Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about eligibility, the application process and how to craft a proposal
- How to Apply
Please download the draft application. You may use this template to begin drafting your proposal. If you opt to submit your proposal for the Downs Committee Mentor Match, this will also be used as a working document when meeting with the two Downs Committee members you will be assigned to review your final draft.
All final applications must be submitted on the Student Grant & Fellowship at Yale. Only applications submitted through this database will be considered. Please familiarize yourself with the format of the online application before completing it as there are differences from the draft proposal format.
All official deadlines are posted on the Downs Fellowship calendar.
E-mail Anjuli Bodyk with any questions.
- Which students are eligible to apply for the Fellowship?
- All graduate students proposing to conduct biomedical research in resource-poor countries and/or with marginalized populations are eligible to apply. This includes both masters and Ph.D. students in the health professional schools (Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and PA program), and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
- Who administers the Wilbur Downs Fellowship?
The Downs Fellowship Committee includes representatives from the schools of nursing, medicine and public health, the Physician Associate Program, as well as former Downs fellows. The current committee member list is posted on this website.
- What is the timeline for the Downs Fellowship application process?
Please see the Downs home page for current important dates.
Proposal Writing Workshops
Each Fall there are 5-6 proposal writing workshops that are sponsored by the Downs Committee. They are intended to provide students with a basic understanding of research methods (quantitative/qualitative study design, epidemiology and biostatistics) and ethical principles that will enable them to write, organize, and perform a research study abroad. Although this workshop is not mandatory for applicants, attendance will be taken and considered by the Down’s Committee. In addition, only students who attend 50% or greater of the workshops will be eligible for help from the instructor on their research proposals.
All applicants who submit their research proposals by the deadline will be matched with two Downs Committee members to serve as mentors. Working with assigned mentors provides applicants an opportunity to refine and ultimately strengthen their proposal and prepare for final submission.
Downs Committee Mentor Match
The applicant will be notified of the two committee members they were matched with and must take the initiative to contact and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. The Downs Committee member does not serve as or replace faculty advisors. ONLY applications received by the deadline will be considered for mentor matching. It is recommended to take advantage of this optional opportunity as the final application process is highly competitive. These proposals must be emailed to Anjuli Bodyk by the strict deadline.
All final applications must be submitted on the Student Grant & Fellowship Database by the deadline. Only final applications submitted through this database will be considered. In-person Interviews will then be scheduled and decisions announced shortly thereafter.
- What expenses are covered by the Downs Fellowship
Downs Fellows receive a modest award to undertake their research. In addition to this, the Fellowship will cover airfare and ground transportation to the host site, the travel health consultation and immunizations, visa fees, site-specific drugs.
Any questions about award disbursement schedule can be sent to Anjuli Bodyk.
- What is the purpose of the in-person interviews?
The in-person interview is a part of the overall evaluations of your application and gives the Committee members an opportunity to meet you in person and to assess your ability to respond to their questions and concerns about your study.
Applicants will be evaluated on the scientific and ethical rigor of the proposed study, its feasibility, quality of the cultural experience to be gained, applicant.
Each applicant/proposal should be scored with attention paid to each of the following characteristics:
- Innovation (hypothesis, contribution to science)
- Independence (in project development and execution)
- Design and Analysis (methods)
- Feasibility (size, resources, logistics)
- Culture (novel experience, language, safety, knowledge of country)
- Applicant (skill set, capability, professionalism)
- Advisory Support Quality (from Yale faculty advisor and host advisor)
Each interview will be attended by the full Downs committee (or majority) which includes faculty and Downs Fellow alumni from all health profession schools. The applicant is expected to give a presentation (no PowerPoint needed) up to 5-10 minutes in length. A 5-10-minute Q&A session afterwards will allow committee members to clarify any questions or concerns on all aspects of proposal, student preparation and cultural experience.
- Where can I conduct my study?
- Beyond scientific research experience, the Downs Fellowship aims to provide students with a novel cultural experience. Therefore, students are encouraged to consider sites/countries for their study in which they have not spent significant time before. Nevertheless, the Committee will consider all applications on a case-by-case basis. We are working on facilitating feedback from Downs Committee members on research sites as well as the overall proposals before the final submission. We encourage applicants to pay close attention to the input provided by Downs Committee members on the project site and to develop strong arguments for why returning to a site they are familiar with still represents a significant cultural experience. In addition, some schools have travel restriction policies for certain countries. Please contact the Dean of Students (or other appropriate administrative contact) at your School for more specifics.
- How do I identify a site or start making connections that will lead me to identifying a potential project?
