Apply to COMBINE

Applications for Fall 2020 have closed

Email to be notified about our next application round.

Overview, Opportunities, and Application Requirements 

Overview: COMBINE is an interdisciplinary, NSF-funded, graduate training program. COMBINE researchers analyze data-derived interaction patterns (i.e. networks) to gain insights into complex biological phenomena. Students learn to integrate modeling techniques from physics and mathematics with data processing, analysis, and visualization methods from computer science to gain deeper insights into the principles governing living systems. 

COMBINE Program Components  |  FAQs for Prospective Fellows

Opportunities: NSF stipends ($34,000 for one year) will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Students who are not eligible for stipends are also  encouraged to apply to the program to take advantage of COMBINE’s interdisciplinary training, travel funding, and opportunities in professional development, and outreach. We are seeking applications from early graduate students (especially those starting their 1st or 2nd years in Fall 2020). Accepted applicants would officially join the program in Fall 2020. We will also consider applications from students who are beginning their 3rd year in Fall 2020.

Application Requirements: Whether you are seeking an NSF stipend or not, applications to the COMBINE program require the following:

  1. A current CV
  2. A half- to one-page statement of your interest in the COMBINE program.
  3. A one- to two-page statement of your research interests. This statement should cover both your prior research experience and your interests for future research.
    • In addition, we we encourage you to identify an out-of-field mentor or co-advisor who will provide input on your research. Our goal is to help incentivize new interdisciplinary collaborations. If you identify an out-of-field mentor or co-advisor, please describe this person’s role in your statement. Note: The COMBINE program categorizes students into 3 broad disciplines: (A) life sciences, (B) physical/mathematical sciences, and (C) computational/engineering sciences. For your application, we encourage you to identify an out-of-field mentor from outside your broad discipline category.
  4. A UMD transcript (unofficial is okay).
  5. An undergraduate transcript (unofficial is okay for now).
  6. One or two letters of reference and (if applicable) a short email from your out-of-field mentor or co-advisor indicating they have signed on for that role. Please ask these individuals to send their letters to with the subject “Reference for FirstName LastName”.

Important Note: New Fellows joining COMBINE in Fall 2020 should plan to take CMSC828O (Computational and Mathematical Analysis of Biological Networks across Scales) in Spring 2021 and PHYS782 (Interdisciplinary Research and Communication Practicum for Data-Driven Science) in Fall 2021 or Fall 2020. (See COMBINE Components for more details).

NSF stipend start date can be requested to be anytime from January through August of the year that follows your application (earlier start dates may be possible under special circumstances).

If you are interested in the COMBINE program but not ready to apply for the Fall 2020 cohort, please let us know here. We will place you in our records and remind you of upcoming COMBINE events and deadlines.