Microsoft recognizes the value of diversity in computing. The Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship aims to increase the pipeline of diverse talent receiving advanced degrees in computing-related fields by providing a research funding opportunity for doctoral students from groups underrepresented in computing. We are pleased to announce the first 5 students to have been awarded the Ada Lovelace Fellowship.
Provisions of the 2019 award
- Tuition and fees are covered for three academic years (2019–20, 2020–21, and 2021–22).
- A $42,000 USD stipend is provided to help with living expenses and conference travel while in school for three academic years (2019–20, 2020–21, and 2021–22).
- An invitation to the PhD Summit: a two-day workshop in the fall at our Redmond lab where fellows will meet with Microsoft researchers and other top students to share their research.
Note: Fellowships are awarded to recipients for three consecutive academic years only and are not available for extension.
- Applicants for the Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship must be nominated by their universities, and their nominations must be submitted by the office of the chair of the department. Direct applications from students are not accepted.
- Students must attend a North American (United States, Canada, Mexico) university.
- The proposed research must be closely related to the research topics carried out by Microsoft Research as noted in the Research areas tab above. We are particularly interested in proposals related to Systems & Networking and AI (including Machine Learning, Computer Vision, and Robotics) as well as interdisciplinary extensions to them.
- Students must be in their second year of a PhD program in the fall semester or quarter of 2018. The nominating university will be asked to confirm the student’s PhD program start date (month/year).
- A maximum of three applicants per department will be accepted.
- Microsoft will have discretion as to how any remaining funds will be used if the student is no longer qualified to receive funding (e.g. if the student unenrolls from the program, graduates, or transfers to a different university).
- The recipient must remain an active, full-time student in a PhD program during the three consecutive academic years of the award or forfeit the award.
- A recipient of a Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship may not receive another fellowship from another company or institution for the same academic period. Fellows accepting multiple fellowships may become ineligible to receive continued funding from Microsoft.
Microsoft actively seeks to foster greater levels of diversity in our workforce and in our pipeline of future researchers. We are always looking for the best and brightest talent and celebrate individuality. We invite candidates to come as they are and do what they love.
How to apply
- Applications must include:
- Nominee’s name, email, university, and department
- Month and year the nominee entered their PhD program and expected graduation date (nominee must currently be in the second year of their PhD program and vetted by the university)
- Nominee’s curriculum vitae
- Nominee’s thesis proposal or research statement title
- One-page summary of their thesis proposal or research statement
- Their thesis proposal or research statement (short and concise is recommended—no more than five pages)
- Approximate cost of tuition and fees for one academic year
- Where and when the nominee held an internship (if applicable)
- Name and email of the nominee’s advisor
- Primary and secondary research areas (a list can be found on our Research areas tab)
- Letters of reference from three established researchers familiar with the nominee’s research (at least one of which must be from their primary academic advisor/supervisor)
- Application submissions will be accepted via the online application tool through 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.
- Applications will be accepted in any of the following formats: Word document, text-only file, or PDF. Email or hard-copy applications will not be considered. All application materials must be submitted by the person who is designated as the application contact by the departmental chair’s office and must not be the applicant.
- Applications submitted to Microsoft will not be returned. Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information in submitted applications. Therefore, applications should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive. Microsoft reserves the right to make public the information on those applications that receive awards, except those portions containing budgetary or personally identifiable information.
- Incomplete applications cannot be considered, and notification of incompleteness will not be made.
- Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not receive fellowship awards.
Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship.
Are international students eligible to apply?
Yes, if you are a full-time international student attending a North American school.
What if I’m a student attending a university outside North America?
The Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship includes only North American schools. If you are a student attending a school outside North America, you are not eligible for this fellowship. Please check out our PhD Scholarship Programme in EMEA and our Fellowships at Microsoft Research Asia.
What if I am not starting my second year in academic year 2018–2019?
Students must be in their second year in a PhD program in the fall semester or quarter of 2018 to apply for this program.
Do I have to be nominated by my university or can I apply on my own?
To be considered for the program, you must be nominated by your department within your university. The application contact for your department chair must submit the application on your behalf.
Fellowship review process
Who will review the nominations?
Applications will be reviewed by researchers from Microsoft Research whose expertise covers a wide range of disciplines. After the first review, a selection of applicants will be invited for in-person interviews. Award recipients are chosen from the finalists.
When will I know the outcome of the review process?
Selected fellowship applicants will receive notification no later than January 31, 2019. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not receive fellowship awards.
Fellowship award details
If selected, when will my fellowship begin?
Persons awarded a fellowship in January will receive their financial awards by September of that year. Microsoft sends payment directly to the university, who will disperse funds according to their guidelines.
