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Schmidt Science Fellows appoints two leading scientists to mentor growing Fellowship community

Schmidt Science Fellows has appointed two new members to its Academic Council, which delivers bespoke and highly valued mentoring to every Fellow and acts as an advisory group to the Program’s leadership.

The appointments of Dr. Chiara Daraio and Dr. Amy Herr increases the breadth of expertise available to the Schmidt Science Fellows community and allows the Program to maintain its unique, personalized mentoring offer as the Fellowship grows.

Dr. Daraio is the G. Bradford Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics at Caltech and Dr. Herr is the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Each is an experienced mentor, having supervised and guided many early-career scientists and have track-records of engaging with Schmidt Science Fellows. Dr. Daraio has served for multiple years as an Academic Reviewer in the selection of new Fellows and Dr. Herr has led sessions at Berkeley during Global Meetings.

As Academic Council Members, Dr. Daraio and Dr. Herr will be responsible for mentoring groups of Schmidt Science Fellows each year on career and personal development topics and providing advice to the whole Fellowship community in their specific areas of expertise.

I am delighted to welcome Dr. Daraio and Dr. Herr to our mentoring team. They both bring world-class research expertise and leadership experience combined with a deep commitment to guiding and supporting early-career scientists. – Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Chair of the Academic Council

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Chair of the Schmidt Science Fellows Academic Council, said: “We strongly believe in the value of mentoring to enable our Fellows to make interdisciplinary shifts with confidence, to overcome challenges, and to grow to become the scientific leaders the world needs. I am delighted to welcome Dr. Daraio and Dr. Herr to our mentoring team. They both bring world-class research expertise and leadership experience combined with a deep commitment to guiding and supporting early-career scientists. Their appointments ensure we can continue to provide unique mentoring to future Schmidt Science Fellows as our community grows.”

Dr. Daraio commented: “The transition from PhD to postdoc is an inflection point in a research career. The Schmidt Science Fellows Program captures some of the best and brightest researchers at this point in their careers, offering them an opportunity to branch out in new and impactful directions. I am proud to be associated with the Fellowship and to help advise the Fellows in breaking new ground.”

Dr. Herr added: “Making an interdisciplinary pivot requires a scientist to go from being an expert in one field to a novice in another and for them to be prepared to learn new skills quickly. By doing this, Schmidt Science Fellows are demonstrating their commitment to harnessing interdisciplinary science for the benefit of global society and I am pleased to have this opportunity to guide, advise, and support future Fellows.”

Dr. Daraio begins her role immediately, with Dr. Herr joining in May 2021. Both positions on the Academic Council are part-time.

Dr. Daraio completed her first degree at the Politecnico delle Marche in Ancona, Italy, before she embarked on graduate study at the University of California, San Diego. She began her faculty career at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2006, and she has held positions there to today. Between 2013 and 2016, she was also Chair in Mechanics and Materials at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Dr. Daraio has received numerous accolades, including a Sloan Research Fellowship, US Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and a Presidential Early Career Award of Scientists and Engineers.

Dr. Daraio’s research is focused on developing new materials with advanced mechanical and sensing properties, for application in robotics, medical devices, and smart structures. Her materials are used for acoustic imaging and thermal sensing in medicine and health monitoring. She combines principles of mechanics, chemistry, and biology to design and fabricate materials with innovative chemical and structural properties on the nano- and micro-scale, which allow new properties to emerge on the macroscale.

Dr. Herr completed her first degree at Caltech before pursuing her PhD at Stanford University. From Stanford, she was a research scientist at Sandia National Laboratories and then joined the Berkeley faculty in 2007, where she is also a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator. Among other recognition, she was a Sloan Research Fellow, NIH New Innovator, and NSF CAREER awardee. She has been recognized for her commitment to supporting early-career scientists, receiving the Faculty Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring from the UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar and Postdoctoral Association and the Ellen Weaver Award from the Association for Women in Science.

Dr. Herr’s research aims to advance single-cell biology by applying knowledge of transport and reaction to design precision microanalytical tools. This entails an interdisciplinary approach that draws on a breadth of engineering disciplines, combined with principles of biology, materials science, and chemistry. Her ongoing interest is in making possible the measurement of currently undetectable protein targets, to surmount knowledge gaps spanning fundamental bioscience to applied medicine.