Carnegie Mellon University

McWilliams Presidential Fellowships in the Mellon College of Science

Two McWilliams Presidential Fellowships in the Mellon College of Science are selected each year. Each department may nominate up to two students in each phase. Each department head should establish his/her own process to identify candidates, select nominees, prepare nominations and rank those applications prior to submission to the dean's office.

Thanks to a very generous gift from Dr. Bruce McWilliams (S '78, '78, '81), an endowed fund has been established to provide fellowships to graduate students in the Mellon College of Science studying in an area where Carnegie Mellon has a comparative advantage and where research is at an emerging or critical stage. This fellowship will initially focus on students doing research in the areas of nanotechnology, biophysics or cosmology, with the donors' strong preference for supporting chemistry or physics students.

The fellowship will provide tuition, stipend and fees for one academic year (9 months), or until the recipient graduates, whichever comes first. Note that the recipient of the fellowship will be asked to write to and be available to meet with Dr. McWilliams during and after the fellowship to keep him apprised of ongoing progress.

One goal of the Presidential Fellowships is to attract and recruit top students to Carnegie Mellon, so the selection process will take place in two phases.

Eligibility and Deadlines

Phase 1. Prospective students

Each department may nominate up to two prospective students from among the top Ph.D. applicants to their Ph.D. programs. Nominations are due the second Friday in February. To be eligible, prospective students must have excellent grades, excellent GREs and prior research experience in cosmology, nanoscience or biophysics, as well as meet the university’s required minimum TOEFL score.

Nominations must include:

  • The nominating department head’s (or his/her designate’s) endorsement of the nomination in 1-2 paragraphs, including information from email or phone interaction with the nominee and information about faculty members who are committed to helping to recruit the student.
  • The nominee's complete admissions application package

Phase 2. Current students

If one or both McWilliams Presidential Fellows are not recruited by April 15, the remaining eligible MCS departments may nominate up to two current students in at least their third year of graduate study at Carnegie Mellon. The nominees must have successfully completed all of the requirements expected at that stage in their degree program. Nominations are due the last Tuesday in May.

Nominations must include:

  • The nominee's statement of his/her research accomplishments, research goals for the next 1–2 years, and how this fellowship would specifically impact their research (2–3 pages),
  • The nominee's up-to-date curriculum vita,
  • One letter of support from his/her research advisor(s) describing Carnegie Mellon's comparative advantage in the student's research area, evidence of the student's current and potential contributions to this area, and the impact of those contributions at the current stage of research, and
  • A second letter of support from a faculty member (either a Carnegie Mellon faculty member or a collaborator from another institution) who is familiar with the student's work and can comment on the stage of the research.

Nominees and letter writers are encouraged to include information that will make the candidate's credentials clear to a selection committee drawn from a broad range of scientific disciplines.

Selection criteria

Selection will be based on prospective students showing promise through early accomplishments or current students showing a significant track record in the following areas:

  • outstanding experimental or theoretical accomplishments or results,
  • creativity and initiative,
  • contributions to collaborative efforts, and
  • publications and presentations.

Applications should be submitted electronically to Janice Sherry, Executive Assistant to the Dean, The Dean will appoint an ad hoc selection committee to make a recommendation regarding selection of the recipients.