The mentorship programme aim is to support strong senior Independent Research Fellowship (IRF) applications to join the Department of Biology.

Successful applicants can expect to be paired with a senior academic mentor in the department of Biology. The mentor will provide advice and support to strengthen fellowship applications, as well as ensuring optimal costings and support letters are prepared within funder timeframes. 

The programme invites applications from early career researchers with excellent track records to achieve independence, for UK and International funding schemes such as:

  • Royal Society University Research Fellowships 

  • Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships 

  • Wellcome Trust Fellowships 

  • NERC Fellowships 

  • BBSRC Discovery Fellowships 

  • ERC Starting Grant 

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Applications are advertised yearly, typically in early January. There is an annual deadline to express your interest in obtaining the Department’s support to apply for the above fellowships. Interest is welcomed from early career researchers in all areas of biology, including those at interdisciplinary boundaries with other life sciences, physical or social sciences who may draw on the outstanding breadth of Oxford’s research environment. 

If you wish to seek the Department’s support to apply for any of the fellowships listed above, you must engage with this process.

Selected applicants are assigned a mentor who provides support and advice. The aim of the mentoring system is to:  

  1. aid the progression to an independent researcher and group leader
  2. identify ways in which the Department can best support and help you
  3. facilitate progression to either another Fellowship or permanent position

See the Applications tab for more details. 

The Department of Biology is dedicated to upholding and developing good employment practice for women working in science, and has held an Athena Swan Award since 2010, for its initiatives in this area. 

In many Fellowship schemes, an interview is the final step in the application process. We provide mock interview practice and have found that this has a positive impact on success rates.

Once you have obtained a Fellowship, the Department can provide a wealth of support and advice to assist you in maximizing the success of your Fellowship research.  

  • Grants - Various Fellowship schemes allow you to apply for additional research funding. Advice and information can be provided for external funding applications. 

  • Additional Funding Support - Oxford has a diverse range of internal funding schemes to support research, including pilot projects. 

  • Graduate Students - Fellows holding Fellowships of at least three years duration are actively encouraged to supervise DPhil (=PhD) students from their first year.  

  • Recognition - We actively nominate researchers for national and international awards, such as Zoological Society of London Scientific Medal, Michael Faraday Prize, and L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Awards, among others. 

There are various Fellowship schemes which bridge the gap between post-doctoral and Independent Research Fellowships, which are not a part of this programme.  

For example:

  • Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Research Fellowships
  • EU Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowships
  • EU Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships
  • HFSP Fellowships
  • Royal Society Newton Fellowships
  • JSPS Fellowships
  • Royal Commission of 1851 Fellowships
  • Daphne Jackson Fellowships

There are also several Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) advertised by Oxford colleges.
If you wish to pursue any of these, please directly contact academic staff in the Department of Biology who are active in a relevant area of science. 


To express your interest, please send the following to fellows@biology.ox.ac.uk by the deadline:

  1. a completed application cover sheet;
  2. a two-page research proposal;
  3. your CV (no more than five pages).

Please include all appointments, publications, and appropriate research information. Please note that all three items must be included to ensure that your application is considered. Any questions can be directed to fellows@biology.ox.ac.uk.

Next steps
We aim to notify all applicants 45 days after the deadline if they have been selected and who will be their assigned mentor.  

From this point onward, the mentor will be their main point of contact. The mentor will advise candidates on all aspects of the preparation of their applications and will agree a timeline for the next steps. 

The candidates will be expected to:  

  • Confirm their intent to submit an application at least 6 weeks before the intended fellowship deadline 

  • Finalise all aspects of the application at least 3 weeks before the funder’s deadline 

  • Be available to address queries for internal approvals, such as budgeting and support needs, until the application is submitted.