Lillian Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellowships at Purdue Engineering

The Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellowships at Purdue Engineering are awarded in memory of Dr. Lillian Moller Gilbreth, Professor at Purdue from 1935-1948. A world renowned pioneer in the application of psychology to industrial engineering, Dr. Gilbreth’s work epitomized interdisciplinary research and broader impact on industry and society.

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.


U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have either completed their PhD on or after Dec. 31, 2019, or are in the final year of their PhD program in engineering or related sciences, can apply. Non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent residents can apply only if they are currently in the U.S. AND have either completed their PhD on or after Dec. 31, 2019, or are in the final year of their PhD program in engineering or related sciences. Non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent residents currently residing outside of the U.S. can apply with endorsement from a Purdue Engineering faculty member, if they have either completed their PhD on or after Dec. 31, 2019, or are in the final year of their PhD program in engineering or related sciences. Applicants with PhDs granted on or after Dec. 31, 2018 will also be considered in cases of childbirth or adoption.

U.S. Scholars from underrepresented backgrounds (Black, Native, Latinx, women, LGBTQIA) are encouraged to 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 list 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 $70,000 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 2021

  • May 26, 2021: call to engineering faculty to post research topics on the LGPF website
  • July 15, 2021: website with proposed topics made live to interested applicants
  • October 31, 2021: Deadline to receive full application packets with recommendation letters
  • January 2022: the 2022 Lillian Gilbreth postdoc fellows announced; 2022 cohort fellows can start their assignments as early as February 2022


Application materials include the following items:

  1. Cover letter describing how the Gilbreth Fellowship will help the candidate 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 lists potential Purdue engineering faculty members who can be co-advisors.
  4. A one-page essay on the candidate’s 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. Letters from potential Purdue co-advisors will not be accepted.
  6. Applications of non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent residents currently residing outside of the U.S. will be internally routed to proposed co-advisors for endorsement before submission to the selection committee for review.

Applications accepted beginning July 15, 2021. Apply at Lillian Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellowships 2022-23 by October 31, 2021.

Create an account by clicking on the Register button at the bottom of the Log In page. Here you will input your name and email address and click on Create Account. You will be asked to confirm your account via an email notification sent to the email address entered. Use this email address and established password to access the site. Please note that email domains affiliated with institutions, e.g., edu, are required.

If you have questions about the application process, please email us at

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 2022.