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FAQs for Fellows | FAQs for Advisors

FAQs for Fellows

General Information

Who do I contact for more information?

Potential applicants should send questions to the NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) e-mail address: nasapostdoc@orau.org.

Current Fellows should send questions to Janeen.Pointer@orau.org.

Center Representatives or Advisors should send questions to Marcia.Mask@orau.org.

Questions concerning immigration should be directed to Cheryl.Guthrie@orau.org.

You can also find contacts for information on specific topics on this site.

Who administers the NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP)?

The program is administered for NASA by ORAU. ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance research and education, protect public health and the environment and strengthen national security. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest.

What is the difference between the NASA Postdoctoral Research Program and the NASA Postdoctoral Management Program, and who is eligible for each?

The NASA Postdoctoral Management Program is an adjunct to the NASA Postdoctoral Research Program and is designed to provide valuable research management experience for some of the Research Program Fellows. You must have at least one year of experience as a Research Program Fellow before you can apply to the Postdoctoral Management Program.

Can I apply before I receive the Ph.D.?

You may apply for an award before you complete the Ph.D., but you must complete all requirements for a Ph.D. or an equivalent doctorate degree and provide proof of that qualification before beginning the Fellowship.

How do I determine whether I apply as a Postdoctoral Fellow or Senior Fellow?

A Postdoctoral Fellow has held the doctoral degree for less than five years at the time of application.A Senior Fellow has held the doctoral degree for five or more years at the time of application. This is addressed in the ‘Education History’ component of the application.

How long is an NPP Fellowship appointment and what is the process for requesting a renewal?

A Fellowship appointment is awarded for a 12-month period. The appointment may be renewed two times for a total of three years, contingent upon the approval of NASA, the research needs of the Center or facility, and the availability of funds. (Note: NPP Fellowships associated with the NAI are generally limited to a total of two years.) The first and second years of the appointment are most commonly supported by NPP programmatic funds. Support for a third year, however, must be provided by the NPP Advisor’s project funds or by funding provided by the Center. The renewal process must be initiated by the Fellow and the Advisor at least two months prior to the Fellow's appointment termination date. The Fellow completes an Application for Renewal form, and the Advisor completes the Advisor Evaluation of Fellow form. The Advisor sends the completed forms to the NPP Center Representative for final approval and submission to ORAU.

Can I apply for a second NPP Fellowship appointment?

NPP Fellows may not be selected for two consecutive awards at either one Center or two different Centers, but they are eligible for another award five years after the end of a previous appointment.

What are the citizenship requirements for the program?

U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and foreign nationals eligible for J-1 Research Scholar status may apply for an NPP Fellowship.

Some research opportunities do not accept non-U.S. citizens. This limitation is reflected in the “Citizenship Requirement” listed with each NPP research opportunity.

Even those opportunities that are open to most foreign nationals may not be available to all, such as persons who are citizens of designated countries. Researchers who have been affiliated with an institution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or who intend to collaborate with researchers in the PRC are not eligible for an NPP award. Applicants who think that they will fall into one of these categories should contact their potential advisor for more information.

Is any special documentation required from non-U.S. citizens who are selected for an appointment?

Non-U.S. citizens with J-1 visa status as a Research Scholar, Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status, or currently have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with pending LPR status are eligible to receive an NPP Fellowship. Non-U.S. citizens selected for an appointment must contact ORAU concerning their visa status and provide evidence that they have the required visa status before they can begin an NPP appointment. An H-1 B status is not acceptable because the NPP is not an employment program. Non-U.S. citizens selected for an appointment must contact ORAU concerning their immigration status and provide evidence that they have the required status that will allow them to participate for at least two years.

Is a security clearance required before beginning an NPP Fellowship?

NASA Centers require a security clearance before you may start an appointment. You will be notified in advance by the Center regarding security clearance requirements.

Who decides if an applicant is selected for an NPP Fellowship?

