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Center for a Livable Future-Lerner Fellowship Request for Applications 2024-25

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be prospective first-year PhD students at Johns Hopkins University. Currently matriculated students are not eligible and applications from these students will not be accepted.

Application Deadline: A completed application in PDF form is due Monday, January 22, 2024, by 5:00 p.m. EST. Letters of recommendation must be submitted by Monday, February 5, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Interview Dates: Mid-February 2024

Interview Location: Online via Zoom

Anticipated Date of Notification: Late February 2024

About the Fellowship

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) is announcing the 2024-25 application cycle for the Center for a Livable Future-Lerner Fellowship Program.

Established in 2003, the goal of the fellowship program is to support PhD students at the Johns Hopkins University who are committed to the discovery and/or application of knowledge about public health challenges associated with current food systems, and helping build healthy, just, equitable, and sustainable food systems.

As PhD students at Johns Hopkins, CLF-Lerner Fellows will be supported to complete their full-time Doctor of Philosophy program, including up to four years of full tuition support[1], stipend, individual health insurance coverage, and coverage of the yearly health clinic and one-time matriculation fees. Fellows may also be eligible to apply for additional support for thesis research activities after passing their school-wide preliminary oral examination.

A key component of the CLF-Lerner Fellowship Program is a series of “co-curricular” activities involving the cohort of fellows each year. These include a journal club, skills training sessions, opportunities to meet with visiting experts, participation in CLF program activities, and attendance at CLF-sponsored lectures and seminars. These activities provide opportunities to learn about food system issues, improve translational research skills, cultivate community and camaraderie among fellows, learn from one another’s research experiences, and expand professional networks. Competitive applications should highlight a desire to participate in and lead these important co-curricular activities. Strong preference will be given to applicants who will be in residence in the Baltimore area during all or most of the duration of their doctoral studies.    

Each fellow will have the opportunity to explore and develop collaborative activities with CLF program staff to share expertise with the public, community-based organizations, and/or policymakers. Fellows and fellowship alumni may also serve as a scientific resource to CLF program staff and be invited to attend meetings or events on behalf of CLF. Fellows are recommended to take food system classes taught by CLF staff members and JHU faculty—and to complete the Certificate in Food Systems, the Environment and Public Health.

Areas of Study

CLF-Lerner Fellowships support outstanding students engaged in the discovery and/or application of knowledge about challenges associated with the current food system or the creation of a healthier, more equitable, and resilient food system. CLF-Lerner Fellows conduct research projects addressing the public health challenges associated with current food systems, and helping build healthy, just, equitable, and sustainable food systems. Priority will be given to applicants with research foci in the following areas: addressing the impact of industrial food animal production; public health and agroecology; sustainable diets; and food systems and planetary health.

Steve Wing Fellows Track focused on Community, Science, and Innovation for Environmental Justice (CSI-EJ)

In honor of the pioneering environmental justice researcher and public health advocate Steve Wing, a specialized track within the CLF-Lerner Fellowship may be awarded. Applicants for this track should possess the desire and commitment to acquire the expertise needed to pursue a career dedicated to advancing environmental justice science following principles of community-based participatory research. Specifically, a fellow in this track will work in partnership with community organizations to address the community environmental justice and health impacts of industrial food animal production. 

Applicants who wish to be considered for this track should note this on the cover page of their application and highlight their interests in pursuing doctoral training in community-based participatory research to address environmental justice issues related to industrial food animal production in their personal statement. Prior experiences working with community-based participatory research partner(s), community organizations and/or stakeholders to address environmental justice issues related to industrial food animal production are highly desirable, but not required.

Evaluation and Selection of Fellows

Applicants will be considered for the fellowship award based on multiple criteria, including the relevance of the research interests to the stated purpose of the fellowship program, academic merit and achievement, performance in the fellowship interview, life experience, and recommendation letters.

Application Instructions

Applicants must compile documents into a single PDF file. In order to be considered for the CLF-Lerner Fellowship, all application materials must be received by CLF via email attachment before 5 p.m. EST on Monday, January 22, 2024. 

Format of the application

  1. Cover sheet providing the following information (one page): 
    • Applicant’s name and full contact information (address, phone number & email)
    • Anticipated PhD program/department
    • Eight or fewer keywords to describe your main areas of interest (e.g., industrial food animal production)
    • Names of JHU faculty you hope to work with/be advised by
  2. Personal statement (no more than three pages):  
    Applicants should submit a personal statement that articulates their (1) personal and professional commitment to help build healthy, just, equitable, and sustainable food systems; (2) research interests and alignment with fellowship priorities; (3) dedication to inclusion, diversity, anti-racism, and equity (IDARE); (4) career goals; and (5) research skills, relevant experience, and plan for gaining additional skills through coursework or other experiences.

    The personal statement should be double-spaced with 12-point font and 1-inch margins. Please put your last name in the upper right header of each page.
  3. Transcripts:
    Please submit unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. (Official transcripts may be requested later.)
  4. Curriculum Vitae or resume:
    Please include a curriculum vitae or resume.
  5. Letters of recommendation: 
    Applications should include two letters of recommendation outlining the applicant’s suitability for the fellowship. Letters should be submitted directly from the recommender to Phil McNab ( (applicants should NOT be copied on this email). Letters of recommendation are due February 5, 2024. 

For applicants to the Steve Wing Track, it is highly encouraged that one of the letters of reference be provided by a community partner organization who can speak about the applicant’s prior experience and/or future potential to advance community-based participatory research that responds to the environmental justice and public health concerns of industrial food animal production.

Submit PDF materials by 5 p.m. EST on Monday, January 22, 2024 to:

Phil McNab
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
111 Market Place, Suite 840, Baltimore, MD 21202
Tel: 410-223-1694

Interview Dates and Application Submission:
We will interview selected applicants by Zoom in mid-February.

NOTE: The Center for a Livable Future-Lerner Fellowship recipients will not perform any services to benefit the University in exchange for receiving fellowship stipend payments. The activities performed during the Fellowship award period are for the benefit of the student’s independent study and training.

[1] Tuition and stipend rates for the award will be consistent with those defined by the Department of Environmental Health & Engineering for PhD students (regardless of JHU division).