If you’re about to finish a Ph.D. in computational science (or closely related field), you should look at the excellent J. H. Wilkinson Fellowship at Argonne National Lab’s Mathematics and Computer Science (MCS) Division. They are now accepting applications for the 2014-2015 fellowship! I was honored and humbled to be the Wilkinson fellow from 2006-2008, and hope the following will encourage you to apply.
(Disclaimer: The following statements are my own and do not in any way represent the official views of the MCS division, Argonne itself, or the US Department of Energy.)
First of all, the professional development afforded by the Wilkinson is incredible. The fellowship offers a degree of independence that’s essentially unheard of in computational science postdoctoral positions; that freedom, that intellectual space, was essential for me to identify what really matters to me, and my strengths and weaknesses. The MCS division offers a dynamic workplace full of sharp minds and friendly colleagues from all walks of science and engineering, which makes for a terrific learning environment. Of the many academic institutions I’ve seen, none have matched MCS’s collection of truly integrative computational scientists who keep up with everything, and have thought so deeply about the big picture.
In addition, the fellowship provides fantastic support to travel for conferences and meet collaborators. For one thing, I was able to spend six weeks in Europe attending a series of meetings in Linz, Austria; many thanks to the Radon Institute of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Linz for hosting me, and to Bob Eisenberg of Rush University for facilitating. Another example: when I began to collaborate with experimental scientists in the Biosciences Division, I could actually support tying theory to experiment by buying real proteins!
Plus, you can live in downtown Chicago, which is a totally awesome place to live, especially when you look at the cost of living around some other national labs near big cities.