Jobs & Fellowships

OWSD Early Career Fellowship

March 5, 2020

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)

OWSD Early Career Fellowship

Call for Applications

The OWSD Early Career fellowship is a prestigious award of up to USD 50,000 offered to women who have completed their PhDs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and are employed at an academic or scientific research institution in one of the listed Science and Technology Lagging Countries (STLCs). The OWSD Early Career fellows will be supported to establish an environment at their institution where they can maintain an international standard of research and attract scholars from all over the world to collaborate.

You will find all the information you need to prepare your application below.

All applications must be submitted online. The official language for the application is English.

Please note that all information about the programme is also available in French and Spanish. Applications, however, can only be accepted in English.

If you are submitting any supporting documents (such as residency certificate, degree certificate, etc.) in your local language, you must attach at least an informal translation into English. Documents without any English translation will not be considered.

Please note that an applicant, at the time of application, must NOT have an active research grant or fellowship with The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) or have already submitted an application for a TWAS programme within the same given year. Only one application per year is possible across all TWAS and OWSD programmes. Applicants will not be eligible to visit another institution in that year under the TWAS Visiting Professor programmes.

An exception is made for the OWSD-Elsevier Foundation awards. In addition, the head of an institution who invites an external scholar to share his/her expertise under the TWAS Visiting Professor programmes may still apply for another programme.

The 2020 Call for Applications will open on 2 MARCH 2020.

Deadline for completed online applications: 15 APRIL 2020 (at midnight GMT+1)

Successful candidates will be notified by early July 2020 and expected to attend a first workshop in Trieste, Italy, in October 2020. Each fellowship lasts for two years from the date of acceptance.

If your questions are not answered in the information provided or in the FAQs, contact Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)


The OWSD Early Career fellowships programme is administered by OWSD with funds generously provided by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada.

The fellowship programme supports early career women scientists to lead important research projects in those countries which have been identified as especially lacking in scientific and technological resources.* The fellows will undertake their research projects in one of the eligible countries and applicants must demonstrate that they have spent significant periods of time in that country (at least 5 years in total). Applicants must also have a guarantee of employment at the institution where they intend to carry out the research.

During the 2-year fellowship, fellows will build on their leadership and management skills, develop connections with a variety of public and private sector partners to potentially convert their research into marketable products or guarantee its impact on a broader scale. By improving their communication and outreach skills, fellows will also learn to effectively present their research to various audiences, thus attracting new collaborators and potential funders to ensure the sustainability of the research project.

By supporting 60 Early Career fellows by December 2021, OWSD will create a network of outstanding women scientists who can provide mentorship and be role models for the next generation of women leaders in STEM.

* as defined by the TWAS-OWSD Coordinating Committee

Fellowship support

The OWSD Early Career fellowship is for two years and offers up to USD 50,000.

Please note that the OWSD Early Career fellowship does not provide for the fellow’s salary which must be guaranteed by the fellow’s institution.

The fellow’s institution must waive any overheard or indirect costs on the research project. However, applicants can include in their budget break-down any costs for support from the institution that will directly benefit the research project (for example, lab technician’s time, maintenance and utilities costs, administrative officer’s time, etc.).

The eligible expenses are listed below.

a) Research-related costs

 Equipment

 Necessary equipment to build up research units or set up a lab

 Training in use of equipment

 Maintenance of equipment

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)


 Consumables

 Expendable supplies that will be consumed or replaced (e.g. glassware, solvents, feed, reagents)

Research visits, exchanges and programmes

 Attendance at international scientific meetings (e.g. travel, accommodation, meals, registration, visa)

 Hosting visiting scholars and/or establishing a visiting scholars programme

Organizing and hosting scientific events (e.g. seminar series, international symposium, themed workshops, regional and international conferences)

Organizing exchange programmes with national/international scholars

 Teaching and Assistance

 MSc, PhD, Postdoctoral researchers

Research assistants (e.g. to gather information and data)

 Teaching assistants

Family care assistance (e.g. childcare costs in order for fellow to undertake research project, travel support for family members)

Other assistant (based on applicant’s needs, e.g. casual labor)

Field work

 Transportation (e.g. car rental, public transport, airfare)

 Board and lodging

 Sample collection and analysis

 Hospitality fees (e.g. dinner with research partners in the field)

