Sawyer Seminar Pre-doctoral Fellowship Program
Graduate Student Application Guidelines

The Medical Humanities Research Institute (MHRI) will award two pre-doctoral fellowships in AY2024-25 to Rice University doctoral students in  Humanities and/or interpretive Social Sciences. Fellows will be active participants in the “Reimagining Technologies of Care: Racial Health Equity and Data Justice” Sawyer Seminar, which encompasses a range of research and collaborative activities throughout the year. Candidates will ideally be in their final year of dissertation research and writing, although we will consider extremely strong candidates at an earlier writing stage. Fellows will receive a stipend of $34,000. The stipend is intended to provide fellows with an additional year of support; thus, fellows still supported by a department stipend may bank a year of departmental support (if allowed by the department) to accept the Mellon Sawyer Seminar stipend.  Fellows may not receive both their departmental stipend and a Mellon Sawyer Seminar stipend simultaneously. Interested students who are not eligible or not selected for the fellowships may participate in the Sawyer Seminar by attending seminar activities throughout the year.

The “Reimagining Technologies of Care” Sawyer seminar aims to intervene in the perpetuation of inequitable healthcare by bringing key insights and methodologies of the humanities into the analysis, creation and use of healthcare technologies and the collection and use of health data from these technologies. Building on the strength of Rice University’s faculty working in Medical Humanities, Science and Technology Studies, and the Creative Arts, this Seminar will expand upon our existing connections with clinicians, biomedical researchers, engineers, and data scientists to imagine new approaches to healthcare that place anti-racism, ethics, patient experiences, artistic expression, and historical and narrative analysis at the center of medical innovation.

During the Seminar year, fellows will attend and occasionally lead a monthly reading group with faculty, students, and clinicians; attend and occasionally moderate approximately 8 lectures and meet with speakers; meet regularly with the Seminar organizers; present their research related to the seminar at public events; participate in professional development workshops; mentor and oversee Seminar undergraduate fellows; and contribute to publications or white papers in addition to completing their dissertations. The Seminar organizers will provide multidisciplinary mentoring opportunities to the graduate students. 

The fellows will be selected based on the relevance of their dissertation and professional aims to the seminar, likelihood they will complete their PhD between May 2025 and May 2026, scholarly preparedness for interdisciplinary research, and potential contributions to collaborative research on the seminar topic.

To apply, upload as a single PDF on this webform by Monday, April 1 (Deadline Extended to April 1):

  • A 500-750 word cover letter indicating your research connections with the seminar topic and how your future career goals would benefit from participation in this seminar
  • A 250-300 word abstract of your dissertation research interests
  • A CV
  • A statement of all pending or confirmed fellowships or paid work at Rice during Academic Year 2024-25
  • A writing sample of 25 pages double-spaced
  • Advisor Agreement Form (advisor signature needed to confirm endorsement of application, participation in Seminar activities, ability to accept the stipend, and dissertation status)

Please direct questions to: Melissa Bailar, Executive Director, Medical Humanities Research Institute