The Harvard Data Science Initiative Postdoctoral Fellows Research Fund

Award Amount: The Fund will support a single award of up to $25,000, and two to three smaller awards of $5,000-10,000 each. 

Eligible Applicants: Postdoctoral fellows on fixed-term contracts. Applicants must have at least 9 months remaining in their contract by the March deadline.

Overview of the Harvard Data Science Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow Research Fund

The goal of the Harvard Data Science Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow Research Fund is to promote and support cross-disciplinary collaboration between data scientists at the postdoctoral level. We are particularly interested in funding research proposals that aim to:

  • Investigate novel applications of data analysis techniques (broadly defined), particularly by transferring methodology from one field to another;

  • Share and combine existing but distinct data sets to gain new insights into a problem;

  • Involve new collaborations between researchers in separate departments (or fields of research);

  • Explore new methods that may help to improve the public understanding of complex technical issues or areas of research.

Funds may be used to hire students, buy access to data or software, and  for travel and conference fees. Proposed projects should take a maximum of one year to complete. Successful applicants will be provided the opportunity to present results at the next HDSI conference, which prior to COVID-19 has been typically held in the Fall.

We recognize that strength comes through diversity and welcome proposals from teams with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities. We encourage applicants to consider this aspect of their proposal, and whether it can be helpful to involve partners from affected communities. 


This program is open to Harvard researchers who hold a non-faculty, fixed-term postdoctoral appointment at a Harvard school that extends to at least October 2021. There is no requirement for applicants to have principal investigator rights, although the application should include contact details for the financial officer at the relevant school who would administer the funds should the proposal be selected. Applicants from Harvard Medical School must have an appointment in a quad-based pre-clinical department.

Individuals may only submit one application in this funding cycle. Funds must be spent within a year of being received. If an awardee leaves Harvard, any remaining DSI funding will be forfeited.

Application Requirements

Applications must be submitted online here by 5:00 p.m. on March 1, 2021. Proposals will be read and evaluated by a committee made up of individuals with interdisciplinary expertise in data science, so please ensure that your proposal makes sense to someone outside of your discipline. 

Information requested in the online application includes the following:

  1. Contact information;

  2. Contact information of the financial officer at the school who will administer the funds;

  3. Project description that is accessible to non-specialists (max 1 page: additional pages will not be read). The project description should include:

    1. The question or problem, and why it is important.

    2. The approach to be taken.

    3. The potential impact of the proposed work.

  4. Abridged CV or biosketch (max two pages);

  5. Budget and budget justification (max one page), including timeline for expenditure. Budgets should provide enough information to convey the alignment of costs with the project. We expect to make funding available in March 2021. Awards must be spent within one year of receipt.

  6. Description of the availability of data and resources, as appropriate.

  7. The HDSI is committed to supporting research that promotes fair and responsible data science.  Where appropriate, we ask that you submit an impact statement (<500 words) that speaks to the ethical issues and potential societal impact of your proposal. This can be in addition to the 1 page limit. 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. 

Examples of eligible expenses include:

  • Personnel, such as graduate or undergraduate students

  • Travel (domestic and international)

  • Acquisition of datasets, software or computer hardware 

The following expenses are NOT eligible for funding:

  • Graduate student tuition

  • Subcontracts outside Harvard

  • Equipment

  • Postdoc or Faculty Salary


Note: School assessments and/or indirect costs should not be included in your budget (the HDSI will arrange these with home schools separately).

If you have questions about the DSI Postdoctoral Fellow Research Fund, please email