Postdoctoral Scholars Program Request for Proposals 2021

DEADLINE: Monday, July 12, 2021, 5:00 p.m.

Postdoctoral Scholars Program 2021 Request for Proposals (RFP)

Proposal Submission

Please visit the Syracuse University Application Portal at


Postdoctoral scholars are the next generation of educators, researchers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and societal leaders. Postdoctoral scholars significantly contribute to the generation of scholarly research output of a university from the research they conduct. As such, data on an institution’s postdoctoral scholars is often used as an indicator of research activities. For example, the number of postdoctoral scholars is one of the major metrics used by Carnegie for classification of research universities. Postdoctoral scholars are not only important for research excellence, but they are also an integral part of the driving force for high-quality college education. For instance, postdoctoral scholars are most often the trainers of graduate and undergraduate researchers; they work closely with tenure-track faculty to design research studies, set up research protocols, maintain research equipment and provide day-to-day training of graduate and undergraduate students. The provision of such hands-on experiential learning by postdoctoral scholars has been demonstrated to be an effective path to increasing the success of undergraduate students.

The number of current postdoctoral scholars at Syracuse University is critically low in comparison to current expectations for a R1 research university. Thus, the primary goal of the program is to provide financial incentive for programs/departments/schools/colleges to increase the number of postdoctoral scholars; the funding proposed for this program must be strategically leveraged to achieve this primary goal. A second goal of the program is to reward productive faculty by providing a financial incentive to grow their research program. Through this program, programs/departments/schools/colleges may allocate postdoctoral scholars funds to faculty members who generate a significant amount of extramural grants, contracts or academic scholarship. In addition, the growth of postdoctoral scholars on campus should increase mentoring capacity for undergraduate and graduate research.

To further strengthen our identification as a student-focused and very-high-research-activity (Carnegie R1) university, Syracuse University will invest up to $1.4 M over two years to support up to 20 new postdoctoral scholars through its Invest Syracuse Initiative. This document provides guidelines for the Postdoctoral Scholars Program.


Applications for Postdoctoral Scholar funds are open to research programs, departments, schools or colleges (herein referred to as the applying unit), but not to individual faculty. Each applying unit must designate a leader to apply, such as the dean, associate dean for research, department chair, program director or their designee. In each case, the applying unit must state their plans for using the funds to increase the total number of postdoctoral scholars in the unit, not to replace funds paid for postdoctoral scholars currently in the unit.

Each applying unit may apply for up to three awards, with the promise that the unit will grow the number of postdoctoral scholars in the unit. Each requested postdoc must be proposed for a specific subunit with one or more named mentors (Co-PIs) at the time of submission. As such, the submitting PI (dean, department chair, director) may wish to run a preliminary competition to identify which postdoctoral positions to include in their proposal.

Units that were prior recipients of 2019 Postdoctoral Awards are eligible to apply in this round. However, preference will be given to requests for postdoctoral scholars in research programs, labs, departments and/or for mentors that were not awarded in the prior cycle. Additionally, recipients of 2019 Postdoctoral Awards are required to describe the results of their award in a supplemental document.

Funding, Project Period, and Cost Share Requirements

To maximize the impact of the program, cost sharing from the receiving unit is required. Twenty (20) awards will be made for $35,000 per postdoctoral scholar per year for two years ($70,000 total per scholar). This amount is intended to provide approximately 50% of a postdoctoral scholar’s annual salary plus fringe benefits; however, actual salaries are expected to vary across appointments. As such, any additional salary and fringe benefit costs above $35,000 per year will be the responsibility of the applying unit. The applying unit is responsible for securing funds, either from the home college or department or through an individual PI’s grant funds, to provide the necessary cost share for the postdoctoral scholar. Evidence of appropriate cost share plans will be a key evaluation criterion.

Evidence of success with 2019 postdoctoral awards will be a key consideration for the evaluation of applications from prior recipients.