Lillian Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellowships at Purdue Engineering at Purdue University, USA

Dr. Lillian Gilbreth

Dr. Gilbreth laid the foundations of modern industrial engineering, invented designs of consumer appliances, hospital, office, and sport equipment to make work and life easier, and was a consultant to many major corporations. She was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 1965 and awarded the prestigious Hoover Medal in 1966 for “contributions to motion study and to recognition of the principle that management engineering and human relations are intertwined.” The NAE also established the Gilbreth Lecturership in 2001 as a means of recognizing outstanding young American engineers.

Beginning in 1930, by serving on President Hoover’s Emergency Committee on Employment, she was an advisor to five U.S. presidents on committees dealing with civil defense, war production, and rehabilitation of the handicapped. She also received more than twenty honorary doctorates from prestigious institutions. Purdue University’s e-archives and special collections feature many historical materials on Dr. Gilbreth’s life and career.

Program goals

The goal of the Lillian Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at Purdue Engineering is to attract and prepare outstanding individuals with recently awarded PhDs for a career in engineering academia through interdisciplinary research, training, and professional development.

The Lillian Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellows are selected not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements and proposed innovative interdisciplinary research but also for their potential for broader impact on industry and society. They undertake research with faculty mentors in different fields and participate in professional development activities tailored to their chosen path in academia.


Individuals who have either completed their PhD within two years of the Fellowship application deadline or are in the final year of their PhD program in engineering or related sciences at the time of application can apply.

Note: A candidate’s Lillian Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellowship co-advisor(s) cannot include their PhD thesis advisor(s).

Program structure

Gilbreth Fellows will have two co-advisors. One faculty co-advisor must have a primary appointment in an Engineering school/division. The second must have a primary appointment in a different Engineering school/division or at a non-engineering department at Purdue. An additional third collaborator from within or outside Purdue can also participate in the project.

The Gilbreth Fellowship is a full time appointment and the Fellows undertake research with their faculty co-advisors, participate in professional development activities, and are required to prepare and submit short annual reports on their achievements.

Research project topics

Applicants can (a) propose their own innovative research proposal and suggest potential Purdue co-advisors, or (b) choose to develop their proposal based on interdisciplinary topics already posted by faculty on the fellowship website.

Potential faculty co-advisors are invited to upload brief 200 word descriptions and info for their proposed topics for a Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellow.


Gilbreth Fellows are appointed for a two-year term, and receive an annual stipend of $60,000 and benefits. A $5,000 grant is also provided for professional development such as attending conferences or workshops and are mentored for their future academic careers through a variety of programs.

Key Dates for 2020

  • July 30, 2019: call to engineering faculty to post research topics on the LGPF website
  • August 30, 2019: website with proposed topics made live to interested applicants
  • December 6, 2019: Deadline to receive full application packets with recommendation letters
  • March 2020: the 2020 Lillian Gilbreth postdoc fellows announced; 2020 cohort fellows can start their assignments as early as April 2020


Application materials include an application and the following items:

  1. Cover letter describing how the Gilbreth Fellowship will help the candidates progress toward their goals in Engineering academia.
  2. Curriculum Vitae including list of publications.
  3. One-page research statement that includes goals and significance of proposed interdisciplinary work and suggests potential Purdue engineering faculty members who can be co-advisors.
  4. A one-page essay on their proposed broader impact through education/outreach/engagement.
  5. Three letters of recommendation that include detailed assessments of (a) the candidate’s qualifications and (b) potential for success in academia through scholarly research and broader impact through research/education/engagement.

Applicants should upload the cover letter, curriculum vita, research statement and impact statement as a single .pdf file via our application form.

If you have questions about the application process, please contact Marsha Freeland,

Awa​rdees will be selected based on faculty committee recommendations and approval of co-advisors and school/division heads.

Fellowship start dates must be in 2020, and for international applicants, the dates must allow for sufficient time for awardees to secure the relevant visa.

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