Rockefeller Foundation Planetary Health Fellows Program at Harvard University


Planetary health is an interdisciplinary field focused on understanding and quantifying the human health impacts of the accelerating transformation of most of Earth’s natural systems including the climate system, land use and land cover, marine systems, biogeochemical cycles, changes in the community composition of plant and animal communities and others (for more details, see The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission Report on Planetary Health). With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Planetary Health Alliance (PHA) at Harvard University has created The Rockefeller Foundation Planetary Health Fellows program to enable recent doctorate recipients to use and expand Harvard's extraordinary resources to tackle complex planetary health issues. The RFPH Fellows will work for two years with Harvard faculty members in any school or department to create new knowledge while also strengthening connections across the University's academic disciplines. Examples of ongoing work in this field can be found on the websites of the PHA Director, Sam Myers, or the Associate Director, Chris Golden.

The award

The fellowship include a salary of $60,000 per year and employee health insurance eligibility. Additional funding is available for professional development and other related expenses. The PHA expects to award two fellowships for the 2017 cohort (its second year). The PHA will organize a co-curricular program to ensure that the fellows get to know each other and each other's work, though both formal and informal gatherings. We will require that 15% of each fellow’s effort will be allocated to activities that support the development of the PHA (online journal club, electronic digest of literature, annual convening, etc.). The fellowship is a residential fellowship and the fellow is expected to be present in Cambridge for the entire period of the fellowship with the possible exception of brief field visits. Each fellow must identify a faculty sponsor from any of Harvard’s schools or departments that is willing to host the fellow. We anticipate that the mentors will be active participants in the research activities.  

Selection criteria

  • Applicant's prior academic and professional success and his or her potential contribution to scholarship or practice
  • Project significance: the potential impact of the research project on scholarship at Harvard and on planetary health issues
  • Interdisciplinary research projects are encouraged, although this is not a requirement for the fellowship. Candidates with interests in a single discipline are encouraged to apply. 
  • Diversity: The ideal group would include fellows working with host faculty members at every one of Harvard's professional schools and many of the departments overseen by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Recipients—and hosts—may include people with degrees in any number of disciplines, focusing on domains of health that span infectious disease, non-communicable disease, nutrition and mental health.
  • Faculty Sponsors:
    Potential candidates should start early to identify potential intellectual overlap with a Harvard faculty member/s to host his or her research. Successful candidates will have research ideas that are enthusiastically supported by the affiliated PHA research faculty. Applicants unfamiliar with Harvard faculty members will find many of them listed on the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) web page organized both by academic areas (ecology, economics, medicine) and by research topics (climate, human health). Most faculty members have their own web pages which will provide much more detailed information about publications and interests and which may be accessed through the main Harvard website and that for the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Any faculty member from any discipline may serve as a host. Each applicant must have a sponsorship letter from the proposed faculty member.

Application Process

1. Please complete and combine the below-listed documents as one PDF file labeled as “LastName_FirstName_PHA”:

a) cover letter including the following information (see Appendix I)
b) curriculum vitae including list of publications.
c) detailed research proposal, maximum of five pages, references counted separately. Within the proposal, applicants should explain reasons for applying to a residential fellowship at Harvard.
d) up to three publications/writing samples.

2. Three letters of reference, including one from the applicant's dissertation adviser.

3. Sponsorship letter from Harvard faculty host.

Referees should send their letters directly as PDFs to

Submissions: DEADLINE JANUARY 15th, 2017

We will notify applicants to confirm receipt of a complete application.

Appendix I

  • First Name; Last Name 
  • Mailing Address; Phone; E-mail 
  • Terminal Degree; Department; Awarding Institution; Date Conferred 
  • Proposed Research Title 
  • Abstract  (limited to 200 words)
  • Mentor Name (must be a Harvard ladder or non-ladder faculty member) 
  • Dissertation Adviser's Name (including institution & e-mail address) 
  • Second Reference Name (including institution & e-mail address) 
  • Third Reference Name (including institution & e-mail address) 
  • Country of Citizenship

If you have questions about the fellowship or application process, please contact: 
Amalia Almada,

Harvard University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer