Cornell University STAARS Fellowship for African Researchers 2024

The Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS) fellowship program, a collaborative effort between Cornell University, the World Bank’s Development Research Group, and the Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP), is excited to announce its annual call for research proposals. The program aims to advance rigorous, policy-oriented research on the causal determinants of productivity and income growth, asset accumulation, rural employment, and risk management in African agriculture and rural spaces. The STAARS Fellowship is an excellent opportunity for early-career researchers to receive funding to cover travel and training expenses, work with expert mentors, and build their international research networks.


The STAARS Fellowship began in 2016 and has supported 70 Fellows from diverse backgrounds to date. The fellowship is open to early-career researchers, including PhD students in their final year before degree completion or those who completed their PhD no earlier than 2018. Priority is given to researchers who have earned at least one degree from an African university, plan to work professionally in low- and lower-middle-income countries, and have proposals relating to the research themes indicated above. Qualified female researchers are particularly encouraged to apply.


Prospective STAARS Fellows are invited to develop proposals in thematic areas for empirical work on Africa south of the Sahara. These areas include dynamics of agricultural inputs use, technological change, and productivity growth; rural factors (e.g., credit, labour, land) and product market performance and links to urban markets; agri-food systems and value chains; food security, nutrition, health, and education linkages; poverty dynamics, risk management, and resilience against shocks; sustainable natural resources management; and gender and marginalized groups.

Selected applicants will receive funds to cover travel and participation in a three-week mentorship program at Cornell University or the World Bank (based on mentorship). The remainder of the research coordination and professional development training will be conducted virtually. Fellows are expected to commit significant time to the proposed research and capacity development activities. A modest honorarium will be provided to each Fellow, and no salary support is available. Furthermore, the program requires a letter of support from the candidate’s current advisor, supervisor, or manager, indicating that adequate work time will be made available for full participation in the program if selected. The program cannot support costs for any new data collection.

The deadline for submitting a research proposal is January 19, 2024, at 11:59 PM New York time. To apply, applicants must prepare a maximum 2500-word research proposal in English, which motivates the selected research issues and objectives, outlines data sources and proposed methodology, and contains a convincing plan for completing the project by June 30, 2025. All proposals will be peer-reviewed by experts from Cornell, the World Bank, and/or PEP. Shortlisted applicants will be required to attend a short, virtual interview with the STAARS leadership team and potential mentors and complete a Stata/R assessment to assess their qualifications in using the statistical software necessary to carry out their proposed work. More details will be provided to shortlisted candidates at the time of notification. For more information on this excellent opportunity, visit Cornell University’s website.


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