Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

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Through the Climate School Postdoctoral Research program, Columbia University’s Climate School supports the scholarship needed to tackle climate change and its related global challenges. The Climate School works to offer solutions through transdisciplinary research, partnerships, education, innovative technology, building knowledge, and the sharing of ideas.

The Climate School Postdoctoral Research program is the premier program in the world for those dedicated to a better understanding of critical scientific and social issues in Climate as well as in global sustainable development. Climate School Postdoctoral Researchers will join multidisciplinary teams of outstanding, committed scientists to advance our scientific understanding of these challenges and develop practical responses to address them. 

Successful postdoctoral candidates are matched with Principal Investigators and mentors from across the Climate School, including the  Climate School’s research centers and programs, the Lamont-Doherty’s Earth Observatory, Columbia University Medical Center, and other affiliated schools and departments. 

For a list of faculty and researchers who have expressed an interest in mentoring a postdoctoral researcher, please click here.

The program provides innovative postdoctoral scholars with the opportunity to build a foundation in one of the core disciplines represented within the Climate School (sustainability, the environment, social justice, and the geosciences), while at the same time acquiring the breadth of cross-disciplinary expertise needed to address critical issues related to sustainable development. Specific areas of research include carbon neutral economy, adapting to future climate, earth fundamentals, resilient ecosystems, climate, and social systems, and climate justice and equity. The program offers a unique intellectual surrounding that fosters cross-disciplinary interaction, research, and education.

To apply, candidates must complete the online application and submit a proposal for research that would contribute to the goal of global sustainable development. Proposals may suggest participating in, contributing to, or extending existing multidisciplinary Climate School projects. Candidates are also encouraged to develop new, innovative projects that connect Climate School expertise. In addition to submitting the application and proposal, candidates are encouraged to identify and contact their desired multidisciplinary mentoring team, i.e., two or more senior faculty members or research scientists/scholars at Columbia University with whom they would like to work during their appointment.

We encourage research proposals for topics from all areas of sustainable development and climate research for the postdoc program. This year, we are particularly interested in the following thematic areas, which we see as priorities for addressing some of the global challenges that the Climate School is working to address:

The Food Transition
The globally intertwined food system both contributes to climate change and is highly vulnerable to changing weather patterns. This initiative develops and disseminates robust evidence on sustainable pathways for food system transition, working closely with stakeholders locally and globally.

Coastal Viability
Coastal regions around the world face significant risks due to sea level change, both rising and falling. This initiative leverages fundamental research in sea level and coastal science to develop solutions and partnerships with local communities and governments to create a path to a more resilient future.

Energy Storage
Columbia is working to increase capabilities in battery technology, including improvements in performance, finding new materials for batteries that do not depend on rare metals, and understanding the intersection with the grid. 

Carbon Management
Columbia pioneered the scientific research and technological innovation for carbon removal and its sequestration into rocks, and is working to find new technologies for removing, transporting, and storing carbon.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Climate
Columbia has world-leading teams of climate modelers who develop precise methods for predicting the future under specific scenarios. These methods allow us to understand and map the changing world, including the impact of climate solutions and interventions. 

Disaster Resilience
Catastrophic events amplified or triggered by climate change lead to mass casualties, trauma, economic damage, and political instability. This initiative develops techniques to improve disaster preparedness, prevention, prediction, response, and resilience across societies.

Climate Finance and Risk 
Columbia’s team of leading scholars is developing the field of climate finance to understand the levers and resources required to support pathways toward decarbonization.

Climate and Environmental Justice
Climate variability and environmental sustainability dilemmas present unique challenges for various demographic groups inside and among countries and regions. It is critical that responses to climate and environmental challenges be informed by the needs, rights, histories, and visions of the future of groups who will be impacted by a particular policy or technical solution.

Questions? Email

The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) also awards postdoctoral fellowships in the earth, environmental, and ocean sciences. Please visit the LDEO Postdoctoral Fellowship page for more information.


Program Details

Start Date and Duration: Climate School Postdocs are appointed for twenty-four months and appointments typically begin on September 1. However, depending on individual circumstances, as well as the needs of a postdoc’s host research unit, appointments may begin as early as July 1.

Application Opens: Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Application Deadline: Wednesday, November 1, 2023, by 5pm Eastern Time

Reference Letter Deadline: Wednesday, November 8, 2023, by 5pm Eastern Time

Funding: Climate School Postdocs will receive an annual salary of $71,640. They are also awarded a research stipend of $12,000 over the two-year term for reimbursable expenses related to the appointment. These funds can be used for relocation and moving expenses, as well as for computers, travel, conference, journal, book, software, equipment, and other research costs.

External Funding: CCS Postdocs are encouraged to participate in the development and submission of research proposals in cooperation with their mentors, host research units, or other researchers. When doing so, they must follow all Columbia University rules applicable to postdoctoral scholars.

Visas: Columbia University only grants limited-term J1 visas for non-US citizens. Read more information on Columbia’s visa eligibility policies online.

Benefits: CCS Postdocs are considered Officers of Research and are eligible for benefits provided by Columbia University for full-time employees. For more information, please visit Columbia's Office of Human Resources online. The rules, regulations, and policies that govern employment at Columbia are also listed on the website.

Orientation: A series of information sessions and visits to  Climate School research units.

