Presidential Life Science Fellowship

The Presidential Life Science Fellowship (PLSF) promotes broad and integrative inquiry by providing a novel platform for first year graduate students to launch an integrated system for research and education that brings together the fields of organismal biology, molecular biology, computational sciences, physical sciences/engineering, and social sciences into a common and highly interactive network. The PLSF provides both recipients and faculty mentors the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research objectives throughout the colleges and units across campus.  There is large cross college participation in this flagship program, with involvement from over 40 individual departments.

PLSFs are among the most prestigious awards offered for graduate study by Cornell University.  A committee of our most accomplished faculty review nominations from a wide variety of graduate fields, and the most promising students are selected for these awards. The process identifies students who we believe have the potential to shape the future of life sciences research and education and to take advantage of the novel research/learning structure available at Cornell. The goal of the PLSF program is to promote the integration of previously disparate disciplines that have the greatest potential to affect all aspects of our lives ranging from healthcare, agriculture, and engineering to manufacturing, business, and privacy/religious issues. Those students who appreciate the breadth of life sciences research and learning are more likely to become the leaders in the sciences of the 21st century.

The Cornell Presidential Life Science Fellowships were created through the New Life Sciences Initiative to select for graduate students who would bridge across disciplines and eventually help form the new disciplines of life sciences which are expected to emerge in the next decade. Faculty members from across the sweep of traditional disciplines mentor the fellows in work within a broad array of focus areas from applied biology; biomedical sciences; ecology, evolution, and integrative biology; genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics; molecular and cellular biology; to physical, chemical, and computational biology.

A Selective Fellowship

The Life Sciences Initiative itself does not admit students, but provides support and access to students in many areas. Interested students should inquire with the director of graduate studies (DGS) in their primary field of interest. Further, prospective students should indicate interest in the Presidential Life Science Fellowship Program, either in the application or by email correspondence with the field DGS or graduate field assistant (GFA). It is important for students to recognize, however, that the nomination of students to this prestigious program is at the discretion of the fields through a rigorous selection process, not by self-nomination. Funding questions should be directed to your DGS or GFA, as each award is administered through the student’s particular field.

Some History…

Originally called “Genomics Fellowships”, the PLSF name was adopted in its fourth year to better reflect the broad nature of the program and the university-wide commitment to life sciences and to collaborative research. A variety of educational opportunities are being implemented with the Life Science Initiative.


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