Call for Applications

Kavli Center fellowship applications are open and now due Oct 7th

The Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public invites applications for its inaugural fellowship program.

Introduction to the Fellows Program

Discoveries in science and technology are moving quickly from basic research to real-world applications, sometimes with societal-scale impact. As scientists become increasingly involved in developing the applications of their work, they are encountering challenges that fall outside their expertise. We need a new kind of training that prepares scientists to confront the future ethical challenges of their fields, and that creates social scientists, philosophers, journalists, and policymakers who are able to work with scientists and diverse communities to ensure that the applications of scientific discoveries protect and advance fundamental human interests. The Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public (KCESP) aims to build a transdisciplinary community of research and learning that breaks down barriers between disciplines and across academia and society, to work together to envision the futures we want our scientific advances to create. 

The center is launching its inaugural fellowship program and is looking for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and professional schools who are interested in exploring ethical challenges, advancing solutions, and identifying ways of involving impacted communities and the public in science and technology. Successful applicants will be offered a fellowship of up to two years with funding available to work and study in the center and be a part of a new kind of community. 

About the Center

The UC Berkeley Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public comprises three elements: a “hub,” representing the core activities of the center, where all affiliates come together to address fundamental ethical questions across disciplinary boundaries; “spokes” linking these activities to specific scientific disciplines; and an “axle” connecting the center with the larger society it sits within. Current spoke sciences focus on genome editing, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience. These areas have enormous potential to benefit humanity but also raise questions of practical and existential ethical significance and may affect distinct communities differently. Bringing these three scientific fields together under one center enables the identification of shared challenges and the translation of solutions and lessons learned from one to another. Read more about our vision and key research questions here

The Kavli Center partners with many departments and institutes on campus to provide fellows with access to leading researchers and scholars in their fields. Read more about our structure and faculty affiliates here


Applicants are eligible for the fellowship if they are:

  1.  Graduate students who meet the following conditions:

    • Enrollment in a UC Berkeley graduate degree program in either 

A) a science or technical degree program relevant to one of the three scientific spokes: Artificial Intelligence, Genome Editing, or Neuroscience.


B) a humanities or social science discipline, or a professional school, in fields including (but not limited to) Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, Ethics, Public Health, Public Policy, Journalism, Business, or Law.

    • Completion of the first-year course requirements in their home departments (for those in the sciences and professional schools) and selection of a primary adviser/PI (for those in the sciences), or advancement to candidacy (for those in the humanities and social sciences).

  1. Current or incoming postdoctoral scholars:

    • Who at the start of their fellowship will hold a doctoral degree for research in either

A) Artificial Intelligence, Genome Editing, Neuroscience, or a field closely related to one of these three spoke areas;


B) Humanities, social sciences, or professional fields including (but not limited to) Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, Ethics, Public Health, Public Policy, Journalism, Science Communication, Business, or Law.

Program Elements

The KCESP Fellowship program is designed to bring scholars from the sciences, humanities, and professional schools together to form a transdisciplinary cohort where fellows can “learn the language” of each other’s disciplines. KCESP provides Fellows with many opportunities to engage with one another and with our community, including opportunities to participate in core projects of the center as well as access to skills workshops. 

The center aims to support fellows in a variety of different paths. Some fellows will work with KCESP-affiliated faculty to carry out original scholarship that aligns with the center’s research questions and mission. Others may wish to use their fellowship to supplement their graduate program, expand their training into an orthogonal field, or to augment their primary research with projects and collaborations that address the ethical and societal implications of advances in genome editing, artificial intelligence, or neuroscience. This variety will contribute to a rich intellectual environment. We hope to see people cross the boundaries of typically siloed disciplines and explore the role played by public, stakeholder, or community perspectives in defining ethical applications of science and technology. 

We aspire to create a strong cohort of scholars who will continue to interact during their professional careers, and where connections and collaborations can be formed between current students, postdocs, and program alumni who have moved on to other positions in academia, industry, NGOs, foundations and government. By regularly convening program alumni and fostering connections, we will create a community that goes beyond UC Berkeley to effect positive change in the real world.


  • Attend pre-fellowship orientation and planning workshops (see logistics section).