Each NASA Center makes selections based on NASA’s needs, available funding, and the application review results of the pool of candidates. An applicant must achieve a minimum score to be eligible for an award. The NPP Center Representative communicates the award decisions to ORAU. ORAU notifies the applicant of the Centers’ decisions.

How and when is an applicant notified of an award?

An applicant who has been selected by NASA for an NPP award will be notified first by e-mail, followed by a formal offer from ORAU. The offer package consists of an Offer Letter, Terms of Appointment, and supporting materials. ORAU sends these documents as PDF attachments to an email message. Typically, notifications are made about three months after an application deadline.

How long is an applicant eligible for an award?

Applications that pass peer review remain eligible for an NPP award for one year from the application deadline.

What determines the start and end dates for the Fellowship, and can they be changed?

Your appointment start date (the first day you report to the appointment facility to officially begin the appointment) should be no later than six months from the date of the ORAU Offer Letter. The Offer Letter will include the approximate start date that you provide for the appointment. If there are special circumstances, such as visa requirements, that require you to change the start date or delay the start date beyond six months, you must notify the NPP Advisor, the NPP Center Representative, and ORAU to confirm whether the start date can be amended.  The Center may rescind the offer of appointment if you and your advisor cannot agree on a start date.

The termination or end date is the last day you will be at your appointment facility. It may be amended for early departure or for appointment renewals.

Does ORAU assist with relocation to the appointment site for the NPP Fellowship?

Yes, if the Fellow resides more than 50 miles from the assigned NASA facility. Before you make any arrangements to relocate, you should contact ORAU NPP staff. Relocation travel arrangements must be approved by ORAU and must adhere to Federal Travel Regulations and ORAU Travel Guidelines. ORAU staff can provide information, assistance, and approvals for your relocation travel arrangements.

To whom do I report on the first day of my assignment?

When you arrive at the appointment facility to begin your appointment, you must report to the NPP Center Representative. He or she will assist you with security and badging procedures, orientations, safety briefings, logistical arrangements, and other aspects of your appointment.

What is the role of the NPP Advisor?

The NPP Advisor serves as a mentor and professional colleague, but does not act as a supervisor. The Advisor guides the Fellow in all aspects of the research or management activity and provides office space and equipment; information on security and safety; expected attendance schedules; and other requirements relevant to the location of your appointment.

Can NPP Fellows submit grant proposals and serve as Principal Investigators during an NPP appointment?

NPP Fellows are not allowed to supplement their stipends through simultaneous employment, grants, or other sources of income that compete with the Fellowship activities. During their appointments, NPP Fellows perform the research activities stated in the proposal submitted with the NPP application.

NASA discourages NPP Fellows to generate and submit proposals in the first year of the appointment because Fellows are expected to focus on the research proposed in the NPP applications and publish the results in peer-reviewed journals. The NPP Fellows’ Advisors and host NASA Centers or facilities provide the required office, laboratory space, instruments, computers and access, data, supplies, books, publication charges, poster printing, etc., for the Fellow to promptly initiate their research upon their arrival. Therefore, the Fellow need not secure funds to facilitate the research proposed on the application.

NASA understands that proposal writing is part of a science career, and, therefore, Fellows may desire to generate proposals during the second year of the appointment. Since the Fellow does not have an institution affiliation (an institution or facility is needed for proposal submission and funds administration), the NPP Advisor should serve as the official Principal Investigator and the associated NASA Center or affiliated facility should administer the funds. The Fellow may be named Science PI or Co-I. Funds cannot be used to supplement the Fellow’s NPP stipend.

Please see the NPP Fellows and NSPIRES document for additional information.

What is the process for an NPP Fellow to be named Science PI on a proposal submitted to the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES)?

If submitting to a NASA solicitation through Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES), the NPP Fellow can be named as the Science Principal Investigator (Science PI) or Co-Investigator (Co-I) in the “Add a Team Member” and be provided all the privileges. This should ensure credit for the proposal. In other venues the Fellow may be named as Co-I.

