Introduction of Fellows Initiates $25M Program in Partnership with the Rhodes Trust, as Part of $100M Commitment to Drive Scientific Leadership and Interdisciplinary Research

Schmidt Futures Press Release
New York, NY

NEW YORKApril 23, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Eric and Wendy Schmidt, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, today announced the 14 members of the inaugural 2018-2019 class of Schmidt Science Fellows at an event at the Apella Alexandria Center for Life Science in New York City. This unique post-doctoral program focused on scientific leadership and interdisciplinary research is aimed at providing the next generation of leaders and innovators with the tools and opportunities to drive world-changing advances across the sciences and society.

The 2018 class of Fellows is:

  • Karl Barber (Yale University)
  • Fahim Farzadfard (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Wesley Fuhrman (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Xiwen Gong (University of Toronto)
  • Yogesh Goyal (Princeton University)
  • Peyton Greenside (Stanford University)
  • Abigail Groff (Harvard University)
  • Hallie Holmes (University of Washington)
  • Jina Ko (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Frederick Richards (Cambridge University)
  • Mattia Serra (ETH Zurich)
  • Adi Steif (University of British Columbia)
  • Ryan Truby (Harvard University)
  • Jielai Zhang (University of Toronto)

Additional information about the exciting research each of the recipients are conducting can be found below.

“Eric and I have long wanted to find a powerful way to enhance the development of some of our world’s most promising scientists and technologists, to help them become our next generation of leaders,” said Wendy Schmidt, President of The Schmidt Family Foundation and Co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute. “Following their Fellowship year, this cohort will be equipped to drive new discoveries and to pioneer strategic approaches to the challenges we face for human and planetary health. We know they will move forward faster and in a more collaborative fashion than possible in previous generations. Congratulations to the first class of the Schmidt Science Fellows.”

“The next frontiers of scientific discovery will be pioneered by those who can transcend the traditional boundaries of science, using techniques from multiple scientific fields to tackle society’s longstanding challenges,” said Eric Schmidt, technical advisor to Alphabet, Inc. and former Executive Chairman. “The first class of Schmidt Science Fellows have the intelligence, inspiration, and ambition to be leaders in science and society. We at Schmidt Futures look forward to helping them realize that potential.”

Through an initial commitment of at least $25 million for the first three years, this innovative fellowship is the beginning of a broader $100 million effort by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to promote scientific leadership and interdisciplinary research over the next decade and beyond.

The experience, conducted in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, home of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships, will place Fellows in a new research environment immediately following the completion of their PhD studies, in order to encourage an interdisciplinary scientific mindset. By working in a prestigious research lab outside of their existing area of expertise, each Fellow will be exposed to new science and technology, novel ways of thinking, and a broader network of colleagues who can help guide their success as leaders. The selected Fellows, whose areas of study span the natural sciences, engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences, will also each receive a stipend of $100,000 as part of the program.

“The Rhodes Trust is delighted to be a partner in enabling the Schmidt Science Fellows to have been transformed from a terrific idea into a vibrant community,” said Sir John Hood, Chairman of the Rhodes Trustees. “The first cohort of Fellows will be true pioneers and we eagerly look forward to seeing what they will accomplish – both individually and collectively.”

In addition to the post-doctoral placement, the program will also feature five weeks of high-level courses and experiential workshops that will explore a diverse range of scientific advances, conversations with some of the world’s preeminent scientific and societal leaders, and immersive leadership experiences that will help Fellows build support for their future work. These weeks will be hosted by several of the world’s leading universities who have partnered with the Schmidt Science Fellows program, beginning at the University of Oxford in July 2018.

In addition to the universities that will host Fellows over the course of the program, numerous other leading research universities around the world are also participating by identifying the exceptional candidates that have received the fellowship and hosting the Fellows in a variety of cutting-edge research laboratories for their post-doctoral year.

More information about the program can be found at

For more information about the Schmidt Science Fellows program, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust:

Additional Information About the Inaugural Cohort of Schmidt Science Fellows

Karl Barber (Yale University)
Drawing upon backgrounds in chemical engineering and biology, Karl’s planned research involves the use of microfluidics and personalized human peptide microarrays, with the promise of revolutionizing personalized medicine and making it scalable and cost-effective.

