Sydney Brenner Research Scholarship

Sydney Brenner Research Scholarship

Sydney Brenner Scholarship 600

The Sydney Brenner Research Scholarship awards funding each year to scholars, historians and writers who study the history of cancer, women in science, molecular biology, genetics, neuroscience, plant biology, the intersection of biology and physics, and other topics relating to the molecular biology revolution.

Deadline: December 31, of each year.

The scholarship was initiated by a student and protégé of Nobel Laureate Sydney Brenner, Dr. Philip Goelet, who wished to pay tribute to his mentor. Endowed by the Francis Goelet Charitable Trust in 2006, this scholarship offers a stipend of up to $10,000 to fund travel and other expenses associated with working on the project, including use of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives collections and sources at other locations.

In the CSHL Archives collections, scholars can find unique original materials on some of the most important themes and figures in biology.


Please see the full description of the collections at the CSHL Archives page.

Application Instructions


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will base its selection of the Sydney Brenner Research Scholar on several factors. The Laboratory will assess the applicant’s research proposal on the merits of its quality, sophistication, depth, and relevance to CSHL’s archival holdings. We look for a unique proposal that will focus on a specific topic or perspective within the history of science, molecular biology, biotechnology and genetics.

Selection Process

All proposals and applications are due by December 31 of each year. The CSHL Archives Committee will review the applications and choose a Scholar.

The committee will choose the Sydney Brenner Scholar based on, among other things, the relevance of an applicant’s research proposal to the Archives' collections. The Brenner Scholar’s research findings are expected to be presented in a talk, meeting, website, or other type of presentation and to culminate in a scholarly book, article, or other project after completion of the research. The Scholarship is open to all scholars and writers, both university-affiliated and independent. In recent years we have also offered the award to graduate students.


The Sydney Brenner Research Scholar will be required to visit the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives for his or her research, which we expect to be conducted within a period of one year. The stipend can be used for any purpose relating to the Scholar’s research project, including travel, transportation, daily expenses, and accommodations for one year. The stipend is to cover expenses incurred for travel and subsistence while doing research using the resources of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives. Additional costs that may apply include recording oral history interviews, transcribing oral history interviews, microfilming archival materials, or completing other research tasks. Complimentary research to be conducted at archives outside our institution may also be included.


Certain conditions apply upon acceptance of the Scholarship:

  1. Scholars are required to travel to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and conduct their research using the Library and Archives collections. Space for research and onsite accomodations are available; Scholars must book accomodations ahead of time.
  2. Scholars are expected to present the results of their research in a talk, at a meeting, on a website, or through some other educational endeavour to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory community.
  3. A copy of the final research project (in the form of a scholarly book, article, or other medium) is to be donated to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives as part of its collection.

Who Can Apply

Application is open to scholars, historians, writers, documentarians, as well as last-year graduate students.


Materials Required for Application

A complete application package must include the following:

  1. The two-page application form
  2. A research proposal:
    • Statement of your intended research (not more than 1000 words and no longer than two pages - 12 pt. font, double-spaced) describing your project. This should include a full description of the research you plan to undertake at CSHL, an explanation of the importance of the project in relation to your own research goals and the broader discipline, and justification for conducting your research at CSHL. A brief description of any additional archival collections (outside CSHL) you're planning to conduct complimentary research at and the amount of time you intend to spend at each institution (if applicable). The CSHL Archives Committee seeks a proposal that is sophisticated, detailed, and original.
    • Selected bibliography of titles or collections in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives that are relevant to your research proposal.
    • Brief budget statement showing the expenses for which support is requested.
  3. A curriculum vitae reflecting your education, previous or current fellowships, grants, and awards, and a brief description of your research interests. Please include undergraduate and graduate education, dates of study, areas of study, and previous publications.
  4. Two letters of reference from individuals, evaluating your proposal. These referees should be familiar with your work. The reference letters should be sent in sealed envelopes signed by the referee across the flap.

Send all parts of your application together to:

Brenner Scholarship Research Program
Genentech Center for the History of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
1 Bungtown Rd.
Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724

About the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives Collections

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) was founded in 1890 as a biological field station for the Brooklyn Institute of Arts & Sciences, and was one of the first institutions in the world to specialize in genetics research. In 1968 James Watson became the Laboratory’s director developing this research institution into one of the world’s leading cancer-research centers, as well as expanding the Lab’s role in neuroscience research and the biotechnology industry. Today, under the leadership of Bruce Stillman, CSHL’s 330 scientists continue to conduct breakthrough research in cancer and other genetic diseases, molecular biology, plant genetics, neuroscience, and quantitative biology.