During proposal submission in NSPIRES, the PI can go to the “Add Team Member” page, choose “Co-I/Science PI” on the “Role” drop list, and assign the team member with the needed privileges (Proposal Summary, Business Data, Budget, Program Specific Data, Team Members, and Proposal Attachments).

The NPP Fellow should be referred to in the proposal as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow with a guest researcher appointment at the appropriate host NASA Center or facility. Oak Ridge Associated Universities should not be referred to in the proposal, except (if needed) as the organization that administers the Postdoctoral Program for NASA.
Please see the NPP Fellows and NSPIRES document for additional information.

Can an NPP Fellow serve as a ‘peer reviewer’ on a proposal in NSPIRES?

NASA has invited NPP Fellows to volunteer to serve as peer reviewers through the NSPIRES process. When registering on NSPIRES, the Fellows should “affiliate” themselves with the NASA Center at which they reside, not with ORAU. Also, the Fellows should identify themselves in NSPIRES as peer reviewers, rather than principal investigators.

Please see the NPP Fellows and NSPIRES document for additional information.

Can NPP Fellows receive compensation from other sources during a Fellowship appointment?

No. NPP Fellows must devote their efforts entirely to the NASA-sponsored research program for which the award was made. An NPP Fellow may not receive funding from another appointment, Fellowship, scholarship, or similar grant during the term of the appointment. NPP Fellows may contribute to proposals as long as the proposed research directly supports the NPP Fellowship appointment, but may not receive compensation for the contributions.

Can an NPP Fellow receive a monetary award or some other type of award for professional recognition?

NPP Fellows can receive a plaque or certificate of appreciation or recognition, but are not allowed to receive monetary awards in any form for research being supported by the NPP Fellowship.

NPP Fellows are not allowed to supplement their stipends through simultaneous employment, grants, or other sources of income that compete with the Fellowship activities.

NASA requires that the Fellow be fully involved in the research and educational opportunities available in the NPP appointment. During the appointment, the Fellow may not provide services for compensation to a third party. But awards, prizes, review panel honoraria, scholarships, Veterans Administration benefits, sabbatical leave compensation, and similar payments may be accepted by an NPP Fellow, provided these payments do not represent dual payment for the research being supported by the NPP Fellowship. Monetary awards given by the Center for ‘research activities’ may not be accepted.

What are the requirements for publications?

You are encouraged to publish your research findings in the peer-reviewed open literature. You are required to adhere to the host facility’s requirements for prior review and approval of all material, whether written or prepared for oral presentation. All publications should include appropriate acknowledgment of the NASA Postdoctoral Program appointment, the host facility, and ORAU. See Section 14, Reports and Publications Acknowledgement, in the NPP Policies and Procedures for more information

Are there guidelines regarding copyrights and patents?

Guidelines and procedures for publications, copyrights, and patents should be discussed with your NASA Advisor and NPP Center Representative at the start of your appointment. See Section 2, Publications, Copyrights, Patents, in the NPP Policies and Procedures for more information.

Are publication charges covered by my award?

Publication charges are not a part of your NPP award budget. Such costs should be provided by your NPP Advisor’s project funds or host facility. You should discuss your host facility’s publication policy with your NASA Advisor and your NPP Center Representative.

Is there any required reporting by NPP Fellows?

Yes. Each NPP Fellow must submit a Final Report immediately prior to the end of the appointment. The Final Report should summarize the research accomplishments during the Fellowship appointment. The Final Report is submitted by completing a brief Web-based form that includes sections for listing all publications, papers presented, conference participation, and other aspects of the appointment. The release of the final stipend payment is contingent upon receipt of the Final Report by ORAU.

Can the NPP logo be used on posters? If not, can the round NPP logo to be placed in at the bottom, adjacent to other round logos from partnering agencies?

Because the NASA style guide prohibits the use of any logo other than the NASA logo for branding purposes, the round NPP logo cannot be used alone at the top of a poster. The “stacked” NPP logo can be used as a graphic element in the heading of the body of the poster. The attached NPP Poster Style Guide demonstrates the correct placement of logos.

