Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship

Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship


06 April 2020

Announcing the 2020 Schmidt Science Fellows

Eric and Wendy Schmidt announced today the 22 early-career scientists who comprise the third cohort of Schmidt Science Fellows, 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.

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 and their nominating institutions are:

  • Mar Cabeza-Cabrerizo, The Francis Crick Institute
  • Jacqueline Campbell, University College London
  • James Chen, The Rockefeller University
  • Andrea d’Aquino, Northwestern University
  • Yang Guo, Tsinghua University
  • Kirsten Hall, Johns Hopkins University
  • Gabriella Heller, University of Cambridge
  • Kalli Kappel, Stanford University
  • Deepak Krishnamurthy, Stanford University
  • Jennifer Lai, Dartmouth College
  • Sofia Landi, The Rockefeller University
  • Phuong Le, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Callan Luetkemeyer, University of Michigan
  • Amy Shepherd , University of Melbourne
  • Fernando Soto , University of California San Diego
  • Shriya Srinivasan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Andreas Wallucks, Delft University of Technology
  • Oliver Watson, Wellcome Trust/Imperial College London
  • Ben Winer, Princeton University
  • William Witt, Princeton University
  • Yuanzhao Zhang, Northwestern University
  • Evan Zhao, Princeton University

The 2020 Schmidt Science Fellows represent eight nationalities and 17 nominating institutions. Jennifer Lai (Hawaii & University 2011) is a Rhodes Scholar and a biomolecular engineer who, through her PhD, has been designing next-generation vaccines that selectively target immune responses to a specific virus vulnerability. This approach avoids the risk of a vaccine antibody inadvertently enhancing a disease. Jennifer is planning to pivot into computational science to use high-throughput tools and analytical methods to investigate how the antibody response develops over time during pregnancy and influences early immunity in young infants.

“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.”

“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.”

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.

Dr. Megan Wheeler, Rhodes Scholar and Schmidt Science Fellows Executive Director, commented: “Training the next generation of interdisciplinary scientist-leaders and helping them achieve their potential for the world has never felt more important than it does today. We are incredibly grateful to our Selectors and candidates for working with us in recent weeks to deliver a robust, online process to select this high-caliber cohort of Schmidt Science Fellows from around the globe.”

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 Schmidt Science Fellows program is supported by many leading science, engineering, and technology institutions around the world. In addition to the institutions that host Fellows for their placements, many others are involved through the identification and nomination of candidates and by contributing to Global Meetings.

A collage of profile pictures of 22 scholars selected for the 2020 Class of Schmidt Science Fellows

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