Learn more about each 2023 Fellow, including their research interests and their interdisciplinary science ambitions.
Read the press release announcing the 2023 cohort here.
Raymond Adkins, University of California, Santa Barbara
Raymond quantitatively tested active matter models by developing and characterizing several well-controlled active matter systems during his PhD. As a Fellow, Raymond will pivot from physics to neuroscience to track the development of neuronal ensembles leading to important insights into how the nervous system wires itself, with impact in basic biology and neurodegeneration and regeneration.
T. Bertie Ansell, University of Oxford
During their PhD, Bertie used computational methods to investigate the role of small molecule ligands in Hedgehog signaling – a pathway crucial for regulating cell growth and repair in the body. As a Schmidt Science Fellow, Bertie plans to pivot from structural biology to microbiology to study plant-fungal-bacterial symbioses via combined computational and imaging methods. Bertie hopes to abet the development of regenerative practices for planetary and human health.
Vesna Bacheva, Technion Israel Institute of Technology
Vesna’s PhD involved developing a new concept for microscale flow control that enables programmable microfluidic devices. As a Fellow, she will pivot from mechanical engineering to plant sciences, where she plans to develop new technologies and models to study the transport of nutrients in plants. She hopes that her research will fill a critical gap in our current understanding of plants that can enable progress in the productivity, substantiality, and profitability of crop-based agriculture in an increasingly food-insecure world.
Yinon Bar-On, Weizmann Institute of Science
During his PhD, Yinon used quantitative approaches to study the composition of the biosphere to establish a census of biomass on Earth. As a Fellow, he will pivot from systems biology to biogeochemistry to quantify changes in the stocks of carbon on land to help improve the accuracy and reliability of climate change predictions.
Daril Brown, University of California, San Diego
Daril’s PhD involved establishing songbirds as an animal model for the development of human speech. As a Fellow, Daril will pivot from neuroscience to biomedical engineering to study brain activity. He hopes to develop medical devices to help those with lost or diminished ability to speak and communicate again.
Joshua Chen, Rice University
Joshua has been working on developing new ways of powering implanted, battery-less bioelectronic devices by transferring power without wires. As a Fellow, he will pivot from biomedical engineering to synthetic biology to create new tools and develop ultrasound-controlled cell therapies to study and treat neurodegenerative disorders.
Lillian Chin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lillian’s PhD research explored the relationship between the materials of soft robotics and their functionality where she developed custom materials with internal sensors. As a Fellow, she will pivot from robotics to kinesiology, the study of human body movement, to create soft sensorized materials to expand the tools cognitive scientists and medical practitioners use for more effective physical rehabilitation therapy for patients.
Shizhong Dai, University of California, San Francisco
Shizhong has been developing novel inhibitors that target the previously “undruggable” proteins in cancer. As a Fellow, he plans to shift his focus to neurobiology. His goal is to decode the mechanisms behind cell-cell communications that contribute to disease progression. Shizhong’s ultimate aim is to create innovative chemical biology tools that can improve our understanding and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Neil Dalvie, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Neil spent his PhD working to enable low-cost manufacturing of therapeutic proteins in yeast. As a Fellow, he will pivot from biomanufacturing to biogeochemistry by engineering microbes to accelerate rock weathering for natural removal of carbon from the atmosphere.
Yotam Feldman, Tel Aviv University
Yotam’s PhD research in program analysis focused on the principles behind the success of modern verification algorithms. As a Fellow, Yotam is pivoting from computer science to computational chemistry to develop analysis techniques that will transform our understanding of chemical systems to aid new drug and materials design.
Asim Gazi, Georgia Institute of Technology
During his PhD, Asim designed models and algorithms to help wearables sense and react to acute stress, particularly the crippling episodes faced by patients with trauma and anxiety disorders. As a Fellow, Asim is pivoting to social computing to study how social media data and our online networks can be used to monitor the overall stress of communities during macrolevel stressors. Asim hopes to technologically transform how we care for mental health in everyday life.
Andrew Hunt, Northwestern University
Andrew’s PhD research centered on developing tools to accelerate the discovery and engineering of protein therapeutics. As a Fellow he will pivot from engineering to chemistry where he plans to create enzymes capable of performing chemical reactions that enable humans to remediate environmental damage and improve sustainability.
Ahyoung Kim, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Ahyoung has been working on designing new nanomaterials and understanding fundamental self-organization rules inspired by living organisms. As a Fellow, Ahyoung will pivot from engineering to chemistry and plans to address the need for secure, clean, renewable energy by programming nanomachines that could harvest and transmit energy.
Sahil Loomba, Imperial College London
Sahil has been studying structural properties of large-scale social networks, by developing mathematical and statistical methods, to investigate whether more connected individuals encourage better societal outcomes. As a Fellow, Sahil will pivot from statistical network modelling to causal inference and plans to measure the effects of large-scale public health campaigns on independently observed outcomes such as vaccine uptake.
Cecília Magalhães, Universidade de São Paulo (USP)
Cecília’s PhD research focused on investigating the dynamics of the extracellular matrix during early eye development in chick and mouse embryos. As a Fellow, Cecília will pivot from developmental biology to neuroscience to develop new methods for observing the cell biology of naked mole rat neurons to contribute to a better understanding of the natural aging process.
Juan Carlos Martinez Mori, Cornell University
Juan has been studying the behavior of algorithms in transportation to expand accessibility, reduce emissions, and lower the costs of on-demand mobility technologies. As a Fellow, Juan will pivot from mathematics to computer science to lay the theoretical foundations for algorithmic social justice in public policy to address large scale decision making.
