The Helen Fellowship


Please read before submitting your application!

The Helen Fellowship is a unique opportunity for women to spend a year immersed in teaching and research at AMNH in New York City. The Fellows will split their time between teaching and a research residency within one of the Museum’s science divisions.


The Helen Fellows contribute to curriculum and teach within BridgeUp: STEM, a computational science program for high-school aged young women and middle-school aged boys and girls from New York City. Each Fellow also conducts independent computational research under the guidance of a museum scientist whose work aligns closely with the Fellow’s interests and experience. 


The residency allows the Fellows to conduct authentic research utilizing cutting edge tools of computational science and emerging media in labs across the Museum’s science divisions including Invertebrate Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, Paleontology, Anthropology, and the Physical Sciences (including Astrophysics and Earth and Planetary Sciences).  Applicants should familiarize themselves with these departments and their ongoing research initiatives in order to better propose an appropriate research project.  The Fellows are supported to generate publications and/or independent projects that will help launch their careers. To learn more about the Helen Fellows and their research, click here.


Previous Fellows have conducted research or developed products in invertebrate zoology, data visualization, astrophysics, exhibitions, biodiversity conservation, ornithology, and herpetology.


The Helen Fellowship is intended for current college seniors (expected graduation by May 2017) and/or recent graduates and is a full-time commitment for one year beginning in the summer of 2017. This fellowship is non-renewable.  More information can be found by searching our website and the broader internet for your topic of interest at AMNH. This program is funded by the Helen Gurley Brown Trust for the American Museum of Natural History’s BridgeUp: STEM initiative.



  • Talented and motivated women with a bachelors or graduate degree in computer science, natural sciences, applied mathematics, computational science, and other relevant majors.
  • Currently living in, or willing to relocate to, greater New York City (note: relocation expenses are not reimbursed)
  • Not undertaking any other full-time employment during the period of the fellowship, nor any part-time employment that conflicts with fellowship responsibilities
  • Strong interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills



Fellows will receive an annual salary of $70,000 plus generous benefits.


Research/Project Support:

Funding is available for expenses such as conference travel and research equipment and supplies.


Application Instructions:

Application due date coming soon.

All applicants must submit the following materials:

  • Online application
  • Current CV
  • All undergraduate transcripts
    • Note: unofficial transcripts are acceptable for application. Official documents will be required for hiring of successful applicants.  
  • Personal Statement A (< 2 pages) in which you should:
    • Explain why you are interested in the Helen Fellowship
    • Address your future plans and goals
    • Describe any past teaching/mentoring experience and how you will contribute to our educational program
  • Personal Statement B (< 2 pages) in which you should:
    • Address your intended research project, including the curator or research scientist with whom you will be working. The more in depth your project plan and research into our ongoing work here at AMNH is, the better
    • Address your experience and/or provide work samples in or related to the project that you hope to engage in
  • 2 recommendation letters:
    • One that addresses your teaching/mentoring experience and potential
    • One that addresses your achievements and potential as it relates to your specific research project


Selection criteria:

While there is no one profile of an ideal candidate, we are seeking applicants with a combination of the following qualifications:

  • Outstanding potential for novel research within one of the museum's science divisions
  • Strong academic record
  • Proficiency in computer programming
  • Scientific interests which align with those of AMNH
  • Previous teaching/mentoring experience  
  • Preferably, previous publication record


Recommenders will be asked to address the following components of your candidacy:

  • Potential for novel contributions to research or scientific communication
  • Ability to work in groups
  • Communication skills (written and oral)
  • Maturity level and leadership potential
  • Compare the candidate’s integrity and intellectual potential to students with whom you are familiar
  • If applicable, please comment on the candidate’s ability to work with motivated teenagers


Any inquiries should be directed to


Frequently Asked Questions:


Q: Who can I work with for the research component of the Fellowship?

A: Any curator or senior researcher (director) within a research division at the American Museum of Natural History is a possible Helen Fellow advisor. These prospective advisors should have agreed to advise and mentor the Helen Fellow for the full course of the fellowship. 


Q: Should I reach out to a prospective advisor?

