NCEAS provides a non-traditional model for postdoctoral scholarship that has had tremendous, documentable success  since NCEAS' establishment in 1995. Postdoctoral scholars propose synthetic projects in ecology and allied fields, focusing on the use of existing data. Subsequent to a Call for Proposals, Postdoctoral proposals are reviewed and selected researchers are offered positions at NCEAS where they conduct research that is largely self-directed. While NCEAS encourages its Postdoctoral Associates to collaborate with established faculty locally and globally, to participate in Working Groups  and to interact with visiting scholars, NCEAS Postdoctoral Associates are essentially independent of a formal mentor. Former NCEAS Postdoctoral Associates have experienced high placement rates in desirable academic and non-academic jobs, and have enjoyed considerable success  in their careers. Former and current Postdoctoral Associates do, however, recognize that this "mentorless" postdoctoral program, in which field and laboratory work have no role, is not for everyone, and they offer some advice for prospective NCEAS Postdoctoral Associates:
For suitable candidates, NCEAS offers a number of opportunities to gain valuable experience and promote professional development. NCEAS provides training in media relations  to prepare Postdoctoral Associates to effectively communicate with press and the media. In addition, NCEAS offers technical training  to familiarize Postdoctoral Associates with useful technology and tools, including the latest in Ecoinformatics .
Resident Postdoctoral Associates can also participate in various outreach and education  programs sponsored by NCEAS to engage the public and local community in ecology and the environment. One popular program is Kids Do Ecology  which allows Postdoctoral Associates to adopt a local 5th grade classroom and provide experiential learning about the scientific method as applied to ecology questions.