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Post-Doctoral Fellow in Plant Humanities

Dumbarton Oaks is a research institute affiliated with Harvard University that supports research internationally in Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies. Dumbarton Oaks encompasses a museum with world-class collections of Pre-Columbian, Byzantine, and European Renaissance art, and a historic garden designed by Beatrix Farrand. Since 2018, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we have pursued an initiative in the emerging interdisciplinary field of the Plant Humanities, which explores the extraordinary significance of plants to human cultures. A key outcome of the first phase was the Plant Humanities Lab, an open-access digital site that features visually engaging, interactive narratives on plants from the perspectives of race, colonialism, environmental justice, foodways, indigenous knowledge, evolution, and biodiversity loss in the Anthropocene. Dumbarton Oaks is committed to further developing and enhancing the site as a tool for innovative pedagogy, online sharing of collections, and communicating the importance of plants and multispecies interactions to a broad audience.

As part of the Plant Humanities team, the Post-Doctoral Fellow will work closely with the study programs--Garden and Landscape, Pre-Columbian, and Byzantine--on joint events and scholarly content for the Plant Humanities Lab. The fellow will also interact with the Library, Museum, Gardens, Publications, and other departments at Dumbarton Oaks. Lastly, the Fellow will help support and develop institutional collaborations. 

The Post-Doctoral Fellow will focus on three main areas:

  • Research and content creation to produce new cultural histories of plants for the Plant Humanities Lab. The research will encompass the Dumbarton Oaks rare book collection and other special collections at collaborating institutions, as well as large digital repositories such as Global Plants and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The Fellow will acquire and apply diverse digital skills and participate in the development of new digital resources. It is expected that the research will also lead to public-facing articles for JSTOR Daily (where the team contributes a Plant of the Month feature) and peer-reviewed articles. 
  • Collaboration with faculty at diverse institutions to test out the adoption of the Plant Humanities Lab in the classroom, and with students to manage the editorial process of future external submissions to the Lab.
  • Research, development, and implementation of education and public outreach projects related to the Plant Humanities Initiative, that may include online exhibitions, development of syllabi and lesson plans, an onsite or digital museum and garden tour focused on plants, etc. The Fellow will also teach in the Plant Humanities Summer Program.

This fellowship offers unique opportunities to build career skills in the digital humanities, special collections, and innovative higher-ed pedagogical tools, while benefiting from the unique resources of Dumbarton Oaks. The Fellow will participate fully in Dumbarton Oaks’ dynamic community of scholars, working collaboratively with all three programs of study, and will devote 20% of the fellowship time to personal research.


  • PhD in the humanities and humanistic social sciences with a focus on plants and people. History, Art History, History of Science, Literary Studies, Anthropology, Food Studies, Ethnobotany and the Environmental Humanities are all pertinent areas of inquiry, but we welcome applications from other fields provided that candidates have a strong commitment to humanistic modes of inquiry and interpretation.
  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Excellent research skills.
  • Experience working with special collections and digital repositories.
  • Teaching experience, especially at the undergraduate level. 


  • Experience writing for diverse audiences.
  • Some editorial experience, in print or digital publications.
  • Digital skills, including mapping and visualization software and Linked Open Data, would be useful but the fellowship with provide training as needed.
  • Experience in one of the core study areas of Dumbarton Oaks—Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, or Garden and Landscape Studies is welcome, though not required. 


This is a one-year fellowship, with the possibility of renewal for two additional years. The Post-Doctoral Fellow will have access to the outstanding resources of the institute and become part of the larger research community at Dumbarton Oaks. The Fellowship carries a stipend of $65,000 per year and the health insurance plan available to Fellows.

Applications must be submitted by March 1, 2022, to Applicants should submit a cover letter, résumé, a statement of interest describing their professional and academic experience (1000 words) and should secure two letters of recommendation, to be sent under separate cover directly by the recommender to: The Fellowship will begin on July 1, 2022. Applicants must have fulfilled all the requirements for the PhD by the time of application and must have received the PhD no later than June 30, 2022, and no earlier than July 31, 2018. 

Dumbarton Oaks is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).