The mission of the CSHL Archive is to identify, maintain and preserve information and materials related to the history of the biological sciences and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and to make these materials available to scholars and researchers. In 2006, Genentech, one of the original leaders of the biotechnology industry, honored its 30th anniversary by announcing a gift of $2.5 million to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to establish the Genentech Center for the History of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

Located in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s historic Carnegie Building, the expanded facility houses:

  • the archival collections of luminaries from the molecular biology revolution, including Nobel laureates James D. Watson, Sydney Brenner, Barbara McClintock, Hermann Muller, and Wally Gilbert.
  • the reprint collections assembled by Charles Davenport and Milislav Demerec contain over 90,000 reprints
  • a rare book collection assembled by Charles Davenport that has reenty been amplified by gifts from Sydney Brenner, Elof Carlson and James Watson.
  • a photograph archive containing tens of thousands of photographs and includes photographs of all the preeminent geneticists of the 20th century when they attended meetings at Cold Spring Harbor.
  • See more collections at

Brenner Scholars



Matthew Cobb

University of Manchester

Professor, School of Biological Sciences

Proposal: An article and BBC radio program on the collaboration of Crick and Brenner, 1956-1976



Miriam Rich

Harvard University

Doctoral Candidate, History of Science

Proposal: Ph.D. thesis chapter on the scientific concepts of defects of development



Erika Langer

University of California, San Francisco

Doctoral Candidate, History of Health Sciences

Proposal: An article on the early years of the yeast group at CSHL



Lijing Jiang

Princeton University

Postdoctoral Fellow

Proposal: A book on the history of cell death and aging research



Gregory J. Morgan

Stevens Institute of Technology

Associate Professor, Philosophy

Proposal: A book on the history of tumor virology

Completed Research: “Ludwik Gross, Sarah Stewart, and the 1950s discoveries of Gross murine leukemia virus and polyoma virus,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48 (2014), 200-209

Dr. Morgan is also working on a book he intends to call “Cancer Virus Hunters.”

Testimonial: “The Brenner Scholarship has been invaluable to my book project on the history of tumor virology. It has allowed me to travel around the US to interview a large number of the central players in the history, including several Nobel Laureates. It has also allowed me to visit a number of archives, including the impressive holdings in the history of molecular biology at CSHL. Without the scholarship I would have been unable to conduct the background research for my book and consequently my project would have been impossible. I thank Mila Pollock, James Watson, and the people in the Genentech Center for their support of the history of biology.”


Judith Cuddihy

Acquisition and Developmental Editor

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

Proposal: An exhibit showcasing the life of scientist Calvin Bridges (1889-1938)

Completed Research: “Calvin Bridges: Unconventional Geneticist,” CSHL Library & Archives Exhibition

Testimonial: “The Sydney Brenner Scholarship enabled me to translate my long-standing interest in the early 20th century geneticist Calvin Blackman Bridges into a physical exhibit as well as an online exhibit and resource featuring this brilliant and unconventional investigator. It also facilitated a partnership with filmmaker and geneticist Alexis Gambis, who had obtained never-before-seen photos and new information from the Bridges family. These new materials coupled with the extensive archival materials concerning Bridges found in the CSHL Archives provided the foundation for the exhibits that resulted, curated by me and Dr. Gambis. Because Bridges had a longstanding relationship with the laboratories at Cold Spring Harbor throughout the years of his relatively short life, it was especially gratifying to find photos of Bridges as well as many of his letters and ephemera related to him during a wonderful week spent exploring the CSHL Archives, all made possible by this scholarship.”


Marsha Richmond

Wayne State University

Associate Professor, History of Science

Proposal: Examination of CSHL’s visual collections for the history of women’s role in early genetics

Completed Research: Ida Stamhuis and Marsha Richmond, “Opportunities for Women in Early Genetics – An International Perspective,” in Elisabeth Schiemann (1881-1972): Vom AufBruch der Genetik und der Frauen in den UmBrüchen des 20. Jahrhunderts (Rangsdorf: Basilisken-Presse im Verlag Natur & Text, 2014).

Marsha Richmond, “A Model Collaborative Couple in Genetics: Anna Rachel Whiting and Phineas Westcott Whiting’s Study of Sex Determination in Habrobracon,” in For Better or For Worse: Collaborative Couples in the Sciences. Ed. Annette Lykknes, Donald Opitz, and Brigitte Van Tiggelen. (Basel: Birkhäuser/Springer, 2012), pp. 149-169.

Marsha Richmond, “Women in Mutation Studies: The Role of Gender in the Methods, Practices, and Results of Early Twentieth-Century Genetics,” in Making Mutations: Objects, Practices, Contexts. Eds. Louis Campos and Alexander von Schwerin. Preprint #393, (Berlin: Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 2010), pp. 11-48.

Dr. Richmond is also working on a book in collaboration with Ida Stamhuis called "Women’s Work in Science: The Case of Early Genetics."

Testimonial: "The Brenner Scholarship enabled me to do fundamental research in the rich archives at CSHL and was crucial to my project, which investigates the women geneticists who worked at CSHL from its founding in 1904 through the 1940s. I not only discovered essential primary materials, but also had access to its additional collections in the early history of genetics. The staff is incredibly helpful, and the campus a real delight. In short, the time I spent as a Brenner scholar at CSHL was both profitable and highly enjoyable."


James Schwartz

Harvard University

Visiting Scholar in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Proposal: Research on the geneticist Hermann Muller (1890-1967)

Completed Research: In Pursuit of the Gene: From Darwin to DNA (Harvard University Press, 2008)

Testimonial: “I always enjoyed my visit to the Cold Spring Harbor Archives and found much interesting material on Lysenkoism and other topics that were highly relevant to my project.”



Robert Olby

University of Pittsburgh

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Proposal: Completion of research for a biography of Francis Crick

Completed Research: Francis Crick: Hunter of Life’s Secrets (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2009)

Contact Information

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about the scholarship.

Brenner Scholarship Research Program
Genentech Center for the History of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
at CSHL Library & Archives
1 Bungtown Rd.
Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724

516-367-8414 phone
516-367-6864 fax
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email

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