Ada Lovelace Fellowship

Ada Lovelace Fellowship

About

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 who are underrepresented in the field of computing. This includes those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, person with a disability, and/or LGBTQI+.

Nominations for the 2021 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship are currently being accepted through Friday, August 14, 2020 at 5:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

Provisions of the 2021 award

  • Tuition and fees are covered for three academic years (2021–22, 2022–23, 2023–24).
  • A $42,000 USD stipend is provided to help with living expenses while in school for three academic years (2021–22, 2022–23, 2023–24). The stipend is not expected to cover all living expenses; it can be used for expenses including, but not limited to, childcare, conference fees and travel, research equipment, meals, rent, etc.
  • An invitation to the PhD Summit: a two-day workshop in the fall hosted by Microsoft Research where fellows will meet with Microsoft researchers and other top students to share their research. We hope to offer both a virtual and in-person participation option; we will continue to monitor local and national health and safety guidance and may hold a completely virtual event if advisable.

Eligibility criteria

  • Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Fellows should support this mission and embrace opportunities to foster diverse and inclusive cultures within their communities.
  • PhD students must be nominated by their university. Their nomination must be submitted by someone designated by the department chair’s office in order to ensure the number of nominations per department is not exceeded.
  • Students must be enrolled at a university in the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
  • Proposed research must be closely related to the general research areas carried out by Microsoft Research as noted in the Research areas tab above.
  • Students must be in their second year of a PhD program in the fall semester or quarter of 2020. The department chair’s office at the nominating university will need to attest that the student is considered a second year PhD student having taken into account transfers, approved leaves of absence, etc.
  • A maximum of three nominations per department will be accepted; each nominee should help us increase the opportunities for students who are underrepresented in the field of computing. This includes those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, person with a disability, and/or LGBTQI+.
  • 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. Fellowships are not available for extension. If you require time away for family or medical leave, this will be accommodated. If you are unsure if a particular need for time away will affect the award, you can contact us at Microsoft Research Fellowships (msfellow@microsoft.com).
  • Payment of the award, as described above, will be made directly to the university and dispersed according to the university’s policies. 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).
  • A recipient of the Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship subject to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism will forfeit their funding.
  • A recipient of the Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship may not receive another fellowship from another company or institution during the same academic period. Fellows accepting multiple fellowships may 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.

If you do not meet the above criteria, you may be eligible for other academic research awards found on our Academic Programs page.

Timeline

  • Nominations from the university currently accepted through Friday, August 14, 2020 at 5:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time
  • PhD student nominees receive a request to submit their proposal at the end of August 2020
  • Proposals accepted through September 21, 2020
  • Reference letters accepted through September 21, 2020
  • Finalists notified in early November 2020 and interviewed virtually that month
  • Recipients announced by January 31, 2021

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.

Nomination

How to submit a nomination

Nominations for the 2021 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship are currently being accepted through Friday, August 14, 2020 at 5:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time. Universities should inform their students once they have submitted their nomination so the nominees can begin collecting the details on the Proposal tab. Nominated students will receive a private link from Microsoft by the end of August 2020 to submit their proposal.

The below outlines the information necessary if you are submitting a nomination on behalf of the department chair’s office at your university. A maximum of three nominations per department will be accepted; each nominee should help us increase the opportunities for students who are underrepresented in the field of computing. This includes those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, person with a disability, and/or LGBTQI+.

When you are ready to complete the 2021 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship nomination form, go to https://aka.ms/2021-msr-ada-lovelace-fellowship-nomination-form. You will need to collect all of the details below before submitting a nomination; there is not an option to save the information and come back to it at a later time.

  • Nominations must include:
    • Your name, email, job title, country, university, and department as the person submitting the nomination on behalf of the department chair’s office at your university
    • Brief description (a few sentences) of your department’s process for determining which student(s) to nominate for this fellowship
    • Attestation that the process used to determine which student(s) to nominate from your department for this fellowship was fair and non-discriminatory
    • Nominee’s name and email
    • Nominee’s primary and secondary areas of research (click on the Research areas tab at the top of the page for a full list)
    • Attestation that as of the fall semester or quarter of 2020, the university considers the nominee a second year PhD student (having taken into account transfers, approved leaves of absence, etc.)