Fahim Farzadfard (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
With expertise in synthetic biology, bioengineering, biotechnology and microbiology, Fahim has invented a platform and related technologies to record interactions in the genomic DNA of living cells. He now proposes to adapt this path-breaking work to map neural activities and connections in the brain.

Wesley Fuhrman (Johns Hopkins University)
Having developed expertise in the complex world of theoretical physics, Wesley is now focused on moving individual molecules and identifying new and exciting applications for quantum materials.

Xiwen Gong (University of Toronto)
Xiwen plans to apply machine learning and existing expertise in photonics and other areas to the complex problem of quantum dot composition, advancing the fields of quantum computing and optical quantum communications.

Yogesh Goyal (Princeton University)
Yogesh has a unique personal story and is building upon a broad training in classical chemical engineering, thermodynamics, and developmental biology to address key medical challenges in society. He wants to further this work through the application of novel theoretical and computational approaches.

Peyton Greenside (Stanford University)
Expanding upon work that has combined innovative approaches in gene regulation and machine learning to interpret complex data sets, Peyton’s ultimate goal is to expand the understanding of human physiology and the treatment of various diseases through the application of new computational methods.

Abigail Groff (Harvard University)
Abigail is pursuing the study of unique characteristics in certain cells that can provide valuable insights for early embryonic development and the successful screening of in vitro fertilized human embryos, and then extend that work to larger sets of chemical data. This research holds the promise of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of IVF treatment.

Hallie Holmes (University of Washington)
Hallie is a committed conservationist, and plans to pursue a career that draws upon expertise in microfluidics and microfabrication to create essential tools that can help detect poaching and protect global biodiversity.

Jina Ko (University of Pennsylvania)
Jina has done complex research involving microfluidics, microelectronics, machine learning, and RNA analysis to help create better diagnostic medical devices. She now wants to study Deep Learning and extend the use of devices to medical action, as well as helping to develop a greater understanding of diseases such as pancreatic cancer and traumatic brain injury.

Frederick Richards (Cambridge University)
Frederick plans to investigate and model the scalability and wider impacts of enhanced weathering and negative emissions technologies. The ambitious and interdisciplinary nature of his research will represent an original contribution to the scientific understanding of the feasibility of certain climate mitigation strategies.

Mattia Serra (ETH Zurich)
Mattia has done groundbreaking work applying new mathematical techniques to studying drifting materials, ocean eddies, and problems from other fields. His goal is now to apply similar mathematical approaches to the area of cognition, studying the process through which humans acquire knowledge.

Adi Steif (University of British Columbia)
Adi has already established herself as an exceptional cancer researcher, making substantive contributions in the fields of breast cancer evolution and methods for single-cell whole-genome sequencing. She now wants to develop a greater expertise in machine learning and mathematics to open up new possibilities and scale in related research.

Ryan Truby (Harvard University)
The inventor of the “Octobot” – the world’s first robot comprised entirely of soft materials and that operates autonomously – Ryan wants to advance the development of additional soft robots, potentially transforming the field of robotics. He aims to combine bioengineering, advanced materials science, classic robotics, and machine learning to blur the lines between materials and machines.

Jielai Zhang (University of Toronto)
Jielai plans to undertake an ambitious course of research that takes learnings from techniques in astronomy and applies them to health care. Building on her completed work in imaging galaxies more than 10,000 times dimmer than the moonless night sky, she now wants to leverage her engineering and data skills and use them to improve medical imaging techniques, uncovering the physiological causes of certain diseases.

About the Schmidt Science Fellows

The Schmidt Science Fellows, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, is the first initiative of Schmidt Futures, which works to advance scientific knowledge, drive the transformation of society through technology, and promote shared prosperity. Schmidt Futures serves the public alongside other longstanding, independent efforts of the Schmidts, which include both The Schmidt Family Foundation and the Schmidt Ocean Institute.

About the Rhodes Trust

Since its creation in 1903, the Rhodes Trust has been a globally recognized leader in the selection and development of leadership in academia and society. Through this partnership with the Schmidt Science Fellows program, the Trust is fulfilling its mission by identifying talented bright, young minds in the fields of science and engineering in order to improve upon their scientific expertise, leadership and management skills.