The NASA identification--combination of the spelled out agency name on the left and the NASA logo (meatball) on the right--must always have more prominence than the NPP "graphic header." It must also always have the same spacing between it and the NPP graphic header. If other sponsoring agency identifiers are used, they must be displayed as they appear on pages three and four. The round NPP logo cannot be placed adjacent to agency logos in that row.

The NPP graphic header must always appear in the color as contained on all four pages. It can be reduced in size if desired, but the spacing between the NASA identification and/or sponsoring agency identifiers must remain the same.

What if I need to terminate my appointment before the official end date?

You must immediately inform your Advisor, the NPP Center Representative, and ORAU. This written notification should be submitted at least 30 days before the early termination date.

If you terminate your initial appointment with fewer than twelve months of participation, you must repay in full any reimbursed relocation expenses and/or stipend advance you may have received. You must also submit a Final Report and settle any outstanding travel expense statements.

Does the program provide funds for purchasing equipment, software, books, etc., needed for the proposed research?

Anticipated research needs and special requirements necessary to conduct the proposed research should be identified in the NPP application (see the Research Proposal section of the application). The NPP Advisor or NASA Center must provide all hardware, software, books, publication charges, printing/laminating of posters and or handouts for presentations at conferences or meetings, professional society membership fees, and other equipment needed for the proposed research. Programmatic funds (e.g., travel budget) cannot be used to pay for these and other items needed for the proposed research.

Can there be a break between the second and third years?

No, the appointment must be continuous; a break between appointment years is not allowed.

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Stipend and Benefits

How is my stipend determined?

The stipend amount for Postdoctoral Fellows is based on the location of appointment and degree specialty. The stipend amount for Senior Fellows is based on the location of the appointment, experience (number of years beyond the doctoral degree), and career achievement (academic rank and professional title).

When and how will Fellows be paid?

Stipends are paid on the last day of each month. ORAU encourages electronic deposit to an account of the Fellow’s choice, which ensures regular and timely deposits and documentation.

I received my stipend deposit statement and I don’t understand the amounts. It appears that the entire insurance premium was deducted from my stipend.

The NASA portion of the monthly insurance premium is part of the award. It is shown as part of the stipend on the “Statement of Earnings” each month. For example, if the monthly stipend is $4,200 and you have elected to purchase insurance coverage through ORAU, your pay stub would reflect the following information:

Amount of check or deposit = $4,200 + NASA’s portion of insurance - full cost of insurance. (In addition, a foreign national may have taxes withheld from the stipend in accordance with current treaties between the U.S. and the Fellow’s country of citizenship.)

Monthly insurance premiums are paid one month in advance; therefore, if the appointment begins on or before the 15th of the month, the first month of stipend will have two months of premium deducted. If the appointment begins after the 15th of the month, the premium for the following month will be deducted.

What if I work only part of a month?

If your appointment begins after the first day of the month or terminates before the final day of the month, your stipend for that month will be prorated based on the number of days of participation in that month.

Are stipend advances available?

You may request an advance of up to 50 percent of your first month’s stipend. You must request the advance in writing at least 30 days prior to the starting date specified in your signed Offer Letter. A check for the advance stipend payment will be given to you by the NPP Center Representative on the day your appointment officially begins and you are in residence at the facility. The amount of the advance is recovered by reducing your stipend pay by a fixed amount each month for the number of months you specify (up to ten months). If you terminate your appointment before the advance has been repaid, you must repay the advance in full before your final check will be released.

Is health insurance REQUIRED during my appointment?

Yes. If you already have health insurance, all pertinent information must be included on the signed Terms of Appointment. Before the appointment can begin, you must also provide a copy of your insurance card. If you do not already have health insurance, you may purchase coverage through the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee group plan offered by ORAU.

What are the options for health benefits under the NASA Postdoctoral Program?

ORAU offers Fellows the opportunity to participate in the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee group plan. NPP does not offer dental and vision insurance coverage for NASA Fellows.

