Schmidt Science Fellows Program - Postdoctoral Fellowships in Natural Sciences, Engineering, Math, and Computing
NOTE: Each invited university will have its own internal deadline for applications. The deadline above applies only to the University of Illinois. Students at other universities should contact their graduate school for details on the internal deadline and application process. All invited universities must register the names of their nominees with Schmidt by July 1, 2021.
The Schmidt Science Fellows Program, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust (home of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships), aims to develop the next generation of science leaders to transcend boundaries, advance discovery, and solve the world's most pressing problems. Launched in 2017, the Schmidt fellowship offers a unique and unparalleled postdoctoral training opportunity. Awardees receive a $100,000 annual stipend and the opportunity to undertake full-time postdoctoral study for one to two years in a world-leading laboratory in a field different from their existing field of expertise. The program intends to give the world's best aspiring scientific minds a broader perspective, the ability to engage in an interdisciplinary way, and the opportunity to make a lasting impact in society. Fellows will be exposed to new topics, new ways of thinking, and new people that will help guide their future paths to success.
The core of the program consists of a one-to-two-year postdoctoral experience in which Fellows conduct research in a field-leading laboratory where they will focus on a discipline in the natural sciences, engineering, mathematics, or computing that is different from their existing area of expertise. Schmidt views this shift as a "disciplinary pivot," and this disciplinary pivot is central to the Schmidt fellowship. The goal of the pivot is to introduce Fellows to the ideas, practices, methods, and cultures of other scientific disciplines, broadening the scope of their experience.
The program also allows Fellows to participate in its Global Meeting Series, a set of four conferences held around the world that bring together global thought leaders from science, technology, business, and government. See previous years' meetings here.
The program targets students nearing completion of their PhDs. Applicants must have earned, or be scheduled to earn, their PhD between June 1, 2021 and July 30, 2022.
The fellowship offers up to two years of support. The award provides:
- $100,000 annual stipend.
- Allowance for personal travel.
- Coverage of costs for Global Meetings (if held in-person).
- Courses and hands-on research experiences at leading academic and research institutions.
- Attend an eligible university. The Schmidt program operates by invitation only, so only students at those invited universities are eligible for nomination. (The University of Illinois is an invited university).
- Receive a PhD in the natural sciences (astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences), engineering, mathematics, or computing between June 1, 2021 and July 30, 2022 (Schmidt uses the deposit date, not the conferral date, as the official date for receiving the PhD).
- Be available for the entire period of the 2022 program, from July 2022 to September 2023, including attendance at each Global Meeting (whether virtual or in-person, as conditions allow).
- Be nominated by their university.
The program seeks individuals with a special degree of brilliance and inventiveness. Specifically, it looks for applicants who demonstrate:
- Extraordinary achievement - Clear record of academic achievement of the highest quality in the sciences and an extraordinary degree of intelligence.
- Scientific curiosity and innovation - High degree of intellectual curiosity combined with energy and creativity, along with a record of continuous innovation and/or use of new technologies.
- Alignment with the program - Interest in pursuing 12-24 months of postdoctoral study in a field different from the applicant's PhD discipline and a belief that interdisciplinary science and the taking of appropriate scientific risks are important to the advancement of discovery.
- Collaborative spirit - History of effective collaboration with diverse team members.
- Global ambition for social good - Desire to use one's personal talents and science to make a positive difference in society and the world.
- Character and leadership - Genuine and demonstrable potential for science leadership; displaying perseverance, resilience, a moral compass, and a galvanizing force of personality.
About the Funder:
The Schmidt Family Foundation is a private foundation created in 2006 by Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, and his wife Wendy Schmidt. The Foundation's goal is to bring philanthropic resources to some of this century’s greatest challenges across the globe. Applying new knowledge and innovation is the Foundation's model for problem solving and for advancing original research in science, energy and the sustainability of the world’s biosphere.
University of Illinois Awardees!
NOMINATION PROCESS FOR UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS STUDENTS:
Students must be nominated by their department, and each eligible department may submit up to two nominations. Applicants and letter writers should each submit their respective materials to the department's contact person (check with the Director of Graduate Studies for appropriate contact person). The department must then scan materials into a single pdf file, and the file should be named as follows: LastName, FirstName - DeptAbbreviation - Schmidt2021 (for example: Smith, Jane - ECE - Schmidt2021. The pdf should then be uploaded through this online Box folder by 5:00 p.m. on the deadline date. Late or incomplete nominations will not be accepted.
The pdf must contain the following documents, arranged in the following order:
- Memo from the department containing only the following information: 1) the name and contact information of the nominating official (must be either the Director of Graduate Studies or the Department Head), 2) the name and contact information of the student, and 3) the anticipated date upon which the student will deposit the dissertation.
- Personal Statement. The statement should explain why the student is interested in the program and what the student aims to achieve during and after the program. The statement should also address the disciplinary pivot explicitly. The statement must be a maximum of two pages, single spaced, in Times New Roman with 12 point font and 1 inch margins. Applicants should keep the evaluation criteria (listed above) in mind as they prepare their statements.
- Dissertation Summary. The summary must be a maximum of two pages, single spaced, in Times New Roman with 12 point font and 1 inch margins. A supplemental one-page "References Cited" section is also allowed. Applicants should note that the campus review panel will be multidisciplinary and, as a result, the dissertation summary should be written so that reviewers outside of the applicant's field can understand it.
- Three letters of recommendation, one of which must be from the advisor. Letter writers should keep the evaluation criteria (listed above) in mind as they prepare their recommendations.
- Current UIUC transcript (unofficial is acceptable).
A faculty review panel will select up to nine nominees to represent the University in the national competition. Those nominees will have until July 1, 2021 to register their intent to apply and submit preliminary information (basic contact information and information about their PhD program) through Schmidt's online portal. Following registration, nominees will then have until August 31, 2021 to prepare and submit full applications to Schmidt. Note that the materials required by Schmidt for the national competition may differ from the materials required by the Graduate College for the campus competition. Schmidt will select finalists for interviews in February/March 2022 and will announce awardees shortly thereafter.
Ken Vickery, PhD
Director of Fellowships
Schmidt Science Fellows Program:
URL: https://schmidtsciencefellows.org/ ALL STUDENTS CONSIDERING APPLYING (AND THEIR ADVISORS) SHOULD REVIEW SCHMIDT'S WEBSITE THOROUGHLY BEFORE PREPARING AN APPLICATION. A "STANDARD" RESEARCH PROPOSAL AND A "STANDARD" LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION ARE UNLIKELY TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH THIS COMPETITION. MATERIALS SHOULD BE TAILORED TO THE IDIOSYNCRATIC GOALS OF THIS UNIQUE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM.
Categories: Annual stipend of at least $10,000; Sciences/Engineering/Math; US Citizens, Nationals, or Permanent Residents; International Students; Postdoctoral/Post-graduate; Fellowship/Grant; Unrestricted
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