Eric and Wendy Schmidt recently announced the 22 early career scientists, including a pair of Indian Americans, who comprise the third cohort of Schmidt Science Fellows.
The fellowship is a program of Schmidt Futures in partnership with the Rhodes Trust.
The new Fellows aim to harness interdisciplinary approaches to tackle long-term societal challenges, including infectious disease, climate change, and biodiversity loss, according to the news release.
Among the Fellows were Deepak Krishnamurthy of Stanford University and Shriya Srinivasan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Krishnamurthy’s science focuses on the physics of biology. During his Ph.D. he made a discovery about the swimming mechanics of the human schistosomiasis parasite that provides new insights into how it infects us.
He also invented a new 3D tracking microscope that allows researchers to follow the movements of microscale ocean plankton over relatively vast vertical distances, his bio notes.
As a Schmidt Science Fellow, Krishnamurthy aims to combine molecular and computational science to reveal how genetic and biochemical mechanisms in tiny, single-cell ocean organisms permit them to sense gravity and affect their behaviors. This work will help us to understand better the impact of our changing oceans on every scale of marine life, it said.
Srinivasan is a biomedical engineer who has pioneered new approaches to help individuals requiring amputation to restore the sense of touch and feeling in prosthetic limbs.
The methods she developed have been translated to the clinic and are already benefiting patients, delivering improved quality of life, her bio said.
As a Schmidt Science Fellow, Srinivasan wants to pivot her science to focus on gastrointestinal motility disorders, which can prove debilitating for millions of people around the world. She aims to investigate the underlying mechanisms of smooth muscle stimulation and then develop new solutions, including optically driven micro-devices that could be swallowed, it said.
Entering its third year, the growing community of Schmidt Science Fellows now numbers more than 50 emerging interdisciplinary science leaders. Members of previous cohorts are now pursuing roles in universities, start-up companies, not-for-profits, and national research institutes and are part of a lifelong Fellowship community.
The 2020 Schmidt Science Fellows represent eight nationalities and 17 nominating institutions.
“As the need for rapid and innovative scientific discovery and response grows more urgent during this global pandemic, we are convinced now, more than ever, there is tremendous value in recruiting the most promising scientific minds to apply their intellectual rigor and investigation to additional disciplines,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures.
“These exceptional early-career scientists join a growing community of Schmidt Science Fellows working to make transformative contributions, including new ways to fight against pandemic pathogens. Eric and I are excited to see what they can accomplish together,” she added.
The Fellows were selected following a rigorous, multi-stage application and interview process. This culminated in final-stage video interviews that the Program held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In lieu of the in-person interviews of previous years, selectors and candidates joined from across eight time zones around the world.
“The current crisis has shown us the importance of scientists working across disciplines and engaging with society and policymakers,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures. “This new group of Schmidt Science Fellows demonstrates our commitment at Schmidt Futures to investing in talented people who can make the world a better place, in the long run and even during some of the most challenging times in recent memory.”
Schmidt Science Fellows are supported to pursue a postdoctoral research placement at a world-leading laboratory anywhere in the world. This placement must be in research at a significantly different discipline from the Fellow’s PhD, with the aim of exposing them to ideas and skills that will help them examine scientific problems and approaches from different perspectives and to accelerate discoveries.Each Fellow receives a $100,000 stipend and is paired with an internationally accomplished and experienced senior scientist as a mentor. Schmidt Science Fellows attend global meetings as a group during their Fellowship Year at international science and innovation clusters.
These convenings enable Fellows to engage with new concepts, to visit leading science facilities, and to engage with renowned thought-leaders from science, business, policy, and society, the release notes.
The Schmidt Science Fellows program is supported by many leading science, engineering, and technology institutions around the world.