Associate Faculty Application

Kempner Institute associate faculty members are are research scientists who seek to fundamentally and radically advance our understanding of natural and artificial intelligence.


Associate faculty are critical members of the Kempner’s faculty and community, and are expected to engage with the Institute to help shape its scientific direction, select students, and develop programs that advance its mission.  They collaborate with other Institute members to advance research, make fundamental discoveries, and teach others.

Faculty who are considering applying are strongly encouraged to have ongoing interactions with the Kempner community, as demonstrated by some combination of being an affiliate faculty member, attending Kempner events, participating in Kempner programs, and collaborating with existing members.

Details & Application

All applicants must have a primary, full-time faculty appointment at Harvard University and must be paid by and running their research operation through Harvard. The sole exception are faculty paid directly by HHMI who would otherwise meet all of the criteria. Individuals with hospital-based appointments or research operations and/or non-profit, independent corporations are not eligible. The application is open only to ladder faculty members (assistant professors, associate professors, and professors) with principal investigator rights at a Harvard School.

Faculty must be actively pursuing research that is aligned with the research mission of the Kempner Institute: to advance our understanding of the basis of intelligence in natural and artificial systems.

In particular, applicants must have a demonstrated track record in one or more of the following areas:

  • Foundations of intelligence, including mathematical and computational models of intelligence, cognitive theories of intelligence, and the neurobiological basis of intelligence.
  • Applications of artificial intelligence, covering areas such as LLMs, generative AI models, computational biology, and the analysis of high-dimensional neural and behavioral data. Research may focus on the development of new methodologies or models from an engineering perspective, as well as scientific studies focused on understanding deep learning.

Applicants who cannot demonstrate such research alignment are unlikely to be selected for appointment.

  • Associate Faculty appointments are for a 3-year term which will begin on July 1. Appointments may be renewed for additional terms following the first 3-year period.
  • Faculty are provided with $150,000 per year for 3 years to support research activities that are directly in support of the Kempner Institute mission as described in the application. Funding is for the first 3-year term only, reappointed faculty will not receive additional funding.
  • Access to Kempner compute resources and world class engineers and research scientists.
  • Access to and participation in Kempner Institute events, colleagues and potential collaborators.
  • Access to hoteling office space and collaboration spaces in the Kempner Institute suite on the 6th floor of the Science and Engineering Complex.

Associate faculty are expected to participate in Kempner Institute activities in significant and meaningful ways.  This represents a time commitment which may vary based on the skills and interests of the Associate Faculty and the needs of the Institute.  These activities may include, but are not limited to:

Participation in Kempner Events

  • Participating as a presenter or moderator in Kempner events
  • Serving on committees to help plan events

Participation in Kempner Educational Activities

  • Teaching in boot camps or courses, giving lectures, or talks
  • Providing input in planned or proposed educational coursework or offerings
  • Serving as a mentor to students or fellows

Participation in Kempner Core Activities

  • Participating in compute activities (e.g. training deep network models)
  • Participating in Kemper committees or groups (e.g. journal club)
  • Service on undergraduate, graduate, fellow selection committees
  • Sitting on faculty selection committees or interviewing faculty candidates
  • Meeting with current or prospective donors

No faculty member is expected to participate in all of the above activities.  However, all faculty are expected to participate in some of these activities.  Associate Faculty who do not maintain an ongoing and active relationship with the Kempner Institute may be asked to evaluate and increase their participation.

Aside from the above activities, all Kempner Institute appointed faculty, including Associates, are expected to:

  • Actively participate in the Kempner Institute Annual Retreat
  • Attend faculty meetings (typically monthly)
  • Attend Kempner events whenever possible
  • Honor the spirit of the Kempner Institute by modeling its values

Finally, all faculty who receive financial support from the Kempner Institute will be required to adhere to the Open Science provisions which address areas such as research integrity, data access, intellectual property, developed software, non-software inventions, publication, and collaboration.  These provisions will be enforced and projects that cannot adhere to these provisions will not be supported by the Institute, its engineering team, or its GPU cluster.

Kempner Associate Faculty are provided with research funding in the first three years of their initial appointment.  These Kempner Institute funds must be used to support the activities outlined in their proposal and in a manner that is both consistent with award terms and funding intent.

Typical expenses may include but are not limited to:

  • Direct research expenses for research personnel (such as students, postdocs, staff and engineers) carrying out a project directly related to the Kempner Institute mission. These costs may include salary, travel to and participation in a relevant conference, charges for remote computing and storage, and educational expenses.
  • Purchase of computing hardware, including GPUs and storage.
    • Note, any GPUs purchased with Kempner funds must be incorporated into the Institute cluster. The guidelines and benefits for contribution are outlined in the cluster governance guidelines.
    • A portion of the Associate Faculty salary support commensurate with effort dedicated to a Kempner related research project not otherwise funded, for example summer-support (% effort, time-period required).

At no time may funds be used for:

  • Meetings, travel, or events unless the activity is directly related to Kempner Institute activities and participants and activity are outlined in the fund request.
  • General salary support for faculty or staff who are not working directly on Kempner related projects.

Salary support for faculty cannot be used to replace or buy-out existing funding (e.g. departmental or school support, pre-existing grant funding).

  • Expenses not directly related to the mission of the Kempner Institute.
  • Purchase of GPUs or computers to incorporate into clusters outside of the Kempner cluster.

If appointed, faculty will be required to complete a detailed budget proposal (a template will be provided). Material changes to the budget (changes greater 30% of the total amount awarded) or to the activity which the funds support should be requested in writing to the Executive Director not less than 90 days prior to the end of the appointment year.

Faculty may carry forward unused funds from years 1 and 2 into year 3. At the end of the 3-year funding period, Associate Faculty will have 90 days to use any remaining fund balances. Any unused funds following the 90-day grace period will revert back to Kempner Institute.

Faculty must maintain their appointment at Harvard and as an Associate Faculty member of the Kemper in order to be able to use Kempner funding.  Upon termination of a faculty appointment at Harvard or early termination of a Kempner Associate Faculty position, unused funds revert to Kempner Institute.

Associate Faculty who have a material change in their relationship with Harvard, to the extent that it would impact their ability to interact in a regular and meaningful way with the Kempner Institute and fulfill the obligations outlined above, may, at the discretion of the Faculty Directors, have funding reduced or eliminated.

Associate Faculty are required to submit an annual progress report of not more than 3 pages which includes:

  1. A report of actual expenditure of funds versus budget.
  2. How funding supported the mission and vision of the Kempner Institute.
  3. A list of all presentations, manuscripts (submitted or published), meetings or courses related to Kempner Institute activities.
  4. A brief summary of Kempner Institute activities the faculty member participated in over the course of the previous year not otherwise described above.

Progress reports are due no later than July 15th each year.

The application cycle for 2024 is now closed. The next application cycle will open in Spring 2025.