Smith Fellows

About the program

This post-doctoral fellowship program identifies and supports early-career scientists who will shape the field of applied conservation biology. David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowships are available to post-doctoral researchers (of any nationality) affiliated with a United States institution, proposing research that addresses pressing conservation issues for the United States.

Conservation biology as a discipline experienced dramatic growth over the past two decades and a growing body of academic research focuses on conservation applications. Nonetheless, post-doctoral opportunities for conservation biology graduates have been very limited.

In 1998, to help address this need, the foundation for David H. Smith (The Cedar Tree Foundation) and founding partner The Nature Conservancy established the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program, devoted exclusively to applied conservation research problems. By fostering the development of promising conservation scientists, the Smith Fellowship Program helps encourage this rapidly expanding field of scientific inquiry and link it to the practice of conservation.

In 2005, the Program moved to the Society for Conservation Biology. The Society for Conservation Biology’s relationships with leaders from a diverse constituency of conservation organizations world-wide offer Smith Fellows a broad range of research, application, and policy experiences. In tandem with the transition to SCB, renowned conservationist Dr. Michael Dombeck was hired as Executive Director of the Program.  Over the next sixteen years, Dr. Dombeck's dedication and leadership served to grow and steward the Smith Fellowship from its early stages to a present program which fosters the highest level of scientific innovation and application through a network of over 100 Fellows. Dr. Dombeck retired in 2021. Nicole Crane was hired in 2022 as the new Executive Director for the Smith Fellows Program and Jessica May as Program Associate in 2023. 

Fellowship Benefits

  • Two year annual salary of $65,000 (2024) and $70,000 (2025) research funds totaling $32,000 and an $8,000 travel budget.
  • Targeted professional development workshops and training events.
  • Lifetime membership in the Society for Conservation Biology including subscriptions to Conservation Biology and Conservation Letters