Proposal

How to submit a proposal

If you were nominated by your department chair’s office at your university, then you will receive an email with a private link to submit your proposal by the end of August 2020 from Microsoft Research Fellowships (msfellow@microsoft.com).

If you are a nominee, the below outlines the information necessary to submit your proposal. You will need to collect all of the below information before submitting your proposal as you will not have the ability to save the details and return to the online form.

  • Proposals must include:
    • Curriculum vitae
    • Thesis proposal or research statement (short and concise is recommended—no more than five pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point font)
    • One-page summary of the above thesis proposal or research statement with the first paragraph describing the desired impact your research will make on the field and society
    • (Optional) Short video (about one minute long) describing the desired impact your research will have in the field and society and why it is important to you
    • Your name, email, country, university, and department
    • Primary and secondary areas of research (click on the Research areas tab at the top of the page for a full list)
    • Thesis proposal or research statement title
    • Month and year entered the PhD program and expected graduation date (nominee must currently be in their second year of the PhD program and vetted by the university)
    • Attestation that you are a doctoral student who is underrepresented in the field of computing which include those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, person with a disability, and/or LGBTQI+
    • URL to your professional website (optional, but strongly recommended; you are encouraged to make certain it is up-to-date)
    • Approximate cost of tuition and fees for one academic year
    • Where and when you held an internship (if applicable)
    • Three conferences you are most likely to attend
    • Contact information for three references who are established researchers familiar with your research (at least one of which must be from your primary academic advisor/supervisor and only one letter can be from a current Microsoft employee)
    • Self-assessment of the Statement of Good Standing: “I declare I have never been disciplined for inappropriate behavior, including, but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism. If I am selected to receive funding under Microsoft’s Fellowship program, during my funding time period, I agree to inform Microsoft should I be subjected to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism which would result in forfeiture of funding under Microsoft’s Fellowship program.”
  • Proposals will be accepted via the online form. You will be asked to upload the CV, thesis statement, and one-page summary separately in any of the following formats: Word document, text-only file, or PDF. Email or hard-copy submissions will not be considered. Name the individual files using the convention indicated below. Include your first name and last name as part of your file name each separated by an underscore (e.g. Jane_Smith_cv.docx).
    • Curriculum Vitae (file name: cv)
    • Thesis proposal or research statement (file name: thesis)
    • One-page summary of your thesis proposal or research statement (file name: summary)
  • The optional short video (about one minute long) can be uploaded as .MP4, .MOV, .FLV, or MP3 and cannot exceed 1 GB (file name: video).
  • Proposals submitted to Microsoft will not be returned. Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information submitted in the proposal. Therefore, proposals should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive. Microsoft reserves the right to make public the information on those proposals that receive awards, except those portions containing budgetary or personally identifiable information.
  • Incomplete proposals will not be considered.
  • Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide individual feedback on proposals.

FAQ

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the 2021 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship.

Eligibility criteria

Are international students (those who are not citizens of the United States, Canada, or Mexico) eligible?

Yes, if you are a full-time international student attending a school in the United States, Canada, or Mexico and meet the eligibility requirements.

What if I’m a student attending a university outside the United States, Canada, and Mexico?

The Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship includes only schools in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. If you are a student attending a school outside the United States, Canada, and Mexico, you are not eligible for this fellowship. You may be eligible for other academic research awards found on our Academic Programs page.

What if I am not starting my second year in a PhD program in academic year 2020–2021?

Students must be in their second year in a PhD program in the fall semester or quarter of 2020 to submit a proposal for this award. If you are starting your third year, you may be eligible for the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship. If you are in your fourth year or beyond of a PhD program, then you may be eligible for the Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant.

Do you consider master’s degrees when calculating eligibility?

We find that universities calculate this differently which is why we require the designated person from the department chair’s office to attest that the student is considered a second year PhD student. We kindly leave this to you and your university to determine.

