Skip to main content

SynBAS-NRT Application

Application Instructions

Please use these instructions and the associated template to help you construct your SynBAS NRT application.

Please address all the questions and sections outlined in the SynBAS NRT Application template. When preparing application materials, candidates are strongly encouraged to review the SynBAS NRT training approach, which incorporates the synthetic biology scales framework.

You will fill out this template and upload the response to the 2021 Application form. 

Applicant Eligibility: 
Due to NSF requirements, candidates must be US citizens, nationals, or permanent residents and they must be in a PhD program in order to apply. There are no requirements on the year of graduate study for applicants as long as the program requirements can be met.
 
Applicant Statement: 

Your statement should have several components described below.

Please prepare your application, using the application templatein a document with 11 pt. font (Arial or Times New Roman), single-spaced, with 0.5 inch margins, convert to a PDF and upload on the 2021 Application Form. 

Instructions for specific sections are as follows: 

  1. Applicant motivation (300 words): Describe your motivation for participating in the SynBAS NRT training program. Include how the training program aligns with both your education and career goals, and specifically describe how your goals connect to the elements of the training program including coursework, workshop, community events, career development and mentorship. It is strongly advised you review the trainee expectations document while developing this section. Candidates will be evaluated based on how strongly their goals (research, career, social impact, etc.) align with the training program. 
  2. Program requirements (400 words): Describe your plan for fulfilling the SynBAS NRT program requirements. Candidates will be evaluated on how well their plan integrates their research and career goals with the scales framework of the SynBAS NRT. 
    1. Coursework – which NRT courses (including the research design and communications workshop, and the programming workshop) have you taken and what are your plans for taking the remaining courses/workshops? Explain how your choice of elective scales courses integrates with your research vision.
    2. 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) are you most interested in pursuing and why? Please briefly describe how a project in this area connects with your research and career goals.
    3. Co-mentorship – Part of the SynBAS NRT is for trainees to be co-mentored in their research to allow connections between scales – i.e. while a trainee’s research might be focused on a particular scale, a co-mentor with expertise in a different scale can help expand the scope and impact of a trainee’s research. Describe which scale is most important for enhancing or brining a new direction to your research project and why, and how you might go about finding a co-mentor that is an expert in that scale. If you already have a co-mentor identified please articulate how they meet this criterion. (Note: co-mentors may be outside of STEM fields).
  3. Research Description (2 pages including figures, references can be on a separate page): Use the research description template to describe the following aspects of your proposed PhD researchNote the following sections are adapted from NIH and NSF merit review criterion. Candidates will be evaluated to the extent that they address each of these items. 
    1. Motivation: Explain the problem or challenge your research aims to solve. Why is this project important? Briefly summarize how you plan to solve this problem in sufficient detail to be able to understand the specific aims. Support your research motivation with references to scientific literature.
    2. Specific Aims: Briefly describe the specific aims of your project. For each aim include the goal, hypotheses and approach.
    3. Significance: If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, or progress towards desired societal outcomes be improved? Support the significance of your research with references to scientific literature.
    4. Approach: Describe the overall strategy, methodology and analyses you will use to accomplish the specific aims of the project. Include a discussion of potential problems, alternative approaches and benchmarks for success. Support the approaches you will use with references to scientific literature.
    5. Scales description: 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.
  4. Personal biography (600 words): 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 share a brief bio describing your unique experiences (which could include your salient identities, backgrounds and lived experiencesand what you would bring to the program. Please also describe any relevant outreach/service experiences or desire to participate in outreach/service experiences that are relevant to the program. Prior outreach/service experiences or a clearly articulated plan for performing future outreach will be considered a strength. 
  5. Trainee expectations: Please fill out, sign and upload a PDF copy of the trainee expectations document found here. 
  6. Advisor letter: Please communicate the following instructions to your advisor and ask them to send their letter to synbas@northwestern.edu by the application deadline. Instructions: One letter from the thesis mentor must (i) discuss why the nominee would be a good fit for the program, (ii) agree to allow mentees to satisfy all SynBAS NRT requirements, and (iii) agree to the Mentor Expectations.

 

2021 Application Form

To upload your application template and submit, please fill out the form here.

Your application will consist of the applicant statement, a letter of support from your advisor, and a signed acknowledgement that you agree to SynBAS NRT trainee expectations. 

Application Timeline

Applications are due July 2nd.

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

Application-Related Questions

For questions, email us at synbas@northwestern.edu. Back to top