Helen Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions


Q: I have little experience doing scientific research. Do I qualify?
A: Yes. Experience will help, however, the purpose of this fellowship is to support Fellows in this endeavor and to offer that experience.

Q: I have little experience programming. What are the computational prerequisites to apply for this fellowship?
A: Helen Fellows are expected to be comfortable with Python and SQL (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 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 learn 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 is strictly computational in nature (therefore bridging computer science and natural science), and one that does not require the collection of new, empirical data, or involve field or lab work.

Q: Am I overqualified if I have a PhD?
A: Yes, this fellowship is intended for recent college seniors and/or recent graduates of a Bachelors or Masters degree (up to two years).

Q: How many fellowships are awarded?
A: Five fellowships are awarded each year.

Q: When is the application deadline?
A: Applications are due by midnight (12:00 am), the third Sunday in January.

Q: Where do I mail my application materials?
A: Please complete your application online. Hard copies will not be accepted, including recommendation letters (please have your recommenders upload their letters via the online application only).

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: Is the GRE required?
A: No, the GRE is not required.

Q: Does a professor need to nominate me for the Fellowship?
A: No, we appreciate candidates who self-identify their interest in this work.

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; leading an internship group of 6-5 Brown Scholars, twice weekly during the school year, for a two-hour period, which will also warrant preparation time beforehand; serving as a teaching assistants for one of the five modules taught to the Brown Scholars during the first component of the program; participating in BridgeUP team meetings once a week and other monthly extracurricular activities.

Q: What can I do after the fellowship?
A: Previous Helen Fellows have gone onto graduate school, academic positions, the tech industry, among others. To learn more about current and previous Helen Fellows and their research, click here.

Q: How many Brown Scholars are enrolled in each cohort?
A: We typically enroll 18-20 students (9th and 10th grade young women) in each cohort twice a year. Internship groups consist of 5-6 10th and 11th grade students who have completed the first component of the program.

Q: Can I defer my acceptance?
A: No, you may not defer your acceptance; you are, however, welcome to reapply for the Helen Fellowship in the future.