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John Hunter Technology Fellowship

​The John Hunter Technology Fellowship aims to bridge the gap between academia and real-world, open-source scientific computing projects by providing a capstone experience for individuals coming from a scientific educational background.

The program consists of a 6 month project-based training program for postdoctoral scientists or senior graduate students.  Fellows work on scientific computing open source projects under the guidance of mentors who are leading scientists and software engineers.  The aim of the Fellowship is to enable Fellows to develop the skills needed to contribute to cutting-edge open
source software projects while at the same time advancing or supporting the research program they and their mentor are involved in. While proposals in any area of science and engineering are welcome, the following areas are encouraged in particular:

  • Accessible and reproducible computing
  • Enabling technology for open access publishing
  • Infrastructural technology supporting open-source scientific software stacks
  • Core open-source projects promoted by NumFOCUS

Eligibility: Eligible applicants are postdoctoral scientists or senior PhD students, or have equivalent experience in physics, mathematics, engineering, statistics, or a related science.  The program is open to applicants from any nationality and can be performed at any university or institute world-wide (US export laws permitting).

Additional Information

Award Information
The Fellow receives an award of $33,000, which is meant to support the Fellow for 6 months of full-time work as defined in the accepted Proposal. Details for 2017 have not yet been released; they will be posted here when they are available.

Conditions of Award

  • The award is paid out via the Fellowship Office of the host institution.
  • The award is meant for the Fellow.  No overhead or indirect institutional expenses must be deducted from the award.
  • All publications resulting from work supported by the award should be freely available to the public, either by publishing in an Open Access journal or by posting on a well-recognized pre-print server (arXiv or similar).

Activity Report/Program Evaluation

Fellows are required to submit a written report within 30 days of the completion of the fellowship. The report should include information on any related activities, accomplishments, employment, research collaboration, and any other activities helpful in evaluating the impact of the fellowship as well as the program’s effectiveness in bridging the gap between academia and real-world, open-source coding projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Would this fellowship apply to the life sciences as well?

Yes. Any proposal that falls under “open-source scientific computing” is very welcome.

Is the fellowship restricted to scientific Python?

No.  While NumFOCUS is currently mostly focused on Python, proposals for projects in Julia, R or other open source scientific computing languages/environments are equally welcome.

Can the proposed mentor come from industry?

It is possible for both mentor and fellow to be in industry.  Constructions with a fellow at an institute or university and a mentor from industry may also be possible (and even provide additional value), however in that case support within the host institute is also necessary.  Please discuss particular situations with NumFOCUS.

What makes a strong applicant? How much experience is required? And is it more about the scientific value of the software?

The ideal fellow would be a talented scientist/engineer who is also a great developer, is new to contributing to an open source project, learns about and enjoys contributing to open source scientific computing projects, has a big impact during her fellowship, keeps contributing to OS scientific computing projects afterwards, and builds on her fellowship in the next steps of her career.

It is important that the fellowship has educational value to the fellow. It shouldn’t simply be funding to do things that she was already doing before.

What disqualifies someone from applying?
  • Having obtained a PhD more than 4 years before the deadline.
  • Not being able to work full-time (except for exceptional circumstances that have to be discussed with the board).
  • Not being able to agree to the conditions of the award, like making publications freely available.

Too much experience doesn’t disqualify as a rule, but there needs to be some educational component.

Is it possible to spread the duration of the Fellowship over two summers, or work half time for a year?

We expect the Fellow to work for 6 months full time without a long interruption.  Exceptions are possible but should be discussed with NumFOCUS at the time of submitting the application.

Can I apply if I haven't found a mentor and host institution yet?

No.  The award is made to the Fellow, however the application should be a joint effort by the Fellow and his/her proposed mentor and host institution.

Is it expected that the proposed work will be undertaken at the mentor's host institution, or is remote working also acceptable?

NumFOCUS definitely has a strong preference for working at the host institution. Whether remote working is acceptable under some circumstances can be discussed with the NumFOCUS board.

Is the award renewable?

No.  The purpose of the Fellowship is largely educational; after 6 months the Fellow is expected to have acquired the skills to contribute to scientific open source projects independently.

How long is the proposal allowed to be?

While there is no hard limit, we recommend that the proposal including cover letter should not exceed 10 pages.

The condition awards mention Open Access publishing, which is not free. Can you help with the publishing costs?

Yes.  NumFOCUS aims to support Open Access publications that follow from work done by Fellows.  For publishing in reputable Open Access journals up to $1500 per Fellow can be contributed; more in exceptional cases.  Please discuss this topic with NumFOCUS directly.

Who are the members of the review committee?

The NumFOCUS board will be reviewing all proposals and make the final decision. Where needed the board may invite domain experts to review proposals.

Who is John Hunter?

John Hunter was the creator of Matplotlib and one of the founding board members of NumFOCUS. Husband to Miriam and father to three daughters—Clara, Ava, and Rahel—was diagnosed with cancer in late July 2012 after returning from his keynote address at SciPy in Austin, TX. He passed away on August 28, 2012 from complications arising from necessary cancer treatment.