Skip to main content

Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Program of Schmidt Futures at UC San Diego

 

Schmidt-Futures-Logo.png

Launching Fall 2022

The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a program of Schmidt Futures at UC San Diego led by Faculty Director Tara Javidi and Education Associate Director Ilkay Altıntaş, leverages UC San Diego’s place at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence research to train the next generation of scientific leaders pioneering the use of AI in STEM. Established with the generous support of Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, this prestigious program annually supports 10-20 Postdoctoral Fellows with a two-year fellowship to apply AI techniques to research in the engineering, mathematical, and natural sciences. The program provides a unique, cross-campus ecosystem of training and scientific discovery consisting of three interconnected core components: 

  1. Community formation of a diverse cohort of researchers and scholars from across the STEM areas of excellence with interest in the use of AI methods;
  2. Training modules in the form of courses, seminars, and panels pulling from established pedagogical areas of excellence designed to provide postdoctoral fellows with core AI technical competencies; and
  3. Co-mentoring to bridge the gap between STEM and AI, including at least one STEM faculty as the primary mentor and nominator, and a second AI/method faculty in the role of co-mentor.

Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs also receive comprehensive foundational training in scientific leadership, research ethics, professional development, and other critical skills to complement the Program’s AI curriculum. In addition, they are encouraged to engage with the DEI initiative or program of their choice at UC San Diego.

For additional information, please contact SchmidtAIinSciencePostdocs@ucsd.edu.

Applications for the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program

Current postdoctoral scholars and PhD candidates who will receive their doctorate before September 1, 2023 and who are in the fields of engineering, mathematical, and natural sciences are invited to apply for the 2023 cohort of Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs. Applications must be submitted via the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program Application Form by Thursday, December 15, 2022 to be considered for the 2023 cohort. If selected, Fellows must have completed their PhD by September 1, 2023.

Before applying, applicants must obtain the sponsorship of a faculty member at UC San Diego who is willing to serve as their primary faculty mentor.

Complete applications should consist of the following documents:

  • Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program Application Form;
  • A research statement emphasizing the promise of the applicant’s research agenda and demonstrating a clear understanding of how to apply AI to improve their science;
  • A diversity statement to describe the applicant’s contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion through their academic career;
  • A letter of nomination from the applicant’s primary (STEM) faculty mentor at UC San Diego. The letter from the proposed primary (STEM) mentor should address: a) the applicant's proposed research and how training in AI methods and approaches through the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program will enhance their science, b) the extent to which the applicant will participate in departmental and campus academic activity (e.g., seminar programs), c) the extent of applicant's anticipated participation at national/international research meetings, and d) the proposed STEM mentor's involvement in mentoring for other programs designed to increase access and opportunity in higher education;
  • Two additional letters of recommendation. These letters should address: a) The novelty, quality and promise of the applicant's work; b) the potential for the nominee to leverage the training they would receive as a Fellow to pioneer and accelerate the adoption of innovative applications of AI in their field; and c) if the applicant's Ph.D. is in progress, rate the likelihood of its completion by September 30, 2023.

Program Goals and Expectations

The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a program of Schmidt Futures at UC San Diego, is structured to promote bi-directional education flows. Postdoctoral Fellows are empowered to rethink research methodology in their fields, taking knowledge from UC San Diego’s AI-anchored centers to their home departments. At the same time, Fellows’ expertise in their respective fields facilitates new AI-enabled approaches to engineering research and scientific discovery, allowing knowledge and expertise from their home departments to flow equally back to those AI centers.

While maintaining their respective research agendas, Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs participate in training modules critical to their development as scientific leaders with a firm grounding in the application of AI in their fields. Fellows choose courses, seminars, and other trainings in AI techniques that are best suited to their educational needs to design their personalized AI curriculum at UC San Diego. At the same time, Fellows are provided comprehensive professional and career development training offered by the Office of Postdoctoral Scholar Affairs. In Fall quarter of each year, incoming cohorts of Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs participate in bi-weekly meetings as an informal orientation to the specific elements of the training program. 

Fellows will be invited to be part of the Schmidt Futures network and provided high-level opportunities to engage with scholars and thought leaders in AI and science. It is expected that each Fellow will attend an AI in Science Conference to be organized by Schmidt Futures annually. Fellows will also be expected to communicate their research, results, and contributions with program leaders and other scholars, including at an annual research showcase to be coordinated by UC San Diego. Schmidt Futures encourages prompt and open communication of scientific results by Fellows, including through open source/open data/pre-prints when appropriate, in order to accelerate the integration of AI into science.