Is COBRA coverage an option when my appointment terminates?

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provides temporary continuation of health insurance coverage at group rates. It is available for up to 18 months at full cost to the Fellow.

What if I have an accident while engaged in activities related to my appointment?

Fellows are covered by accident and death/dismemberment insurance (worker’s compensation-type insurance), which covers you while engaged in official research/research management activities related to your appointment. This insurance covers allowable expenses that are not covered by a personal health insurance policy. Fellows must immediately report any injury received while engaged in appointment-related research/research management activities to your Advisor, the NPP Center Representative, and the ORAU NPP Director.

Are Fellows considered employees of ORAU or NASA?

No. An NPP Fellow is not an employee of NASA, ORAU, the host facility, or any other office or agency. The Fellow is affiliated with ORAU for the administration of the appointment through the ORAU Offer Letter and Terms of Appointment and has a guest appointment at the NASA-designated facility.

Does a Fellow earn vacation or sick leave during the appointment?

Fellows are not employees; therefore, there are no employment-related benefits such as paid vacations, sick leave, or unemployment compensation. With the approval of the NPP Advisor and the NPP Center Representative, however, a Fellow may be excused from participation for brief periods due to illness, personal emergencies, or other unforeseen circumstances. To mimic NASA policy for new employees, the NPP allows Fellows to be absent from the Center for 13 days during each twelve month period of appointment. This “13-day principle” is monitored locally by the Center Representative and Advisor. Federal holidays and special circumstances (i.e. Center is closed due to inclement weather) do not count towards this total.

For absences that exceed the limits of the “13-day principle,” the NPP Center Representative will notify ORAU of the absence and request a temporary suspension of the Fellow’s stipend. This notification should occur at least two weeks prior to the absence. The principles of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guide absences from the Center by Fellows who become new parents by virtue of birth, adoption, or the new placement of a foster child.

Applying those principles, up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave may be granted to a Fellow with approval from the Advisor and NPP Center Representative. The Fellow must discuss the anticipated leave dates with the Advisor and NPP Center Representative well in advance. The NPP Center Representative will notify ORAU of the approved dates for the leave.  The appointment completion date will be extended by the number of days the Fellow is on leave, so long as funding is available.

During a leave authorized for the birth or adoption of a child or the placement of a foster child, NASA will continue to pay its share of the BlueCross BlueShield health insurance if the Fellow is already enrolled in the insurance through ORAU.  The Fellow, however, must continue to pay the out-of-pocket portion of the premium during the unpaid leave.  Since insurance premiums are paid one month in advance, ORAU must receive the Fellow’s personal check(s) well in advance of the month(s) that the premium will be due.

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Taxes

Does ORAU withhold federal and state income taxes for Fellows who are U.S. citizens?

Since NPP Fellows are not employees, and since they receive awards (not wages), ORAU does not withhold state or federal income taxes from award payments for U.S. citizens. Participants, therefore, should consider filing Form 1040-ES on a quarterly basis and pay estimated federal income taxes in order to avoid late payment penalties. Travel expense reimbursements (including relocation costs) are not taxable.

Fellows should consult a tax accountant or other tax professional regarding state and federal income tax requirements.

NPP Fellows receive award payments from ORAU, which are reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by ORAU as “Miscellaneous Income—prizes and awards” as defined in IRS Code Section 74. All payments by ORAU should be reported on the Fellow's federal income tax return, Form 1040, as "Other Income" and be identified as a "Fellowship Award."

Does ORAU withhold federal and state income taxes for Fellows who are foreign nationals?

ORAU will review existing treaties between the Fellow's country of citizenship and the U.S. to determine federal income tax withholdings. ORAU may withhold a portion of the monthly stipend for income tax purposes based on the current treaties. ORAU does not withhold state income taxes. Travel expense reimbursements (including relocation costs) are not taxable.

Fellows should consult a tax accountant or other tax professional regarding state and federal income tax requirements.

