OPA Professional Development Travel Awards


Postdoc Professional Development Travel Awards provide funds to assist Northwestern postdoctoral fellows traveling to conferences, seminars, and meetings that will further their professional development and career advancement. Twenty-five (25) awards in the amount of $500 will disbursed in two cycles (for a total of 50 awards each year) as outlined below.


  • Applicants must have a University-designated title of Postdoctoral Fellow (see below) from any Northwestern department, research center, institute or school to be considered.  Research associates and research faculty are not eligible for this award program.
    • Postdoctoral Fellow
    • Postdoctoral Fellow-Dept. of Education
    • NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow
    • Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Applicants must be a current postdoctoral fellow (at time of application and travel)
  • Applicants must have completed at least one year of postdoctoral training at Northwestern (by the time of travel).
  • Applicants are eligible for a maximum of two awards over the entire course of their postdoctoral training.
  • Applicants are eligible to receive one grant per year.
  • Applicants can submit an application for attendance at a discipline-specific conference, professional development meeting, career development workshops, or other type of professional development or career development program. 
  • Travel awards are intended for supporting travel and participation in opportunities outside of Northwestern.  Applications requesting funds to attend outside programs that are already available at Northwestern will not be considered. Applications requesting funds to participate in a program offered at Northwestern will not be considered.


The next application period is open beginning Friday, January 6th at 9am and will close Friday, February 3rd at 5pm (CST).  Postdoctoral fellows interested in applying should submit all application materials through the online application form. Please follow application instructions closely as this is a highly competitive award and exceptions will not be made.

Applications must include the following components:

  • Fill out all fields of the online application form
  • Complete and upload REQUIRED budget form (download here) to the online application form
    • Must be itemized budget including all travel-related expenses even if more than $500 (ex: $200 for registration, 300 for flight. etc...)
  • Upload a CV or resume (maximum of 4 pages, upload as a PDF within online application)

The following applications will not be considered:

  • Incomplete applications (including applications with incomplete budgets or not using the required budget forms)
  • Applications that exceed the page limit
  • Applications received after the deadline
  • Applications for Northwestern-based programs
  • Applications not meeting eligibility guidelines

Important Dates:

  • CYCLE 1:
    • Postdocs must apply by August 12th by 5pm. Late applications will NOT be accepted, no exceptions.
    • Notification of award will be made by the end of September 2016
    • Transfer of funds to recipients will take place by the end of October 2016
    • Funds will be awarded for travel taking place between September 1st and February 28th.
  • CYCLE 2:
    • Postdocs must apply by February 3rd by 5pm. Late applications will NOT be accepted, no exceptions.
    • Notification of award will be made by the end of February 2017
    • Transfer of funds to recipients will take place by the end of March 2017
    • Funds will be awarded for travel taking place between March 1st and August 31st.
  • Please note:
    • Funds must be used by August 31, 2017
    • Reports must be submitted by September 1, 2017
    • Travel awards will not be awarded retroactively for travel that has already taken place

Selection Process

The Graduate School and Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will consider applications.  Criteria for review are as follows:

  • Essay questions (How will this augment your postdoctoral training and How will this promote your career development) will account for the majority of the score - 80%
  • Budget (use of correct form, completeness, accuracy and reasonable) - 5%
  • Research and professional progress - 15%

Post-award Instructions

  • Those selected to receive an award must provide a chartstring for use in transferring the award funds.  Reimbursements and use of the travel award must be done through the home department, research center or institute. We recommend notifying financial administrators in your home department of award in order to prevent delays in successful transfer of funds.
  • A one-page report of how the funds were used must be submitted to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs by September 1, 2017.
  • As a condition of the award, all recipients must submit an abstract to present (oral or poster) at the next annual Northwestern University Postdoctoral Forum (NUPF) symposium. The next symposium is being organized in partnership with Bioprofessionals and is called the Current Research and Future Careers Symposium and will take place on August 21, 2017.  To learn more about NUPF and their annual symposium, please visit the NUPF webpage.
  • Please note: failure to complete the report and abstract submission may affect eligibility for future OPA Professional Development Travel Awards.

Contact OPA with any questions.