Faculty Advisory Committee and Program Champions

A key distinction of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a program of Schmidt Futures at UC San Diego, is the multi-scale network of faculty champions from a broad range of disciplines who serve as an advisory committee: STEM Champions advise Fellows in their respective science and engineering fields, AI Champions serve as co-mentors to advise Fellows on their use of AI methods, and the Faculty Director in collaboration with the Associate  Director for Education shapes and curates the AI education and training curriculum. The advisory committee actively participates in the recruitment and identification of Fellows as well as the ongoing assessment of the program. The advisory committee also helps Fellows think through and engage in larger discussions around AI ethics, fairness, diversity, and inclusion with significant societal impact.

 

tara.jpg

Faculty Director: Tara Javidi, Jacobs Family Scholar, Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) Fellow, and Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering and HDSI. Dr. Javidi’s research interests are in the theory of active learning, information acquisition and statistical inference, information theory with feedback,  stochastic control theory, and wireless communications and communication networks. She is a Fellow of the IEEE, a co-PI at The Institute for Learning-enabled Optimization at Scale (TILOS), founding co-director of the Center for Machine-Integrated Computing and Security, and a founding faculty member of HDSI, in addition to being the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her teaching and scholarship.

 

schmidt_ilkay.png

Associate Director for Education: Ilkay Altıntaş, Chief Data Science Officer of the San Diego Supercomputer Center; Division Director of Cyberinfrastructure and Convergence Research and Education; and a Founding Faculty Fellow of the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. Dr. Altıntaş’ specialty is in scientific workflows and cyberinfrastructure systems; she leads collaborative teams to deliver impactful results through making computational data science work more reusable, programmable, scalable, and reproducible.

 

 

STEM Champions

schmidt_rommie.pngRommie Amaro Professor and Endowed Chair, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Director of Visible Molecular Cell Consortium; and Co-Director, Drug Design Data Resource. Dr. Amaro’s research is broadly concerned with the development and application of state-of-the-art computational and theoretical techniques to investigate the structure, function, and dynamics of complex biological systems.



schmidt_trey.pngTrey Ideker, Professor of Medicine, Bioengineering and Computer Science; former Chief of Genetics; Director of the National Resource for Network Biology; and the Co-Director of the Cancer Cell Map and Psychiatric Cell Map Initiatives. Dr. Ideker is a pioneer in genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic analysis and in the theory and practice of Systems Biology.



schmidt_ralph.png

Ralph Keeling, Professor of Geochemistry in the Geosciences Research Division of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, current program director of the Scripps CO2 Program, and PI for the Atmospheric Oxygen Research Group. Dr. Keeling’s research focuses on atmospheric composition, the carbon cycle, and climate change. He is considered a leading investigator of the global oxygen cycle for his precise measurements and analysis techniques.



schmidt_gentry.pngGentry Patrick, Professor of Neurobiology, Director of the Center for Empathy and Social Justice in Human Health, Director of Mentorship and Diversity for Biological Sciences, and former Associate Director of the Neurosciences Graduate Program. Dr. Patrick is the creator and Director of the PATHS scholars program designed to mitigate barriers and establish an infrastructure of resources for underrepresented students in STEM.



schmidt_shyue.pngShyue Ping Ong, Professor of NanoEngineering. Dr. Ong’s research focuses on application of first principles calculations and other computational techniques in the design, development, and investigation of new energy materials. Dr. Ong received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2011. He was subsequently appointed as a Senior Research Associate at MIT. Dr. Ong's research and teaching vision is to be a leader in bringing forth a data-driven future for materials design.



schmidt_andrea.pngAndrea Tao, Professor of NanoEngineering. Dr. Tao earned her A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard University in 2002 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 2007, where she conducted her dissertation research on colloidal synthesis and self-assembly. Tao’s research centers on the synthesis and surface chemistry of nanoscale materials, with an emphasis on developing new approaches for rational assembly and integration into composites and biological systems.



schmidt_michael.pngMichael Todd, Professor of Structural Engineering. Dr. Todd received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Duke as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. His research applies to civil, mechanical, and aerospace structural systems. Dr. Todd focuses on developing tools from structural vibrations, nonlinear dynamics, and time series modeling fields for structural health monitoring and damage prognosis strategies.



schmidt_elizabeth.pngElizabeth Villa, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and HHMI Investigator. Dr. Villa completed her PhD in Biophysics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Fulbright Fellow. She was the recipient of an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award to pursue high-risk high-reward research developing cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) and new technological and computational techniques to advance structural cell biology.



schmidt_frank.pngFrank Würthwein, Professor of Physics; Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center; and Executive Director of the Open Science Grid (OSG), a national cyber infrastructure to advance the sharing of resources, software, and knowledge. As a physicist, Dr. Würthwein’s interest lies in searching for new phenomena at the high energy frontier with the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at the Large Hadron Collider, CERN; and as an experimentalist, he is interested in instrumentation and data analysis.