  • Regularly attend and contribute to program activities which include presenting journal articles for discussion, contributing to or leading group discussions, helping to organize seminars, and exchanging feedback on work in progress. 

  • Attend project or skill development workshops and other center events.

  • Contribute to growing the KCESP community. This may be through any number of activities or projects, small or large, and can include forming or joining a working group, working collaboratively on a project such as a white paper, a public/stakeholder/community engagement event on a specific topic, a policy or regulatory proposal, or any number of meaningful efforts that align with the goals of the center.

  • Present your work to the broader KCESP community.

  • Participate in Alumni activities, returning periodically for cohort retreats and networking.



Fellows will have access to rotating desk space and meeting rooms in 621 Sutardja Dai Hall starting in spring 2023.

Start Date

Accepted graduate students will be required to attend two pre-fellowship workshops in the fall: a welcome and orientation meeting and a planning workshop to facilitate customization of the program to the interests and work of the fellows. Dates will be selected to align with faculty and fellows’ schedules. Graduate Fellowships begin at the start of the Spring 2023 semester, January 10, 2023 while the start date for Postdoctoral scholars is flexible and can begin as soon as fellows selections are made. Postdoctoral fellows are strongly encouraged to attend the fall workshops. 


Applicants are asked to provide a funding request as part of their application. Because of the wide variety of paths and work that the center aims to support, some fellows may require 20% funding, while others, such as fellows conducting their postdoctoral work entirely within the center, may require up to 100% of their stipend and benefits. Funding requests should be anchored in the anticipated time spent on KCESP-related work or activities.

How to Apply

Complete the appropriate online application:

As part of the application, you will be asked to include:

  1. A funding request along with a short budget justification that anchors the request in the time and needs of the proposed fellowship path. 

  2. An Interest Statement: Up to 750 words (or up to 1,000 words for interest statements that include research proposals) submitted as a form attachment (see the instructions below). 

  3. A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement: up to 250 words via a form field describing your personal background and contributions to diversity, equity, and valuing inclusion of a variety of perspectives and lived experiences. Applicants who address these as part of their interest statement may simply state so in the form field.

  4. A copy of your curriculum vitae or resume submitted as a form attachment.

  5. For postdoctoral scholar applicants: a writing sample (for example, a recent publication) submitted as an attachment.

Also required: A letter of recommendation from your faculty advisor or from a faculty member who is (or will be) supervising your primary graduate or postdoctoral work. Those applying for postdoctoral fellowships who do not yet have a UC Berkeley faculty advisor should instead provide a letter from a recent faculty advisor. Please have your letter of recommendation sent directly to KCESP-Fellowships@berkeley.edu

Instructions for the Interest Statement

Interest Statements should include the following:

  • Describe the relevance of the KCESP Fellowship to your academic or professional development. Why are you interested in this program? How will the program help you achieve your career goals or fill a gap missing in your current training and why? 

  • Propose a fellowship path. Describe how you wish to use your fellowship, if awarded. If you plan to use your fellowship to conduct research or original scholarship on a topic relevant to the center’s research questions and mission, please describe the work you propose to conduct. This may look like a short research proposal, or a description of a question you wish to pursue during your time at the center. Applicants interested in using their fellowship to advance their training should describe what they hope to gain from the program. We expect that not all successful applicants will have a clear path pre-defined and may instead hope to use the fellowship to explore how they might integrate some of the concepts and values of the center into their own research or practice. 

  • If you are proposing to conduct original scholarship, please include the name(s) of faculty that you plan or hope to work with. 

Statements should be no more than 750 words (or up to 1,000 words for interest statements that include research proposals), single-spaced, in Times New Roman 12 point font and include your full name at the top.

Deadline for First Review

The KCESP Steering Committee will begin reviewing applications in September. The application will remain posted until all positions are filled. To ensure your application is reviewed in the first round, please submit by 11:59pm PT on October 7th (extended from September 23), 2022. Those who submit by the first review date will be notified of the decision on their application by the end of October (extended), 2022


Please direct any questions to the Executive Director, Lea Witkowsky, at KCESP-Fellowships@berkeley.edu

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