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Schmidt Science Fellows Annual Report 2020-2021

We are pleased to publish our third Annual Report, covering August 2020 to December 2021. This edition of our Annual Report includes stories and reviews of a crucial period in the development of the Schmidt Science Fellows Program – as the Fellowship moved from an early start-up phase to celebrating the real-world impacts of Fellows. The report also looks ahead to our five year anniversary and explores new ways to foster greater interdisciplinarity in science.

Highlights from the 2020-2021 Annual Report include:

  • Fellows making real-world impacts and global recognition of their science in response to COVID-19.
  • Interdisciplinary science highlights from across the Fellowship community, including machine learning applications for better healthcare, new fundamental physics discoveries, novel medical diagnostics, and a new understanding of how our brains process tasks.
  • Development of new outreach activities to further our engagement with potential candidates and to provide more equitable support for all candidates.
  • Changes we have made to meet the needs of Fellows better, including the implementation of a flexible 12-24 month duration for the Fellowship Research Placement.
  • Senior Fellows start-up companies have now raised more than $36m in total venture capital funding.
  • New efforts to understand the obstacles to interdisciplinary science better and explore new initiatives to accelerate discovery and impact.

The Annual Report also shares statistics on the growth of the Program – across the first four cohorts of our Fellowship, our 84 Fellows have to date worked with 81 Principal Investigators at 50 host institutions and represent 28 different nations of origin.

Dr. Megan Kenna, Executive Director, Schmidt Science Fellows, said: “This Annual Report looks back at a pivotal point in the development of our Program and our Fellows. We are starting to see the power of the community that we created to connect our Fellows with a science family of individuals who share the common desire to make a positive difference through science and diverse areas of expertise. We are also seeing our Fellowship structure mature and, excitingly, we are being recognized as a model for how science should be done.”

As our Program evolves, so has our Annual Report. We have moved to a calendar year reporting period as a better fit for our major activities and therefore a more effective way to share our updates and the achievements of our Fellows with our partners and supporters.

The Annual Report also includes case studies from the perspective of three Senior Fellows. The Fellows describe the impact of their Fellowship on their science, the power of interdisciplinarity, and how they are creating an impact in the world.

Dr. OJ Watson is a 2020 Schmidt Science Fellow and infectious disease modeler who was granted an exceptional deferral by Schmidt Science Fellows to pursue COVID-19 work. OJ’s work in response to COVID-19 supported public health agencies responding to the pandemic in low and middle-income countries and eventually led to a collaboration with the World Health Organization. Read more in his case study here.

Dr. Yogesh Goyal is a member of the inaugural cohort of Schmidt Science Fellows, selected in 2018. From a first-generation low-income student born and raised in rural Jammu and Kashmir to an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University, Yogesh shares insights and lessons from his interdisciplinary journey, and his scientific ambitions for his own lab. Read his full case study here.

Dr. Amy Shepherd is a 2020 Schmidt Science Fellow studying the role of the millions of neurons that exist in our guts. In her case study, she shares her journey from New Zealand to the USA and what impact her travels across the world mean for her science. Read more in her full case study here.