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The fifth year of the Schmidt Science Fellows scheme is now open for nominations. Oxford is limited to nine nominations. The scheme is extremely competitive with a significantly low success rate – we are therefore asking departments to submit maximum one candidate to the internal selection process.

When selecting candidates it is worth noting feedback that highlighted verbal communication and presentation skills as very important – previous Oxford candidates have done well in the early written stages, but less well at interview.

Scheme information

The Schmidt Science Fellows program provides the world’s best emerging scientists with new skills and perspectives to develop novel solutions to society’s challenges, become scientific and societal thought leaders, and accelerate ground-breaking discoveries.

Nominations are welcome from the most outstanding, intellectually first-rate DPhil students in the natural sciences (Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences), Engineering, Mathematics, or Computing who will complete their DPhil between 1 June 2021 and 30 July 2022. Successful Fellows are expected to combine scientific curiosity with extraordinary academic achievement. They should have demonstrated a collaborative spirit and have the ambition to make a lasting impact in science and in society, conducting research and pursuing knowledge that will benefit the world.

Fellows are supported to pursue a postdoctoral placement at a world-leading laboratory anywhere in the world that represents a significant disciplinary pivot from their DPhil. The proposed disciplinary pivot should represent a clear goal towards gaining new skills in a new area and establishing field-leading interdisciplinary lines of research with potential for high reward and societal impact. The Schmidt program works with Fellows after selection to identify and secure a placement that will best achieve their scientific pivot.

Details of the scheme are available in the Schmidt website.

Support available

As part of the program, each Fellow receives a stipend of $100,000 per year to support their personal and living costs for the duration of the placement, and have access to a mentor. Placements can be for up to 24 months.

Fellows also spend five weeks during their fellowship year at four residential meetings around the globe. In these meetings the fellows are introduced to new research ideas, techniques and questions and are exposed to a wide-range of leading thinkers and institutions.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for nomination to the Schmidt Science Fellows application process, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Have conducted their graduate degree* in the Natural sciences (Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Sciences), Engineering, Mathematics, or Computing – and all sub-disciplines therein. Please note that Medical sciences is not an eligible research area for this call.
  • Have completed, or expect to complete, all of the requirements for the conferral of their DPhil in one of these fields between 1 June 2021 and 30 July 2022.
  • Be available for the entire period of the 2022 program, from July 2022 to September 2023 including attendance of the Global Meeting Series (whether virtual or in person, as conditions allow, and including additional virtual programming).

*Please note that this criteria only relates to the candidate's research area, not their department or DPhil programme.

Selection Criteria

Schmidt Science Fellows are expected to be future science leaders and should demonstrate a keen interest in harnessing interdisciplinarity, and interaction with wider society, to galvanize collaboration, and lead and inspire teams to accelerate discovery.

Applications for the Schmidt Science Fellows program and internal selection process will be assessed against the following criteria:

1. Intellect

  • Extraordinary Achievement - Clear record of academic achievement of the highest quality in the sciences and an extraordinary degree of intelligence.
  • Scientific Curiosity - High degree of intellectual curiosity combined with energy and creativity; a record of continuous innovation and/or use of new technologies.

2. Programmatic fit

  • Alignment with the Program - Interest in pursuing a year or more of postdoctoral study in a field different from the applicant’s PhD discipline and a belief that interdisciplinary science and the taking of appropriate scientific risks are important for the advancement of discovery.
  • Collaborative Spirit - History of effective collaboration with diverse team members.

    3. Leadership

    • Global Ambition for Social Good - Desire to use one’s personal talents and science to make a positive difference in society and the world.
    • Character and Leadership - Genuine and demonstrable potential for science leadership; displaying perseverance, resilience, a moral compass, and a galvanizing force of personality.

    internal selection process (deadline: 12 noon, 2 June)

    Oxford is limited to nine nominations, so an internal selection process is being run. Departments are limited to one (1) candidate.

    Candidates selected by departments should email the following material as a single PDF file to research@mpls.ox.ac.uk by 12 noon, Wednesday 2 June*:

    • CV (two sides of A4 maximum)
    • Research proposal stating (1) why you wish to apply to the Schmidt Fellowship; (2) what is the disciplinary pivot from your DPhil work; and (3) what you wish to achieve with a Schmidt Fellowship, including new skills you would intend to gain (one side of A4 maximum)
    • Statement from their PhD supervisor or departmental Director of Graduate Studies (two sides of A4 maximum)

    Decisions will then be made by a multi-departmental panel, and shortlisting outcomes are expected to be communicated to candidates by 21 June.

    *Interested applicants should note that their department may set an earlier deadline to select their candidate for the internal process. Please contact your departmental research facilitator/graduate studies coordinator/grants team to check.

    CONTACT

    Enquiries should be directed to research@mpls.ox.ac.uk.