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The fourth year of the Schmidt Science Fellows scheme is now open for nominations. Oxford is limited to nine nominations. Last year’s call received a very high number of applications, and the scheme is extremely competitive – we are therefore asking departments to submit a maximum of two candidates 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 30 April 2020 and 30 September 2021. 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 undertake a full time, 11-14 month postdoctoral placement after successfully completing a DPhil in the natural sciences, computing, engineering or mathematics. Fellows’ placements will represent a significant disciplinary pivot from their DPhil topic, and are central to the program’s aim to foster greater interdisciplinarity. The 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 on the Schmidt Science Fellows website.

Support available

As part of the program, each Fellow receives a stipend of $100,000 to support their personal and living costs for the duration of the placement, and have access to a mentor. 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.


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.
  • Have completed, or expect to complete, all of the requirements for the conferral of their DPhil in one of these fields between 30 April 2020 and 30 September 2021 (this does not include the graduation ceremony).

  • Be available for the entire period of the 2021 program, from July 2021 to July 2022 including attendance at each Global Meeting (whether virtual or in person, as conditions allow).

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. Programmtic 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, 1 September)

Oxford is limited to nine nominations, so an internal prioritisation process is being run. Departments are limited to two (2) candidates.

Candidates selected by departments should upload the following material as a single PDF file to IRAMS by 12 noon, Tuesday 1 September*:

  • CV (two sides of A4 maximum)
  • Research proposal stating what you wish to achieve with a Schmidt Fellowship (one side of A4 maximum)
  • Statement from their PhD supervisor or departmental Director of Graduate Studies (two sides of A4 maximum)

*Please note that departments may have an earlier internal deadline. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their departmental research facilitation or grants team to express their interest before submitting on IRAMS. If you are unsure who to contact, please check your departmental website or contact Kathleen Dolan.

Decisions will then be made by a multi-departmental panel, chaired by the Head of the MPLS Division (or his nominee) in good time for the deadline on 30 September.


Enquiries should be directed to Kathleen Dolan.