Latin America PhD Award

Latin America PhD Award


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.

For updated eligibility criteria details and a timeline for the 2021 Microsoft Research Latin America PhD Award, check back on this website in early May 2021.

  • Award recipients will receive $15,000 USD for academic year 2020–21 to help them complete research as part of their doctoral thesis work.
  • Microsoft will arrange and pay for travel and accommodations for award recipients to attend the PhD Summit. The two-day workshop will be held at one of the Microsoft Research labs in the fall. It will provide award recipients an opportunity to present their research, meet with Microsoft researchers in their research area and receive career coaching.

Eligibility criteria

  • Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Students should support this mission and embrace opportunities to foster diverse and inclusive cultures within their communities.
  • PhD students must be enrolled at a university in Latin America and doing dissertation work that relates to computing topics in which Microsoft Research has expertise. Explore our website to learn more about these research areas.
  • PhD students must be in their third year or beyond in a PhD program to qualify for this award. Funding is for use only during their time in the PhD program; it cannot be used for support in a role past graduation, such as a postdoc or faculty position. Those interested in receiving this award will need to confirm their PhD program starting month and year, as well as their expected graduation month and year.
  • PhD students must continue to be enrolled at the university in the fall of 2020.
  • Payment of the award, as described above, will be made directly to the award recipient’s university and dispersed according to the university’s policies.
  • PhD students submitting a proposal should be able to communicate about their research (both in writing and verbally) in English.
  • Microsoft Research Latin America PhD Award recipients subject to disciplinary proceedings for inappropriate behavior, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or plagiarism will forfeit their funding.


How to apply

For updated eligibility criteria details and a timeline for the 2021 Microsoft Research Latin America PhD Award, check back on this website in early May 2021.

PhD students must individually submit the following information. You will need to collect all the information listed under each form before submitting them as you will not have the ability to save the details and return to the online forms. You must use the same email address in both forms.

1. Reference Letter form (student requests reference letters before April 15, 2020):

Contact information for two references (third one being optional) who are established researchers familiar with your research (at least one of which must be from your primary academic advisor/supervisor). We highly encourage you to reach out to your references and submit the reference letter form long before your proposal deadline. Microsoft will automatically provide instructions and request a reference letter from each of your reference contacts separately as you submit your proposal. The sooner you submit the reference letter form, the more notice they will receive to upload a letter before the deadline. Those auto-generated emails will be sent from Microsoft Research Grants (, which may end up in their spam folder. References will be asked to upload a letter in our online form. Note that all contacts must submit your reference letters by Wednesday, April 15, 2020 at 5:00 PM Pacific Time in order for your proposal to be considered. Due to the number of submissions, we will not respond to questions asking if your references were submitted in time. You will receive an auto-generated confirmation email each time one of your references submits a letter. You may also log into your proposal to see if a letter has been received or not. It is your responsibility to follow up with your references.

2. Proposal form (student submits by April 15, 2020):

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Thesis proposal or research statement (short and concise is recommended—no more than two pages including references with font no smaller than 10-point)
  • One-page summary of the above thesis proposal or research statement
  • Month and year you entered the PhD program and your expected graduation date
  • Primary area of research (click on Research Areas at the top of the page for a full list)
  • Proposals must be submitted in English via the online application tool in any of the following formats: Word document, text-only file, or PDF. Email or hard-copy proposals will not be considered.
  • Proposals submitted to Microsoft will not be returned. Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information in submitted award proposals. Therefore, proposals should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive.
  • Incomplete award proposals will not be considered.
  • Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide feedback individual feedback on proposals that do not receive the award.


Eligibility criteria

What if I'm a student attending a university outside of Latin America?

This award is for students in South America, Central America, and Mexico. Students attending a school outside Latin America are ineligible for this award.

What if I am not in my third year or beyond during the application period?

Students must be in their third year or beyond in a PhD program when they submit an award proposal. Students must have started their PhD in March 2018 or earlier to be considered for this year’s application process.

