Skip to main content

The Kempner Institute Fellowship



The Kempner Institute at Harvard University seeks applicants for Kempner Institute fellows who will begin their appointments in September 2023. 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, computational neurobiology, and the neurobiological basis of intelligence
  • Applications of artificial intelligence, including natural language processing, visual scene processing and analysis, and to the mechanistic analysis of high dimensional neural and behavioral data. The study of these applications can be from an engineering standpoint (e.g., development of new methodologies or advancing the state of the art) as well as a scientific one (e.g., achieving a better understanding of deep learning)


Kempner fellows are expected to maintain a full-time focus on their research project and to participate as an active member in the academic community to which they belong. This may include engaging in some activities that are normally undertaken by career scientists (e.g., mentorship, participating in educational activities or selection committees, co-organization of events, etc.).

Given the strong focus on research excellence and engagement, we have very few specific requirements of our fellows. These include:

  • Perform independent research
  • Actively participate in the Kempner Institute Annual Retreat
  • Attend Kempner Institute events as an attendee whenever possible
  • Honor the spirit of the Kempner Institute by modeling its values and engaging collaboratively with the community
  • All fellows who receive financial support from the Kempner Institute will be required to sign an Open Science Participation Agreement to ensure that the fellow is are aware of and willing to accept the terms which address area such as research integrity, data access, intellectual property, developed software, non-software inventions, reagent sharing, publication, and collaboration


A two-page progress report will be due on July 1st of each year and at the end of the Fellowship which includes:

  • A one-page summary of progress in the fellow’s research project to date
  • Any presentations, awards received, or publications in which the fellow served as first or last author
  • A brief summary of the ways in which the fellow meaningfully interacted or collaborated with other members of the Kempner community


  • Salary of $100,000 per year, plus fringe benefits, for up to three years
  • Support of up to $10,000 per year for professional or research expenses
  • Access to a broad and diverse community of faculty, staff, and students including: other Kempner fellows; Institute faculty, associate faculty, visiting scientists and collaborators; undergraduate, post-bachelor and graduate students
  • Access to compute resources and world class engineers
  • Access to and participation in Kempner Institute events
  • Access to dedicated office space, collaboration space, and use of facilities in the Kempner Institute facility in the Science and Engineering Complex in Allston, MA
  • Access to resources and facilities available to members of Harvard University

Application Process

To be eligible for a Kempner Institute Fellowship, a candidate must be at an early stage of their scholarly career. At the earliest, this would include applicants who are in the final year of their Ph.D. training and will formally complete, defend, and receive their Ph.D. by the time the Fellowship starts. At the latest, potential fellows should have received their Ph.D. no earlier than Sept 1, 2020.

Apply now

Applications are accepted from October 1 to January 15 and reviewed on an ongoing basis during the application window. If positions remain available, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after January 15.

Top candidates will be invited to interview with members of the Kempner community via a virtual platform. Typically, candidates will be interviewed January through March.

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.

Applications must include:

  • CV highlighting any publications and conference abstracts relevant to the mission of the Kempner Institute
  • 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 University
  • Proposal of no more than three pages outlining plans for research to be performed at the Kempner Institute
  • Personal statement of no more than two pages, which includes a brief description of:
    • Ph.D. research and past accomplishments
    • How previous work fits at the interface of the Kempner Institute research areas
    • Planned interactions with the Kempner Institute community
  • References (three required)
    • Email addresses for three individuals who can describe your work and your potential for future discoveries; references will be contacted to submit a letter of recommendation directly to the Kempner Institute
    • Applications will be considered complete only when three reference letters have been received

Selection criteria

Fellows are selected on:

  • Alignment of their proposed research with the Kempner Mission, Vision, and Values
  • The extent to which their proposed research represents a novel undertaking in the field
  • The ways in which the fellow may add value to and gain benefit from the Kempner Institute community
  • Fellows have a tremendous amount of freedom to pursue their research objectives, thus fellows will also be assessed on their record of successfully pursuing ambitious projects independently

The review committee will not provide comments on applications received.

Selection process

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

If selected, Candidates will have 30 days to accept or decline the offer. Candidates will not be allowed to defer a fellowship but could reapply the following year, if they have not previously applied for a fellowship.