Apply to the SynBAS NRT Program

SynBAS Application

Apply now to join the SynBAS PhD Training Program

When preparing application materials, candidates are strongly encouraged to review the SynBAS NRT training approach, which incorporates the synthetic biology scales framework.


All current graduate students can apply for a training program slot – there are no requirements on the year of graduate study for applicants if the program requirements can be met. Due to NSF requirements, only US citizens or permanent residents can receive funding support, though unfunded training program slots are available to participate in training program activities.

Evaluation Criteria

We are looking for candidates that will benefit most from the training components of this unique NRT program. In addition to the specific components asked for in the sections below, candidates will be evaluated based on how strongly their research, career and social impact goals align with the training program and how well that is conveyed through their application materials. Prior outreach, service, and research experiences, or clearly articulated plans for future experiences, will also be considered a strength in application evaluation.

Application Components

Your application should be submitted through the common training program application portal. Specifically, for the SynBAS NRT program application you will submit (1) an applicant statement, (2) a signed trainee expectation document, and (3) a letter from your advisor.

1. Applicant Statement

Your statement should be 3 and a half-pages pdf with 11 pt. font (Arial or Times New Roman), single-spaced, and 0.5-inch margins, and have the four components described below.

  • Applicant motivation (~1/2 page): Describe your motivation for participating in the SynBAS NRT training program.
    • Include how the training program aligns with your educational goals.
    • Include how the training program aligns with your long-term career goals.
      Describe how your goals connect to the elements of the training program including coursework, workshops, community events, career development and mentorship.
    • It is strongly advised you review the trainee expectations document while developing this section.
    • Include your interests in utilizing synthetic biology training for addressing societal scale challenges.
  • Program Requirements (~1/2 page): Describe your plan for fulfilling the SynBAS NRT program requirements.
    • Coursework – which NRT courses have you taken and what are your plans for taking the remaining courses? Explain how your choice of elective scales courses integrates with your research vision. A list of NRT courses can be found here.
    • Experiential learning – A goal of the SynBAS NRT is to allow trainees to explore different career paths through an experiential learning project. Which of the experiential learning themes (entrepreneurship, education, policy, art) are you most interested in pursuing and why? If another theme is of interest please describe this. Please briefly describe how a project in your area of choice connects with your research and career goals.
    • Scales framework – Include a description of how your research incorporates or would benefit from the ‘scales’ framework of the NRT training program, including the benefits of bridging multiple scales in your research.
  • Research Description (~2 pages including figures, references can be on a separate page). Describe the following aspects of your proposed PhD research:
    • Motivation: Explain the problem or challenge your research aims to solve.
    • Specific Aims: Briefly describe the specific aims of your project.
    • Significance: Describe how scientific knowledge, technical capability, or progress towards desired societal outcomes be improved if the aims of the project are achieved.
    • Approach: Describe the overall strategy, methodology and analyses you will use to accomplish the specific aims of the project.
  • Personal Biography (~1/2 page). Describe your unique experiences (which could include your salient identities, backgrounds and lived experiences) and what you would bring to the program.
    • We welcome a diverse representation of identities, backgrounds, and disciplines in the SynBAS NRT program.
    • We also value the dedication and participation of trainees to contribute to the development of the program and STEM fields through outreach and service activities.
    • Please also describe any relevant outreach/service experiences or desire to participate in outreach/service experiences that are relevant to the program.
    • In addition to your statement, please include:

2. Trainee Expectations Document

Please fill out, sign and upload a PDF copy of the trainee expectations document.

3. Advisor letter

Please communicate the following instructions to your advisor.

Instructions: One letter from the thesis mentor must (1) discuss why the nominee would be a good fit for the program, (2) agree to allow mentees to satisfy all SynBAS NRT requirements, and (3) agree to the Mentor Expectations. Advisors will be sent an email by the application portal to submit their letter.

Application Deadlines

The deadline for the receipt of applications: July 1, 2024

Decisions expected: Mid-August

Fellowship appointment will begin in September, at the start of fall quarter.


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