In what language should the proposal be submitted?

All documents should be in English.

Grant review process

How will applications be judged?

Reviewers will rate award proposals based on the technical/scientific quality and the potential impact of the proposed research.

Who will review the award proposals?

Award proposals will be reviewed by researchers from Microsoft Research and academic faculty with appropriate topical expertise.

What are you looking for in an award proposal?

Accomplishment, impact, and alignment with the work that we are doing at Microsoft Research. Highlight papers you have published and any awards you have received and describe the impact that your research will have on others and how this award will enable your research.

When will I know the outcome of the review process?

Selected award proposals will receive notification no later than June 30, 2020. Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide individual feedback on proposals that do not receive research awards.

Grant award details

If selected, when will I receive the award funding?

Students will receive their financial award by July 2020. Microsoft sends the payment directly to the university, which then disperses funds according to its guidelines.

Are there any tax implications for me if I receive this research award?

The tax implications for the research award are based on the policy at the university and applicable tax laws.

Is childcare an approved use of award funding?

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

Will intellectual property be an issue if I am awarded a research award?

The Microsoft Research Latin American PhD Award is not subject to any intellectual property (IP) restrictions.

Can I simultaneously receive fellowships from other companies?

If you accept a Microsoft Research Latin American PhD Award, you may receive another fellowship from another company or institution during the same academic period.

Award recipients

2020 Award Recipients

2020 LATAM PhD Award: Segun AroyehunSegun Taofeek Aroyehun

Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico

Dissertation title: Deep Learning Methods for Mining Social Media

As social media is nowadays at the core of human communication and interactions, it provides access to a huge amount of user-generated content, but at the same time is rife with harmful behavior. A problem both in efficiently using this communication opportunity and in addressing the challenges it creates is the creative and nuanced natural language expressions prevalent on social media. This research is directed towards natural language understanding in the social media domain by developing robust natural language processing and deep learning techniques. It aims to create end-user content moderation tools for preventing and countering harmful behaviors on social media, as well as applications that will drive public health safety in pharmacovigilance and disaster management. The research is conducted under the guidance of Professor Alexander Gelbukh at the Centro de Investigación en Computación (CIC) of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), Mexico.

2020 LATAM PhD Award: Facundo MolinaFacundo Molina

Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Argentina

Dissertation title: Applying Learning Techniques to Oracle Synthesis and Analysis

The oracle problem refers to the challenge of distinguishing between the expected behavior of software and its actual behavior. Automatically deciding whether the software behavior is correct is in general very difficult, especially because executable software specifications, which can precisely capture expected behavior, are rarely found in practice. The absence of precise executable oracles represents a significant bottleneck that inhibits greater effectiveness in testing and bug finding, among other tasks. Thus, devising novel and effective mechanisms to distinguish valid from invalid software executions would have an enormous impact on the ability of automated analyses to detect program defects.

My research dissertation will focus on the application of learning techniques to tackle the oracle problem, in particular, around two different subproblems of the automated construction of software specifications:

  • The translation of software specifications across different specification styles
  • The synthesis of program specifications from program behaviors, and their analysis

2020 LATAM PhD Award: Jessica SoaresJéssica Soares dos Santos

Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil

Dissertation title: Mining Opinions in the Electoral Scenario Based on Transfer Learning

Analyzing opinions towards elections is a regular problem in society. The analysis of data extracted from social media has emerged as a faster and cheaper alternative to traditional election polls. However, social media data on this domain contain specific terms that evolve rapidly over time and it is impossible to manually annotate the huge amount of data during the short period of campaigns. We investigate how to boost and speed up the performance of opinion analysis tasks during elections by proposing a transfer learning approach that leverages curated datasets from several domains. To avoid introducing knowledge from the other domains that could end up disturbing the task, we propose to use similarity metrics to point out whether or not the dataset should be used. The same idea could be adopted to solve tasks of domains that undergo the same issues: short time for labeling and dynamic vocabulary.