Kempner Research Fellowship

The Kempner brings leading, early-stage postdoctoral scientists to Harvard to work on projects that advance the fundamental understanding of intelligence.

Kempner research fellows come from various disciplines and work between fields to investigate new research questions at the intersection of natural and artificial intelligence. Fellows set their research agenda but are strongly encouraged to collaborate with experts across the University.

In addition to conducting research, Kempner research fellows join a dynamic community of world-class scientists, actively participate in the Kempner community and events, and have access to one of the largest academic machine learning clusters in the world.

Research fellows embody the Kempner’s innovative, cutting-edge approach.

The application cycle for the 2024-25 academic year is now closed. Check back for information about future application cycles and deadlines, or subscribe to our newsletter.

Supporting pioneering post-doctoral researchers

Fellows serve for a term of up to three years and receive salary and research funds, office space, and support from a deeply engaged community of scientists.

Meet our current fellows

About the Fellowship

Given the Kempner’s focus on research excellence, the fellowship provides significant time and flexibility for fellows to pursue their research. Research fellows have access to a state-of-the-art computing cluster and a community of world-class scientists, all within an environment of collaboration, exploration and intellectual freedom to pursue their work.

As central members of the Kempner community, research fellows are expected to maintain a full-time focus on their research project and to actively participate in the Kempner community. Like the Kempner’s investigators and associate faculty, Kempner research fellows participate in the day-to-day work of the Kempner and help to support its mission by engaging in the educational and programmatic work of the institute via activities such as mentorship, participation in educational activities or selection committees, and co-organization of events.

All fellows who receive financial support from the Kempner Institute will be required to sign an Open Science Participation Agreement to acknowledge and accept the Kempner’s terms related to research integrity, data access, intellectual property, developed software, non-software inventions, reagent sharing, publication, and collaboration.

Fellowship Benefits

The benefits of the Kempner Research Fellowship include financial support, access to cutting-edge technology and research tools, and collaboration with the Kempner community of exceptional faculty, staff, and students. Kempner research fellows receive a salary of $100,000 per year plus benefits, for up to three years. In addition, fellows receive support of up to $10,000 per year for professional or research expenses.

Kempner research fellows have access to one of the largest academic machine learning clusters in the world, supported by an outstanding group of engineers. In addition, they have access to an array of educational activities including Kempner courses, bootcamps, workshops, and events. Each fellow will have dedicated office space, collaboration space, and use of facilities in the new Kempner Institute facility located in Harvard’s Science and Engineering Complex (SEC).

Research fellows become part of a select cohort of exceptional early-stage scientists working in the same field, as well as a broad and diverse community of faculty, staff, and students including: undergraduate, post-bachelor and graduate students; research fellows; visiting scientists; and Kempner Institute faculty, associate faculty, and collaborators.

Eligibility, Selection, and Application

We seek candidates with demonstrated ability and creativity who study 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.

The expectation is that the focus of the fellow’s research will be computational, and not bench-based. To be eligible, a candidate must be, at the earliest, in the final year of their Ph.D. training and able to formally complete, defend, and receive their Ph.D. by the time the fellowship starts. Fellows applying for fall 2024 must have received their PhD no earlier than September 1, 2021 and no later than September 1, 2024.

Fellows are selected based on the following considerations:

  • Alignment of proposed research with the Kempner’s Mission, Vision, and Values.
  • Extent to which proposed research represents a novel undertaking in the field.
  • Potential of the individual to add value to and gain benefit from the Kempner community.
  • Record of successfully pursuing ambitious projects independently.

Candidates who have demonstrated significant promise but are not offered a fellowship may reapply the following year, provided they do not exceed the early career window. Candidates may reapply only once.

Interested candidates should submit an application by the application deadline. (The next application deadline will be in fall 2024.) Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis during the application window. If positions remain available, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after the deadline.

Selected candidates will be invited to give a presentation on both past and proposed work and to interview with Kempner Institute community members. Presentations and interviews will be virtual.

Candidates will be asked to provide the names or two to three proposed mentors from current faculty associated with the Kempner Institute or working on machine learning, artificial intelligence, or computational neurobiology at Harvard University. Candidates do not need to have established a relationship with proposed mentors in advance.

Successful candidates generally begin their fellowships on September 1. Candidates who are accepted may be able to begin later if approved by Kempner Institute leadership.

Applicants must submit the following items in PDF format via the Harvard online portal no later than the stated deadline:

  • Applicants must submit the following items in PDF format via the Harvard online portal no later than the stated deadline:
  • CV, highlighting any publications and conference abstracts relevant to the mission of the Kempner Institute.
  • A list of two to three proposed mentors from current faculty associated with the Kempner Institute or working on machine learning, artificial intelligence, or computational neurobiology at Harvard.
  • A research proposal of no more than 3 pages (1500 words, exclusive of references) outlining plans for research to be performed at the Kempner Institute.
  • A personal statement of no more than 2 pages (1000 words) which includes a brief description of:
    • Your PhD research and past accomplishments.
    • How your work fits at the interface of the Kempner Institute research areas.
    • How you will interact with the Kempner Institute community.
  • References  (3 required)
    • Please give the emails of three individuals who can describe your work and your potential for future discoveries.
    • Referees will be contacted to submit the letters directly to the Kempner Institute.
    • The application will not be considered complete until all letters have been received.