Who is eligible to apply for the Mistletoe Research Fellowship? 

Currently, eligibility is limited to full-time postdoctoral fellows at participating programs and universities in the United States and Singapore. At some participating institutions, eligibility is also open to full-time advanced PhD candidates (all but dissertation) with advisor permission. 

At this time, Mistletoe Research Fellowships are open to most STEM fields and to limited social science fields.   

These broadly include:

Engineering, Life Sciences, Health Science, Computer Science, Environmental Studies / Ecology / Earth Sciences, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Statistics / Data Science / Informatics, and Experimental Psychology

If your discipline is in a sub-field, please select the closest applicable broad category when applying for a fellowship. 

Your field’s core training must heavily emphasize one or more of the following competencies: quantitative analysis and data manipulation, laboratory science, or engineering. Note that the fields of social science we can currently accept into the program either have data analysis as a primary focus (Statistics, Data Science, Informatics) or data analysis combined with a laboratory science component (Experimental Psychology). While we recognize and appreciate that many social sciences require training in quantitative methods, it is not the primary disciplinary focus that it would be for a PhD in Statistics.

If you are unsure as to whether your field is classified under a broad area, please reach out to our program for clarification. If your field is not included, please note over time it is possible that the foundation may be able to expand our program to additional fields and disciplines.  We are committed above all to making sure that the quality of training and professional development provided to Fellows in our program remains high as we expand. 

Note: Mistletoe Research Fellowships can be awarded to the same recipient more than once. Prior recipients of Mistletoe Research Fellowships will be allowed to reapply in following years, provided that they still meet all the eligibility requirements and completed the program in good standing.


I'm an international student at my university. Am I eligible to apply? 

The Mistletoe Research Fellowship is open to  postdocs (and PhD candidates at some institutions) at partner universities, regardless of your citizenship, as long as other criteria for eligibility is met. Our partner universities are located in the United States and Singapore. 

If you are not a U.S. Citizen but  you  are applying from one of our U.S. partner universities, you simply need to make sure you have an appropriate visa that authorizes your employment at your institution or enrollment as a student in the United States.  For the vast majority of international applicants, this will not be a problem.  However, it is important to make sure your visa is valid and current. Examples of visas might include F-1, O-1, J-1, or H1B but your institution may have a better list.

Similarly, if you are not a Singaporean citizen but you are applying from a Singaporean partner university, you will simply need an appropriate visa that authorizes your employment at your institution or enrollment as a student in Singapore.  For the vast majority of international applicants, this will not be a problem but again, you will need to make sure your visa is valid and current.

Your visa status will need to allow you to remain in the US or Singapore for

the duration of your institution's 2021-2022 academic calendar year. 


If you are unsure about your current visa status, your university may have an office of international student services. You can also check with your department for resources. 

If you are awarded a Mistletoe Research Fellowship, your institution will be asked to verify your employment / enrollment status as part of the post-award process. 

Assuming my institution lets PhD candidates participate, what is your definition of "advanced PhD candidate or ABD" for the purposes of fellowship eligibility?

The Mistletoe Research Fellowship is open to full-time PhD candidates at eligible institutions who are “all but dissertation,” meaning that all of your coursework is completed and a dissertation proposal has been approved. We recognize that at some institutions you may be called a "candidate" after your qualifying exams or coursework are complete. However, in order to be eligible we are looking to see that you truly are "all but dissertation." 

This means that you must have had your dissertation proposal  (not your actual dissertation) approved by your PhD advisor prior to our application deadline in order to be eligible. On the PhD advisor form your advisor will be asked to select the date on which your proposal was approved and then provide their electronic signature as certification. 


Our advisor form only allow your advisor to select that you will be in the 4th, 5th, or 6th+ year of your PhD in the 2021-2022 academic year because we are assuming that at the point of your application, you will have completed three years of your PhD work. It is our understanding that none of our partner institutions have "all but dissertation" requirements ( including coursework, qualifying exams, and dissertation proposal approval) that can be completed in only two years. 

