The Harvard Data Science Postdoctoral Fellows


Resources for prospective fellows

Overview of the Harvard Data Science Initiative Postdoctoral Fellows Program

The Harvard Data Science Initiative (HDSI) is seeking applications for its flagship Harvard Data Science Postdoctoral Fellows Program for the 2021-2022 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 a primarily methodological focus as well as researchers who advance both methodology and application. 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 faculty across all schools of Harvard University.

We recognize that strength comes through diversity and actively seek and welcome people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities.

Funding Priorities:

The HDSI 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 while collaborating with others, including members of Harvard’s faculty, and to contribute to building up the field of data science. The Fellows program offers numerous opportunities to engage with the broader data science community, both inside and outside Harvard, including through seminar series, informal lunches, mentoring opportunities, opportunities for fellow-led programming, and other networking events. During COVID-19 and following Harvard University policy we as the HDSI are flexible about the location of our postdoctoral fellows.  At the same time, applicants should know that some collaborations with faculty, for example when lab-based, may require being on campus. 

Available Funding:

Stipend: $83,232 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.

Relocation expenses: Funding is available to support relocation expenses for fellows moving to the Cambridge, MA area.  Please inquire about the availability of funding with an email to  Requests for funding are evaluated separately from a candidate’s application and are awarded based on the availability of funds. 

Appointment dates: While most incoming Fellows begin their appointment at the beginning of September, earlier or later start dates can be arranged to accommodate Fellows’ needs.  If an earlier or later start date is of interest, please let us know at any point during the application process.  

Application Information:

Required application documents include:

1.  A CV.

2.  A cover letter and up to five (and at least two) Harvard faculty members with whom the applicant would like to work. Candidates are not expected to already have formed a relationship with prospective mentors, and should not contact faculty directly prior to submission of application. The HDSI will reach out to faculty mentors for the most meritorious applications.

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.  

4.  Up to three representative papers.

5. The HDSI is committed to supporting research that promotes fair and responsible data science.  We ask that you submit an impact statement (<500 words) that speaks to the ethical issues and potential societal impact of your proposed work, areas of interest, or data science more broadly.  This requirement is modeled in part on a similar requirement by NeurIPS, and applicants may find this guide helpful in thinking about how to write this statement. 

6.  Names and contact information for at least two and up to five references (the application is complete only when two letters of reference have been submitted, so please contact referees early in the application process). 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 early February.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be 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 of their fellowship. 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. 

Additional Information

All materials should be submitted as PDF documents.

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.

For more information above the Harvard Data Science Initiative, please visit


For questions about the Harvard Data Science Initiative Postdoctoral Fellows Program, please contact