The IMMANA Fellowships aim to create a cadre of emerging leaders in agriculture, nutrition and health research. In each annual round, IMMANA will award six 12-month post-doctoral Fellowships to emerging leaders who are applying and/or validating new methodological approaches with mentors in ongoing research programmes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Fellows conduct their research in Africa or Asia under the joint supervision of two mentors, one from the applicant’s current or previous employer or academic institution, and one from a host institution where the applicant proposes to advance their work.
The Fellowships are part of the second phase of a larger programme on Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA), an initiative co-funded with UK Aid from the UK government through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of the programme is to contribute to the global effort of harnessing agriculture-food systems to reduce all forms of malnutrition and related health consequences, by building research capacity and generating and sharing knowledge and evidence that informs policies and programmes to better serve the world’s growing population.
The Fellowships are a central component of the IMMANA programme, which has four inter-related objectives:
Stimulate development of innovative methodological approaches and novel metrics in agriculture and food systems for improved health and nutrition;
Build a cadre of researchers skilled in developing and applying cutting-edge methods and metrics;
Facilitate learning, sharing and new interdisciplinary research collaborations;
Develop scientific evidence to inform policies and investments in agriculture and food systems for improved nutrition and health.
2. What kind of research can be supported by this Fellowship?
The programme’s goal is to advance innovative methods and metrics regarding the most cost-effective actions for sustainable, large-scale improvements in agriculture, nutrition and health. Most of the Fellowships awarded will focus on fieldwork in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, validating and applying new measurement techniques adapted to the analysis of specific interventions. Favourable consideration will be given to projects with linkages to other IMMANA activities and for proposals that address changing gender roles, climate change, and dietary transition, but the programme welcomes strong proposals for any kinds of research on the relationship between agriculture, nutrition, and health in developing countries. Projects may address knowledge gaps involving crops, livestock, water or other natural resources affected by agriculture, and cover nutrients, pathogens and care practices affecting nutrition or any aspect of care, prevention and treatment affecting health outcomes. Projects may be on topics that are similar or different from other IMMANA research described on our website. Proposals should specify how they build on or complement previous work, with appropriate citations.
3. What kind of applicant can be supported by this Fellowship?
Eligible applicants will have completed a doctorate (PhD, DPhil, DPH, MD, DVM or similar terminal degree) in any field related to agriculture, nutrition and health, and be actively engaged in research, education and engagement at the intersection of two or more of these fields. IMMANA strongly encourages applications from female candidates and citizens of low- and middle-income countries. Selection will give preference to applicants who have research or faculty appointments in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, but applicants may be of any nationality and have earned their doctorate anywhere. The first set of IMMANA Fellowships (2015-19) was designed as postdoctoral awards to launch careers, requiring start dates within three years of receiving the PhD. In the second phase of IMMANA (2020-24), Fellowships are designed as career development awards to support more advanced research projects that build directly on the applicant’s past work, with additional data collection as needed, further analysis and writing to complete one or more manuscripts, submit to journals and disseminate results as specified in the project workplan. Individuals who have previously been IMMANA Fellows are not eligible for new awards or to receive funding for more than 12 months, so a key criterion is the availability of data and methods that can permit completion of high-impact research within the Fellowship period.
4. What do you mean by “host” and “home” Mentor?
These Fellowships are intended to help bridge institutional and disciplinary boundaries, by funding a year of research supported by at least two different Mentors. The “home Mentor” is expected to provide support from one of the applicant’s previous employers or educational institutions, and the “host Mentor” is expected to support opportunities for collecting any additional data, or analysing data in new ways, from a different institution or location where the applicant proposes to conduct their Fellowship-supported research. At least one of the two Mentors must be physically located in Africa or Asia.
5. What combinations of host and home Mentors are likely to be successful?
We anticipate that “host Mentors” will be project directors or programme officers in implementing agencies, senior faculty members or leaders of agriculture, nutrition and health institutions in a position to guide the Fellow’s work on a week-to-week basis during the year. We expect “home Mentors” to be the candidate’s doctoral thesis advisor (in the case of recent graduates), their employer or a senior researcher or administrator in an institution associated with the candidate before and/or after the Fellowship year. In many cases, we anticipate that the candidate will go on leave from their current employer for the Fellowship year, and return to that employer afterwards. We are particularly interested in applicants who are researchers or faculty members in African and South Asian institutions, and who might use the Fellowship for professional development elsewhere, if necessary in the US, UK or other high-income country, as well as candidates from high-income countries doing fieldwork in Africa and South Asia.
6. What is the level of honoraria provided to Mentors?
Each host and home Mentor will receive a £2,100 honorarium for the support they provide to the Fellow. We expect that each Mentor will spend 40-50 hours over the course of the year supporting the Fellows on research and career development. Honoraria will be paid in two instalments, on submission of a mid-term mentorship report and an end-of-year evaluation detailing the Mentor’s contribution to the Fellowship project. The payments are contingent on successful fulfilment of the Mentor’s responsibilities as detailed in the Fellow’s own quarterly progress reports, as well as submission of the Mentor’s own mid-term and final Fellowship project reports which will be made public on the IMMANA website.
7. My Mentors did not receive emails to upload their letters of support. What do I do?
Please let your Mentors know that the email will have come from our application portal to allow them to upload their letter. Some applicants have noted that the email is caught by their Mentors’ spam filters. Please also check to make sure the email addresses you provided are spelled correctly in the application. If you notice that you need to re-enter their email addresses, please email to ask the Fellowships team to open your application for editing.