Publication costs (e.g. in peer-reviewed journals, open source)

Information resources

 Subscriptions (e.g. journal, library)

 Literature (e.g. books, reprints, photocopies)

 Library resources

 IT facilities

 Computer hardware

 Computer software

 Computer services (internet connections, technical support, database development)

 Training

 Science communication (e.g. writing for publication, presentation skills)

 English language courses (for improved science communication)

Specialist courses for team leader and project staff or group training sessions (e.g. long-distance learning)

 Other

Monitoring and evaluation costs (to measure the impact of the research project)

 Rent paid for land or premises used in a research activity

Any other support costs directly related to the research project (for example, lab technician’s time, maintenance and utilities costs, administrative officer’s time, etc.)

b) Linking with industry and other partners

 Visits to companies, private sector (e.g. travel, board and lodging costs)

 Product development (e.g. patent, prototype, Intellectual Property costs)

Technology transfer

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)

 Licensing costs

Research-to-product related expenses

Training (e.g. understanding/developing IP and patents, research-to-product training, communicating with industry, business, management and marketing skills)

Scaling up of teaching programmes and/or ‘training the trainers’ (e.g. offering specialist courses at PhD level to ensure level of training in given discipline is adequate)

A downloadable list of appropriate industry, private or civic partners for collaboration is available here.

c) Outreach, communication and networking

 Website development

 Communications materials (e.g. flyers, posters)

Dissemination (e.g. development of stakeholders’ contact database for information sharing)

Networking (e.g. development of online community/forum, linking with OWSD members and National Chapters, science academies)

Mentoring (e.g. establishing a mentoring programme with partners in industry)

Translation of project-related documents

 Training (e.g. social media, language courses necessary for communicating research)

 Other costs needed to undertake outreach activities

A downloadable list of the above eligible expenses is available here.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. In addition, selection for a fellowship does not imply that all costs requested will be automatically granted. The Selection Committee will evaluate each expense requested in the proposed budget and take a final decision on related costs to be awarded.

Additional support provided by OWSD:

Two training workshops per fellowship on managing the grant, leadership, outreach and entrepreneurial skills.

 The first workshop (held in October of the first year of the fellowship in Trieste, Italy) will establish communication and networking between fellows and provide guidance on how to set up a lab, manage a research group and link with industry. Fellows will present their research projects and work plans and receive feedback.

 The second workshop (held towards the end of the second year of the fellowship) will provide feedback on the fellows’ work during the first year and discuss the best ways to ensure the research project is sustainable beyond the duration of the fellowship. This workshop will be hosted by one of the four OWSD regions, possibly by an appropriate OWSD national chapter or national academy.

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)



To be eligible to apply for the OWSD Early Career fellowship applicants must meet the following criteria:

1. Eligible countries

Africa: Angola*, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi*, Cameroon, Central African Rep.*, Chad*, Comoros*, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire*, Dem Rep. Congo*, Equatorial Guinea*, Eswatini (Kingdom of)*, Ethiopia, Gambia*, Ghana, Guinea*, Guinea-Bissau*, Kenya, Lesotho*, Liberia*, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali*, Mauritania*, Mozambique*, Niger*, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe*, Senegal, Sierra Leone*, Somalia*, Tanzania, Togo*, Uganda, Zambia*

Arab region: Djibouti*, Palestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip)*, Sudan*

Asia and the Pacific: Afghanistan*, Bangladesh, Bhutan*, Cambodia*, Kiribati*, Lao People’s Dem Rep., Mongolia*, Myanmar*, Nepal, Solomon Islands*, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan*, Timor-Leste*, Tuvalu*, Vanuatu*

Latin America and the Caribbean: Bolivia, El Salvador*, Guatemala, Haiti*, Honduras*, Paraguay*

* No OWSD Early Career fellowships have yet been awarded to countries marked with an asterisk. Candidates from these countries are strongly encouraged to apply.

 Applicants must have been resident in one of the listed Science and Technology Lagging Countries (STLCs)* for at least 5 years.

 Please note:

i) The 5 years do not have to be consecutive.

ii) The countries may vary slightly each year (please always check the current list).

 Applicants can be citizens of any country, provided that the above residence requirement is fulfilled.

