For Recommenders

Deadline for letters of recommendation: February 22, 2022

How to submit your letter of recommendation? 

Once a student submits his or her phase one application, an automated email will be sent to the faculty mentor(s) that the student listed in the application. Faculty mentors will be expected to submit their letters of recommendation through the link provided in the automated email by the phase two application deadline of February 22, 2022.

What should a letter of recommendation include? 

The letter of recommendation should evaluate the student’s qualifications to carry out the proposed project and assess the appropriateness of the project’s scope within the context of the discipline. Letters should also describe the faculty-student mentoring relationship in some detail (e.g., how often will the mentor and student meet, what are the mentor’s expectations for the student) and why this plan is appropriate for the project. Brevity and lack of detail in the faculty mentor’s letter of recommendation may raise questions about the degree of faculty support for the project. Faculty mentors will be expected to review student proposals before submitting their letters. 

If you are writing letters of support for multiple students, the Student Fellowships Committee asks that you include in your letters any information you feel comfortable sharing regarding the strength of the applicant relative to the cohort. Recommenders have been asked to do this in the past and the committee has found this explicit information very helpful. You may include this information in whatever way feels appropriate. Some faculty may choose to rank order, others may choose to write something like, “Student A and B are both excellent and I cannot rank one over the other,” and others may choose to tell us who they feel is least competitive.  Whatever information you feel comfortable sharing would be appreciated by the committee. That said, the committee would like you to understand that, while the committee will take this information very seriously, they will make their decisions based on the entire application package. For example, if the committee determines that an application is weak and poorly done, they are unlikely to fund that student even if he or she is the faculty mentor’s highest priority. 

If your mentee is applying for a Maine Space Grant Fellowship, please describe your efforts to identify a NASA mentor.  Please contact Corey Colwill for additional information.

Please note that when students submit their phase two application, they will be asked to make a binding decision regarding whether they are seeking support for 8, 9, or 10 weeks at $510 per week to carry out their proposed project. Applicants have been instructed to discuss with their faculty mentors what would be the appropriate duration of their fellowship and to consider their own research goals and availability as well as their faculty mentors’ availability when making this decision. Be aware that selected fellows are expected to commit full-time effort to their research project and faculty mentors must approve the duration of the fellowship period.

Research involving human or animal subjects must be either covered by an approved protocol or found exempt before any research can commence. Research cannot be approved retroactively; therefore, projects that may inform a future independent study or honors project must receive approval prior to conducting the research.

Projects involving human subjects will need to be reviewed by Bowdoin’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Human subjects research includes collecting data through interviews and surveys, using private information from identifiable individuals, and experimental testing on individuals. For more information about the role of the IRB, or for answers to questions about the submission process, please email  Projects involving vertebrate animals will need to be reviewed by Bowdoin’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). For more information, please email the IACUC chair at  

Frequent problems with fellowship applications:

  • Proposed activity’s contribution to the broader field or community not clearly stated.
  • Procedures omitted, vaguely stated, or unrelated to the project; project unrealistic or unlikely to succeed.
  • Failure to speak adequately to the student’s development.
  • Failure to demonstrate the student’s and the mentor’s engagement in the project.
  • Inflated or unreasonable budget, or narrative or notes that do not clearly support the budget.

In addition to the above, please also keep in mind:

  • Inadequate attention to style raises questions about the student’s commitment to the project and likelihood to succeed.

For any questions regarding the process and requirements of submitting a letter of recommendation, please contact Gina Pappas.