Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is pleased to launch the 2024 call of the SFI-NSF Student Mobility Programme which is designed to enable Irish based PhD students to collaborate on research projects in academic laboratories in the Unites States of America for a period of 4 weeks to 12 weeks. The programme specifically links PhD students from the SFI funded Centres for Research Training (CRT) with academic laboratories at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship Program (NRT).

A student mobility scheme between the CRTs and NRTs is designed to help drive innovative research cooperation and would be aligned with the following objectives:

  • Support postgraduate students in their development of professional networks, widen career exposure and create the possibility of attracting talent.
  • Facilitate training in appropriate research skills and/or use of equipment and techniques that may not be readily available in Ireland.
  • Encourage knowledge exchange and strengthened collaboration between CRTs and NRTs in their highly specialised areas of expertise.
  • Learnings and shared experiences between innovative postgraduate training programmes within rich research environments.

The programme specifically targets PhD students from the SFI funded Centres for Research Training (CRT) ( Nominated CRT candidates are expected to demonstrate the following: 

A) Applicants must have identified a host NRT who will provide access to their laboratory space, dedicated time, and their research group (details outlined in a letter of invitation).
B) A letter of confirmation from the Irish host institution indicating that each applicant

i. is an active CRT student,
ii. has the support to participate from their supervisory team,
iii. has completed first year of their PhD studies at the time of application,
iv. has the required health and travel insurance in place prior to travel.

C) Applicants must demonstrate the synergies between their research activities and the host NRT/research group and outline the expected outputs of their visit (motivation letter).
D) CRTs should aim for a gender-balanced approach and endeavour to nominate a diverse and talented group of candidates. 

Finding a partner 

National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship (NRT) is developed with the principal goal of encouraging the development of innovative models for interdisciplinary / convergent STEM graduate training. Moreover, a broader expected impact of the program is “increased partnerships and collaborations (both domestic and international) between academia and others.”
SFI does not have a list of eligible and/or interested NRTs; further details on NRTs is accessible here and on the NRT home page.

The funding available, on a competitive basis, for successful candidates is up to €7,000 per individual for a period of 4 to 12 weeks. All incurred costs must be justified and in line with the allowable costs outlined below.

Eligible costs per student include the following costs only: 

  • Accommodation and subsistence costs for the applicant to carry out collaborative research in the host laboratory for a period of 4 to 12 weeks. Subsistence rates supplied by SFI (Appendix A) must be used.  Subsistence rates provided are inclusive of accommodation; AND
  • Travel costs, covering the cost of one return trip to the host laboratory as well as associated domestic transport. Please note that applicants are required to procure return economy flights. Most cost-efficient transportation options from the international airport to the international lab are considered eligible travel costs, AND
  • Costs associated with application for a US visa will be covered.

Ineligible costs include other costs associated with consumables and materials, equipment including laptops, participation in conferences or workshops or study tours, car-hire, travel and health insurance.

CRTs are invited to submit a maximum of four applications per centre (through SESAME), accompanied by three supporting letters only:

  • Letter of Invitation from host NRT [maximum 1 page]. 
  • Letter of Confirmation from Irish host institution [maximum 1 page]. 
  • Motivation letter from CRT-based PhD student [maximum 2 pages]. 

For further details, please see the call document.