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FAQ About Faculty Fellowship Program

Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship program.

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Selection criteria

Q: We have a number of potential nominees among our faculty members. They are all excellent, but in different ways. Is there any way to obtain pre-qualification guidance on which of these faculty members might best match the evaluation criteria for this fellowship?

For consistency and fairness, no “pre-qualification” information or feedback on potential candidates can be provided. Microsoft Research seeks nominees who are advancing computing research in novel directions with the potential for high impact on the state of the art, and who demonstrate the likelihood of becoming thought leaders in the field.

The objective of this program is to stimulate and support creative research undertaken by promising researchers who have the potential to make a profound impact in their research disciplines. The focus of this fellowship program is on novel approaches, with computing “at the heart of the research.” Here are the key characteristics of the research the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship program is intended to support:

  • Advance of computing research in novel directions (“computing at the heart of the research”)
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Novel area of research with high value and potential for publication
  • Technical depth
  • Thought leadership
  • High potential for impact on the discipline
  • Interdisciplinary approaches
  • Relevance to the research areas of Microsoft Research

Q: For an interdisciplinary candidate, what is the right mix of research in computing?

The Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship program seeks nominees who are advancing computing research in novel directions. This research may also integrate approaches from other disciplines, often resulting in significant advances in the state of the art. Ultimately, for interdisciplinary candidates, the research mix should include computing “at the heart of the research.” This type of investigation often demonstrates potentially high impact by using computational advantages and techniques to solve problems of great importance or by inventing promising new approaches for enabling their solution.

Q: Is it important to emphasize the integration of education with research, and the role of females and minorities?

The emphasis of the application should be on advancing computing research in novel directions. The educational opportunities created by breakthrough research are valuable, although the computational research at the core is of primary interest. Similarly, the participation of females and minorities is highly encouraged, although not the principal purpose or focus of the program.

Q: Will the university application contact or the nominee receive feedback on the application?

Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft Research cannot provide individual feedback on applications that do not receive awards.

Schedule and deadlines

Q: My institution is considering a nominee who is now finishing up a third (calendar) year as a new faculty member, and would be in the fourth year as a faculty member when the awards are announced in July. Is this faculty member eligible to be nominated?

Nominees must be new faculty members in the first, second, or third year of their first faculty appointment as of the application deadline (usually in late September or early October of the preceding year). The nominee’s eligibility for this criterion is not determined by the date of the award.

Q: What are the funding dates for the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship program awards?

The Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship awards will be decided by April 2014. Funds are distributed shortly after the winners are decided. The awards will be publicly announced at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in July 2014.

Application guidance

Q: What is the purpose of the letter from the head of the institution?

The purpose of the letter from the head of the institution is to authorize the application, confirm that the nominee named in the letter is the sole nominee from the university, and to provide the name of a second person who will serve as the application contact on behalf of the university. If applications for more than one nominee from a university are received, then all applications from that university will be rejected.

Q: What are the word count limits for each question or application attachment?

The application must be succinct. The word count limits for each question and for the application attachments are specified in the online application tool.

Q: Will more than three letters of recommendation be accepted in support of an application?

No. Additional letters will not contribute to the candidate’s prospects for acceptance, and will not be accepted for consideration.

Q: Can the research topic discussed in the online application be submitted for funding to Microsoft and to other public research funding agencies (for example, National Science Foundation, European Research Council, and so forth) concurrently?

Yes. Since these are nominations for fellowships and not for research projects per se, simultaneous research proposals may be submitted for funding to other public research funding agencies concurrently.

Q: Who actually registers and completes the online application: the nominator or the nominee?

The authorized nominator (or assistant) who is designated by the head of the institution should complete the online application.

Q: How are the nominee and nominator information and attachments submitted?

There is a step-by-step process for submitting all required information and attachments in the online application tool. The nominee and nominator information is input via the online application tool. File size limitations are clearly indicated.

Review process

Q: Who will review these nominations? Who is on the selection panel, what institutions/companies do they represent, and what are their positions within these institutions/companies?

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of researchers from Microsoft Research and by prestigious non-Microsoft academics from various universities whose expertise covers a wide range of disciplines. All submissions are assigned to reviewers by members of the panel, and several reviewers will review each application. There are three phases in the review cycle: the first panel review, the second panel review of the selected semi-finalists, and finally, invitations to Redmond, Washington, United States, for face-to-face interviews with the final review panel. Note that in some cases, it will not be necessary for interviews to be held in Redmond, Washington. In these cases, interviews will be conducted via Skype.