Postdoctoral Fellowships to Enhance Academic Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

Since 1990, the Office of the Vice President for Research has supported two postdoctoral fellowship programs with the primary goal of diversifying the pipeline of candidates qualified to become academic leaders in their fields.  These programs support the stipend, plus benefits, for the fellows along with some funds for their research career development. The postdoctoral fellowship is focused on research advancement and achievements in coordination with a faculty mentor (s), enhanced by their engagement in the Inclusive Postdoctoral Enrichment Program (IPEP): The two fellowship programs are:

  • The Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellowship is named in honor of UK's first African-American graduate student, and prioritizes funding for candidates from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in the faculty ranks.  Race, ethnicity and national origin, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs manual, are among the factors that contribute to diversity and inclusive excellence.
  • The University Research Postdoctoral Fellowship for individuals training in disciplines with limited gender diversity. 

Research enrichment through IPEP: Because a major goal of these fellowships is to prepare the fellows to be competitive for faculty positions, The OVPR provides a special enhancement program associated with these awards. Fellowship recipients will pursue an individualized research program under the mentorship of one or more UK professors and actively participate in departmental and professional research related activities through IPEP. These activities include monthly research professional development opportunities, personal navigation, social and professional networking opportunities, connections to affinity groups and activities to engendered communities of belonging, all designed to enhance the fellow’s competitiveness for a future faculty position.

Eligibility: For both of these programs, applicants must:

  • Be eligible to compete for federally-funded postdoctoral grants. This includes the eligibility requirement that, by the time of award, the individual must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
  • Have completed the doctoral degree or the equivalent terminal degree within the past two years, or longer with justification, or will complete the degree before the date of appointment. Preference will be given to applicants who do not have a prior or present postdoctoral appointment at UK. Applicants who received their terminal degree at UK should be affiliated with a research group other than the one in which they did their prior research to expand their research experience.

Selection criteria. For both of these programs, applicants must demonstrate:

  • Evidence of scholarship with competitive potential for a tenure-track faculty appointment at a research university
  • Quality of the fellowship proposal and the fit with the research interests of the candidate’s chosen mentor(s)
  • Strong support from mentor(s), department chair and references
    We strongly suggest faculty who propose to serve as postdoctoral fellowship mentors are at the associate or full professor rank.  If a proposed mentor is an assistant professor, please propose a co-mentorship arrangement with a more senior faculty member. In the event of such a co-mentorship arrangement, we strongly suggest that the junior and senior mentors serve in different units/departments to ensure independence and autonomy. Please include a description on the affiliations and specific roles of both mentors and how independence and autonomy will be respected.
  • Compelling argument that the appointment would contribute to increasing the diversity within the candidate’s discipline

Stipend and benefits:

The fellowship provides a $61,008 stipend plus benefits. In addition, the fellow receives $2,000 for support of research and professional development activities. Fellowships are available for up to two years, with the initial appointment lasting for 12 months. With evidence of sufficient progress, but recipients may be considered for a second year.

Application process and components:

The application dossier should contain, in a single PDF document that will be uploaded into the UK employment system:

  • Cover letter that addresses how participation in this program would contribute to the compelling interest of diversity and inclusive excellence at the University of Kentucky and in the discipline.
  • Curriculum Vitae, including the names of  three references providing letters of recommendation.
  • A description of short-term and long-term career goals that have been discussed with your UK research mentor(s).
  • An original proposal describing the research planned, written independently by the applicant in a way that non-experts can evaluate (1,500 words or fewer; figures and references are not included in this total).

Additionally, the items below are required to be submitted. Please ask each of the following individuals to email their letters/materials to: with the applicant’s name in the subject line by the stated deadline.

  • A letter from the potential UK mentor(s) that endorses the candidate, acknowledges the candidate’s career plans and commits to ensuring the fellow participates in the career development activities associated with this program. If the proposed mentor is a junior rank (assistant professor), we strongly suggest co-mentorship with a more senior faculty member.
  • The mentor's curriculum vitae (5-page limit) that includes current and pending funding.
  • A letter from the potential UK department chair that commits departmental resources, such as space and computer support, and describes any additional departmental-level career development activities available to the fellow.
  • Three reference letters.

Submit your application for the Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellowship here. Deadline Nov 6, 2024.

Submit your application for the University Research Postdoctoral Fellowship here. Deadline Nov 6, 2024.

If you have questions, please contact us at