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Early Career Women Scientists (ECWS) Fellowships

Pour l'appel à candidatures en français, cliquez ici.


The Early Career Women Scientists (ECWS) fellowship is a prestigious award of up to USD 50,000 offered to women who have completed their PhDs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and are employed at an academic or scientific research institute in one of the listed Science and Technology Lagging Countries (STLCs). ECWS fellows will be supported to continue their research at an international level while based at their home institutes and to build up research groups that will attract international visitors.

The next call for applications will open on 1 March 2019.

You will find all the information you need to prepare an application below and this same information is also available for download.

All applications must be submitted online.

The official language for the application is English.

Please note that an applicant, at the time of application, must NOT have an active research grant or fellowship with The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) or have already submitted an application for a TWAS programme within the same given year. Only one application per year is possible across all TWAS and OWSD programmes.

Successful candidates will be notified by end of June 2019 and expected to attend a first workshop in Trieste, Italy, in September 2019. Each fellowship lasts for two years from the date of acceptance.

If your questions are not answered in the information provided, contact


The ECWS fellowships programme is administered by OWSD with funds generously provided by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada.

The ECWS fellowship specific objectives are:

1. Empower ECWS fellows to lead important research projects with practical applications for low and middle income countries (LMICs), including through strengthening their collaboration with industry.

2. Build the leadership and business skills of ECWS fellows needed for the dissemination and uptake of research results, and for career advancement. 

3. Consolidate a network of outstanding women scientists that provides mentorship for the next generation of women leaders in STEM.

These objectives will be combined with the overall long-term objectives of the OWSD programme in general, which are to:

1. Increase the relevance and implementation of scientific research projects developed by women in STLCs for the economic, social, health and research needs of their countries.
2. Increase the number of women scientists from STLCs staying in their home countries in order to continue their scientific/industrial careers, thereby contributing to research training and development.
3. Strengthen the research, resources and expertise of institutes in STLCs.


The ECWS fellowship is for two years and provides up to USD 50,000 to enable fellows to maintain an international standard of research as well as initiate collaborations and partnerships with industry and the private sector.

Please note that the ECWS fellowship does not provide for the fellow’s salary which must be guaranteed by the fellow’s institute. However, the ECWS fellowship can be used to cover the costs of assistance to the fellow for teaching duties not directly related to the fellow’s research in order for the fellow to focus on carrying her own research forward to an international standard.

The objective is to develop a center of specialist research recognized at national, regional or international level which can then attract internationally recognized researchers.

The eligible expenses are listed below.

a) Research-related costs


  • Necessary equipment to build up research units or set up a lab
  • Training in use of equipment
  • Maintenance of equipment


  • Expendable supplies that will be consumed or replaced (e.g. glassware, solvents, feed, reagents)

Research visits, exchanges and programmes

  • Support for travel to attend international scientific meetings
  • Establish a visiting scholar programme
  • Organization of scientific events at applicant’s institute (e.g. seminar series, international symposium, themed workshops, regional and international conferences)
  • Organize exchange programmes with national/international scholars

Teaching and Assistance

  • MSc, PhD, Post doctoral researchers’ costs
  • Research assistants (e.g. to gather information and data)
  • Teaching assistants
  • Family care assistance (e.g. childcare costs in order for fellow to undertake research project, travel support for family members)
  • Other assistant (based on applicant’s needs, e.g. casual labour)

Field work

  • Transportation (e.g. car rental, public transport, airfare)
  • Board and lodging
  • Sample collection and analysis
  • Hospitality fees (e.g. dinner with research partners in the field)

Publication costs  (e.g. in peer-reviewed journals, open source)

Information resources

  • Subscriptions (e.g. journal, library)
  • Literature (e.g. books, reprints, photocopies)
  • Library resources

IT facilities

  • Computer hardware
  • Computer software
  • Computer services (internet connections, technical support, database development)


  • Science communication (e.g. writing for publication, presentation skills)
  • English language courses (for improved science communication)
  • Specialist courses for team leader and project staff or group training sessions (e.g. long-distance learning)


  • Monitoring and evaluation costs (to measure the impact of the project)
  • Rent paid for land or premises used in a research activity
  • Any other research-related costs

b) Linking with industry

  • Visits to companies, private sector (e.g. travel, board and lodging costs)
  • Product development (e.g. patent, prototype, Intellectual Property costs)
  • Technology transfer
  • Licensing costs
  • Research-to-product related expenses
  • Training (e.g. understanding/developing IP and patents, research-to-product training, communicating with industry, business, management and marketing skills)

 A downloadable list of appropriate industry or private sector organizations for collaboration is available here.

c) Outreach, communication and networking

  • Website development
  • Communications materials (e.g. flyers, posters)
  • Dissemination  (e.g. development of stakeholders contact database for information sharing)
  • Networking (e.g. development of online community/forum, linking with OWSD members and National Chapters, science academies)
  • Mentoring (e.g. establishing a mentoring programme with partners in industry)
  • Translation of project-related documents
  • Training (e.g. social media, language courses necessary for communicating research)
  • Other costs needed to undertake outreach activities

A downloadable list of the above eligible expenses is available here.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. In addition, selection for a fellowship does not imply that all costs requested will be automatically granted. The Selection Committee will evaluate each expense requested in the proposed budget and take a final decision on related costs to be awarded.

Additional support provided by OWSD:

Two training workshops per fellowship on leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

  • The first workshop (held in December of the first year of the fellowship in Trieste, Italy) will establish communication and networking between fellows and provide guidance on how to set up a lab, manage a research group and link with industry. Fellows will present their projects and work plans and receive feedback.
  • The second workshop (held in May of the second year of the fellowship) will provide a Dragons Den-style scenario where fellows can develop and defend the commercial aspects of transforming their research into marketable products. This workshop will be hosted by one of the four OWSD regions, possibly by an appropriate OWSD national chapter or national academy.