 

 

AI Champions

schmidt_mikhail.pngMikhail Belkin, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. Dr. Belkin’s research interests are in the theory and applications of machine learning and data analysis. He is a recipient of an NSF Career Award and has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Machine Learning Research, IEEE Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, and SIAM Journal on Mathematics of Data Science.



schmidt_jelena.pngJelena Bradic, Professor of Statistics. Dr. Bradic directs the Statistical Lab for Learning Large-Scale and Complex Data, and her research interests include ensemble learning, robust statistics, and survival analysis. Her multidisciplinary expertise in handling data has expanded her research into multidisciplinary fields that include political science, marketing, engineering, public health, and biomedical sciences.



schmidt_julian.pngJulian McAuley, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. Dr. McAuley’s research focuses on the linguistic, temporal, and social dimensions of opinions and behavior in social networks and other online communities. This includes understanding the facets of people’s opinions, the processes by which people “acquire tastes” for gourmet foods and beers, or even the visual dimensions that make clothing items compatible.



schmidt_alon.pngAlon Orlitsky, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Orlitsky’s research concerns the intersection between information theory, machine learning, and communication, with particular interest in data modeling, processing, and analysis. He is the founding director of UC San Diego's Information Theory and Applications Center and holds the QUALCOMM Endowed Chair in Information Theory and Its Applications.



schmidt_piya.pngPiya Pal, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Pal's research interests include high dimensional statistical signal processing and data analysis, energy efficient sketching and sampling for statistical inference, compressive sensing and sparse estimation, tensor methods, convex and non-convex optimization, optical signal processing and high resolution imaging, and statistical learning.



schmidt_barna.pngBarna Saha, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. Dr. Saha’s primary research focus is on Theoretical Computer Science, specifically Algorithm Design. She is passionate about diversity and teaching, and seeing students succeed from all backgrounds. She is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award (PECASE), the highest honor given by the White House to early career scientists; a Sloan fellowship; an NSF CAREER Award; and multiple paper awards.


schmidt_rose.pngRose Yu, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. Dr. Yu’s research interests lie primarily in machine learning, especially for large-scale spatiotemporal data, with a particular focus on the interplay between physics and machine learning.

 

 

 

AI Fairness, Ethics, and Society


schmidt_david.pngDavid Danks, Professor of Data Science and Philosophy and affiliate faculty in Computer Science and Engineering. Dr. Danks was recently appointed to the National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC), an organization tasked with providing advice to the President and the National AI Initiative Office about artificial intelligence in the United States. His research interests are at the intersection of philosophy, cognitive science, and machine learning, using ideas, methods, and frameworks from each to advance our understanding of complex, interdisciplinary problems.

