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I am currently working on applying for an NSF postdoctoral fellowship and I was wondering if anyone had insight into the following questions:

  • Is it practical to have a proposed research project that is not directly in line with the applicant's previous research (I'm thinking of a research project that in some way falls within the same subspeciality but none of the work I've done before naturally segues into this work)

  • Is it disadvantageous to apply to work under someone who already has numerous postdocs (say around 4)? The worry would be that a panel would think that this would reduce the sponsor's ability to be an involved mentor

  • When it comes to Broader impacts, in particular things like educational outreach, is it all right if this occurs in another country if I am applying to be supported by the NSF while at a foreign institution.

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  • See the "help" link to discover the type of questions appropriate here. – GEdgar Oct 4 '13 at 21:37
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  1. I think this depends to a large degree on how intelligently you can write about this subject. If you have a carefully thought out research plan, and can point to how your previous experience prepared you for it, I don't think it should be a huge problem. That said, there's no reason to really go out on a limb in the description. It's not like you're required to do the research you propose, so I would be more inclined to suggest doing a mix of problems from the new and old areas. Also, talk to your recommenders about it. If they're enthusiastic, it will really help.

  2. I wouldn't over think this stuff. It's just impossible to know what people will think. I would concentrate more on what you think is best for you.

  3. You should discuss anything cool you've done with educational outreach. If it was in another country, I don't think it's a problem at all.

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