Spring and Fall Symposia: Two public symposia per year in which both first-year and second-year postdocs present their research and participate in discussions with the audience. The symposia provided a great opportunity for postdocs to engage the Columbia research community as well as the larger public in innovative research in sustainable development.

Postdoctoral Seminars: A seminar series in which each postdoc presents her or his ongoing research. Visiting speakers also participate in the seminars. Postdocs may also coordinate group projects that are designed, discussed, and implemented during these times. The meetings are informal and designed to foster interdisciplinary and problem-solving discussions among CCS Postdocs, faculty, and researchers. Lunch is provided. 

Other Climate School Seminar Series: Climate School Postdocs receive invitations to other events and speaker series at Columbia, including those sponsored by the  Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC), Earth Engineering Center (EEC), and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN).


Application Guidelines


To be eligible for the program, candidates must have received their doctoral degrees (Ph.D., M.D. or J.D.) within five years prior to the start of the appointment. All doctoral requirements must be fulfilled and the degree awarded before the start of the appointment. People holding current positions with rank above post-doctoral scientist are not eligible for appointment under university rules. Those holding current post-doc positions should contact our office to determine eligibility. The program is open to U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. Columbia University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.


Deadline: Wednesday, November 1, 2023 by 5pm Eastern Time

To apply to the program candidates must submit the following documents:

  • Online Application
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Brief Personal History
  • Research Proposal
  • 3 Recommendation Letters

In addition to submitting the application and proposal, applicants are encouraged, but not required, to contact their desired multidisciplinary mentoring team, i.e. two or more senior faculty members or research scientists/scholars at Columbia University with whom they would like to work during their appointment. Please note that an endorsement from a faculty member or researcher does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

Brief Personal History Format

Two (2) page maximum, double-spaced; one-inch margins, minimum 11 point standard font. The personal statement should include the following elements based on their relevance to your situation

  • Brief personal introduction and research statement.
  • Paragraph in your personal statement that addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Summary of any discussions you have had with potential mentors. Note: endorsement from a faculty member or researcher does not guarantee acceptance into the program.
  • Explanation of gaps in employment or studies (these will be considered on a case-by-case basis).
  • Prior postdoctoral positions - Columbia University policy only allows a cumulative maximum of 3 years in a postdoctoral position, whether held at or outside of the university. If you have prior postdoc experience, please contact Gabby Cohen to discuss your application.

Recommendation Letters

Three (3) recommendation letters are required by Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 5pm Eastern Time. Once an application is successfully submitted, the references listed will receive an email with the Applicant ID and the link to upload their letter.

Note: We strongly recommend informing your references of the request for a letter in advance of submitting your application. We also recommend following up with your references after you have applied to ensure that they have received the information to upload their letter. 

Research Proposal Format

Five (5) page maximum; double-spaced; one-inch margins; minimum 11 point standard font.

Bibliographic references are required but not counted toward the 5-page maximum. They should be included in the same document.

The research proposal should address how the proposed work will contribute to the goal of global sustainable development. Proposals may suggest participating in, contributing to, or extending existing multidisciplinary  Climate School projects. Candidates are also encouraged to develop new, innovative projects that connect  Climate School expertise.

Research Foci and Mentors

Research foci are determined by the postdocs themselves. Thus, Climate School Postdocs play an active, independent role in developing their own areas of expertise and research agendas. Candidates are encouraged to review the list of the Climate School's research units and relevant Columbia University and Barnard College departments to see the breadth of potential mentors and collaborators actively engaged in research at the university.

Candidates are strongly encouraged to identify and contact a mentor prior to applying. Candidates are also encouraged to scope additional members of the Columbia Climate School who hold the rank of Assistant Professor / Research Scientist or higher. For a list of faculty and researchers who have expressed an interest in mentoring a postdoctoral researcher, please click here.

Selection Procedure

Applications are reviewed by the  Climate School Postdoctoral Selection Committee, which is composed of senior  Climate School faculty from across the Institute. Care is taken to ensure that all of the  Climate School's core disciplines are represented in the Committee.

An initial, rigorous review of the applications examines several factors, including the following:

  • Strength of the research proposal
  • Relevance to the Climate School's mission and research themes
  • Interdisciplinary and collaborative potential
  • Practice/policy/community engagement relevance
  • Previous academic experience
  • Strength of academic/professional references

Applications that merit further consideration are moved forward to the directors of one or more relevant  Climate School research units. Based on feedback received from the research units, the Selection Committee reevaluates the applications in great detail before reaching a final decision.


Appointments will be announced in March 2024.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Please include a paragraph in your personal statement that addresses Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Applicants should demonstrate the following:

  • an awareness and understanding of systemic inequities that limit access
  • a desire to advance opportunities and upward mobility for historically underserved, underrepresented, and economically disadvantaged communities/populations
  • a clear demonstration of accomplishments, credentials, and/or a performance history that highlights a commitment to eliminating said barriers while also exploring the creation of opportunities when possible- in practice or research
  • plans or efforts to continue this commitment through tangible contributions that could be demonstrated through future research, activities, or service to communities or organizations that seek to advance these goals

Walkes, S. (2021). Developing Your DEAI Statement. The CPNP Perspective8(1).

Application date
24 months
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, History, Philosophy, Theology and religion
Social sciences
Other : Biology, Physics, mathematics and engineering