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Centennial Fellowship Selection Committee

General Description

Principal Activities

To review applications and rank the top applicants for the award of fellowships as far as the money will go. Committee members may not serve as reference writers for Centennial Fellowship applicants.

Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
(as adopted by the April 2019 Council)

The American Mathematical Society is committed to promoting and facilitating equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the mathematical sciences. For its own long-term prosperity as well as that of the public at large, our discipline must connect with and appropriately incorporate all sectors of society. We reaffirm the pledge in the AMS Mission Statement to "advance the status of the profession of mathematics, encouraging and facilitating full participation of all individuals," and urge all members to conduct their professional activities with this goal in mind.

Other Activities

To consider questions of policy on fellowships and to assist in solicitation of funds. Although the committee numbers seven, it is augmented by panelists chosen when the fields of applicants are known, so that the augmented group represents the appropriate distribution of mathematical expertise.

When the fellowships were established, they were for immediate postdoctoral candidates, interpreted as ordinarily no more than four years past the Ph.D. Beginning with the competition of December 1983, the fellowship was changed to one for persons in early mid-career, interpreted as ordinarily four to ten years past the Ph.D. and of rank below professor. It has been changed many times since then.

Beginning with the competition of 1990/1991, the fellowship was changed as follows:

  1. The age group would be set at seven (7) to twelve (12) years past Ph.D. or equivalent degree.
  2. The Fellowship would be open to any rank.
  3. In the instructions to the Selection Committee and in the announcements that are published, the words, “the selection committee WILL give preference to applicants who have not had extensive postdoctoral fellowship support” will be included.

In August 1995 the eligibility criteria were changed again, targeting more recent Ph.D.s. The fellowship was limited to citizens or permanent residents of a country in North America, who will have held a doctoral degree for at least two years at the time of the award, who do not have permanent tenure, and who will have held less than two years of research support at the time of the award.

Beginning with the competition of the 2001/02, the rules became:

“The primary selection criterion for the Centennial Fellowship is the excellence of the candidates research. Candidates for the fellowship should submit a cogent plan indicating how they would use the fellowship. The plan should include travel to at least one other institution and should demonstrate that the fellowship will be used for more than a reduction of teaching at the candidate’s home institution. The selection committee will consider the plan in addition to the quality of the candidate’s research, and will try to award the fellowship to those for whom the award would make a real difference in the development of their research careers. Work in all areas of mathematics, including interdisciplinary work, is eligible. Preference will be given to candidates who have not had extensive fellowship support in the past.

Recipients may not hold the Centennial Fellowship concurrently with another research fellowship such as a Sloan or NSF Postdoctoral fellowship. Under normal circumstances, the fellowship cannot be deferred.

A recipient of the fellowship shall have held his or her doctoral degree for at least three years and not more than twelve years at the inception of the award. Applications will be accepted from those currently holding a tenured, tenure track, post-doctoral, or comparable (at the discretion of the selection committee) position at an institution in North America.”

“Fellowship holders may use their stipend as full support for a year, or may combine it with half-time teaching and use it as half support over a two-year period. Applications shall include a short research plan describing both an outline of the research to be pursued and a program for using the fellowship, including institutions at which it will be used and reasons for the choices.

The selection committee will base its decision on both the research potential of the applicant based upon track record and letters of recommendation and the quality and feasibility of the research plan.”

Then in 2013 The Council made two mild changes in the eligibility criteria. First, the second paragraph in the preceding award parameters was changed to read:

Recipients may not hold the Centennial Fellowship concurrently with another major research award such as a Sloan fellowship, NSF Postdoctoral fellowship or CAREER award. Under normal circumstances, the fellowship cannot be deferred.

Second, the following general principle was adopted:

For any program, fellowship, prize or award that has a maximum period of eligibility after receipt of the doctoral degree, the selection committee may use discretion in making exceptions to the limit on eligibility for candidates whose careers have been interrupted for reasons such as family or health.

Miscellaneous Information

The Committee conducts its business by email and teleconferencing and does not require any travel.

Note to the Chair

For the purpose of archiving the committee activities, the Secretary maintains a central file system for archiving committee records. Committee Chairs are asked to submit committee records on yearly basis. Chairs can submit material at their discretion, and some materials that they may wish to provide are meeting minutes, agenda, and emails. Confidential material should be noted, so that it can be handled in a confidential manner.


Past Members

A list of current and past members is available at:

Past Winners

AMS Webpage