NPP Fellows receive award payments from ORAU, which are reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by ORAU as “Miscellaneous Income—prizes and awards” as defined in IRS Code Section 74. All payments by ORAU should be reported on the Fellow’s federal income tax return, Form 1040, as “Other Income” and be identified as a “Fellowship Award.”

Are NPP Fellows exempt from paying self-employment taxes?

Yes. Since NPP Fellows are not employees and since they receive awards (not wages), they are exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes.

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Travel

When is reimbursement allowed for relocation?

If a Fellow resides more than 50 miles from the assigned NASA facility, limited reimbursement of expenses for relocating from the Fellow’s current residence address to the area of the assigned NASA facility will be provided. Reimbursement of any allowable expenses must adhere to the Federal Travel Regulations and ORAU/NPP Travel Guidelines. Fellows should contact ORAU before any relocation plans are made. See Section 8, Financial Support Provided, in the NPP Policies and Procedures for more information.

When I terminate my NPP appointment, will I be reimbursed for outbound relocation?

U.S. citizen Postdoctoral Fellows will not be reimbursed for outbound moving expenses when their appointments end. Senior Fellows on sabbatical may qualify for limited reimbursement, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Non-U.S. citizen Fellows who relocate from outside the United States may be provided a limited allowance for outbound relocation to return to their home countries when their appointments terminate.

Non-U.S. citizen Fellows who relocate from outside the United States and will remain in the U.S. after the termination of the NPP appointment, and non-U.S. citizen Fellows who are already residing in the United States when the appointment offer is made, will not be reimbursed for outbound relocation expenses.

Is professional and programmatic travel paid for during the Fellowship appointment?

Yes. Your NPP Fellowship appointment provides $8,000 per appointment year for travel to professional meetings and conferences; to gather research-related data at field sites or observatories; and for required training (including registration fees) related to the research. Any books, workbooks, software, equipment, or other materials required for training, which are not included in the registration fee, must be provided by the NPP Advisor or host facility. Also, travel funds cannot be used to purchase equipment, software, books; pay membership fees in professional societies, publication charges, abstract fees, printing/laminating of posters and/or handouts for presentations at conferences and meetings; or purchase other materials and supplies.

Are the unused travel funds from a previous year carried over when the appointment is renewed?

Yes.

Does ORAU have a travel agent to assist with travel arrangements, or will we make our own travel plans?

ORAU has an in-house travel staff to assist with NPP travel. The Fellow will prepare a Travel Authorization Request (TAR) form and submit it to ORAU with required NASA approvals at least three weeks prior to the departure date for domestic travel and at least four weeks in advance for foreign travel. ORAU will then make the travel arrangements for the Fellow, if requested. Once travel is completed, the Fellow will use the same travel Web site to complete the Travel Expense Statement (TES) form.

Can a Fellow make his/her own travel arrangements, pay for it or any part of it up front, and still be reimbursed by ORAU?

Yes. If the travel was authorized by NASA and approved by ORAU, travel reimbursement will be in accordance with the ORAU Travel Policy. We strongly advise that the Fellow consult with ORAU prior to the scheduled travel to ensure that the Travel Authorization Request form is completed accurately and expenses will be reimbursable. If you are a non-U.S. citizen Fellow and plan to travel outside the United States, you must have the proper documents you will need to re-enter the United States. See Section 10, Travel During Appointment, in the NPP Policies and Procedures for more information.

Can a Fellow have personal travel during the appointment?

All personal travel must be coordinated through ORAU and pre-approved by your NPP Advisor and NPP Center Representative at your facility. The NPP Center Representative must notify ORAU of any personal travel that will result in an unpaid absence from the Center at least two weeks in advance of the Fellow’s departure date.

All personal travel by non-U.S. Citizen Fellows and their legal dependents must be coordinated through ORAU prior to travel.  For travel outside the United States, you must have the proper documents you will need to re-enter the United States. See Section 10, Travel During Appointment, of the NPP Policies and Procedures for more information.

