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Schmidt Science Fellows Program Applications Due August 31

Northwestern University will nominate five doctoral students/alumni for the Schmidt Science Fellows Program conducted in partnership with The Rhodes Trust.

The program allows students with extraordinary records of leadership in STEM to spend one year conducting research tangentially related yet pertinent to their doctoral work in a world-class laboratory and participate in a series of global seminars. Fellows will enjoy a stipend of $100K and their conference expenses covered in full.

Doctoral students and alumni with a demonstrable record of leadership who have defended or will defend a Northwestern PhD between April 30, 2020 and September 30, 2021 should send a single PDF file that includes the following components: curriculum vitae, and two 1,000 word statements (one research, one personal) in response to the attached prompts as well as three short proposals for potential postdoctoral Fellowship labs.  The doctoral adviser and four to six additional recommenders should email confirmation of the applicant’s eligibility and a letter of support to the same address.

Materials must arrive by 8:00 AM CST on Monday, August 31 to receive consideration.

Applicants will learn the outcome of the campus process and nominees will register their online applications by Monday, September 30.

The nominees will have until Monday, November 30 to prepare their final applications.

Please review the program details below:


  • A one-year postdoctoral placement in a leading laboratory, anywhere in the world to undertake research at a distinct interdisciplinary pivot from your PhD
  • $100,000 USD personal stipend
  • Bespoke academic and professional mentoring with renowned international experts
  • A Global Meeting Series in international locations delivering training in:
  • Leadership & management
    • Personal effectiveness
    • Funding & finance
    • Broadening interdisciplinary perspectives
    • Engaging in society
    • Developing communities

Candidate Criteria

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 PhD in one of these fields between April 30, 2020 and September 30, 2021. 
  • 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).

Individuals wishing to be considered for the Schmidt Science Fellows program must be nominated by a designated senior official at one of our nominating institutions.

The Schmidt Science Fellows program is committed to equality of opportunity for all candidates. Applications from individuals are encouraged regardless of age, disability, gender, gender identity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, pregnancy or maternity, parental status marital or civil partner status, race, color, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion, or belief.

Please note, the application and selection process, as well as the delivery of the Schmidt Science Fellows program, is only available in English and all engagement with the program must be in English.

Selection Criteria

The Schmidt Science Fellow program is looking for the brightest minds in the natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computing who are interested in broadening their horizons, pivoting from their PhD research, and pursuing a challenging and rewarding period of study with the world’s leading academics and institutions. 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 will be judged against the following selection criteria:


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.

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.


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.

Following a rigorous screening and interview process, the second class of Schmidt Science Fellows will be selected and announced in the spring of 2021, and will begin the Program in the summer of 2021.


Please email Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, director, Office of Fellowships, with any questions.

Categories: Fellowships