Post-Doctoral Fellows Program

Funding Opportunities for Ph.D. Graduates

Call for Applications for the 2021 Cohort Now Open

The Data Science Institute (DSI) at Columbia University invites applications for the 2021 cohort of the DSI Post-Doctoral Fellows Program. The goal of this program is to produce the next-generation leaders in data science. Fellows will carry out independent and novel research in an environment that fosters multi-disciplinary, collaborative research. We seek fellows who will support DSI’s broad mission:

  1. Advance the state of the art in data science;
  2. Transform all fields, professions, and sectors through the application of data science;
  3. Ensure the responsible use of data for the benefit of society.

The Data Science Institute at Columbia University, a world-leading institution in research and education of data science, is positioned to promote “Data for Good”: using data to address societal challenges and bringing humanistic perspectives as—not after—new science and technology is invented. At Columbia, data science literally touches every corner of the university. The Data Science Institute at Columbia University, founded in 2012, is a university-level institute representing over 350 faculty from 18 different schools, institutes and colleges across campus, along with a robust industrial affiliates program and strong ties with New York City’s economic development, including the dynamic and fast-growing start-up community. We conduct world-class research and train data scientists who go on to be leaders in academia, industry, and government. 

Program Goals

For the DSI Post-Doctoral Fellows Program, we seek candidates who are recent Ph.D. graduates and have explicit interests in advancing and/or applying data science to other domains. Prior experience in data science is not required. We are especially looking for candidates with the courage and interest to learn a new field, be part of a select like-minded cohort of fellows, and along with Columbia University DSI members, help define the field of data science for the long-term future. We encourage applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities.

In collaboration with other schools, centers, and institutes at Columbia University, the Data Science Institute also encourages candidates who have a specific interest in any one of the following areas.  If you are interested, please indicate the area(s) within your cover letter. The list below is as of 9/18/2020; please check back again over the coming weeks as we confirm additional partnerships. 

  • The Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute seeks fellows who are interested in using advanced data science and computational methods to undersatand how the brain works, from the neuron level to the cognitive level.

  • The Center on Poverty and Social Policy seeks fellows who will support our shared mission to address the role of social policy in reducing poverty. We are particularly interested in candidates who will further advance core research in understanding trends in historical poverty, economic insecurity, immobility, and inequality, using novel data sources and data-driven methods.

  • The Neuro Technology Center seeks fellows who will assist in our shared mission to support the development of advanced optical, electrical and computational technologies for the study of complex neurobiological systems using data-driven methods. We are particularly interested in candidates who will further advance core research in Computational Neuroscience and its links with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Appointment and Funding

Appointments for the third cohort of DSI Fellows start on/around July 1, 2021, with guaranteed funding for two years. In addition to a competitive salary package, DSI Fellows will also be provided with a research expenditure budget of that can be used for conference travel, computing equipment, and/or other research-related costs.

Statement on Racial Equity 

The Data Science Institute is committed to racial equity and justice.  Research statements should explicitly state that the project will uphold these values, e.g., stating that the methods used to collect and analyze project data and the project outcomes reported are fair, just, and ethical.

Application Process

The candidate should identify between two and five names of potential mentors who are current Columbia faculty members. A good place to look for mentors would be the list of DSI faculty affiliates but candidates are welcome to look beyond this list. If you are interested in applying data science to a specific domain, we encourage you identify mentors from both a foundational area (applied mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, machine learning, optimization, statistics, etc.) and a domain area. Using your input, the DSI will ensure the best possible match of mentor(s) for you. 

Candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible and preferably before December 1, 2020. For the 2021 cohort, the online application is available here. Candidates should begin to prepare the following materials:

  • A cover letter that explains your motivation for applying to this program and indicates your choice of mentors (and special interest area if applicable). 
  • A curriculum vitae (including a list of publications);
  • A brief research statement that summarizes current research interests, past accomplishments, and future research goals. It should contain a short proposal for the research activities you plan to do as a DSI Fellow, including a schedule with milestones, and statement and commitment to racial equity;
  • Up to three representative research papers;
  • Three letters of reference submitted directly by the recommenders
  • [Optional] A letter from a potential mentor indicating an interest in your candidacy and your proposed research activities, submitted directly to


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