About the CADRE Fellows Program

The CADRE Fellows program provides professional growth opportunities for early career researchers in the field of STEM education. Through a series of capacity-building activities, the program offers Fellows the opportunity to gain insight into what it takes to be successful and effective in this field,  become more familiar with NSF practices, and network with DRK-12 awardees and other early career researchers from across the country. As part of the program, CADRE Fellows:

  • Attend an in-person orientation to learn about each other’s work, research interests, and professional trajectories; network with peers, near-peers, and PIs; get to know NSF and the DRK-12 program; and plan for the upcoming year;
  • Participate in a series of interactive webinars led by panels of DRK-12 awardees and other STEM education researchers;
  • Collaborate with other Fellows on small-group assignments designed to meet the needs of early career researchers; and
  • Learn about the NSF proposal review process and participate in a mock review led by an NSF program director.

Program activities focus on four strands: exploring career pathways, writing for publication, building professional networks, and developing NSF proposals. See the 2018-19 Calendar of Activities to learn more.

CADRE Fellows are doctoral students or similar early career professionals at academic or non-academic institutions who are recommended for the program by PIs or co-PIs of active DRK-12 projects. Each year, CADRE accepts applications in August-September and the program runs from October-June.


As of the spring of 2019, 108 early career researchers have participated in the CADRE Fellows program. They have reported many benefits from participating in the program, such as:

  • A better understanding of NSF funding mechanisms and the proposal review process;
  • Professional contact with other STEM education researchers;
  • Awareness of different career opportunities in STEM education, particularly opportunities at non-academic institutions;
  • Increased confidence in participating in professional conversations;
  • Increased knowledge related to writing and publishing; and,
  • A better perspective of what it means to be a STEM education professional.

Fellows continually report that one of the primary benefits of the program is the opportunity to engage and build community with peers from other institutions. In our evaluation of the program, Fellows have reported that they anticipate collaborating or communicating with other Fellows after program completion. Fellows alumni have reported contacting each other to provide writing support and share job information, and meeting at conferences where they share updates. This suggests that the CADRE Fellows program is establishing a sustainable network of alumni in the field of STEM education research.

Fellows from previous years found the program to be a significant professional development experience. As noted by Fellows in the past,

“Being a CADRE Fellow has bolstered my confidence in general and in my ability to be a funded STEM Ed researcher. I met so many helpful PIs who pointed me toward colleagues of theirs at the university where I accepted a faculty position.”

“I think that I feel more confident to approach other researchers and faculty members who have similar interests across different domains (science, math, and technology) and engage in dialogue with them. I think this will help my confidence in the long run.”

“I think the networking and ‘inside look’ at grant writing for NSF provides me with great advantages for my future career.”

“The whole experience definitely has helped and will continue to help me in building my career as a researcher and educator. I am very impressed by the experiences we were given and the connections with professionals in the field that were made available to us.”


CADRE Fellows have represented academic and non-academic institutions across the country.