Are there any tax implications for me if I receive this fellowship?
The tax implications for your tuition and fees and stipend are based on the policy at your university.
Will intellectual property be an issue if I am awarded a fellowship?
The Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship is not subject to any intellectual property (IP) restrictions unless and until the fellowship recipient also accepts an internship. If you accept an internship, you will be subject to the same restrictions as any other Microsoft intern.
Can I simultaneously receive fellowships from other companies?
If you accept a Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship, you may not receive another fellowship from another company or institution during the same academic period. Fellows accepting multiple fellowships will become ineligible to receive continued funding from Microsoft. Microsoft will at its sole discretion consider a joint fellowship with a government or non-profit organization. Please contact email@example.com for consideration.
Questions from PhD students
I did my undergrad in a different field, and the research was very different from what I am doing now. Who would you recommend write my recommendation letter? Someone I worked with for several years in my undergrad where I did research that was very different to the research I am doing now or someone I've worked with for less time but is in my field of study?
It’s good to give us both perspectives. Given that you have three letters, it would be good to include a letter from one person who can speak about your current research and one person who has known you longer, even if it may not be in your current research area–the longer-term perspective is definitely important and valuable. The value of a letter is evaluating how you work, how you collaborate with people, and what your process is as a researcher–that transcends what your particular topic is. Keep in mind that one letter doesn’t have to address all things; across all three letters, we want to get a full picture of who you are over a longer term, but also insight into your recent work.
Are you more interested in learning about technical and research specific aspects of our work, or are other things, such as outreach/other university activities of interest as well?
The purpose of a letter of reference is to provide us with the bigger picture of what you are doing, how you work as a researcher, how you learn, how you approach projects, and how you collaborate with others. The purpose of the letter is to provide us with insight from people who’ve been working with you and observing you for some amount of time.
It was suggested that recommendation letters come from established researchers. Is this limited to faculty members or would the inclusion of collaborators be acceptable as well?
At least one recommendation needs to come from an advisor, but letters of reference from collaborators are allowed. We are looking for people who can speak to you, your work as a researcher, and your character.
For the recommendation letters, is it a system where you list the people and your system will ask those people? Or do they have to send their recommendation letters to whomever is filling out the application?
Whomever is designated by the Department Chair’s office to submit the application on your behalf will be the person the recommendation letters are sent to. That person will have to upload the letter into the tool when they submit your application by October 9.
Are there specific pieces of information I am required to include in my research statement (i.e. research aims, research timelines, deliverables) or are you looking for more of a narrative, descriptive format of a student's plan for their doctoral research?
Your research statement should be more of a narrative format–timelines and deliverables are not necessary. We want to see what you’re interested in, where your work is going, and how you would use this fellowship to further your research and contribute to the academic community.
What sort of balance is expected between what we have done, what we are doing, and what we are planning on doing? Is it a pitch? Is it a plan? Is it a narration of things we've done? What's the expectation of balance there?
When reviewing an application, we’re looking for more of a future plan. Your research papers tell us what you have done, use the research statement to tell us where you are going.
If we have just submitted a paper that is going to guide a lot of direction going forward, would you recommend submitting that as preliminary data in the proposal or attaching an unpublished paper to the application?
If it is relevant, and all co-authors approve of you submitting the unpublished work, we recommend including this in your submission. Again, all papers should be approved by all-co-authors, for both published and unpublished works.
Should the one-page research statement be a short synopsis of the five-page research statement, or should they contain distinctively different content?
The one-page research statement and the five-page research statement should not contain different content; one should be a shorter version of the other. The purpose of the shorter version is to help us triage where applicants go to get reviewed.
Are there any formatting issues I should be aware of while writing my research statement?
Your research statement should be no more than 5 pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point.
You specify very broad focus areas of research. Are there any applications or projects that you're more interested in than others or is it up to us to choose? Is it mostly software solutions or is there any hardware interest there?
There are plenty of both hardware and software projects currently in MSR. The reason the areas of research are broad is that MSR is very broad, and there are a number of people reviewing the fellowship applications across a wide range of areas. Look at the work people in MSR are doing which will give you some idea of the focus areas within the broad areas to guide your focus area choice. In the end, propose the work you’re interested in doing.
How do areas of interest factor in to fellowship proposal evaluations? Are there areas of interest MSR is more focused on this year?
A lot of it depends on the individuals involved in reviewing the application, and it’s hard to say what is going to be of more interest. The trends of the industry are probably going to be reflected in what’s interesting in general. Guiding question: Imagine you succeed. Tell me how does someone’s life change as a result?
How do I think about what my primary and secondary research areas are? And where is the appropriate place to describe how the primary and secondary areas relate to my work (whether it's methodologically or theoretically)?