To be eligible to apply for the ECWS fellowship applicants must meet the following criteria:

1. Eligible countries

  • Applicants must have been resident in one of the listed Science and Technology Lagging Countries (STLCs) for at least 5 years.
  • At the time of application, applicants must be already employed at the university or research institute where the project will be carried out.
  • This university/institute where the project will be carried out must be in one of the listed STLCs.

Please note this list may be subject to slight variation each year according to criteria established by our donor, IDRC, and in agreement with OWSD. Each year the list will be updated when the call for applications is opened.

2. Eligible STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)

  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Astronomy, Space and Earth Sciences
  • Biological Systems and Organisms
  • Chemical Sciences
  • Computing and Information Technology
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Medical and Health Sciences
  • Neurosciences
  • Physics
  • Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology

3. Eligible academic qualification

PhD in one of the above listed study fields.

  • PhD awarded not more than 10 years prior to application.

4. Eligible employment

  • At the time of application, applicants must be already employed at the university or research institute where the project will be carried out.
  • The university or research institute must be based in one of the eligible countries.
  • Applicants must provide evidence that they will receive a salary from the above institute for the duration of the two-year fellowship.


For information concerning the section of the application dedicated to describing the details of the research project please click here.


The documents listed below may take some weeks to prepare, especially when they require official signatures. We strongly encourage eligible applicants start gathering all requested documentation as soon as possible.

Applicants must submit:

1. Passport

  • A scanned copy of the passport page containing personal details (photo, document number etc).
  • Passport-size portrait photo

2. Proof of residence

  • Official documentation that proves residency for at least 5 years in one of the eligible STLCs (e.g. certificate of residency).

3. PhD certificate

  • A scanned copy of the PhD certificate or proof of PhD issued by the University.

4. Proof of employment

  • A letter from the employer (dean, vice-dean or equivalent head of the applicant’s institute) on headed paper confirming applicant’s position at the institute and that the applicant will receive a salary for at least two years starting from the year of application.

5. Curriculum Vitae

  • Complete updated CV.

6.  Publications

  • Complete list of publications.

7. Reference letters

  • Applicants must submit two (2) reference letters; at least one must be from a senior scientist familiar with the applicant’s recent research.
  • The letters must include contact details for follow up from Selection Committee.

8. Supporting statement of head of applicant’s institute

9. Additional documentation

  • The applicant may wish to provide additional documents which provide evidence of skills, qualities or actions described in the research project (e.g. certificate of awards, memberships etc).

All documents must be uploaded through the online application system which will be activated by 30 June 2018. Do not email any documentation to OWSD.


The applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Research proposal (50%)

  • Problem identified: original, relevant, important.
  • Feasibility: methodology, infrastructure, timetable/work schedule.
  • Context: the applicant’s institute has sufficient resources and attitude to support the applicant.
  • Collaborations and network development: the applicant and the institute have and will have developed links to relevant organisations and individuals at national, regional and international level.
  • Linking with industry i.e. efforts have been made to: establish links with industry and the private sector; develop prototypes or concrete applications for development; market a product or process.
  • Impact: how will communities be affected by the research (e.g. increased access of marginal groups to resources, goods and services, improved quality of knowledge and training in a specific subject, product developed and used by local communities).
  • Inclusiveness: research design and product development must demonstrate awareness of and relevance to diverse members of the community e.g. women, indigenous, ethnic, sexual minorities, possible links between disability and development.
  • Sustainability: after OWSD funding has ended how will the applicant ensure that her research and objectives continue to have an impact?
  • Ethical, environmental and risk factors: the applicant has considered these aspects and addressed their mitigation.

Applicant’s profile (50%)

  • Scientific excellence based on evidence of scientific activities such as publications, invitations to speak at international and regional conferences; chair and convenor of panels and meetings;  reviewer of journal manuscripts or research grant proposals; recipient of national, regional and international grants and awards; membership of academic boards, committees, associations.
  • Leadership skills based on evidence of engagement in supervision; heading a team; coordinating a programme; organizing events; founding a group, committee, task force; leading a campaign or movement; evidence advising roles to e.g. ministers, academic bodies, civil society organizations; evidence of having influenced positive change in practices and policies in academia and beyond.
  • Outreach skills based on evidence of engagement in community activities e.g. mentoring, tutoring, science communication, advocacy, volunteering, networking, support for youth.


The ECWS fellowship is intended for research that will have a demonstrable impact on the local, national or regional community. More theoretical, “basic” research may also be considered if it contributes substantially to local/national/regional research needs. Although collaboration with industry is not mandatory, preference will be given to proposals including such collaborations. Applicants whose proposals emphasize basic research may consider applying to TWAS Research grants (

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of eminent scientists who are specialists in the eligible subjects and have knowledge of the challenges facing women scientists from developing countries. Committee members will be appointed by OWSD and the selection meeting will be chaired by OWSD.

The Selection Committee’s decision is final and not eligible for appeal. It cannot be contested or subject to explanation or justification.

Only selected applicants will be notified.

If selected for an ECWS fellowship, kindly note that OWSD must be informed by the fellow of additional/supplementary grants, funds and bursaries that have been awarded in connection with her research, specifying the donor, amount, duration and purpose of the grant.

Please note that funding from other sources is seen as a positive demonstration of concept and feasibility as long as resources requested expand and supplement activities and resources rather than duplicating them.



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