2021 HHMI Gilliam Fellowships

Aug 28, 2020 | Awards & Funding, Faculty

To: All Divisional Faculty
From: Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations
Subject: Graduate Student Fellowship Opportunity

Dear Faculty:

UC Santa Cruz has been invited by HHMI to nominate 3 graduate student/faculty pairs to apply for 2021 HHMI Gilliam fellowships.

Please share broadly with your faculty, and have them route nominees to Susan Strome who is the campus liaison for this competition. The nomination deadline is very tight and we encourage you to distribute this announcement quickly and widely among interested departments and faculty.

Overview: The goals of the Gilliam program are to ensure that populations historically excluded from and underrepresented in science are prepared to assume leadership roles, including as college and university faculty, and to foster the development of a healthier, more inclusive academic scientific ecosystem. Click the link below to view the program brochure.

2021 HHMI Gilliam fellowships.

Funding: $50,000 per year for up to 3 years Deadline: September 9, 2020

Nomination due to Susan (sstrome@ucsc.edu). Please cc Almut Wolf (awolf2@ucsc.edu)

Message from Susan Strome:

Dear Colleagues:  Please help us identify and nominate 3 competitive graduate student/faculty pairs for support as Gilliam Fellows starting in Fall 2021.  See the attached announcement for details.

As Director of our T32 NIH Training Grant, I am invited to submit nominations, 1 graduate student initially, then 2 graduate student/faculty pairs, now 3 graduate student/faculty pairs this year. We have been very successful with UC Santa Cruz nominations, and have been awarded several 3-year Gilliam fellowships.

2015 – 1 fellowship: Jessie Perez (Forsberg lab)
2018 – 2 fellowships: Stefany Rubio/Lindsay Hinck and Gian Carlo Parico/Carrie Partch
2019 – 2 fellowships: Apple Vollmers/Susan Carpenter and Donna Poscablo/Camilla Forsberg


  • The student should be from an under-represented group, or occasionally HHMI considers students from a disadvantaged background.If you have a candidate in the latter category, please send me a few lines, and I will find out if they are eligible.
  • The student should be starting their 2nd or 3rd year of grad school this fall.
  • The student-advisor pairs must be studying scientific problems in biomedical and life science disciplines including plant biology, evolutionary biology, biophysics, chemical biology, biomedical engineering, and computational biology.
  • Selection criteria:  HHMI’s Gilliam awards are made on the basis of the

(1) commitment and demonstrated ability of the institution and the thesis adviser to develop outstanding scientists especially those from populations historically excluded from and underrepresented in science,

(2) commitment of the institution and the thesis adviser to fostering a healthier, more inclusive academic scientific ecosystem and

(3) the candidate’s promise as a scientific investigator, and potential for leadership in the scientific community, including as college and university faculty.

The Gilliam announcement describes nomination components that must be provided by me as the institutional representative, by the thesis advisor, by an outside letter-writer, and by the prospective fellow. They ask for a lot, so before nominating yourself and a graduate student in your lab to be the student/faculty pair, think hard about the nomination components and our ability to present a compelling case.


  • September 9, 2020: Nomination Letter
    To help us identify competitive student/faculty pairs, please submit nomination letter (2 pages max) that briefly addresses the major components of the nomination.  At this stage, we care more about learning as much as possible about the student/faculty pair than beautiful prose.  From sitting on the Gilliam review panel for 2 years, it also appeared to strengthen students’ applications for them to have a compelling life story and to have participated in outreach before entering grad school.
  • September 14, 2020: Campus Selection due to HHMI
  • December 10, 2020: Submission due to HHMI:

To apply:

(1) your (PI) CV, including grant support
(2) the student’s CV
(3) a nomination letter (2 page maximum) addressing the questions below:

  • Is the student from an under-represented (UR) group?  HHMI does not count females as UR.  If not UR, from what type of disadvantaged background does the student come?
  • What is the student’s path to graduate school?  Did the student have to overcome obstacles and challenges?
  • Was the student active in outreach before grad school?  How about during grad school?  Briefly describe outreach activities.
  • Does the student want to and show potential to be a leader and advance diversity in science?
  • What year of grad school will the student be in this fall?
  • Please provide 2-3 sentences describing the student’s PhD project. Is it high quality, creative, and likely to succeed?
  • Do the mentor and the graduate program have a good training plan in place? This must be well developed in the final application

If you want me to ask HHMI for clarification or about a specific area, I can do that.

PLEASE email your nomination letter to Almut (awolf2@ucsc.edu) and me (sstrome@ucsc.edu) by Wednesday September 9. After we settle on 3 nominees, I will work with the faculty mentors on the nomination steps.


If you have any questions or comments, please contact sstrome@ucsc.edu