Do I have to be nominated by my university or can I nominate myself?

To be considered for the award, you must be nominated by your department within your university. If you are nominated, you will be contacted to submit a proposal.

Can Microsoft employees or their families be nominated to submit a proposal?

Employees and directors of Microsoft Corporation, and its subsidiaries and affiliates are not eligible, nor are persons involved in the execution or administration of this fellowship, or the family members of each above (parents, children, siblings, spouse/domestic partners, or individuals residing in the same household).

Nominations

Who is meant to submit the nomination? Does it have to be the Chair of the department or can it be my advisor?

The Department Chair’s office can designate any staff other than the student to submit the nomination. The nomination 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 nominations.

Does the Department Chair have to submit a letter through the online tool as well?

No, we do not require a letter from the Department Chair.

Does whether or not a student's research is already being funded impact their eligibility for nomination and/or receiving the award?

Not from our perspective. However, should the student be chosen for both a Microsoft Research fellowship and another industry fellowship, they will be asked to choose.

Research areas

You specify very broad focus areas of research. Are there any proposals or projects that you are 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 are plenty of both hardware and software projects currently in Microsoft Research. The reason the areas of research are broad is that Microsoft Research is very broad, and there are a number of people reviewing the fellowship proposals across a wide range of areas. Look at the work people in Microsoft Research are doing by clicking on the areas noted in the Research areas tab above 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 are interested in doing.

How do areas of interest factor into fellowship proposal evaluations? Are there areas of interest that Microsoft Research is more focused on this year?

It depends on the individuals involved in reviewing the proposal, and it is hard to say what is going to be of more interest. The trends of the industry are probably going to be reflected in what is interesting in general. Guiding question: Imagine you succeed. Tell us how someone’s life changes as a result.

How do I determine my primary and secondary research areas? Where is the appropriate place to describe how they relate to my work (whether it's methodologically or theoretically)?

  • Your choices of primary and secondary areas help us choose who reviews your proposal.
  • Pick areas that align with conferences/journals where you would publish.
  • The 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 is something we understand. What you choose as a research area is a “soft” preference and will simply help us better route your proposal. 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 us how someone’s life changes 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 proposal?
  • 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?

How related does my work need to be to Microsoft Research?

Your work should be of interest to researchers at Microsoft; however, it doesn’t need to directly line up with an existing project or topic. It is important for your work to be related enough that Microsoft researchers will be able to review it and have interest in supporting it. Microsoft Research is large, interdisciplinary, and covers a broad area — use the Research areas tab above as a guideline for the areas we cover. When in doubt, we suggest you browse the webpages of researchers who look like they may be related to your area and see if they have papers in the similar topics or publish in conferences you publish in and/or attend. If you find one or more such researchers that share these connections with you, then you can feel confident that your work is related enough to submit a proposal.

Thesis proposal or research statement

Are there specific pieces of information I am required to include in my research statement (i.e. research aims, 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 are 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?

When reviewing a proposal, we are 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 or attaching an unpublished paper to the proposal?

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 proposals go to get reviewed, and its first paragraph should describe the desired impact your research will make on the field and society.

Should I be aware of formatting criteria while writing my research statement?

Your research statement should be no more than 5 pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point. The one-page summary of the aforementioned thesis proposal or research statement should also include references.

Reference letters

My undergrad was in a different field so the research was very different from what I am doing now. Who should write my reference letters?

Given 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. This 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 my 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 letter will also provide us with insight from people who have 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?

Those you provided as references in our system will be sent an auto-generated email with instructions to upload their recommendation letters.

Review process

Who will review the proposals?

Proposals will be reviewed by researchers at Microsoft whose expertise covers a wide range of disciplines. After their review, a selection of students will be invited to interview. Award recipients are chosen from those finalists.

When will I know the outcome of the review process?

Finalists will be contacted in early November to schedule their interviews that month. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide individual feedback on proposals.

How many proposals were there last year?

There were nearly 300 proposals submitted last year.