A: It is strongly encouraged, but not required.  Reaching out to a prospective advisor can only strengthen an application. Applicants should reach out to the prospective advisor to first determine whether they are willing and able to advise a Helen Fellow for the entire 12 month time period, and then to devise a research project that aligns with the applicant's interests and the ongoing work of the advisor in their lab. Should the researcher have any questions about the nature of the BridgeUp: STEM program or the Helen Fellowship, they can contact


Q: I have little experience programming. What are the computational prerequisites to apply for this fellowship?

A: Helen Fellows are expected to be proficient in Python (roughly equivalent to a college level introductory course) by the beginning of the fellowship.  The fellows will be required to teach introductory programming to high-school students shortly after the fellowship begins. Fellows will also teach SQL, a database querying language, and should be familiar with the language and database design.  If your undergraduate experience is different from these languages, e.g. using C++, JAVA etc:, you will be expected to have learned Python and SQL prior to the beginning of the fellowship.


Q: To what extent should the research be computational?

A: The research component of the fellowship should be computational in nature (therefore bridging computer science and natural science), but there are no specific requirements regarding the way that the project incorporates computational research. Please review past Helen Fellows' bios on the flyer posted at the top right of this page for a better idea of what types of research have been conducted under the fellowship.


Q: What is a typical day in the life of a Helen Fellow?

A: A typical workday for a Helen Fellow will include independent research under the guidance of a museum scientist, interacting with other researchers within their own or other research groups to discuss your work and gain perspective on their experiences. Fellows typically devote an hour or two of prep time for class in the afternoon. Helen Fellows serve as TAs to our after school program, which runs twice weekly during the school year in the late afternoon, and typically enrolls 15-20 9th and 10th grade girls from around NYC to learn Python, SQL, and data visualization. Classes include museum hall visits, guest lectures from museum curators and scientists, and group as well as independent work. Helen Fellows also mentor up to six 10th and 11th grade students (twice weekly in the late afternoon/early evening, on different days than the 1st years) who have completed the 1st year of coursework in internship projects to engage with ongoing and cutting-edge research at AMNH.


Q: How do the letters of recommendation work, since one must address teaching/mentoring and one must address research experience?

A: Applicants must personally notify recommenders about which letter they are writing. The application form will not differentiate in the form that is sent directly to recommenders.


Q: What is the portfolio?

A: The portfolio is optional; it is there should an applicant want to upload supplementary documents or projects that they think would boost their application. Some might upload their thesis, either as a working draft or completed manuscript. Others might share their website, publications, or a digital project that they have completed that they want the selection committee to know about.


Q: Can I apply if i have not graduated yet?

A: Helen Fellows must have completed at least a bachelors degree by the time the fellowship begins.


Q: Am I overqualified if I have a PhD?

A: We welcome applicants from individuals with a bachelors or masters degrees.


Q: What are the responsibilities of a Helen fellow?

A: Helen Fellows will split their time between teaching and mentoring the Brown Scholars and working on individual projects under an AMNH scientist or staff member in their respective fields.


Q: What kind of research do you do at AMNH?

A: We are specifically looking for Helen Fellows that are interested in research in anthropology, physical sciences, invertebrate zoology, paleontology and vertebrate zoology. For more information on our research go to


Q: I am not a US Citizen. Am I still eligible to apply?

A: Yes, non-US citizens are also eligible for the Helen Fellowship.


Q: When is the application deadline?

A: Applications due date coming soon.


Q: Where do I mail my application materials?

A: Please complete your application online. Hard copies will not be accepted. (This includes recommendation letters - please have your recommenders complete their letters via the online application only.)


Q: How do I upload my recommendation letters? I can’t find the link.

A: At the bottom or top of the page, press “Return to Menu.” There, you will see the option to Add or Edit Recommendation Requests.


Q: Is the GRE required?

A: No, the GRE is not required.


Q: Can I defer my acceptance?

A: No, you may not defer your acceptance; you are, however, welcome to reapply for the Fellowship in the future.


Q: Does a professor need to nominate me for the Fellowship?

A: No, we appreciate candidates who self-identify their interest in this work.


The Helen Fellowship is generously supported by a grant from the Helen Gurley Brown Trust.