Edwin Thompson Jaynes Fellowship

The Department of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis invites applications for the Edwin Thompson Jaynes Fellowship.

We welcome applicants with interests in the research areas of the Department of Physics (Nuclear and Particle Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Quantum Information, Biophysics, and Astrophysics and Cosmology). The Fellowship is a prize fellowship managed by the Department of Physics. Successful candidates are expected to propose a tentative research program, and to further develop and refine that program during their fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. The aim of the fellowship is to prepare the candidate(s) in the best possible way for faculty positions at research institutions or staff scientist positions at national laboratories. The awardees will pursue an independent research program, collaborating with one or several faculty members from the Department of Physics, as well as with other postdoctoral and graduate researchers in the department. Jaynes Fellowships are anticipated to continue for three years, conditional to satisfactory yearly performance evaluations. Fellows will be assigned a faculty mentor or mentoring committee, as appropriate, to facilitate their scientific growth. Residence at the Department of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis is required. Successful applicants will be initially appointed as postdoctoral fellows and employment in this role is anticipated to begin July 1, 2024

The application should include a two page description of the candidate’s proposed research program listing the name(s) of potential collaborators from among the faculty members of the Department of Physics and a brief description of possible joint research activities. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their research project(s) with potential faculty collaborators before applying for the fellowship. The initial annual salary is $67,000 with additional funds available for travel support, research and relocation expenses. We expect to award 2-3 Jaynes Fellowships per year. In this inaugural round, we plan to appoint 3-4 Jaynes Fellows.


Candidates must have a PhD completed by July 1, 2024 specializing in one of the fields listed above and have a record of excellent scholarship, and no more than four years of postdoctoral experience. Ideal candidates will have demonstrated expertise in relevant observational, lab-based, theoretical, and/or computational methodologies.

Application Instructions

Applications should include:

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae that includes a list of publications
  • A one-paragraph description of the applicant’s individual contribution to up to three publications (1 page maximum). 
  • A two page research proposal specifying how the proposed research fits within the existing departmental research activities.
  • The names and contact information for three professional references.

Referees will need to have their letters uploaded to the link provided by the application site. Applications and reference letters are due November 15, 2023 through Interfolio. Questions related to the search or application process may be directed to jaynes_fellowship@physics.wustl.edu.

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Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

Washington University in St. Louis is committed to the principles and practices of equal employment opportunity and especially encourages applications by those underrepresented in their academic fields. It is the University’s policy to provide equal opportunity and access to persons in all job titles without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, protected veteran status, disability, or genetic information.


Apply at the interfolio link below. Applications open on August 18.

Apply Now!

Edwin Thompson Jaynes

Edwin Thompson Jaynes (July 5, 1922 – April 30, 1998) was the Wayman Crow Distinguished Professor of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis. He wrote extensively on statistical mechanics and on foundations of probability and statistical inference, initiating in 1957 the maximum entropy interpretation of thermodynamics as being a particular application of more general Bayesian/information theory techniques. Jaynes strongly promoted the interpretation of probability theory as an extension of logic. In 1963, together with Fred Cummings, he modeled the evolution of a two-level atom in an electromagnetic field, known as the Jaynes-Cummings Hamiltonian of quantum optics. He is also known for the development of the maximum entropy principle, which provides a powerful framework for making statistical inferences based on incomplete or uncertain information; and his work on the foundations of Bayesian inference and probability theory. His work is of central importance for several fields, including engineering, economics, and computer science. 


Jaynes earned his bachelor's degree in physics in 1942 from Cornell College. After a delay because of World War II, he earned his PhD in physics from Princeton University in 1950, under his thesis advisor, Eugene Wigner. Wigner won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963. His dissertation was a calculation of the electrical and magnetic properties of ferroelectric materials. Ferroelectric materials are crystalline substances which have a permanent electric polarization (an electric dipole moment per unit volume) that can be reversed by an electric field. After a few years at Stanford, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1960 and joined the physics faculty at Washington University.

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