Roles and Responsibilities of RTI Fellows

RTI Fellows serve a unique role at RTI, a role characterized by enhanced technical responsibilities and expanded opportunities. Each individual who enters the program is tasked with providing scientific leadership and direction, advising RTI on the state of their respective science, mentoring early-career scientists, and representing RTI nationally and internationally.

Providing Scientific Leadership and Direction

RTI Fellows conduct innovative research and development that is aligned with RTI's mission and strategy, and may pursue opportunities for leveraging intellectual capital and commercializing intellectual property. RTI Fellows are charged with helping RTI maintain strong, innovative scientific research programs and leading cross-organizational and cross-disciplinary initiatives such as RTI Grand Challenges. They are also responsible for developing and maintaining external funding as agreed upon with their management.

Advising on RTI's State of Science

RTI Fellows advise senior management on emerging issues related to their areas of scientific expertise affecting RTI's research programs. RTI views the Fellows as an invaluable, preeminent resource for scientific and technical advice throughout the organization. RTI Fellows initiate various activities to bring their knowledge and expertise to bear at RTI and within the wider scientific community. These can include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

  • Organizing scientific seminars open to all RTI staff
  • Participating in inter- and intra-organizational initiatives, e.g., strategic planning and assessments, on matters of science and the RTI Grand Challenges
  • Planning and contributing to the Fellow retreats

RTI Fellows serve on the President's Scientific Advisory Council and the Fellows Scientific Council. The Scientific Advisory Council meets periodically to advise the President on the state of science at RTI and on other matters of interest. The Fellows Scientific Council meets bi-monthly to address charges issued by the President and on scientific issues important to RTI.

Mentoring Early-Career Scientists

RTI Fellows serve as role models for colleagues, exerting influence through active mentoring and coaching and setting prominent examples for scientific integrity and achievement.

Representing RTI Nationally and Internationally

RTI Fellows represent RTI within the scientific community. They provide visionary leadership in scientific, technical, and professional societies, and serve on scientific review and advisory committees.

RTI Fellow Work Plan

In consultation with RTI senior management, each RTI Fellow develops a work plan that targets some of these key roles. For example, projects undertaken by current RTI Fellows include establishing a new mechanism for disseminating RTI's research to a wider audience, developing innovative nanotechnology and bioaerosol research programs, and applying principles used in environmental economics to improve our understanding of the markets for health care delivery.

Within this general framework, the primary responsibilities of individuals at the entry Fellow position are to enhance their resumes through scholarly publications and outside scientific activities. Consistent with career progression within the RTI Fellow Program, Senior Fellows and Distinguished Fellows focus their efforts more on cross-disciplinary activities within RTI and on representing the organization in national and international scientific arenas than do Fellows, who are focused on developing their external recognition.

Shortly after being appointed, the Fellow meets with the President of RTI to discuss the objectives and general outline of his or her three-year work plan and to receive any feedback on the proposed plan from members of their appointment review panel. After approval by the President, the Fellow prepares a more detailed work plan, including a summary of technical approach, tasks, schedules, deliverables, and annual budgets. No specific format is required, but the work plan should include discussions of the Fellow

  • Providing scientific leadership and direction in a technical area for RTI
  • Advising RTI on the state of science
  • Mentoring
  • Representing RTI nationally and internationally 

After review and approval by his or her supervisor, the Fellow submits five copies of these detailed work plans and the first-year budget to the office of the President. The Lead Fellow has the first-year budget information entered into the RTI financial reporting system.

Each year, the Fellow and his or her supervisor review progress toward accomplishment of work plan objectives. They also make appropriate adjustments to the work plan and to the next year’s budget. The Fellow forwards a Work Plan Summary and Time Estimates and the next year’s budget information to the Lead Fellow, who has the budget data entered into the RTI financial reporting system. The Fellow’s supervisor approves minor changes to work plans and budgets; major changes require review by the Lead Fellow and presidential approval. Bi-annually the Fellow provides a Fellows Activity Report to the Lead Fellow who compiles a single report for the entire Fellow Program.

As part of their Fellow performance review, Fellows provide copies of their currently approved work plan and summaries of their accomplishments toward achieving work plan objectives to members of the review panel.