But what if you are an exception to that rule and you HAVE completed all your ABD requirements and gotten your dissertation proposal approved in two years?  In this case, simply ask your advisor to select the date on which your proposal was approved and select "4th year" on the form in order to continue. 

What is your definition of "postdoc" for the purposes of fellowship eligibility?

We agree with the National Science Foundation that a "postdoc" is a temporary position awarded in academia, industry, a nonprofit organization, or government primarily for gaining additional education and training in research. We also recognize that there are variations in title. One might be called a postdoctoral fellow, postdoctoral scholar, research fellow, visiting fellow, or a research scholar amongst other titles.

In line with the definition above, the Momental Foundation uses a three prong test to decide if someone is an eligible "postdoc" for the purposes of the Mistletoe Research Fellowship program:

1) You have earned your PhD in one of our eligible fields and you are employed full time at one of our partner universities (meaning that you receive a salary or stipend) through the 2020-2021 academic year. 

2) You have a temporary non-tenure-line appointment that is focused primarily on research rather than teaching. Although we recognize that many postdocs do teach, we do not regard adjunct faculty or visiting assistants/lecturers as postdocs. One important indication that your appointment is focused on research is that you receive some amount of dedicated research funding (either from your department, your PI, or from an external grant). The Mistletoe Research Fellowship is designed to be a supplement that augments and enhances your research funding. It does function as well when it is your sole source of research funding. 

3) You are supervised by a mentor or by a PI - indicating that the position is a part of your continuing education and training in research. 

Is my advisor or PI allowed to also serve as one of my recommenders? 

Yes, absolutely!


Your advisor/PI must fill out a form indicating their support for your participation in the program, but this is not the same as a recommendation. Your advisor/PI can serve as one of your two recommenders as well.

My PhD is in Psychology and you listed Experimental Psychology. Am I eligible? 

At this time, the Mistletoe Research Fellowship is designed for individuals whose training heavily emphasizes one or more of the following competencies: quantitative analysis and data manipulation, laboratory science, or engineering.


This training requirement applies for Experimental Psychology but is very unlikely to apply for Applied Psychology or Clinical Psychology. While we do recognize that many social sciences require extensive training in quantitative methods, it is not their primary disciplinary and research focus. If you feel confident your core training does meet requirements, you should certainly apply for the fellowship. Note that the fields of social science we explicitly accept either have data analysis as their primary focus (Statistics, Data Science, Informatics) or data analysis combined with a laboratory science component (Experimental Psychology).


You will be your own best judge as to whether your training and background meet these criteria enough to apply, but we hope these clarifications are helpful.

What are the selection criteria and application requirements for the Mistletoe Research Fellowship?

Here are some of the criteria we consider in assessing applications:


  • Evidence of high-level scholarship  

  • A demonstrated interest in interdisciplinary work and collaboration.

  • A sincere interest in working with entrepreneurs (experience not required) or in community engagement and/or humanitarian projects.

  • A history of institutional or field service, such as committee participation or peer review 

  • Character traits, which include intellectual curiosity, self-direction, dependability, and a cooperation. 

We love introverts as much as extroverts (we are working with scientists and engineers after all!) but we hope

see in you a genuine desire to work and problem-solve with others.

Applicants are asked to submit our online application, two electronic letters of recommendation, a research statement, and a curriculum vitae. PhD candidates will be asked to provide proof of ABD “all but dissertation” status and advisor permission.

Fellowships are awarded by a Selection Committee comprised of  academics from non-partner institutions , senior career professionals in scientific, engineering, and technical fields, and thought leaders in the venture industry.  The committee additionally includes Momental Foundation's leadership team, as well as selected board and advisory committee members. 

Each completed application is read and evaluated independently by two Selection Commitee members . In order to ensure equity and avoid bias, Selection Committee members do not review applications from their own disciplinary field (ie. A Selection Committee member holding a Biology PhD will not review applications from fellow biologists).  Furthermore, Selection Committee members do not read applications from  institutions where they have any close relationship, either as an alum, committee member, or research collaborator. 

Can I reapply if I was previously a Mistletoe Research Fellow?

Mistletoe Research Fellowships can be awarded to the same recipient more than once.


