Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship

The Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship supports the research of Harvard University advanced doctoral students whose work is related to early childhood health, learning, and behavior. Selected fellows receive a stipend and join an active, interdisciplinary learning community for one academic year. The goal of the fellowship is to create a new generation of leaders who will drive innovation that impacts the early childhood field and the lives of children facing adversity.

Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship poster

Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship

Open to all Harvard Doctoral Students

Join a cohort of innovators working across disciplines to impact the early childhood field and the lives of children facing adversity.

Read FAQs about the Fellowship and apply

Application deadline: 5 p.m. EST on Friday, January 3, 2020

2019-2020 Djokovic Fellows

April 25, 2019  The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and the Novak Djokovic Foundation are pleased to announce that four Harvard doctoral students have been awarded the Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship for the 2019-2020 academic year. Each Fellow will receive a grant to support her or his independent dissertation research. This year’s recipients and their topics of study include:

  • Jacob Beckerman Hsu—Preventing obesity by improving early childhood nutrition
  • Emily Hanno—Evaluating interventions aimed at improving caregiver practices
  • Gabriel Schwartz—Examining the links between neighborhoods, social policy, and racial and health inequities
  • Michele Zemplenyi—Utilizing biostatistics to determine the effects of prenatal exposures to toxins
  • Learn more about the 2019-2020 Djokovic Fellows

For Applicants

Background & History of the Fellowship

Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship logo

Podcast logo: Alberto Lidji and Jack P. Shonkoff share their vision for the Djokovic Fellowship

“This collaboration between the Novak Djokovic Foundation and the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University … will strengthen the body of research in early childhood development and education and ensure we nurture the next generation of leaders in this field.” –Alberto Lidji, Global CEO, Novak Djokovic Foundation

The Djokovic Fellowship was launched in 2016, the result of a partnership between the Center on the Developing Child and the Novak Djokovic Foundation. The fellowship is open to Harvard University doctoral students whose research aligns with the mission of the Center. Students from the biological and social sciences (e.g., HMS, T.H. Chan, GSAS) as well as Harvard’s professional schools (e.g., HKS, HLS, HBS, and HGSE) are eligible to apply. Applications are available in the Fall and are due to the Center in early January. Decisions are made in the Spring. The fellowship year runs from September through May.

Fellowship Program Components
The fellowship program is designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and cultivate a robust learning community. In addition, we deepen each fellow’s capacity to design, apply, and translate research to advance work with children who face adversity. It includes:

  • A stipend to support each fellow’s independent dissertation research;
  • A series of monthly skill-building workshops to prepare students to serve as academic change agents; and
  • A capstone interdisciplinary roundtable, hosted by each fellow with an invited group of experts.

Fellows are expected to participate in person at all fellowship activities. At the beginning of the fellowship year, fellows create a work plan for the research activities they will conduct during the fellowship. They share progress with their fellowship mentor, Center staff, and cohort members throughout the year. The fellowship workshops provide fellows with training in the IDEAS Impact Framework (the Center’s science-based innovation approach) and on strategies for effectively communicating their research to non-scientific audiences. Other workshop topics may include community perspectives, designing policy strategies, and developing good leadership practices. In addition, fellows are invited to attend Center-sponsored events throughout the year. In the Spring of the fellowship year, each fellow gives a capstone presentation on their research to an invited group of faculty of the fellow’s choosing. This academic roundtable is a unique opportunity for the fellow to receive feedback from and ask questions of their personal “dream team” of interdisciplinary experts. The fellow’s mentor and key Center staff members are also in attendance.

Application Requirements


What are the components of the application?

  • Statement of Interest
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Official Harvard Transcript
  • Letter of Recommendation (from the Harvard faculty member who will serve as fellowship mentor)

Candidates should have excellent academic records and defined research interests related to early childhood health, learning, and behavior. Priority will be given to candidates whose work aligns with the Center’s mission, crosses disciplinary boundaries, and offers promising new thinking in support of the healthy development of children and their families. Candidates may explore the Science section for key concepts that are related to the Center’s mission, including:

All Harvard University doctoral students from the biological and social sciences as well as the professional schools are eligible to apply. As part of the application, each candidate must name a Harvard faculty member who will serve as a mentor during the fellowship year. The mentor’s responsibilities include providing input on the fellowship year work plan and helping to identify an interdisciplinary group of university faculty to provide feedback at the fellow’s capstone presentation. There is an expectation that significant progress will be made on the fellow’s research during the year; specific benchmarks will be determined individually with input from the faculty mentor. The mentor will need to be an on-site Harvard professor to maximize engagement and participation for the duration of the fellowship year.

Statement of Interest: The Statement of Interest consists of three required sections (with approx. 550 words per section): Personal Essay, Research Focus and Its Implications; and Leadership Capacity and Vision. It represents an opportunity to introduce yourself and provide insight into your career aspirations. You should describe your research agenda, its connection to the Center’s mission and the early childhood field, and the implications your research may have for catalyzing innovative thinking or action in early childhood policy or practice. Include your leadership experiences as well as any additional relevant information about your background. Please be sure that when you describe your research topic and its connection to the Center, you include your research question along with the current status of your dissertation research. Provide a detailed description of the scope of the research you want to focus on in your fellowship year.

Official Harvard Transcript: Official transcripts must be requested from your school’s Registrars’ office or from the National Student Clearinghouse. (NOTE: Requests may take 2-4 weeks to process, and longer during holidays. Harvard University offices are closed December 24, 2019 to January 2, 2020. It is the applicant’s responsibility to confirm that the transcript will arrive by the application deadline.) Transcripts should be emailed to For details on mailing a hard copy of your transcript, please see the Application FAQs.

Letter of Recommendation: The letter of recommendation from the Harvard faculty member who has agreed to serve as your fellowship mentor should include:

  • Details on your capacity to draw on the program’s scaffold to advance your work;
  • The importance of your research to innovating in practice or policy contexts; and
  • Any additional relevant details on your background.

The Harvard faculty fellowship mentor should complete the letter of recommendation on department letterhead, and email it as a PDF to by the application deadline. The email subject line should be: DSIF.Rec.Ltr.StudentLastName.

For additional application details and questions, please see our Application FAQs.

About the Novak Djokovic Foundation

Novak Djokovic Foundation logoFounded in 2007, the Novak Djokovic Foundation is a global organization that champions and invests in early childhood education with a focus on Serbia, a country where only one in two children has access to preschool education. It was founded on the belief that early education can transform the lives of children as well as entire communities. For more information about the Foundation, please visit:

  Print this page   Subscribe to our mailing list