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. Tuition and fees are covered from the fall term through the end of the spring term. Microsoft sends payment directly to the university, who will disperse funds according to their guidelines. This award will be provided as an unrestricted gift with no terms and restrictions applied to it. No portion of these funds should be applied to overhead or other indirect costs.

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 and applicable tax laws.

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.

Is an internship included as part of the award?

No. If a fellow is interested, applying for an internship at Microsoft is strongly encouraged, but not guaranteed or required.

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 msfellow@microsoft.com for consideration.

Is childcare an approved use of my stipend?

Absolutely! There is no limit to the amount of your stipend that can be used for childcare.

Fellows

2020 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellows

2020 PhD Fellow: David AcunaDavid Acuna*

University of Toronto

David is a PhD student in the Machine Learning Group at the University of Toronto supervised by Professor Sanja Fidler. He is also affiliated with the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence. His research is focused on learning efficient representations that transfer across multiple domains and help to overcome the need for massive manually-labeled datasets. To this end, he is also interested in developing new learning algorithms and neural architectures that lead to better generalization. He has co-authored more than 10 publications in top-tier conferences including PolygonRNN++, STEAL, GSCNN, and one of the first attempts to bridge the gap between real and synthetic images for computer vision tasks via domain randomization.

*pronouns: he/him/his


2020 PhD Fellow: Jazette JohnsonJazette Johnson*

University of California – Irvine

In a modern digitally-enabled society, access to advanced technologies and the ability to use them for the greater good are becoming increasingly essential for ethical and human challenges. The population of people over the age of 65 is growing at an unprecedented rate, with the latest US Census report predicting that as many as 1 in 5 people will be over 65 in the next dozen years. Physical challenges will abound as this group ages. Jazette’s work examines how we might combat social isolation and therefore improve mental, emotional, and physical health in people with dementia (PWD) and their caregivers through the design of virtual support technologies. This research seeks to understand this design space more deeply, prototype potential innovative solutions, and empirically validate these approaches with an eye towards not only contributing to the science behind technologies for aging but also potential creating life changing products for this huge and growing user population.

*pronouns: she/her/hers


2020 PhD Fellow: Aditi LaddhaAditi Laddha*

Georgia Institute of Technology

Aditi is a PhD student in Algorithms, Combinatorics and Optimization at Georgia Institute of Technology, advised by Santosh Vempala. Her research interests include randomized algorithms, efficient sampling and its applications, graph algorithms, complexity theory, and combinatorics. Her research at Georgia Tech involves developing faster algorithms for high dimensional sampling and convex optimization. Progress on sampling algorithms has lead to many useful tools, both theoretical and practical and it forms an essential part of algorithms for optimization, integration, statistical inference, linear programming, approximate counting, and other applications. Aditi’s past work includes finding faster sampling methods for polytopes using ellipsoidal Markov chains.

*pronouns: she/her/hers


2020 PhD Fellow: Sarah RileySarah A. Riley*

Cornell University

Sarah is a PhD student in Information Science at Cornell University. She studies municipal algorithmic systems and social inequality and is interested in novel methods for detecting, measuring, and correcting bias. Her current project explores these issues in the context of dataset shift and pretrial risk assessment systems.

*pronouns: she/her/hers


2020 PhD Fellow: Wenqi XianWenqi Xian*

Cornell University

Wenqi’s research interests lie at the intersection of computer vision and graphics. She is particularly interested in applying computer vision to enable creativity and augment human perception of reality. Her current research focuses on simplifying image and video editing by leveraging 3D geometric reasoning. In the future, she hopes to continue exploring new machine learning models to improve scene understanding and enable smarter image synthesis and manipulation.

*pronouns: she/her/hers

2019 Ada Lovelace Fellows

Hiwot Tadese Kassa, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerHiwot 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.

*pronouns: she/her/hers


Os Keyes, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerOs Keyes*

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.

*pronouns: they/them/theirs


Lydia T. Liu, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerLydia 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.

*pronouns: she/her/hers


Divine Maloney, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerDivine Maloney*

Clemson University

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.

*pronouns: he/him/his


Izzy Starr, 2019 Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship winnerIzzy Starr*

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.

*pronouns: they/them/theirs