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Fellowship Finder

Schmidt Science Fellows Program - Postdoctoral Fellowships in Natural Sciences, Engineering, Math, and Computing

Deadline: Anticipated 7/2020 ( Previous deadline 7/19/2019 )

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 and unique and unparalleled postdoctoral training opportunity.  Awardees receive a $100,000 stipend and the opportunity to undertake full-time postdoctoral study for at least one year 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-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. The goal of this "interdisciplinary pivot" is to introduce Fellows to the ideas, practices, methods, and cultures of other scientific disciplines, broadening the scope of their experience. Fellows will select their postdoctoral research laboratory with assistance from the Schmidt Science Fellows Program, the Rhodes Trust, and world-renowned researchers.

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 the 2019-20 conferences here

The program targets students nearing completion of their PhDs. Applicants must have earned, or be scheduled to earn, their PhD between May 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. 

See details on the 2018-19 cohort and the 2019-20 cohort

University of Illinois Awardee!

In 2019, the University of Illinois had its first awardee!  See details on Daniel Raudabaugh, PhD student in plant biology. 

Award Amount:

The fellowship offers one year of support (additional support may be possible at the discretion of the Foundation). The award provides:

  • $100,000 stipend.
  • Allowance for personal travel.
  • Coverage of costs for global meetings.
  • Courses and hands-on research experiences at leading academic and research institutions.


Applicants must:

  • 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, engineering, mathematics, or computing between May 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 (Schmidt uses the deposit date, not the conferral date, as the official date for receiving the PhD). 
  • Be nominated by their university.

Evaluation Criteria:

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 in the sciences at leading institutions of higher learning.
  • Alignment with the program - Commitment to pursuing a year or more of postdoctoral study in a field different from the topic of study for which the applicant received their PhD.
  • Scientific curiosity - Desire to achieve a broad level of exposure to and knowledge in cutting-edge innovations and research across the sciences.
  • Intellectual spark - High degree of intelligence, energy, and intellectual curiosity that will drive future scientific discoveries.
  • Global ambitions - The will to make a lasting impact in the sciences and society, pursuing knowledge that will benefit the world by engaging in ambitious research and displaying great perseverance throughout the scientific process.
  • Character - A genuine and demonstrable interest in society and global challenges combined with a desire to use personal talents and expertise to make a positive difference in the world.
  • Collaborative spirit - Demonstrated history of effective collaboration with diverse team members.
  • Use of innovative tools - General interest and comfort in using innovative technological tools, such as modern computing and data science techniques.

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.



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 - Schmidt2019 (for example: Smith, John - ECE - Schmidt2019. The pdf should then be uploaded through this online Box folder by 5:00 p.m. on July 19, 2019.  Late or incomplete nominations will not be accepted.  

The pdf must contain the following documents, arranged in the following order:

  1. Memo from the department specifying 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 ranking of the students being nominated along with a brief justification of the ranking.
  2. CV. 
  3. 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 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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' names and contact information (not their application materials) will be sent to the Schmidt Science Fellows Program by August 8, 2019.  Nominees will have the opportunity to revise their materials, then the Schmidt program will invite nominees to submit application materials online by October 1 through Schmidt's application portal.  Finalists will be invited for interviews, and awards will be announced in April 2020.


Ken Vickery, PhD
Director of Fellowships
Graduate College

Schmidt Science Fellows Program:
Twitter: @SchmidtFellows




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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