Applications Now Being Accepted for Marie Tharp Visiting Fellowship

Applications Now Being Accepted for Marie Tharp Visiting Fellowship

The National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program of the Earth Institute at Columbia University invites applications for the Marie Tharp Visiting Fellowship for Women. This award aims to provide an opportunity for women scientists and engineers to conduct research at Columbia University.  Fellows will be appointed as visiting scientists and awarded up to $30,000 for a period of 3 months, and will have an opportunity to work with faculty, research staff, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students during their fellowship. Each Fellow is expected to participate in ADVANCE activities and make a scientific presentation during her residence. The program awards three to four Marie Tharp fellowships each year.

About the ADVANCE Program

Funded by a five-year, $4.2 million National Science Foundation award, the Columbia University ADVANCE Program seeks to increase the participation and advancement of women scientists and engineers at Columbia through institutional transformation.  The goals of the program are to: (1) change the demographics of the science and engineering community at Columbia; (2) cultivate an environment that attracts, fosters and promotes women leaders in science and engineering; (3) stimulate institutional cultural change based on social and behavioral science research about gender and race.

About Marie Tharp

The fellowship is named after Marie Tharp, who was the first person to map details of the ocean floor on a global scale.  She published the pivotal interpretation of mid-ocean ridges that was crucial to the eventual acceptance of the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift. Tharp based her work on data from sonar readings obtained by Maurice Ewing and his team.  Piecing together data from the late 1940s and early 1950s, she and colleague Bruce Heezen discovered a 40,000-mile underwater ridge girdling the globe and established the foundation for the conclusion that the sea floor spreads from central ridges and that the continents are in motion with respect to one another—a revolutionary geological theory at the time.  Years later, satellite images proved Tharp’s maps to be accurate.  Tharp came to Columbia in 1948.  She then moved to the Lamont Geological Observatory (now the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory), where she began work on mapping the ocean floor. Her map of the ocean floor is still the foundation for research and education in the ocean sciences.


The competition is open to women scientists in the natural sciences and engineering. Faculty, staff and research scientists at Columbia University are not eligible to apply.  Applicants must hold a Ph.D. Minorities and mid-career women are especially encouraged to apply.   Applicants must be eligible to work in the U.S.

What Does the Fellowship Entail?

The duration of the Marie Tharp Visiting Fellowship is for a period of three months.  Visiting Fellows are encouraged to visit for three consecutive months, but they may choose to take their fellowship in separate monthly visits.  The fellowship must be taken in residence at one of the units or related departments in the natural sciences at Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, or the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The fellowship will provide up to $30,000 for support of the Fellow during the three-month period.  The funding can be used for salary, research expenses, travel, childcare and fieldwork expenses.

Application Procedure

All applications must be submitted online at by January 16, 2009. Please read the application guidelines carefully before submitting your application.

Selection Criteria

All proposals will be reviewed by a committee of scientists and engineers at Columbia for scientific excellence and potential contribution to the University’s research activities.  Final decisions will be made by the ADVANCE Executive Committee.  Marie Tharp Visiting Fellows will be notified of their appointment by March 16, 2009.