This can happen in a variety of ways. For example:
- You have a particular geographic region to which you want to travel. With this information in mind, you look for faculty members who are doing work in this area and find out if there are opportunities for you to work with them.
- You have a particular area of interest (i.e. maternal and child health, infectious disease, health and conflict, etc.). With this in mind, you search for faculty members who are doing work on this topic or have similar interests to discuss if you can work with them or if they can connect you with others in the same field.
- You know that you want to conduct a particular type of research (i.e. qualitative, a specific kind of research methodology). You then search for faculty members who have expertise in this type of methodology to discuss ideas for summer research projects.
- Some past fellows have also contacted organizations directly that do work that interests them.
- Finally, please do not underestimate the resourcefulness of your peers in helping you find a project. Talk to your classmates and to past Downs Fellows for ideas of projects, organizations and faculty members to meet. A great starting point is searching the Yale University website for faculty lists in each school or program.
- What subjects of study are acceptable for the Downs Fellowship?
- The Committee is interested in all types of studies related to biomedical sciences in resource-poor countries and/or with marginalized populations. The scientific and ethical rigor of the study, rather than a particular methodology (e.g. quantitative, qualitative) or topic, is the main concern of the Committee.
- Who can serve as an adviser/preceptor?
- Downs fellows must have a faculty advisor here at Yale AND a preceptor on-site at the host institution. It is important that applicants show they have institutional support in their host country. Sometimes students find a project through another academic institution and/or organization. If this is the case, please keep in mind that you will still need to have a Yale faculty advisor for your project. Any Yale faculty member can serve as an advisor regardless of the school or department affiliation at Yale.
- Can the research conducted through the Downs fellowship satisfy thesis requirements?
- Completing a thesis using your Downs research is not a requirement of the Downs Fellowship, but fellows are strongly encouraged to develop theses based on their Downs projects, as well as develop and submit manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals.
- Am I supposed to work on my own or with an organization?
- You are expected to design your own project, but conduct your research under the supervision of an organization working in the country and your faculty advisor at Yale.
- Where can I get more information about the Downs Fellowship?
- What letters of support are required?
The final application should be accompanied with two letters of support; one from the Yale faculty adviser and the other from the host country sponsor. Ideally, the sponsor letter should include:
- Statement that they and their institution / agency agree to be a collaborator
- Length of your project
- Your main responsibilities
- Relevance of your research and its significance to their ongoing work
- Any relevant local resources (equipment, library, etc.) for your project
- What are the responsibilities of becoming a Downs Fellow?
- Attend New Fellow Induction Celebration (spring)
- To conduct your study upholding the highest scientific and ethical standards
- Adhere to the Fellowship rules and instructions as communicated by the Chair of the Downs Fellowship Committee
- Participation in International Pre-Departure Training workshop prior to departure. Date and time of scheduled sessions will be announced
- Welcome back social with Fellows and Committee members
- Individual debriefing session with assigned Committee member
- Submit a preliminary research report of your project. Criteria TBA
- Present your project results at the annual Downs Fellowship event in the fall. Each Fellow is required to present a research poster or give an oral presentation (associated costs will be covered directly by Downs Fellowship)
- Write thank you letter to Downs Fellowship donors. Criteria TBA
- Be willing to serve as a resource to fellow students in applying for Downs Fellowship
- Participate in new applicant events such as info sessions and project prep and/or pre-departure panels
- Apply to sit as a student representative on the Downs Fellowship Committee for two academic semesters. Roles and responsibilities will be shared during application period.
- Is it necessary that I choose a country that speaks a language in which I am fluent? If not, what should I be prepared for in terms of language barriers?
- The Committee acknowledges the importance of language in terms of the quality of the research and cultural experience of Downs-supported projects. While fluency in a particular language is not an absolute requirement of the Fellowship, the Committee will assess whether the applicant’s language competency is sufficient to conduct the proposed research adequately and take full advantage of the cultural experience. If the applicant’s language skills are deficient, the Downs Committee will expect the applicant to have a plan to address this during his/her preparation for and execution of the research (i.e. hiring a language tutor prior to departing, hiring Research Assistants and/or interpreters as needed, etc.). Applicants should keep in mind that Yale has great resources through the Center for Language Study.
- How long does my Downs project have to be?
- Projects are expected to be a minimum of 10 weeks. A majority of projects are greater in length.
- Is it required that my project be concluded at the end of my time in-country?
- The Committee expects applicants to develop research plans that are feasible in the funded research period. The expectation is that students finish their data collection while in-country, and subsequently work on data analysis and writing up their results upon their return. Applicants should be prepared to address delays and unforeseen circumstances by establishing systems for data collection to be ongoing after their departure.