It is the applicant's responsibility to check with his/her Mentor to confirm that the Mentors and reference have received the request and submitted their letter. Reference letters must be submitted by Sunday 7 February 2021by 11:59 PM EST.
8. Can prospective applicants submit more than one concept note or full proposal?
Applicants may submit more than one concept note for different proposed projects. Applicants may submit a revised concept note after receiving feedback from the Fellowship team. Applicants may only submit one full proposal.
9. What salary, travel, and fieldwork allowance is provided to the Fellows?
Fellows will be provided with a stipend of £40,800 for the 12-month period, plus a research allowance of £9,000 to cover local travel and other research expenses (such as translation, hardware, software supplies, etc.), as well as participation in IMMANA Academy Weeks, trainings and workshops. All payments will be made as lump sums against completion of programme milestones. Fellows are then responsible for arranging and paying all of their travel and other expenses during the project period.
10. What arrangements are made for Fellows’ health insurance, taxes and other expenses?
IMMANA Fellowships are implemented as fixed-fee payments. Fellows are responsible for arranging and paying for all of their own personal and work-related taxes, insurances, or other fees needed during the Fellowship year.
11. What arrangements are made for Fellows’ visas and work permits?
The Fellow and their host institution(s) will be responsible for all visa applications and associated fees required to complete their proposed work plan. The IMMANA programme and Tufts University cannot sponsor visas or provide support other than proof of funding as specified in the Fellowship contracts. Fellows intending to conduct research in the US must be approved by their host institution to receive funds from Tufts University. Please seek assistance from the Fellowships team for any questions or concerns. It is expected that Fellows will have made the necessary arrangements for visa sponsorship before the start of their Fellowship.
12. Can Fellows maintain other affiliations and activities during their project year?
IMMANA Fellowships are intended to provide sufficient financial support for full-time activity during the project year, following the workplan described in the applicant’s proposal. Fellows may have other affiliations during the year, for example being on sabbatical leave from a university faculty appointment, and their workplans may include specified, time-limited activities such as teaching that would complement the aims of the fellowship. Opportunities may also arise during the Fellowship year and would then be discussed with the Fellowships program director. All foreseeable activities should be spelled out in the proposed workplan, specifying the timing of any specific obligations required for career development. Questions regarding potential conflicts of interest and commitment will be resolved on a case-by-case basis and should be addressed to [email protected].
13. Who is responsible for ethical oversight and reviews?
All human subject research conducted during the IMMANA Fellowship year must be approved in advance by the cognizant ethical review board, typically at the institution or location where the research is to be conducted. IMMANA Fellows must also adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct more generally, including compliance with data protection regulations, duty-of-care obligations, and the institutional policies or legal requirements of the places where they work and reside.
Research proposals may aim to complete work that has already been approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or similar authorities, or may require new approvals at the start of the Fellowship year. In either case, the specific IRB or other ethical authority and its approval process should be spelled out in the project workplan. Information on these approvals or exemptions will typically be obtained through the host or home Mentor, in accordance with the project's institutional context and legal jurisdiction where the research is conducted, and may involve ethical reviews from more than one institution or legal authority. Projects that do not involve individual human subjects, such as research based on aggregate statistics, would typically request a determination from the cognizant IRB that their work is not subject to further ethical review. In rare cases where an IMMANA Fellowship project is being conducted in a setting that has no mechanism for independent ethical review, reviews may be requested through Tufts University.
Fellowship proposals should specify what ethical review process will be followed, and Fellows’ quarterly reports must document their project's ethical review and approval, exemption or determination by the cognizant IRB or similar authorities. In addition to ethical review for specific projects, Fellows are encouraged to obtain international certification of their own skills in the responsible conduct of research. Such certification is available for Fellows through Tufts University's Completion are valid for four years and may be required prior to submitting future grant proposals or obtaining IRB approvals and exemptions. Instructions for obtaining CITI certification are detailed here: http://viceprovost.tufts.edu/HSCIRB/files/CITI_step-by-step_instructions.pdf.
14. What are other benefits of being an IMMANA Fellow?
Fellows will be part of the global Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy, giving them access to a community of researchers and institutions from various disciplines working together to develop methods and metrics for the design and evaluation of agriculture programmes for improved nutrition and health. Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in working groups and trainings offered by the Academy, as well as attend annual global conferences, meetings, and trainings including peer review to improve publication quality and research impact.
Fellows will be affiliated with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), gaining access to the expertise of scientists from various disciplines.
Fellows will have access to Tufts University’s facilities and resources available to faculty and staff, including electronic access to the Tufts’ library’s collection of 19,000 journals and other online materials.
Fellows will receive communications support throughout their Fellowship that will increase their opportunities to collaborate with other IMMANA Fellows, promote their progress within the research community, and raise the visibility of their academic pursuits to a broader professional network.
15. What are the reporting requirements for Fellows and mentors?
Each Fellow will be required to submit brief quarterly progress reports and a detailed final report, as specified in the award agreement. Each Mentor will be required to submit a mid-term mentorship report and an end-of-year evaluation detailing the Mentor’s contribution to the Fellowship project. The project is expected to produce peer-reviewed publications in international academic journals.
16. How do I acknowledge IMMANA Fellowships in future publications surrounding my research during the duration of my fellowship?
The following language is preferred when acknowledging IMMANA Fellowships in peer-reviewed publication in academic journals or other publishing formats regarding research conducted during the fellowship year:
“[FELLOW’S NAME] was supported by an IMMANA Fellowship ([YEARS]), funded jointly by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office as grant number 300654, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as INV-002962. The Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) programme is managed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and the IMMANA Fellowship workstream is managed by Tufts University."