?
- How are applications reviewed?
- Can I get reviewer comments back after the competition is over?
1. Is there an age limit for applying to the UC MEXUS-CONACYT Postdoctoral fellowship?
Applicant's chronological age is not a factor influencing eligibility or the selection process. Applicants may be any age, as long as they meet the other eligibility criteria. (See Call for proposal for full eligibility criteria.) Additionally, there is no age limit to the doctoral degree. That is, applicants may have recently completed the Ph.D. at the time of proposal submission or completed it several years prior to applying. Applicants should keep in mind, however, that reviewers are asked to consider the degree of potential benefit and appropriateness of the postdoctoral stay at this stage in the applicant's academic career.
2. I do not have a host faculty at the University of California (or in Mexico). Can UC MEXUS put me in contact or place me with someone appropriate to my field of study?
UC MEXUS cannot be involved in proposal preparation, including setting up the initial collaborative connections. As the funding organization and office responsible for overseeing the peer review process, any participation in individual proposal development represents a conflict of interest. The fellowship competitions are open to all fields of study that relate to our basic mandate. UC MEXUS does not push for specific research emphases or disciplines in these competitions and any individual guidance would create an unfair advantage or unrealistic expectation of funding.
The following suggestions may help to find colleagues, contacts, and potential collaborators in the UC system and Mexico. The most direct, though labor-intensive, way is to go through the results of our past fellowship and grant competitions, and search for previously funded projects in your area. The titles of all the funded projects are on-line, along with the Principal Investigators' departments and home institutions. Please consult the Results page on our website as well as the Grants Results Database to access this information.
Once you have identified potential hosts, you may contact the researchers directly to ask for their suggestions of potential collaborators in your area of research. The quickest way to find previous fellows' and grantees' contact information is to use Google or any other type of on-line search engine and type in the name and institution/campus. Use the department name as well, if a finer search is needed.
For researchers seeking colleagues in the UC system, there are several useful and searchable sites:
- www.universityofcalifornia.edu/campuses/welcome.html - go to any individual campus site and search either by area (e.g., shrimp, forests, indigenous migration, modern dance, etc.) or discipline (e.g., neurology, botany, anthropology, theatre, etc.) or college/school (e.g., medicine, social sciences, humanities, arts, etc.).
- http://ucmexicoinitiative.ucr.edu/directory.html - this is an interactive database that showcases UC faculty with expertise or interests in Mexico
- Binational Directory of Researchers in Migration and Health - this directory is published by the California-Mexico Health Initiative (CMHI) at the UCOP California Policy Research Center.
- www.nceas.ucsb.edu/exp/ - a database for anyone with an interest in water resources.
For researchers interested in finding colleagues in Mexico, beyond using the search engines noted above and searching for a specific institution, the best way is to go through the CONACYT main website, and look at the directory of research centers, groups, and networks or the directory for institutions enrolled in RENIECYT. The website for ANUIES (the National Association for Universities and Institutions of Higher Education) also has a page for affiliated institutions which is searchable by state.
3. Whom can I contact if I have questions regarding my current fellowship or the application process?
At UC MEXUS, contact Dr. Wendy DeBoer (email@example.com; tel: 951-827-7339)
At CONACYT, contact Dr. Luis Humberto Fabila Castillo (firstname.lastname@example.org; tel 5322-7700 ext. 6100)
4. Whom can I contact if I have problems submitting my application on-line?
At UC MEXUS, contact Susana Hidalgo (email@example.com).
5. The Call indicates that "the host department is expected to pay for required University contributions." What do these contributions include and how much do they cost?
Required University contributions and their costs vary by campus. However, they typically include workers compensation, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, and short-term disability. For detailed information about the cost of these benefits, please contact the host campus office of postdoctoral affairs or academic personnel.
6. What format should I use for the project plan?
There is no specified or required format other than that the project plan can be no longer than 5 pages. We suggest that you keep the narrative simple, with at least 1 inch margins all the way around, 11-12 point fonts, and 1.5 or double-spaced. Breaking up the text with subheaders and illustrations or diagrams can also lighten a dense presentation. Keep in mind that reviewers have to read and discuss all the proposals for their particular committee, which may include 20 applications or more. They appreciate a simple, straightforward presentation and are dismayed when someone tries to put 10 pages worth of text into a 5-page narrative.
7. How many hard copies should I submit?
Submit two copies total, which would consist of one original (with original signatures) and one copy.
8. Why do I have to send hard copies if I've already submitted my application electronically?
As the Office of Record, UC MEXUS must retain a hard copy with all the original signatures. We also have a set of hard copies on hand for any reviewers who are uncomfortable with accessing or reviewing the proposals from the online site.
9. When will I be notified of the results of the competition?
Applicants are notified only after all the review committees have met and submitted their recommendations to UC MEXUS and CONACYT. Typically, notification of the final results is sent in early June or July, but it can be later depending on when committee members are available to meet. Once all the notifications have been sent out to the awardees, a list of the fellowship recipients will be placed on the UC MEXUS website under "Program Results."
10. When do the fellowships begin?
They may commence after September 1 of the funding year. Fellows must begin their stay within 90 days of the originally proposed starting date and complete their residency no later than within 12 months or less from that starting date.
11. May I postpone a fellowship from one year to the next?
No, fellowships may not be deferred to a subsequent year. UC MEXUS and CONACYT can only hold the funds for one year.
12. How are applications reviewed?
UC MEXUS and CONACYT are committed to the principles of academic peer review. Proposals undergo an initial administrative review at UC MEXUS for completeness and eligibility. In consultation with CONACYT, they are then divided into broad academic areas, depending on the disciplinary range of the proposals received. These divisions are used to determine the compilation of the grants review committees, such as Social Sciences & Humanities, Medical and Health Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering/Computer Sciences, and Natural Sciences, although these broad categories are adjusted depending on what areas are prevalent in the proposals that are received.
UC MEXUS and CONACYT subsequently work together to develop committees with a broad range of expertise in each area. CONACYT appoints researchers from Mexico to form half the committee, and UC MEXUS appoints faculty from the University of California to form the other half. Committee members go through all the individual proposals for their committee and make initial notes on their qualifications. In addition, each proposal is assigned two primary reviewers within the committee. These committee members review their assigned proposals in detail and present the projects and their corresponding assessments to the rest of the committee when it meets.
Committee meetings are held at the end of the review period. During the meetings, the proposals are discussed and scored individually, based on their own merits, and subsequently ranked against each other in order of priority for funding. The committees also indicate which proposals are not recommended for support, regardless of available funding. The rankings are presented by the committee to UC MEXUS and CONACYT as a set of recommendations.
13. Can I get reviewer comments back after the competition is over?
UC MEXUS and CONACYT do not provide reviewer comments. While reviewers may make some initial notes on a proposal prior to the committee meeting, the critical review work is undertaken during the final committee meeting. Reviewers' early assessments of a project may change significantly during the committee discussions, especially as projects are compared against each other. We have found that these discussions cannot be encapsulated in a way that captures the committees' nuances for an applicant. In addition, the committee recommendations are not the only factors in the final decisions by UC MEXUS, which can include funding limitations and comparisons across committees. Instead, we suggest that applicants look closely at the proposal-writing suggestions specific to the fellowship programs to see if their proposal might be strengthened in one area or another.