Frequently Asked Questions UC MEXUS-CONACYT Postdoctoral Fellowships
Applicant’s chronological age is not a factor influencing eligibility or the selection process. Applicants may be any age, as long as they meet the other eligibility criteria. (See Call for proposal for full eligibility criteria.) Additionally, there is no age limit to the doctoral degree. That is, applicants may have recently completed the Ph.D. at the time of proposal submission or completed it several years prior to applying. Applicants should keep in mind, however, that reviewers are asked to consider the degree of potential benefit and appropriateness of the postdoctoral stay at this stage in the applicant’s academic career.
UC MEXUS cannot be involved in proposal preparation, including setting up the initial collaborative connections. As the funding organization and office responsible for overseeing the peer review process, any participation in individual proposal development represents a conflict of interest. The fellowship competitions are open to all fields of study that relate to our basic mandate. UC MEXUS does not push for specific research emphases or disciplines in these competitions and any individual guidance would create an unfair advantage or unrealistic expectation of funding.
The following suggestions may help to find colleagues, contacts, and potential collaborators in the UC system and Mexico. The most direct, though labor-intensive, way is to go through the results of our past fellowship and grant competitions, and search for previously funded projects in your area. The titles of all the funded projects are on-line, along with the Principal Investigators’ departments and home institutions. Please consult the Results page on our website as well as the Grants Results Database to access this information.
Once you have identified potential hosts, you may contact the researchers directly to ask for their suggestions of potential collaborators in your area of research. The quickest way to find previous fellows’ and grantees’ contact information is to use Google or any other type of on-line search engine and type in the name and institution/campus. Use the department name as well, if a finer search is needed.
For researchers seeking colleagues in the UC system, there are several useful and searchable sites:
- www.universityofcalifornia.edu/campuses/welcome.html – go to any individual campus site and search either by area (e.g., shrimp, forests, indigenous migration, modern dance, etc.) or discipline (e.g., neurology, botany, anthropology, theatre, etc.) or college/school (e.g., medicine, social sciences, humanities, arts, etc.).
- http://ucmexicoinitiative.ucr.edu/directory.html – this is an interactive database that showcases UC faculty with expertise or interests in Mexico
And in more specific areas of expertise:
- Binational Directory of Researchers in Migration and Health – this directory is published by the California-Mexico Health Initiative (CMHI) at the UCOP California Policy Research Center.
- www.nceas.ucsb.edu/exp/ – a database for anyone with an interest in water resources.
For researchers interested in finding colleagues in Mexico, beyond using the search engines noted above and searching for a specific institution, the best way is to go through the CONACYT main website, and look at the directory of research centers, groups, and networks or the directory for institutions enrolled in RENIECYT. The website for ANUIES (the National Association for Universities and Institutions of Higher Education) also has a page for affiliated institutions which is searchable by state.
Yes, applicants to the program may be hosted by more than one eligible faculty member at a given host institution. Please keep in mind, however, that recent UC PhDs must conduct their postdoctoral stay in Mexico and, thus, cannot have a UC co-host. Similarly, recent Mexican PhDs (who did not complete their doctoral studies at the UC) must conduct their stays at the University of California and, therefore, cannot be hosted by faculty outside of the UC. For more information about this requirement, please contact Dr. Wendy DeBoer (firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: 951-827-7339).
At UC MEXUS, contact Dr. Wendy DeBoer (email@example.com; tel: 951-827-7339).
At UC MEXUS, contact Susana Hidalgo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
There is no specified or required format other than that the project plan can be no longer than 5 pages. We suggest that you keep the narrative simple and the font for the project plan must be no smaller than 11-point. Project plans should be written with at least 1.5 spacing and 1-inch margins. Breaking up the text with subheaders and illustrations or diagrams can also lighten a dense presentation. Keep in mind that reviewers have to read and discuss all the proposals for their particular committee, which may include 20 applications or more. They appreciate a simple, straightforward presentation and are dismayed when someone tries to put 10 pages worth of text into a 5-page narrative.
Applicants are notified only after all the review committees have met and submitted their recommendations to UC MEXUS and CONACYT. Typically, notification of the final results is sent in early June or July, but it can be later depending on when committee members are available to meet. Once all the notifications have been sent out to the awardees, a list of the fellowship recipients will be placed on the UC MEXUS website under “Program Results.”
They may commence after September 1 of the funding year. Fellows must begin their stay within 90 days of the originally proposed starting date and complete their residency no later than within 12 months or less from that starting date.
No, fellowships may not be deferred to a subsequent year. UC MEXUS and CONACYT can only hold the funds for one year.
UC MEXUS and CONACYT are committed to the principles of academic peer review. Proposals undergo an initial administrative review at UC MEXUS for completeness and eligibility. In consultation with CONACYT, they are then divided into broad academic areas, depending on the disciplinary range of the proposals received. These divisions are used to determine the compilation of the grants review committees, such as Social Sciences & Humanities, Medical and Health Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering/Computer Sciences, and Natural Sciences, although these broad categories are adjusted depending on what areas are prevalent in the proposals that are received.
UC MEXUS and CONACYT subsequently work together to develop committees with a broad range of expertise in each area. CONACYT appoints researchers from Mexico to form half the committee, and UC MEXUS appoints faculty from the University of California to form the other half. Committee members go through all the individual proposals for their committee and make initial notes on their qualifications. In addition, each proposal is assigned two primary reviewers within the committee. These committee members review their assigned proposals in detail and present the projects and their corresponding assessments to the rest of the committee when it meets.
Committee meetings are held at the end of the review period. During the meetings, the proposals are discussed and scored individually, based on their own merits, and subsequently ranked against each other in order of priority for funding. The committees also indicate which proposals are not recommended for support, regardless of available funding. The rankings are presented by the committee to UC MEXUS and CONACYT as a set of recommendations.
UC MEXUS and CONACYT do not provide reviewer comments. While reviewers may make some initial notes on a proposal prior to the committee meeting, the critical review work is undertaken during the final committee meeting. Reviewers’ early assessments of a project may change significantly during the committee discussions, especially as projects are compared against each other. We have found that these discussions cannot be encapsulated in a way that captures the committees’ nuances for an applicant. In addition, the committee recommendations are not the only factors in the final decisions by UC MEXUS, which can include funding limitations and comparisons across committees. Instead, we suggest that applicants look closely at the�proposal-writing suggestions specific to the fellowship programs�to see if their proposal might be strengthened in one area or another.