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ANNOUNCEMENT: The open period for applications to the inaugural class of Fellows has now closed. Interested applicants are welcome to submit applications for consideration in a future round.

The Harvard University Data Science Initiative is seeking applications for its inaugural Harvard Data Science Postdoctoral Fellows Program for the 2017-2018 academic year. The normal duration of the Fellowship is two years. Fellows will receive a generous salary as well as an annual allocation for research and travel expenses.

We are looking for researchers whose interests are in data science, broadly construed, and including researchers with both a methodological and applications focus. Fellows will be provided with the opportunity to pursue their research agenda in an intellectually vibrant environment with ample mentorship. We are looking for independent researchers who will seek out collaborations with other fellows and with Harvard faculty.

The Data Science Postdoctoral Fellows Program is supported by the Harvard Data Science Initiative with administrative support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. The Data Science Initiative involves faculty from across the university. The Fellows program will concentrate some of its activity in new physical spaces provided by the Computer Science-Statistics Data Science Lab, the Longwood Data Science Lab, as well as space in the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences.

Funding Priorities

The Data Science Postdoctoral Fellows Program will support outstanding researchers whose interests relate to the following themes:

  1. Methodological foundations, including for example, causal inference, data systems design, deep learning, experimental design, modeling of structured data, random matrix theory, non-parametric Bayesian methods, scalable inference, statistical computation, and visualization.
  2. Development of data science approaches tailored to analytical challenges in substantive fields that span the full intellectual breadth of Harvard’s faculties.  To give some purely illustrative examples, these fields include health sciences (e.g. life and population sciences), earth systems (e.g. climate change research); society (e.g. data that can affect the experience of individuals, or policy and ethical questions); and the economy (e.g. automation, Internet of Things, digital economy). This list is by no means exhaustive.

Successful applicants will be expected to lead their own research agenda, but also work collaboratively with others including with members of the Harvard faculty, and to contribute to building the data science intellectual community. The Fellows program will offer numerous opportunities to engage with the broader data science community, including through seminar series, informal lunches, mentoring opportunities, opportunities for fellow-led programming, and other networking events. Fellows should expect to spend most of their time in residence at Harvard.

Available Funding

Stipend: $80,000 is available in salary support per year for an initial two year appointment.  Appointments may be extended for a third year, budget and performance allowing. 

Travel: An additional $10,000 will be allocated for research and travel expenses each year.


Applicants must be outstanding, intellectually curious researchers at an early stage of their scholarly career. Applicants are required to have a doctorate in a related area by the expected start date. Applicants should have demonstrated a capacity for independent work, and will be expected to engage with researchers and faculty and participate in activities convened by the Data Science Initiative. We recognize that strength comes through diversity and actively seek and welcome people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities.


We encourage candidates to apply by February 3, 2017, but will continue to review applications until the positions are filled. Applicants should apply through the application portal linked below.  Required application documents include:

  1. A CV
  2. A cover letter that identifies up to five (and at least two) Harvard faculty members with whom the applicant would like to work.
  3. A statement of research interests of up to three pages that succinctly describes the applicant’s research interests. The statement should explain the importance and potential impact of this research. If the research is anticipated to require significant space and/or equipment, the candidate should explore arrangements with relevant faculty prior to submitting an application.
  4. Up to three representative papers.
  5. Names and contact information for at least two and up to five references (the application is complete only when two letters have been submitted). Referees will be provided with a link to the submission portal.

All materials should be submitted as PDF documents. We will strive to make decisions by February 28, 2017.

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


Frequently Asked Questions

How many Fellows will be funded?

We expect to fund between 5-7 Postdoctoral Fellows in the first year.

Do you have a list of faculty with whom the Fellows would potentially work?

We recommend that applicants browse the departments and centers listed here for a sense of current work at Harvard. However, applicants would be treated as independent investigators, and therefore encouraged to develop research questions outside specific faculty interests.

Who would be managing the Fellows?

Fellows are independent investigators, with financial and administrative oversight through the Data Science Initiative. While Fellows are strongly encouraged to seek mentorship and collaboration with faculty, there is no expectation that Fellows be formally managed by faculty. The faculty leads of the Data Science Initiative will put together networking and professional development events for the Fellows.

To what degree would the Fellows be working to shape the institution that supports the Data Science Initiative (e.g., by working with speakers, designing events)?

Currently, we anticipate that Fellows will shape the research agenda (via the portfolio of projects selected) and be engaged with the research community, but do not expect that Fellows be involved in the administration of the Data Science Initiative. That being said, we are excited for the Fellows to help to develop a vibrant intellectual community around data science at Harvard, including through the design of symposia and other activities.

Am I still eligible if I have already accepted a postdoc elsewhere at Harvard?

Yes. However, if you are selected as a Data Science Fellow, you may have to decline the postdoc position you have already been offered, as the requirements of the positions may be different.

Is this position open to international applicants that need visa support? 

Yes. If you are selected as a Data Science Fellow, we will connect you with the right services on campus to process visas and other paperwork.

Does the program provide health insurance benefits, etc?

Yes, Fellows will be benefits-eligible.