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Indian American students nominated for 2019 Schmidt Science Fellows

LOS ANGELES: Two Indian American students have been nominated for the 2019 group of Schmidt Science Fellows.

Kasturi Chakraborty and Jyotirmoy Mandal with other 20 students were named in the second-annual list of the $25 million program of Schmidt Futures, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust.

The fellowship is an innovative post-doctoral program that aims to develop the next generation of interdisciplinary science leaders to tackle the world’s most significant problems and maximize scientific opportunities for society, the program said in a press note.

The new Fellows are planning to take on global challenges and scientific areas spanning health, the environment, clean energy, computer science, smart materials, and many more, it said.

Chakraborty, of the University of Chicago, has developed new chemical probes that have been used to investigate how organelles work at a scale below the single cell and how organelle composition affects cell physiology.

Now, as a Schmidt Science Fellow, she hopes to change scale to directly visualize microbe interactions in the gut. This will enable her to understand how changes in microbe populations affect a person’s overall health.

The University of Chicago research scholar in the Department of Chemistry earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College; and a master’s from the University of Pune – both in chemistry. She is currently a doctoral candidate under chemistry professor Yamuna Krishnan’s guidance.

Mandal, of Columbia University, designs surfaces that selectively reflect, transmit, absorb or radiate light depending on their color. By controlling solar and thermal radiation, such surfaces can passively cool buildings, harvest sunlight for heating applications, and achieve thermal camouflage. He now aims to study the fundamentals of optical design, and combine that knowledge with his current expertise to create low-cost optical components for next-generation cameras and imaging systems.

A Columbia doctoral candidate, Mandal earned his master’s at Columbia following his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University.

This 2019 cohort of Fellows represents 15 countries of origin and joins last year’s inaugural class as part of a growing Schmidt Science Fellows community.

“Our mission at Schmidt Futures is to bet early on talented people who hold the promise of making the world a better place,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures. “That is what the Schmidt Science Fellows program is all about. This new class of Fellows represent some of the best aspiring minds in science and technology today, and we look forward to helping them harness these gifts for the betterment of society.”

“We are tremendously excited to welcome this new class to the growing community of Schmidt Science Fellows,” added co-founder Wendy Schmidt, who is also president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, and co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute.

“They are truly exceptional in their insight, intellect, and eagerness to work across scientific disciplines and pursue discovery in unprecedented ways. We cannot wait to see what they will accomplish in the years to come,” she added.

Through an initial commitment of at least $25 million for the first three years, this innovative fellowship is part of a broader $100 million effort by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to promote scientific leadership and interdisciplinary research over the next decade and beyond, the release said.

The program, delivered in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, home of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships, places Fellows in a new, world-leading research environment immediately following the completion of their doctoral studies.

Each Fellow will receive personalized mentoring from experienced and internationally-accomplished scientists and is awarded a stipend of $100,000 as part of the program.

In addition to the post-doctoral placement, Schmidt Science Fellows attend four Global Meetings as a group during their Fellowship year at international science and innovation clusters, the release continued.

These convenings enable Fellows to engage with new concepts, to visit leading science facilities, and to engage with internationally-renowned thought-leaders from science, business, policy, and society.

The Schmidt Science Fellows program is supported by many leading science, engineering, and technology institutions around the world. In addition to the institutions that host Fellows for their placements, many others are involved through the identification and nomination of candidates and by contributing to Global Meetings, it said.

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