Fulbright-Cottrell Award

Start of award funding July 2021

Program Description


Prospective Fulbright-Cottrell Award applicants:
Consider registering for our virtual professional development workshop 
on October 14, 2021!


With its Fulbright-Cottrell Award, the German-American Fulbright Commission in Berlin offers a unique opportunity for researcher-educators in the fields of chemistry, physics and astronomy.

Successful applicants will receive funding of 63,000 € for a three-year project that combines pioneering research and creative teaching within their respective fields. The award also includes an additional 5,000 € for participation in the annual Cottrell Scholar Conference (next taking place in July 2021 in Tucson, Arizona).

The award’s combined funding and conference participation recognizes outstanding teacher-scholars and allows for engagement with transatlantic scientific communities, as well as acknowledgment for the quality and innovation of their research programs and academic leadership skills.

Project Criteria

Submitted projects should include a research proposal and a corresponding teaching program, with the aim of simultaneously implementing both components over the course of three years at a German university. The proposed research should describe a fundamental problem and enhance the current knowledge and understanding in the applicant’s field. The teaching program should aim to improve instruction within the applicant’s respective department/program, and at improving students’ academic success.

Submitted projects will be judged by their quality and innovation, feasibility, and long-term perspective. In addition to scientific excellence, proposals should also reflect the applicant’s knowledge of pedagogic concepts, and make use of forward-looking teaching and learning methodologies. Applicants are encouraged to implement their projects with students in the earlier stages of their academic development.

Candidates should demonstrate independence in research (publications, etc.) and teaching, and should also have strong international experience in scientific research (collaboration in an international environment and work as members of diverse teams).


Research has traditionally been valued more than teaching within the German university system – even the more recent Exzellenz-Initiative, for example, focuses primarily on excellence in research. While initiatives to foster excellence in teaching exist, high performance in teaching continues to lack both equivalent prestige and funding. Young scientists are especially challenged by the obligation to assume a large proportion of their departments’ teaching responsibilities at the expense of advancement opportunities in the more research-centered and publication-oriented scientific community.

The U.S.-based Cottrell Scholar Award, initiated in 1994, confronted this challenge by recognizing outstanding young university “teacher-scholars” - scientists who strive to integrate their research and teaching activities, regarding them as interdependent - in the fields of chemistry, physics and astronomy. This prestigious award is conferred annually by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) in Tucson, Arizona – with a focus on the U.S. and Canadian scientific community.

The German-American Fulbright Commission - which annually sponsors hundreds of scholars in academic programs in both Germany and the U.S. – has since 2016 added a wider intercultural scope to the RCSA’s successful approach for both Northern American and German scholars with its Fulbright-Cottrell Award. Fulbright-Cottrell scholars thus gain access to like-minded and established networks on both sides of the Atlantic, helping them to develop current and future projects, and pave careers as international scientists.

In conjunction with the Fulbright-Cottrell Award, a fourth - and this time virtual - professional development workshop will take place on October 14, 2021. The workshop offers training for junior faculty/group leaders in Germany on how to best implement evidence-based pedagogies, integrate research and teaching, use new strategies for communicating science to the public, and develop skills in time management, leadership, mentoring students, and networking. Fulbright-Cottrell Award winners are invited to attend.

In collaboration with our Cottrell Scholar Award partners and as part of the 2018-19 Year German-American Friendship/Wunderbar Together campaign, a third science slam (and first in the U.S.) took place in Tucson, AZ on July 11, 2019 during the annual Cottrell Scholar Conference.

A recent cover story publication in Angewandte Chemie on a Fulbright-Cottrell scholar’s research – which marked the first scientific collaboration between one of our Germany-based scholars and one of the U.S.-based Cottrell Scholars - speaks to the award’s success in better preparing young scientists for their careers as teacher-scholars.

Grant Benefits

  • Funding for a three-year research and teaching project in the amount of 63,000 €, which will be provided in two installments. The official start date of the award is July 1, 2021.
  • Travel expenses up to 5,000 € for transatlantic flights from Germany to at least two Cottrell Scholar Conferences in Tucson, Arizona. Costs will be covered as incurred, starting in May 2021.

The awards will be administered by the German-American Fulbright Commission, with funds provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).


Junior group leaders and habilitated researchers (including junior professors, Juniordozenten, and Privatdozenten) who are working at a German university/institute with teaching responsibilities in the core programs (Bachelor/Master) of chemistry, physics or astronomy (roughly equivalent to the third year of a tenure-track appointment at a U.S. university).


  • German citizenship - or exceptionally, applicant’s “center of life” (Lebensmittelpunkt) is in Germany
  • Completed doctorate in chemistry, physics or astronomy
  • Proven primary affiliation with a German university/institute at which the project is hosted during the entire award period (3 years)

Application Procedure & Deadlines

The application period for the 2021 Fulbright-Cottrell Award has concluded.

Information about application procedures and deadlines for the 2022 Fulbright-Cottrell Award will be available on this website in autumn 2021.


Special Programs
German-American Fulbright Commission
Lützowufer 26
10787 Berlin

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