How far in advance should the Fellow submit an approved Travel Authorization Request (TAR) to ORAU?

For domestic travel within the U.S., submit the approved TAR request at least 3 weeks in advance. For foreign travel, submit the approved request at least 4 weeks prior to the departure date.

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FAQs for Advisors

How does someone become an NPP Advisor?

An Advisor must be associated with a ‘research opportunity’ that meets the goals and missions of the current research at a Center. The interested scientist should contact the NPP Center Representative to provide the research opportunity and to discuss the desire to become an Advisor. The NPP Center Representative will provide the approved research opportunity and Advisor’s name and contact information to ORAU for posting on the NPP Web site.

Can research opportunities be restricted to U.S. citizens only?

Yes, due to the nature of the research at a Center or the difficulty in obtaining security clearances for visitors and program participants, research opportunities can be designated “For U.S. citizens Only.” In some cases, it may be appropriate to restrict the opportunity to U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents.

What is the role of the NPP Advisor?

The NPP Advisor serves as a mentor and professional colleague, but does not act as a supervisor. The Advisor will guide the Fellow in all aspects of the research or management activity and help to acquire office space and equipment; and provide information on security, safety, expected attendance schedules, and other requirements of the assigned facility.

What is the role of an NPP Advisor in the application review?

Each application undergoes two levels of review:  a (1) NASA Center Review (performed by the Advisor) and (2) Peer Review. The Advisor reviews the technical merit of the application to confirm whether the proposed research will support NASA’s missions and goals. The Advisor responds to these questions:

  1. Are the proposed objectives realistic?
  2. Does the proposal reflect innovative thinking?
  3. Is the technical work plan sound, and does it incorporate state-of-the-art methods?
  4. Can the research be accomplished in the proposed timeframe?
  5. Does the proposed research have relevance to NASA’s mission?
  6. Do you recommend the proposal for review, and if not, explain why.

Applications recommended by the Advisor for review are evaluated by at least three peer reviewers. The Advisor’s review becomes part of the application that is peer reviewed and is, therefore, analogous to a ‘reference’ from the Center.

To what degree should an applicant confer with the Advisor before submitting an application?

An applicant should communicate directly with the Advisor for the research opportunity before writing a proposal. The Advisor can provide more specific information on current research and available technical facilities, confirm whether the research opportunity is open to foreign nationals, and offer scientific support for proposal development.

Can an Advisor fund an NPP Fellow with grant funds?

Yes, Fellowships may be funded by an Advisor’s project funds. The NPP candidate must meet the Program’s selection criteria, and the Advisor and the NPP Center Representative must ensure that the funds have been placed onto the NPP contract. Even though NPP appointments are made for a period of one year, they are expected to be renewed for a second year (and possibly a third), assuming acceptable performance by the Fellow and continued relevance of the research to NASA’s goals and missions. Therefore, funding should be identified to support the Fellowship appointment for a minimum of two years. Funds may be placed on the contract for one year at a time. The NPP Center Representative and NASA Headquarters can advise you on how funds are placed onto the contract.

What does it cost to support an NPP Fellow?

The costs for NPP Fellows vary widely, depending on several factors; e.g., when the person received the Ph.D., degree discipline, relocation costs, type of medical insurance coverage, etc. First-year total costs could be as low as $73,000 or more than $150,000. The NPP Center Representative requests cost estimates for an eligible candidate from ORAU and provides that estimate to the Advisor before the Advisor must decide to fund the applicant.

Can an advisor add funds to a Fellow’s travel budget?

NPP Fellows have an annual travel budget of $8,000. Additional funds may not be added to the Fellow’s travel budget. For unusual cases where an NPP Fellow requires additional travel funds, the NASA Center must issue invitational travel orders and cover the expenses. NPP Fellows traveling on invitational travel orders are still required to submit an approved Travel Authorization Request (TAR) to ORAU, but they should indicate on the TAR that the trip will be at “zero cost” and indicate the name of the funding source.

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