Research Funding Application & PhD Fellowship Nominations

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Columbia Center of Artificial Intelligence Technology in collaboration with Amazon, and new annual research funding and PhD fellowship opportunities. Shih-Fu Chang, Senior Executive Vice Dean of Columbia Engineering, will serve as the inaugural director of the new center.

Amazon has made significant investments in AI, developing cutting-edge technologies to address the opportunities and challenges across a broad spectrum of applications and customer needs. Amazon and Columbia have had productive collaborations through successful research awards and the participation of several Columbia faculty members in the Amazon Scholars program. With the launch of the Center of AI Technology, Columbia Engineering and Amazon further aim to advance research and technology development, knowledge discovery, and talent training to achieve beneficial societal impact. This partnership will also benefit from and contribute to the vibrant and rapidly expanding AI tech ecosystem in New York City.

The Center, with support from Amazon, will fulfill its goals through the distribution of research grants and PhD student fellowships and organization of public events. Today, we invite you to apply for research funding and nominate outstanding PhD students for an opportunity to become an Amazon Fellow. The call requests proposals & doctoral student fellowship nominations that explore topics aligned with the mission & research focus of the Center.

Research Focus Areas:

  • Foundations of AI and Machine Learning
  • Conversational AI/Natural Language Processing
  • Multisensory Multimodal AI
  • Fairness, Explainability, and Accountability in AI
  • AI for Human-Agent and Human-Robot Interaction
  • AI for Information Security
  • Cloud and Computing Systems for AI
  • Computer Vision
  • Robotics
  • Operations Research and Optimization
  • Search and Information Retrieval
  • Information and Knowledge Management
  • Sustainability

Research Awards:

There are two types of funding mechanisms associated with the call for proposals. One is a Sponsored Research Project (SRP), which may involve direct collaboration with Amazon researcher(s). The other mechanism is a Gift-Funded Research Project (GFRP) for exploratory projects, and when an Amazon collaborator has not been identified before the start of the research project.

We will be announcing a networking event soon that aims to provide a chance for Amazon researchers to become familiar with Columbia’s AI researchers and establish potential collaborations.

The Center will support up to 3 SRPs and 1-3 GFRPs annually. Columbia faculty members, from all departments in SEAS and other Columbia schools, will be eligible to submit proposals. Collaborations led by Columbia faculty involving faculty from other universities and institutions in the greater New York City metropolitan area are welcome.

Funding amount:

  • up to $150,000 for each SRP (including 35% indirect costs)
  • up to $105,000 for each GFRP (no indirect costs)

Amazon PhD Fellowship Program:

Nominations for fellowships should be made by Columbia faculty. Students must be enrolled at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, in good standing, and have exhibited outstanding academic performance to be eligible for the Amazon Fellows Program.

Two fellowships will be awarded each year. The fellowships will provide each doctoral graduate student with up to 2 years of funding to use for tuition and a stipend to initiate independent research projects. In addition, the Fellows will have an opportunity to interview for a summer internship at Amazon, gaining valuable industry insights and experience through direct engagement with Amazon researchers.

The deadline for submission of Research Proposals and Doctoral Student Nominations is October 30, 2020, by 4:00 pm ET. We will not accept incomplete or late submissions. Research Funding and Student Fellowship would begin on January 1, 2021.

The procedures and forms for the funding application and student nomination can be found on the Center’s website:


If you need more information, please visit the Center Website or contact:
Eric Vieira, PhD
Interim Program Manager
Columbia Center of AI Technology, in collaboration with Amazon
Director, Strategic Collaborations
Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science
Email: [email protected]