Prior recipients of Mistletoe Research Fellowships will be allowed to reapply in following years, provided that they still meet all the eligibility requirements and that they completed the program in good standing.

Please note that being awarded a Mistletoe Research Fellowship in the past is no guarantee you will receive the award again. Provided that you completed in good standing, you will be assessed along with the current pool of candidates and your application will be assigned to a different reader than your previous application. 

Can I reapply if I previously applied but was not selected as a Mistletoe Research Fellow?

Yes, you are welcome to reapply for consideration, provided you remain eligible. 

We've certainly had applicants who were successful on a second try and we notice and appreciate your efforts to improve from previous attempts.

Note that  you will be assigned to a different reviewer on your subsequent application. 

Can I apply if I am doing a dual degree (e.g. MD/PhD, JD/PhD)?

For the purposes of this grant, a PhD candidate is defined as someone who has not only completed all coursework towards their PhD, but has also been approved to now focus on dissertation work.


If you are still completing coursework for another degree, even if that degree is not your PhD, you are not eligible as it is unlikely that you will have the bandwidth or scheduling availability to participate in the MRF Startup Collaboration, the required professional development component of this fellowship.

Can I apply if I am finishing my PhD and still in the process of securing a postdoctoral position?

Employment verification is required as a part of the post-award process. Your grant and fellowshp award are not finalized or announced until post-award verification is completed by your institution's administration.  Thus, if you have just finished, or are about to finish, your PhD we do not recommend you apply if you do not already have an assigned postdoc mentor.  Additionally, it does not matter if you completed your PhD at one of our eligible partner schools—your postdoc must also be at an eligible institution in order to be able to administrate your grant.


You may consider applying in the event that you are already in the process of seucring a postdoc position, have been assigned a postdoc mentor at one of our partner institutions, and are confident the final paperwork will be complete by the time fellowships are awarded and we begin our post-award verification process.

I really don’t understand what is meant to be in my condensed ‘Statement of Research.’ Can you please elaborate?

So we’re all on the same page, let’s recap the requirements from your application instructions.


  • Up to 600 words, single-spaced, 12pt font, in PDF format

  • This is a condensed version of what you may prepared for the academic job market.


Let’s begin by noting that this is NOT the “research proposal” that is sometimes requested as part of specific grant applications in order for members of the grant panel to evaluate your proposal in light of the grant’s specific scientific and funding objectives. The Mistletoe Research Fellowship does not require applicants to know in advance exactly how they will spend their Unfettered Research Grant and thus a detailed research and spending proposal are not part of your application.


The “statement of research” that we ask for is a condensed/edited version of the document that is sometimes requested as part of a basic application to a faculty position. It is designed to help a faculty search committee that is overwhelmed (and potentially divided) to understand who you are as a researcher and what you will bring to the table in the future. Our selection committee is reviewing you for a fellowship, not an academic faculty position but similarly, your research acumen and potential are very important to us.


It should cover:


  • Your area of focus and the core argument of your research. What are the primary research questions that you explore? Clearly identify and bound your sub-discipline. What is your purpose as a researcher? What specific approaches and methodologies do you use to tackle these problems?


  • What you have already accomplished in this area. This is not a list of your publications. This is an effort to help us understand specific examples of your findings, what their implications are, and the problems that you have already solved. If the previous section seeks to inform the reader what you do, think of this as the section to builds your credibility as a researcher.


  • A discussion of the future direction of your research. This is where you aim to excite people both in and outside of your field. Tell us a story – a compelling, believable, and credible story – that outlines your agenda for the next few years. What do you hope to accomplish from a research standpoint? Why does this matter, not just to you but to your field? Whether or not you intend to remain in academia, we’d like to see your research “roadmap” for what you hope to achieve and accomplish.




  • Be sure that you describe your research in language that someone educated but  outside of your specific disciplinary niche - can understand.  Think about your use of jargon and acronyms. You need to use technical terms to be specific but you want to be understood outside your subject area.


  • Don’t try to include figures or data here. You have limited space. Focus on a compelling argument.


  • Be bold but also realistic and specific.


Here are a few other resources we like for further advice: