- Am I allowed to apply for a concurrent fellowship?
There is no restriction on having a concurrent fellowship as long as it doesn’t prevent you from working on the research outlined in your proposal and from participating in the scholarly activities at CHF (i.e., from being “in residence” here, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.).
- When are successful candidates notified?
Once the application deadline passes in mid-February, a peer-review committee convenes to evaluate the applications as soon as possible. You can expect to hear from us by the end of May, regardless of the outcome of your application.
- Is my research project appropriate? What sorts of projects does CHF fund?
Our fellows’ research projects cover a wide variety of subjects and time periods owing to CHF’s desire to broadly construe our mission to support research in the history and social studies of the chemical and molecular sciences, technologies, medicine, and industries. Fellows studying the history of 16th-century alchemy will find themselves next to someone researching the history of 20th- and 21st-century semiconductors or pharmaceuticals. To learn more about the research interests of our current and past fellows, please visit our current fellows page. If you have any concerns about whether your project is appropriate, please contact us.
- How are references submitted?
In the application form you will provide the names and contact details of two referees. We will e-mail your references, instructing them on how to submit the letter through our website. Please inform them that you have planned to use them as a reference and that they should have a letter ready to submit. Your referees will be asked to submit their references by February 28.
- When should I arrive at Philadelphia for my fellowship? How long is appropriate for me to stay?
Our fellows should arrive around the beginning of September, but a few folks like to start a little early (late August) or a little later (late September) if they have previous commitments (such as giving a paper at a conference). Our fellows typically depart in June, although some choose to stay on for the summer. For the most part we cannot accommodate fellows before July 15 in the fellowship year for which you apply.
- Will I have to be in Philadelphia all the time?
The CHF fellowships require fellows to be in residence throughout their fellowship tenure. While you may leave for short periods (e.g., conference travel), extended periods of absence are only permissible for medical emergencies or other special circumstances. In those cases your stipend and fellowship may be suspended or even canceled. It is important that you contact us immediately in case of an emergency so that we can decide the best course of action.
- Is it possible to split my fellowship term up?
No. If you apply for a short-term fellowship, you must be able to take the fellowship that you apply for and accept at one continuous stretch. You may reduce the length of your short-term fellowship to accommodate your schedule, but the stipend will also be reduced by a comparable amount.
- How will my stipend be paid, and to where?
Your stipend will be paid throughout your stay in regular installments. It is very easy, even for non-Americans, to open a bank account here (free of charge), and your stipend will be paid directly into your U.S. bank account.
- Will I need to pay taxes on my stipend?
U.S. federal taxes are not withheld on fellowships for students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. You can find additional information about tax issues related to your fellowship awards on the Web at the IRS’s Tax Information for Students
website. For international fellows the tax situation depends on the rules and regulations of your home country. The University of Pennsylvania’s website has general tax information
for international students and scholars.
- Will CHF provide health insurance?
No. You are responsible for your own health insurance during your stay at CHF. There are several companies through which fellows can purchase health insurance. International fellows should investigate health coverage from their home country (for instance, one-year travel insurance). Those traveling on a J1 visa may also need to show proof of health-insurance coverage to enter the United States.
- What IT facilities are there at CHF?
Fellows with their own offices (all long-term and some short-term fellows) will have a PC in the office for their use. You can also bring your laptop along. There are printers for everyone’s use on each floor, as well as photocopying machines and scanners.
- Am I expected to keep set hours?
Our fellows do not keep set hours, though we like to have them around during the workday as much as possible. Fellows have keys to the building and can also work before or after hours, including on weekends.
- Am I permitted to work from home occasionally?
Fellows can work from home “occasionally.” That is, we like to have fellows here regularly to foster the interaction we aim for within our scholarly community, but it is not unusual for fellows to do occasional research outside of the building.
- What hours do fellows have access to the library?
The Othmer Library is open for fellows Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Most of our books are in closed stacks; so you need to request books to check out. The process is easy, and books are made available quickly. Reference books are accessible in our reading room for everyone but cannot be checked out. Our current journals are also on open shelves in the reading room. All fellows also receive a card that grants full access to the University of Pennsylvania’s libraries, online journals, and databases.
- Will I get an office? Are the offices shared? Do they have a lock or is the area generally secure?
All long-term fellows will receive offices surrounding the Dow Public Square adjacent to the Othmer Library’s Jacobs Reading Room. Short-term fellows will be assigned a carrel in the comfortable and spacious Jacobs Reading Room. Offices for long-term fellows are not shared offices; so you’ll have one to yourself. Short-term fellows may share one office for meetings or phone calls if they are otherwise stationed in the reading room. There are no locks on our offices (except for our financial and HR offices). The building is pretty secure, but just to be safe, we don’t recommend leaving valuable things overnight.
- Is there a dress code at CHF?
There is no dress code per se, but you will find that CHF staff dress up more than you might find at a university or college owing to frequent functions and outside visitors. Casual but presentable clothes are fine. CHF does observe “casual Fridays,” on which most people dress in a more relaxed manner. If you attend a CHF event—and fellows are invited to many of these—business or business casual attire is most appropriate. (Further, CHF is a modern, air-conditioned building that many people find chilly, even in the summer. We recommend having some warm clothing if you tend to get cold in air conditioning.)
- What latitude do I have for attending conferences and colloquia?
CHF encourages our fellows to attend conferences and colloquia and engage with local academic communities. We ask that you attend our own Tuesday brown-bag lunches (our talk series) and biweekly writing-group series, and we recommend the University of Pennsylvania’s History and Sociology of Science Department’s Monday afternoon colloquia as well as the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science’s monthly colloquia. All CHF Fellows should identify themselves as such in any presentations made during the academic year in which they hold their fellowship, though if you have another affiliation, listing dual affiliation is entirely appropriate.
- What should I know for my first few days at CHF?
On your first day you are introduced to CHF through orientations about our building, library, computer procedures, etc. You also receive advice on opening a bank account, amenities in the area in which you live, and answers to any other questions you might have. We provide you with printed guides to Philadelphia and CHF and do everything we can to make your transition to CHF a smooth one. (Please note that since we enroll several staff members in your orientation, it is vital that we know the exact date of your arrival at CHF and that you arrive promptly.)