Ariane Mora, University of Queensland
Ariane has been developing novel computational approaches to integrate and model biological data. As a Fellow, Ariane will pivot from biological sciences to earth sciences to study carbon-cycling in closed systems with the aim of mitigating the impact of climate change.
Charlotte Newton, University of Cambridge
Charlotte’s PhD research involved developing a way to improve early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease by assessing the function of path integration – the process the brain uses to estimate a person’s positioning in the world around them. As a Fellow, Charlotte will pivot from biological sciences to engineering to build new open-source strategies for implementing digital technology in dementia diagnoses with the aim to improve early detection and patient quality of life.
Suong Nguyen, Princeton University
During her PhD, Suong developed light-driven, catalytic methodologies for organic synthesis, biomass valorization, plastic waste recycling, and functionalization of quantum sensing materials. As a Fellow, she will now pivot from organic chemistry to nanomaterials, where she hopes to develop new strategies to achieve a high level of control over the structure and properties of nanoparticles for therapeutic applications.
Solomon Oyakhire, Stanford University
Solomon’s PhD involved designing long-lasting lithium metal batteries with controllable lithium morphologies. As a Fellow, Solomon will pivot from chemical engineering to artificial intelligence and will utilize machine learning to continue to explore next generation energy storage and conversion technologies.
Kira Podolsky, University of California, San Diego
Kira’s PhD focused on the synthesis and characterization of organelles and other cellular structures using chemical components to understand the point at which chemistry becomes biology. As a Fellow, Kira will pivot from chemical biology to enzymology to explore the potential for the production of enzymes in cells with a goal of using that understanding to create new therapies for human diseases.
Shilpa Pothapragada, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research – Hyderabad
Shilpa’s PhD investigated the mechanisms through which physical forces act within epithelial tissues and their fundamental role in regulating cancer. As a Fellow, she will pivot from mechanobiology to bioengineering, focusing on women’s health. She plans to develop new tools to study and assess the pathophysiology of women’s reproductive health with the intent to improve therapeutics and diagnostics.
Krishnakant Saboo, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
For Krishnakant’s PhD, he utilized machine learning to develop a novel framework that models and enables early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. As a Fellow, he will pivot from computer engineering to neuroscience to develop personalized models of aberrant brain activity to aid in diagnosis and brain stimulation-based treatment of epilepsy.
Susmita Sarkar, Purdue University, West Lafayette
Susmita’s goal of broadening mass access to sustainable energy led to her PhD research in designing highly reliable, long-lasting, and inexpensive sodium-ion batteries. As a Fellow, Susmita will pivot from mechanical engineering to chemical engineering to work on wearable devices for applications in healthcare.
Michael Schoof, University of California, San Francisco
For Michael’s PhD project, he studied the mechanism for activation and inhibition of the cell’s integrated stress response pathway. As a Fellow, he will pivot from biochemistry to neuroscience to examine the role of altered glycosylation and its impacts in the aging brain.
Amy Strilchuk, University of British Columbia
For her PhD project, Amy utilized lipid nanoparticles in the treatment of clotting disorders. As a Fellow, she will pivot from biochemistry to plant sciences and repurpose nanomedicine technologies for the genetic manipulation of plants to create crops that are more productive and resilient against the impacts of climate destruction.
Sridevi Venkatesan, University of Toronto
Sridevi’s PhD research focused on deciphering disruptions to neurotransmitter pathways that lead to cognitive deficits and identifying treatments to restore normal neuron function. As a Fellow, she will pivot from neuroscience to genetics and genomics to develop a precision medicine platform for rare genetic brain disorders, increasing global access to diagnostics and treatments.
Julian A. Vigil, Stanford University
For his PhD in chemical engineering, Julian’s research focused on the structure and defect chemistry of halide perovskites, semiconductors with promising applications in solar photovoltaics and solid-state lighting. As a Fellow, Julian will pivot to electrical engineering to explore the synthesis, characterization, and operation of next-generation quantum sensors based on magnetic molecules and materials. He aims to enable advanced computing and efficient energy utilization by designing novel hybrid materials with emergent properties.
Yanbo Wang, Johns Hopkins University
During his PhD, Yanbo developed a novel method of gene labeling allowing for a wider applicability of gene targeting and identification. As a Fellow, Yanbo will pivot from biophysics to cancer biology, aiming to develop a safe and efficient approach to selectively eliminate cancer cells with extrachromosomal DNA.
Yuanqing Wang, Cornell University
Through Yuanqing’s PhD project, he designed a model to simulate biophysical systems quickly and accurately for applications in drug discovery. As a Fellow, he will pivot from biophysics to machine learning to continue his goal of reducing the resources needed to design new therapeutics. Yuanqing plans to develop graph machine learning models with a goal of improved biophysical modeling.
Matthias Wurdack, Australian National University
Matthias’ PhD research focused on creating, investigating and engineering the properties of hybrid light-matter particles in atomically-thin semiconductors to understand and elevate their potential for future ultra-energy efficient sensors, lasers and information technologies. As a Fellow he will pivot from condensed matter physics to biomedical engineering to develop artificial retinas, aiming to alleviate blindness and increase our knowledge of how our minds work.
Yirui Zhang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Yirui’s goal of improving clean energy storage led to her PhD research, whereby she captured interfacial reaction pathways to better understand the process of battery degradation and catalysis. As a Fellow, Yirui will pivot from mechanical engineering to biomedical engineering. She plans to combine spectroscopy, electrokinetics, and machine learning to develop a fast and cost-effective disease monitoring platform for bacterial wastewater-based epidemiology.