The Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) is seeking applications for its Michigan Data Science Fellows (DS Fellows) Program. This two-year program provides outstanding early-career researchers with intensive data science experience as they ready themselves for independent research and faculty positions.  

MIDAS is dedicated to building a data science research community and external partnerships, advancing innovative and responsible data science, and translating research outcomes to positive societal impact. The DS Fellows Program accepts early-career researchers who have a strong track record of research in their respective fields and who plan to acquire additional skills in data science and AI, broadly construed, with a focus on either methodology or applications (including societal impact). Fellows will be expected to work at the boundaries between data science methods and domain sciences in an intellectually vibrant environment, and build interdisciplinary relationships with other Fellows and over 460 MIDAS affiliate faculty. They are expected to be strong candidates for university faculty and other research positions when they leave the program. 

Research Themes

The applicant’s research should align with one or more of the following areas:

  • Enhancing Scientific and Societal Impact: Integrating methodologies and tools to enable responsible data science and AI research and enhance its scientific impact; applying data science and AI methodologies and tools to inform policy and promote social good.
  • Measuring and Improving Society: better understanding society through the use of new data types such as text, image, sensor and digital trace data (including social media and other digital transactions).
  • Transforming Health Interventions: enabling the transformation of health interventions through the use of cutting edge data analytics and AI methods.

Note:

  • The DS Fellows Program has a sister program, the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Schmidt Futures Program. The Schmidt AI in Science program supports postdocs who use AI to enable breakthroughs in mathematical sciences, physical sciences, earth and environmental sciences, engineering, and basic biology. If your research theme falls within the Schmidt program, we encourage you to apply through that program.
  • Data science theory and methodology development is within scope of the DS Fellows Program, as long as the applicant clearly delineates how it advances research in one of the three areas listed above.

Eligibility

Applicants must be outstanding, intellectually curious researchers who will be ready to pursue independent research positions after two years in the program. They should have a doctorate in a related area before the expected start date of their fellowship. They should have never had a full-time faculty position. Collaboration experience and strong communication skills will be viewed favorably. 

We recognize that strength comes through diversity and actively seek and welcome both candidates and faculty mentors with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities. This is our commitment to doing our part in building a diverse data science and AI research workforce, bringing together diverse perspectives and research approaches, and maximizing the scientific and social impact of data science and AI research.

Individuals already at U-M are eligible to apply if their proposed project AND proposed faculty mentors are different from their current ones.

Faculty Mentors

Each Fellow must have at least one U-M faculty member as the primary mentor at the time of the application (see list below). A second mentor with complementary expertise is required when the Fellow starts in the program. If needed, the primary mentor can help identify a suitable second mentor. Working together with MIDAS, the mentors will provide career guidance to the Fellows, meet with them regularly to assess research progress, help the Fellows seek opportunities for career advancement, and participate in activities that strengthen the Fellows community and the U-M data science community.

Expectations

  1. Salary: Comparable to norms in each research field, funded jointly by MIDAS and faculty mentors.
  2. Office space: Fellows are expected to conduct their work on U-M’s Ann Arbor Campus. They will be expected to spend at least 50% of time at MIDAS so that they can be part of the data science postdoc network and enhance the interdisciplinary reach of MIDAS. 
  3. Professional service: The Fellows will be expected to spend 10% of their effort on MIDAS programs that strengthen MIDAS’s core pillars. Based on their career plans, they can choose to be involved in activities such as developing tools for research, training and mentoring, and data science projects for positive societal impact. They will also be expected to interact with the U-M data science community through research presentations and other events.  

Application Process

A list of available faculty mentors can be found on the program website, and will keep being updated. Applicants may reach out to faculty members on the list to seek interest. The mentor(s) will need to be prepared to commit to 50% funding. The candidate and the mentor(s) will then submit the application to MIDAS. 

Applications will be accepted until Jan. 15, 2023.

The Application Package: The application package should be uploaded online, and should include:

  • The candidate’s CV.
  • A Research Statement (up to 2 pages) that includes 
    • The proposed data science research, including its importance and potential impact; 
    • Qualifications that make the applicant particularly suitable for this program; 
  • A training and career plan (up to 2 pages) that includes how this Fellowship will allow the applicant to be competitive as a candidate for faculty (or equivalent research position) within the short timeframe of this program.  
  • Responsible Data Science Statement, up to ½ page, font size 10 and above. From the rigor of study design and the explainability of models, to the unbiased use of data and algorithms, and to data sharing and making a research project fully reproducible, responsible data science is critical to both science and society. Applicants should describe their approaches to and focus on responsible data science research.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Statement, up to ½ page, font size 10 and above. Describe how the candidate’s life experiences, past activities or anticipated activities will contribute to the diversity, equity and inclusion of the program and to the U-M data science community. 
  • A Letter of Support from each mentor. The letter should include a justification of the proposed research and why the mentor and the candidate are a good match, a mentoring plan, and the confirmation that the mentor(s) is committed to providing 50% of the funding if the applicant is accepted to the program. The letter should be included in the application package.  
  • Names and contact information of two or three additional references. Please ask these individuals to email their reference letters to midas-research@umich.edu by 11:59 pm, Jan. 15, 2023.

Instructions for Faculty Members to Opt In

Please fill out the online form if you would like to participate in the 2023 round of the Michigan Data Science Fellows program (cost share required, please see below). Please note that the application deadline is Jan. 15, 2023, so the earlier you opt in, the more likely that you and the potential candidates will have time to prepare a strong application.

  • Anyone who is currently not a MIDAS affiliate faculty member will need to join before they can be placed on the participating faculty list.
  • Any faculty member who is not on the participating faculty list may still submit an application with a candidate. Not being listed simply means that it is very unlikely you will receive inquiries from potential applicants. 

The most important elements of the 2023 postdoc program are as follows:

  • Funding: MIDAS will provide 50% of the funding, faculty mentors will cover 50%.
  • Salary level: $50,000 – 70,000 salary + benefits, based on the norms in each research field. Faculty mentors will negotiate salary with the prospective fellow, subject to applicable constraints, such as NIH policy.
  • One faculty mentor required at the time of the application. Two mentors with complementary expertise required at the time the Fellow starts in the program.
  • Expectations: Fellows will spend at least 50% of their time at MIDAS, and attend events/activities with other Fellows. They will spend 10% of effort for MIDAS programs to strengthen the pillars, including developing resources for research, training and mentoring and other professional services.

Timeline

Priority deadline:
11:59pm EST Jan. 15, 2023

All applications received by this deadline will be given full consideration.  Late applications may be considered until all slots are filled.

Submit Application

Offers will start to be sent out on Feb. 28, 2023.

Accepted Fellows will have two weeks to decide whether to accept the offer.

The expected start date will be between Aug. 1 and Sept. 15, 2023, negotiable for special cases.

The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.

For questions about this application, please contact midas-research@umich.edu