Helen Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions main content.

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 (roughly equivalent to a college level introductory course) by the beginning of the fellowship. The Fellows will be required to assist in the teaching of introductory programming to high-school students. If your undergraduate experience is different from these languages, e.g. using C++, JAVA etc., you will be expected to learn Python 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: Can I propose my own research project?
A: No. Only those projects found in the document below will be considered for the Helen Fellowship.

Q: I'm torn between two projects. Can I choose more than one project in my application?
A: No. You must choose one project.  The project you choose should align closely with your interests and experience.

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 11:59:59 pm EST, the third Sunday in January.

Q: Can the application be saved and returned to at another time, or must it be completed in one sitting?
A: The application does not have to be completed in one sitting. Please work through the entire application and click on Submit at the end of the application every time you edit your application to ensure your edits are saved. Your application is not reviewed until after the application deadline, because of this, there are no limits to the number of edits you may perform on your application up until the application deadline. We recommend that you work on your essays offline and copy your answers into this application. Please note, however, that you should use the same device, and do not clear the cache on your computer, otherwise the information will be lost. 

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: It is recommended that you contact the individuals submitting your recommendation letters to let them know to expect an email from the American Museum of Natural History. 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: How are the letters of recommendation submitted?
A: When filling out the application, the applicant is requested to submit the email addresses of two recommenders. The recommendation request emails are sent only when the application is submitted the first time. You will not have an opportunity to change your recommenders once you initially submit your application.

Q: Can I have the AMNH curator or scientist that I am hoping to work with write my letter of recommendation? 
A: It is highly preferable that letters come from faculty or other experts beyond the person that you are indicating you would like to work with. If this is impossible, you may have an AMNH curatorial faculty member do so.

Q: When are the letters of recommendation due? 
A: Both letters are due the same time as all the other application documents (11:59:59 pm EST, the third Sunday in January).

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: The expected scope of the fellowship is in the order of equal time between Education and Research, however some days might focus largely on research activities, while others on teaching and mentoring.  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 six Brown Scholars, twice weekly during the school year, for a two-hour period, which will also warrant preparation time beforehand; mentoring a group of four to five Brown Scholars for their final projects during their first component of the program; participating in BridgeUP team meetings 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.