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Office of the Provost

Bridging Fellowships

The Bridging Fellowship program is a University-wide effort to support members of the University faculties in interdisciplinary study. Specifically, the program releases members from departmental obligations for one semester to allow them to move to another part of the University for the purpose of learning aspects of another discipline. The distinctive feature of Bridging Fellowships is that they are for study in an area that is peripheral to the fellow’s central professional concern, and they permit the acquisition of knowledge and methods in a different field. These fellowships are thus distinct from academic leaves, and holding a Bridging Fellowship does not affect subsequent consideration for such leaves.

How to apply

The deans’ office of each school generally solicits applications once a year. Completed applications require the approval of the applicant’s chair (when appropriate) before being submitted to the dean for final approval. For an untenured faculty member, a Bridging Fellowship does not delay a tenure decision even when combined with a one-semester academic leave. Typically, the University has no more than four bridging fellowships in a given academic year.

Faculty who receive Bridging Fellowships continue to receive their regular salaries and benefits for the duration of their fellowships (ordinarily one semester). Bridging Fellowships are not considered regular academic leaves of absence. Therefore, a faculty member might qualify for an academic leave of absence immediately after a bridging experience. For junior tenure-track faculty, a bridging fellowship does not “stop the clock” on the contractual arrangement with the University.

The process for applying for a Bridging Fellowship is as follows:

  • Faculty members may submit proposals for Bridging Fellowships to their respective deans. The proposal must be approved by the dean and by the provost.
  • In addition, the proposal must meet the standards established for an academic leave as described in Section IV.E of the Faculty Handbook.
  • The proposal must include a well-designed plan of research and must ultimately benefit the educational programs of the University.
  • The Bridging Fellow must submit a written evaluation to the Provost at the conclusion of the bridging semester summarizing the goals, activities, and outcomes of the experience.


Since it began in 1983, seventy-five Bridging Fellowships have been awarded enabling University of Rochester faulty to develop new approaches to research and performance; stimulate the formation of new interdepartmental and intercollegiate collaborations; make it possible for faculty to develop new courses for a broader student base; and stimulate better integration of curricula within and between schools.

Complete list of past Bridging Fellows

Following are some examples of how the Bridging Fellowship program has assisted your colleagues:

Music theorist David Headlam, an expert on analyzing the qualities of sounds, and Professor Mark Bocko, an expert on superconducting electronics, credit the Bridging Fellowships with jump-starting their crossdivisional collaboration. Their partnership has resulted in new courses as well as new research projects and new laboratory space devoted to the study of digital music.

Read the story: Professors Bocko and Headlam partnership results in new courses

Donna Brink Fox, professor of music education at the Eastman School of Music, turned her study of organizations and entrepreneurs at the Simon Business School into new vistas for musicians and music organization.

Astrophysicist Adam Frank spent the semester with colleagues in Religion & Classics to explore the nature of religion and the nature of science as different ways of understanding the place of humans in the universe. The collaboration resulted in his publishing The Constant Fire in 2011.

English scholar Jeffrey Tucker delved into visual arts and culture for a course on comic books and illustrated novels.

Yongli Gao in the Department of Physics and Astronomy won a bridging fellowship to the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He used it to pursue a new research direction in experimental biophysics, in particular biological membranes and their interactions with enzymes, proteins, peptides, drugs, sterols and other organic entities.

Teacher, band leader, composer, and jazz pianist Harold Danko received a Bridging Fellowship to do research in the Linguistics Department on the relationship of speech and music.

Lynne Orr, Department of Physics and Astronomy, received a Bridging Fellowship to the Simon School of Business to study the emerging field of econophysics.

Historian Dorinda Outram used a Bridging Fellowship to the Department of Religion and Classics to further study the role of religion, specifically children’s innocence, during the Enlightenment era.

Claudia Schaefer, Department of Modern Languages & Cultures, used a Bridging Fellowship to the Department of Philosophy to examine how Spanish culture in the 19th and 20th centuries assimilated innovations in science.

Read the story: “Portrait of a Spanish Scientist as an Artist”