Q: Can one of the reference letters from the potential science advisor?

A: Yes.

Q: May I submit four letters of reference rather than the required three?

A: You can submit 4 letters of reference, but the selection committee is only required to read 3.


Note: Some Hosts offer only stipendee status, some only employee status, and some offer both. Your choice of Host may therefore have some financial and/or visa implications that you may wish to consider. Although the Sagan Fellowship program office cannot offer guidance on this choice, the NASA-sponsored (Einstein, Hubble, and Sagan) fellowships have compiled a guidelines document simply to highlight potential issues of relevance that you may wish to consider, within this admittedly short time-frame. The guidelines can be found here.

Q: Are the applicant's proposed institutions considered highly when ranking applications?

A: The panel evaluates the entire package (applicant, project, advisor, institution). They want to ensure that the fellows have as much support as they need from their advisors and host institutions to complete their projects. They rank everything and then see if there are overlaps in the institutions. If there are overlaps and the panel is comfortable with the case made for the second or third choice institution, then the applicant could be offered a fellowship at the second or third choice institution.

Q: Can NOAO be a host institution?

A: Yes, NOAO can be a host institution as long as you justify why you need to be there to do your project and specify which location.

Q: If submitting more than one choice of host institution, thus getting 1 extra page in the research proposal for each additional host institution, is the proposed project expected to be the same for each institution? Then the extra page(s) would be for justifying why the second and third choices of host institutions also fit? Or can/should the applicant propose separate projects for each proposed host institution?

A: There is nothing that says that you can't have one proposal for each institution, however, you run the risk of not explaining each proposal well enough in space allotted. We suggest that you highlight one project in full that you wish to be selected for. The second or third choice of host institution will only be considered if there is a conflict with a higher ranked fellow for the first choice institution.

Q: Can a NASA center be named as a host institution?

[Please note that this answer does NOT apply to the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). There is no issue with funding fellows who choose JPL as their host institution.]

A: There are no rules against having a NASA center as your host institution, however, the funding is difficult. The fellowships are funded by NASA HQ, through JPL, and since it is illegal for one government agency to give another government agency money, this would have to be funded through a bipass mechanism. These can take months to get through the system. Our recommendation is that you designate another local entity (e.g. SETI) as the host institution, and indicate in the proposal where you will perform the work (e.g. NASA Ames). The proposed advisor should also have an affiliation with the local, non-NASA, institution.

Q: I am currently a postdoc at an eligible institution. Can I propose to remain at my current institution?

A: Yes.

Q: Do I have to be physically located at my host institution for the duration of the Sagan Fellowship?

A: The funding for your fellowship is routed through your host institution, so as long as an institution endorses you as an applicant, stating that they are willing to support you as a fellow, then you technically qualify. That being said, the selection committee wants to ensure that you are supported intellectually, in addition to financially, so in your application make sure to explain your plans to keep in contact with your advisor during the tenure of your fellowship.

Q: Is a faculty member allowed to sponsor two Sagan applications?

A: Yes. The same advisor may sponsor two or more applicants, however everyone involved must understand that only one fellow per institution can be awarded each year.

Q: My first choice institution has informed me that several applicants are interested in listing it as their first choice. Since my second/third choice of host institutions are more competitive, can I just list one host institution and change later if there is a conflict? Or do you actually not award Sagan fellowships to applicants whose choice of host institution is already taken by higher ranked Sagan applicant?

A: The panel ranks the applications based on the whole proposal package. This means that they take into account the impact of the project on the field along with the specific support from the host institution and advisor which relates to the ability of the applicant to complete the project. This means that you can not change the institution after the fact, as the institution is a factor in grading and ranking the applications. We can not award Sagans to people whose choice(s) of host institutions are taken.


Q: Do the fellowships support research related only to exoplanets, or are more general planetary-science projects allowed? In particular, is research related to asteroid shapes, spin states, and trajectories suitable for the fellowship?

A: The fellowships only support exoplanet-related research. General solar system projects, however worthy, fall outside the scope of the program.

Q: Does the 3-page limit for the description of the research program include references?

A: Yes. Please note however that if you are submitting more than one choice host institution, you may increase the length of your research proposal by 1 additional page for each host institution for a total of up to 5 pages (including figures, tables, and references) if three host institutions are submitted.


Q: Should reprints of articles be included in the application?

A: No, reprints should not be included in your application but should be listed in your CV/list of major publications. Please see the elements of a complete application here

Q: Is the abstract for my application counted against the page limits?

A: No, the abstract is entered on a web form at the time of submission. It is compiled along with the other information on the application submission page into a cover sheet that will accompany your application when it is sent out for review. After your submission is complete, you will receive a confirmation email that will include a copy of the cover sheet.

Q: Can I change my application after it has been submitted?

A: If you have changes to make to your application after it has been submitted but before the application deadline, please go ahead and resubmit the entire application through the electronic submission site Note that no changes will be accepted after the application deadline.

Q: Is there a maximum file size for the application files?

A: Yes, they should be no larger than 20 Mb.

Q: When are the decisions made?

A: Typically the first round of offers is made by mid-January.

Q: When is the eligibility for the Sagan assessed from? The start of a potential appointment? The application?

A: The official eligibility date is the date that you were officially awarded your PhD according to the granting institution.

last updated 14 Jan 2016