- Your choices of Primary and Secondary areas help us choose who reviews your application.
- Pick areas that align with conferences/journals you would publish in.
- One-pager is the appropriate place to describe how research areas relate to research.
How do I choose which area to pick for my Research Area if my research is very interdisciplinary?
Microsoft Research is interdisciplinary, so it’s something we understand. What you choose as a Research Area is a “soft” preference and will simply help us better route your application. Utilize the primary and secondary Research Area option to help capture and communicate your Research Area the best you can.
Here are some suggestions and guiding questions to help you choose a Research Area:
- Imagine you succeed. Tell me how does someone’s life change as a result?
- Do you have a home conference? Are there one or two conferences you go to in a more specific area?
- Is there a set of faculty/professors you know in a specific area?
- Who do you want to be reading your application?
- Who would you want to network with? What area of research are they in?
- Who would be most excited about my topic? What area of research are they in?
Does Machine Learning for Systems research / Machine Learning for Designing things fall under Artificial Intelligence Research Area in this hierarchy?
In this instance, we suggest choosing “Artificial Intelligence” and “Systems & networking”; one as a primary and the other as a secondary area.
Does whether or not a student's research is already being funded impact their eligibility for nomination and/or winning the award?
Not from our perspective. However, should the student be chosen for both an MSR fellowship and another industry fellowship, they will be asked to choose.
Who is meant to submit the application? Does it have to be the Chair of the department? Or my advisor? Or someone who was selected by the Chair, but is not my advisor?
The Department Chair’s office can designate anyone other than the student to submit the application. The submission of the application simply needs to be a coordinated effort with the Department Chair’s office. This is to ensure there are no more than three submissions from each department per fellowship and the Department Chair’s Office is aware of who is submitting the three applications.
Does the Department Chair have to submit a letter through the online tool as well?
No, you don’t have to have a letter from the department chair.
Do you know how many applications there were last year?
None. This is the first year of this fellowship.
2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellows
Hiwot Tadese Kassa*
University of Michigan
Hiwot’s thesis focuses on designing hardware accelerators that are flexible in serving applications from different domains such as AI, machine learning, and graph analytics by targeting the algorithms that are at the core of the computation, rather than the fully-packaged application. These are done based on a language- and compiler-level framework that can identify computational patterns in an application and map them to the best-fitting hardware accelerator. The goal of the project is to help in the advancement of emerging algorithms and applications because it addresses the growing complexity and computation demands of these domains while alleviating the need for application developers to become experts in the wide range of hardware accelerators that will serve the field. Similarly, it will support the design of more effective hardware accelerators, by gathering data on the accelerator’s characteristics that are in highest demand by applications.
University of Washington
Technology has brought new opportunities for marginalized people to collaborate and form community. But it has also brought new forms of control, collapsing contexts, and demanding standardized and singular ways of representing human complexity. Os Keyes studies how this might be partially reversed – how we go about building technologies that enable plural ways of being, knowing, and doing, with a particular focus on trans identities and lives. Their past work has looked at the impact of facial recognition on trans populations: current and future research directions include how datasets represent gender and the ways in which scientists go about building these representations. They can be found at https://ironholds.org.
Lydia T. Liu*
University of California, Berkeley
Lydia T. Liu is a PhD student in Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, advised by Moritz Hardt and Michael I. Jordan. Her research aims to establish the theoretical foundations for machine learning algorithms to have reliable and robust performance, as well as positive long-term societal impact. This involves developing learning algorithms that have strong guarantees and analyzing their distributional effects in dynamic or interactive settings.
Embodied virtual avatars in immersive virtual reality (VR) can powerfully affect users’ perception, cognition, and behavior. Some effects can be detrimental to users without their knowledge. Divine’s research seeks to understand the role of implicit biases and embodied avatars. His goals are to determine when avatars in VR games, VR entertainment, and VR educational content are likely to produce undesirable changes in implicit racial bias. Subsequently, create guidelines resulting in a framework concerning how to design VR content to minimize these undesirable changes in implicit racial bias and other unwanted biases. It is critical that this research is conducted while the VR market is still developing and can benefit from innovation, feedback, and ideas surrounding social good.
University at Buffalo
Our skin and the microbes that inhabit it have evolved in unison. Interactions between them provide the first line of defense against invading pathogens and allergens. These interactions modulate an immune response, impacting autoimmune skin disorders like psoriasis. Izzy’s research uses an evolutionary framework and Bayesian network theory to understand the causal relationships within this complex and dynamic system. Based on real patient data, they apply modeling and simulation-based approaches to identify microbes that exacerbate immune responses in individuals with psoriasis. The results of their research will have immense impacts on the future of personalized healthcare.