Postdoctoral Program

NIA Postdoctoral Research Scholar Program

For more information, contact or (757) 325-6726


National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) – A world-class research and education institute created to conduct leading-edge aerospace and atmospheric research, develop new technologies for the nation, and help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

NIA Postdoctoral Research Scholar Program – An educational program designed to provide recent Ph.D. recipients with an opportunity to expand the research skills acquired in their doctoral programs or to learn new research techniques.

Postdoctoral Appointment – A limited term appointment with the primary purpose of providing additional research experience for a research career without distracting diversions or other duties, and to provide postdoctoral scientists and engineers with opportunities for research on projects which are compatible with the research interests of NIA and the sponsoring agency.  The appointment is for a limited term, typically for one year, renewable for up to three additional years. 

Postdoctoral Research Scholar (appointee) – An employee of NIA whose primary purpose is to continue their training in a research environment on a limited term appointment in preparation for a research career.

Sponsoring Organization – Government, commercial, academic, or other sponsoring organization supporting a Postdoctoral Research Scholar through NIA by providing funding, resources, and mentorship to the Postdoctoral Research Scholar.

Research Mentor – Scientist or engineer at the sponsoring organization with whom the Postdoctoral Research Scholar will work closely.  The Research Mentor will provide assistance in conducting the research.

NIA Postdoctoral Program Director – Staff member at NIA responsible for overseeing and administering the NIA Postdoctoral Research Scholar Program, coordinating with the sponsoring organization, and participating in the recruitment of the Postdoctoral Research Scholar.

Academic Career Advisor – Upon request from the Postdoctoral Research Scholar,  NIA will coordinate a resident faculty member to provide academic and career advice in support of the appointee’s career goals


The purpose of a postdoctoral appointment at the National Institute of Aerospace is to provide a mechanism for a recent Doctoral recipient to receive additional research training in preparation for an independent career.  A postdoctoral appointment is viewed as an important step in pursuing an academic or research career. It is a limited term appointment with the primary purpose of providing additional research experience for a research career, without distracting diversions or other duties.  It provides postdoctoral scientists and engineers with opportunities for research on projects which are compatible with the research interests of NIA and the sponsoring agency.  Appointees are designated as NIA Postdoctoral Research Scholars for the term of their appointment.


Characteristics of an NIA Postdoctoral Appointment

  • The appointment is for a limited term – typically for one year, renewable for up to three additional years.  Previous years in a postdoctoral position at other institutions will be taken into account.
  • The appointment involves full-time research.
  • The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time research career. As such, the appointment includes an annual allocation of up to 80 hours for the appointee to participate in career enrichment activities.  These activities may include but are not limited to, technical training courses, conference attendance and non-technical training courses (such as proposal writing or leadership development).  The costs of these enrichment activities are borne by the Sponsoring Organization.  If there are anticipated costs such as registration fees or travel, NIA will include these costs in the supporting proposal to the Sponsoring Organization
  • The appointee works under the mentorship of a senior researcher within the Sponsoring Organization.
  • The appointee is expected to publish the results of his or her research during the period of the appointment.
  • The appointee is expected to give at least one seminar on their research during the tenure.

Requirements for Postdoctoral Research Scholar

  • The appointee must have received his/her Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D.) within the past three years in an appropriate field.
  • The appointee must submit the application; abstract of doctoral dissertation; CV; three letters of reference; and certification of completion of Ph.D.
  • The appointee is required to devote full time to the program.
  • At the completion of the program, the appointee is required to submit a final report to the NIA Postdoctoral Program Director.  This report is to contain a summary of the results of the appointee’s research.  Other interim reports may also be required.
  • The appointee is expected to publish the results of his/her research during the period of the appointment.
  • The appointee is expected to give a seminar on the research topic during the appointment.

Responsibilities of NIA

  • NIA will provide recruitment, appointment, and supervision of the appointee.
  • NIA will complete an annual review for each appointee as part of the organizational performance review process.
  • The Program Director will meet with each new appointee within three months of start date to assess the alignment of the appointee’s goals with the position responsibilities and research being conducted.
  • The Program Director will interact with the Mentor near the anniversary date of the appointee to discuss continuation of the appointee’s position as well as a salary increase.
  • The NIA Postdoctoral Director together with the Academic Career Advisor will provide career advice and assistance appropriate to the appointees.
  • NIA will provide a certificate and letter of completion to assist the appointee in securing subsequent employment.
  • NIA will strive to achieve diversity in the NIA Postdoctoral Program.  NIA is committed to the principle of diversity and to broaden opportunities and enable the participation of women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities.
  • NIA will provide opportunities for interested appointees to work with NIA students in research areas of common interest.
  • NIA will coordinate a seminar for the appointee to present their research during their tenure.

Responsibilities of the Sponsoring Organization

  • Sponsoring organization agrees in advance to provide funding for the appointee for a minimum of one year, with renewable one-year options.
  • The sponsoring organization will identify a scientist or engineer within its organization to perform the role of Mentor.
  • Provide an environment for the appointee to allow him/her to continue their training in their area of research.

Responsibilities of the Mentor

  • Prepare a description of the research opportunity that broadly outlines the field of research that the sponsoring agency is willing to support.
  • Mentor will provide assistance and guidance to the appointee in conducting the research.
  • Mentor will meet regularly with the appointee to provide specific feedback on the research being conducted.

Responsibilities of the Academic Career Advisor

  • As a complement to both the Mentor and the Program Director, the Academic Career Advisor will provide guidance to the appointee on items pertaining to academia, the conduct of research, and future career opportunities.

NIA Guidelines and Administration

  • The NIA Postdoctoral Program Director is responsible for monitoring postdoctoral policies to assure consistent application of those policies across the Institute.
  • Research Scholars are expected to adhere to all NIA employment policies.
  • The maximum length of time classified as a postdoctoral research scholar, taking into account the number of years previously spent at other institutions in a postdoctoral position, will be no longer than four years.  Initial appointments typically will be at least one year and will be renewed annually by mutual agreement of the postdoc, NIA and the sponsoring organization. Continued employment beyond four years will be evaluated and reclassified as a member of the research staff, assuming appropriate levels of funding are provided by the sponsoring organization.
  • Postdoctoral appointments can begin anytime throughout the year.
  • To assure that the salaries and benefits offered are competitive with other organizations, NIA will continually survey postdoctoral compensation and benefits packages from commercial, government and academic organizations.  The Postdoctoral Research Scholar is an exempt position included in NIA’s research labor category pay scale, which offers a wide range allowing for consistent salaries yet maintaining flexibility.  Appointees will be eligible to enroll in NIA’s benefits program, including health insurance and retirement.  Survey results indicate that many programs lack these benefits which have been an area of concern for those entering into postdoctoral assignments.
  • Relocation assistance is provided to appointees relocating from out of the area.
  • NIA will provide coverage for Worker’s Compensation insurance to the postdoctoral appointees.
  • Assistance will be provided to International Scholars.