*Based on criteria established by IDRC and in agreement with OWSD. Each year the list will be updated when the call for applications is opened.

2. Eligible employment

 At the time of application, applicants must provide proof of being employed at the university or research institute where the research project will be carried out. If employment has not yet commenced, a proof of employment offer and confirmation of acceptance is required.

 The institution where the research project will be carried out must be in one of the listed STLCs.

 Applicants must provide evidence that they will receive a salary from their university/research institute for the duration of the two-year fellowship.

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)


3. Eligible STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)

 Agricultural Sciences

 Astronomy, Space and Earth Sciences

 Biological Systems and Organisms

 Chemical Sciences

 Computing and Information Technology

 Engineering Sciences

 Mathematical Sciences

 Medical and Health Sciences

 Neurosciences

 Physics

 Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology

Research project proposals from other fields (social science, education, etc.) are not eligible and will not be taken into consideration.

Lower rates of research project proposals in chemical, mathematical, and engineering sciences, physics and computing and information technology were received during the 2018 and 2019 calls for applications and, thus, will be given priority consideration in the 2020 selection process. In addition, applicants coming from countries to which no OWSD Early Career fellowships have yet been awarded are strongly encouraged to apply.

4. Eligible academic qualification PhD in one of the above listed study fields.

 PhD awarded not more than 10 years prior to application.

Research project proposal

For more information concerning the research project proposal, please click here.

Required documents for application

We strongly encourage eligible applicants to start gathering all requested documentation as soon as possible. The documents listed below may take some weeks to prepare, especially when they require official signatures.

Applicants must submit:

1. Passport

 A scanned copy of the passport page containing personal details (photo, document number etc.)

 Passport-size portrait photo

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)

Proof of residence

 Official documentation that proves residency for at least 5 years in one of the eligible STLCs. As long as the address and the name of the applicant appear clearly, the following documents can be submitted as proof of residence: certificate of residency, statement from the local police office or municipality, population registry office, rental agreement, utilities bills, employment contract. This list is not exhaustive and alternative documents can be considered.

 If you are submitting any supporting documents in your local language, you must attach at least an informal translation into English. Documents without any English translation will not be considered.

PhD certificate

 A scanned copy of the PhD degree certificate or proof of PhD issued by the University.

Proof of employment

 A letter from the employer (dean, vice-dean or equivalent head of the applicant’s institution) on headed paper confirming applicant’s position at the institution and that the applicant will receive a salary for at least two years starting from the year of application.

 If employment has not been undertaken yet, a proof of employment offer and confirmation of acceptance will be requested from the applicant.

Curriculum Vitae

 Complete updated CV.


 Complete list of publications.

Reference letters

 Applicants must submit two (2) reference letters; at least one must be from a senior scientist familiar with the applicant’s recent research.

 The letters must include the referee’s contact details for follow up from Selection Committee.

Supporting statement of head of applicant’s institution

 The supporting statement of the head of the applicant’s institution completed and signed by the dean, vice-dean or equivalent head of institution. The supporting statement can be downloaded here.

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)

Budget file

 Applicants must upload a standardised budget file in Excel format inserting all items and related costs requested in order to undertake the research project. The file will be available for download from the online application system.

10. Additional documentation

 The applicant may wish to provide additional documents which provide evidence of skills, qualities or actions described in the research project (e.g. certificate of awards, memberships etc.).

All documents must be uploaded through the online application system. Do NOT email any documentation to OWSD.


The OWSD Early Career fellowship is intended for research that will have a demonstrable impact on the local, national or regional community.

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of eminent scientists who are specialists in each of the STEM subjects and have knowledge of the challenges facing women scientists from developing countries. Committee members will be appointed by OWSD and the selection meeting will be chaired by OWSD.

The Selection Committee’s decision is final and not eligible for appeal. It cannot be contested or subject to explanation or justification.

If selected for an OWSD Early Career fellowship, kindly note that OWSD must be informed by the fellow of additional/supplementary grants, funds and bursaries that have been awarded in connection with her research, specifying the donor, amount, duration and purpose of the grant. Please note that funding from other sources is seen as a positive demonstration of concept and feasibility as long as resources requested expand and supplement activities and resources rather than duplicate them.