Dr Sarah Greene, NERC Independent Research Fellowship

greene-sarahWhich independent fellowship do you hold and what is your main research goal?

I am a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Independent Research Fellow (IRF) and Proleptic Lecturer in Palaeoclimate. My research examines the significance of the authigenic carbon sink for global carbon cycling.

What was your academic background prior to the award?

  • B.S. in Geological Sciences, B.A. in German  (2005)
  • Fulbright Fellowship to Germany (2005-2006)
  • PhD in Geological Sciences (2006-2011)
  • Postdoctoral researcher position (PDRA)

What attracted you to your fellowship?

I was attracted to my fellowship as a NERC IRF allowed flexibility in research scope and also offers independence.

Do you have any advice for fellowship applicants? 

My fellowship builds on topics from my PhD work and also utilises skills developed in my postdoctoral researcher position. Having some primary data helped me to demonstrate initial ownership of the project. Having said this, remember to think big in terms of project scope - show that you are tackling a new challenge with far-reaching implications, not just aiming for a series of incremental papers. It should be clear from your application that this is your project and you have the skills to do it.

Ensure you consider your choice of host institution very carefully - if this is the same place as your UG/PhD/Postdoc you will likely need to make a very strong case. Additionally, does your host institution offer any potential chance of a guaranteed lectureship?

Remember that NERC/whoever you apply to is funding a fellow as much as they are funding a fellowship project. Your application should convey that you are a future leader in your field and that you are ready to be a Principle Investigator (PI) - try to act as your own cheerleader!

When it is time to finalise your draft seek help/advice early and often. 

  • Read past (successful) fellowship applications
  • Members of staff here serve(d) on selection panels- pick their brains!
  • No - you aren’t bothering us - it is in our best interest for you to succeed!
  • Do a mock interview. It will likely be awful but you will thank yourself later!