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CLF-Lerner Fellowship 2023-24

Request for Applications for Academic Year 2023-24

Eligibility to Apply Criteria: Applicants must be prospective 1st-year PhD students at the Johns Hopkins University. We will NOT consider applications from students who are currently matriculated.

Application Deadline: A PDF file is due Monday, January 30, 2023 by 8:00 a.m. EST. Letters of recommendation must be submitted by Monday, February 13, 2023 at 8:00 a.m. EST.

Interview Dates: Mid-February 2023

Interview Location: Online via Zoom

Anticipated Date of Notification: Late February 2023

Purpose and Overview

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) is accepting applications for its Center for a Livable Future-Lerner Fellowship Program, with a start date of July 1, 2023 and a potential end date of June 30, 2027.

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. While we will review applications from all prospective PhD students, the final awarding of CLF-Lerner Fellowships is contingent upon applicants’ acceptance into a PhD program. These are different application and review processes.

As PhD students at Johns Hopkins, CLF-Lerner Fellows will receive the financial support needed to complete their doctoral program, including up to four years of full tuition support[1], a cost of attendance stipend as determined by the Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, health insurance coverage for the individual fellow, and coverage of the yearly health clinic and one-time matriculation fees. The fellowship may also include up to $20K to support thesis research activities after passing the school-wide preliminary oral examination.

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. CLF welcomes applicants with domestic or global research interests and recognizes that some students may need to be offsite and/or abroad conducting research during part of the fellowship period. Students who are offsite during some of the fellowship period are expected to participate in fellowship program activities to the extent possible (e.g. developing an agreed upon plan for participation, including online options).  

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.   

In addition, 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 and/or technical advisor 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 conducting academic study involving 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 examining the complex relationships among food production, food security, diet, the environment and the public’s health. CLF’s priority focus areas include food systems research and policy development, with an emphasis on addressing the impact of industrial food animal production (IFAP); advancing agroecological methods of production; promoting sustainable diets; and understanding the food systems and climate change interrelationship. 

Evaluation and selection of CLF-Lerner Fellows

Each application will be evaluated by the CLF-Lerner Fellowship Selection Committee on the basis of the following: relevance of the research interests and career goals to the stated purpose of the fellowship program, academic merit and achievement, performance in the fellowship interview, life experience, letters of recommendation, and communication skills.

Application Instructions

Applicants must compile documents (except for the letters of recommendation) into a single PDF file. In order to be considered for the CLF-Lerner Fellowship, ALL application materials, with the exception of the letters of recommendation (due February 13 at 8:00 a.m. EST), must be received by CLF via email attachment before 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, January 30, 2023. 

Format of the application: double-spaced, in 12-point font with 1-inch margins. Page limits are noted in each section. Please put your last name in the upper right header of each page. 

  1. Cover sheet providing the following information (1 Page):
    • Applicant’s name and full contact information (home address, school address, phone number & email)
    • Anticipated degree program and 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 or be advised by
  2. Personal Statement (up to three pages)   
    Applicants should submit a personal statement that articulates their (1) personal and professional commitment to building a helping build healthy, just, equitable, and sustainable food systems; (2) primary research interests and alignment with CLF and the Center’s work and priority focus areas, such as addressing the impacts of IFAP, developing food systems research and policy solutions, advancing agroecological methods of production, promoting sustainable diets, and understanding the food systems and climate change interrelationship; (3) dedication to inclusion, diversity, anti-racism, and equity (IDARE); (4) short- and long-term career goals; and (5) research skills, relevant experience, and plan for gaining additional skills through coursework or other experiences
  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 as part of the application.
  5. Letters of recommendation: 
    CLF-Lerner Fellows should submit up to two letters of recommendation outlining the applicant’s suitability for the fellowship. Letters may be submitted in hard copy in a sealed and signed envelope OR sent via email directly from the recommender to Phil McNab ( (applicants should NOT be copied on this email). Letters of recommendation are due on Monday, February 13, 2023 by 8 a.m. EST. 

Interview Dates and Application Submission:

We will interview selected applicants by Zoom in mid-February.

Submit PDF materials by 8 a.m. EST on Monday, January 30, 2023 to:

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

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 costs for JHU doctoral students enrolled in schools other than the Bloomberg School of Public Health (BSPH) may not be fully supported.