FAQ

Applications and Eligibility

  • When is the deadline to submit an application for the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program?
    • Applications for the 2023 Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program are due Thursday, December 15, 2022.
  • How do I apply for the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program at UC San Diego?
    • Qualified applicants should submit an application that includes a research statement emphasizing the promise of their research and demonstrating a clear understanding of how to apply AI to improve their science; a diversity statement describing their contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion through their academic career; a letter of nomination from their primary (STEM) faculty mentor at UC San Diego; and two additional letters of recommendation. Applications should be submitted via the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program at UC San Diego Application Form.
  • What should my letter-writers address in their letters of recommendation?
    • The proposed primary (STEM) mentor at UC San Diego should submit a letter of nomination addressing the following:
      • The applicant's proposed research and how training in AI methods and approaches through the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program will enhance their science;
      • The extent to which the applicant will participate in departmental and campus academic activity (e.g., seminar programs);
      • The extent of applicant's anticipated participation at national/international research meetings;
      • The proposed primary mentor's involvement in mentoring for other programs designed to increase access and opportunity in higher education.
    • Additional letters of recommendation that are not the proposed primary (STEM) mentor at UC San Diego should address the following:
      • The novelty, quality and promise of the applicant's work;
      • The potential for the nominee to leverage the training they would receive as a Fellow to pioneer and accelerate the adoption of innovative applications of AI in their field;
      • If the applicant's Ph.D. is in progress, rate the likelihood of its completion by September 30, 2023.
  • I am in the field of computer science and would like to conduct core AI research in computer science - am I eligible for this program?
    • No, the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program does not support core AI research in computer science; rather, it supports fellows applying AI techniques to research in engineering, mathematical, and natural sciences.
  • Am I eligible if I do not have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency?
    • Yes.  Upon acceptance of the award, successful applicants must present documents demonstrating that they are legally authorized to work in the United States. Visa sponsorship and work authorization is possible for successful applicants through a process that would be managed by the International Faculty and Scholars Office with the support of the UC San Diego faculty mentor.
  • I have more than three years of experience as a postdoctoral scholar, but not at UC San Diego. Am I still eligible for the program?
    • The postdoctoral fellowship prioritizes those with fewer than four years of experience as a postdoctoral scholar, whether at UC San Diego or elsewhere. In rare circumstances, exceptions can be made for outstanding candidates who are in their fourth year, but candidates with more than four years of postdoctoral experience at any institution will not be considered.
  • I will finish my doctorate after September 1, 2023.  Am I still eligible to apply for the 2023 Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program?
    • You should expect to complete your doctorate on or before September 1, 2023.

Mentors and Selection Process

  • Q: How do I find a primary (STEM) faculty mentor?
    • Applicants can identify potential faculty mentors through professional contacts in their field, as well as by reviewing the literature and UC San Diego department websites for faculty working in their field.
  • How do I find an AI co-mentor?
    • The Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program at UC San Diego Selection Committee will match successful applicants to AI co-mentors during the review process.
  • What are the expectations of the faculty mentors during the fellowship?
    • Faculty mentors will be expected to play an active role in helping Fellows plan and achieve their research and professional goals, providing assessments of the novelty and research quality throughout the fellowship term. The STEM mentor will serve as the Fellow’s primary mentor and will be expected to provide intellectual leadership, guidance, and support while overseeing the Fellow’s research agenda in their home department. The AI mentor will be expected to co-advise the Fellow on their use of AI methods. Both STEM and AI co-mentors will help guide Fellows toward independent research careers, and will be expected to provide a nominal amount of time and funds to the professional development of the postdoctoral scholars. Mentors should also assist Fellows in securing opportunities to participate in national and international research meetings and in facilitating connections among scholars in their fields.
  • Who will review my application?
    • Each year, a committee of two faculty members from each unit within the STEM areas of excellence (engineering, physical sciences, biological sciences, biomedical and health sciences, and oceanography and earth sciences) and three faculty members from AI foundational areas of excellence (machine learning, Information theory and statistics, robotics, cognitive science) at UC San Diego identify the cohort of Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs and match each Fellow with an AI co-mentor.
  • What criteria are considered by the selection committee when reviewing applications?
    • Applicants are evaluated based on the promise of their research agenda, their understanding of how to apply AI to improve their science, and their potential contributions to DEI. The selection committee also takes the degree of academic diversity among each cohort into consideration. Strong reference letters, particularly by the primary faculty mentor, are a critical component of a successful application.

Fellowship Terms

  • How long is the fellowship term for? Is the award renewable?
    • The Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs Program at UC San Diego provides funding for a two-year postdoctoral term, and is not renewable.
  • What are the annual salary and benefits provided? 
    • The annual salary for Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs at UC San Diego starts at $85,000, with annual increases. The award includes comprehensive benefits including medical, dental, vision, life and AD&D insurance, short-term disability insurance, voluntary long-term disability insurance, PTO, and paid sick and parental leave benefits.
  • Will my travel and enrollment in training and education related to my research as a Schmidt AI in Science Postdoc be paid for by the program?
    • Formal AI education, certificate programs, continuing education, classes, and lectures organized by UC San Diego and the Office of Postdoctoral Scholar Affairs are paid for by the program. Support for postdocs to travel to various events and activities among the partner institutions as well as those organized by Schmidt Futures is also provided.
  • Do postdocs need to be in residence at UC San Diego during the fellowship?
    • Yes, award recipients are expected to have a presence at UC San Diego with the exception of time away for conferences and other scholarly activities.
  • What kinds of professional, career, and community-building resources will I have access to as a Schmidt AI in Science Postdoc?
    • Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs are part of a diverse community of nearly 1,500 postdoctoral scholars at UC San Diego and have access to over one hundred professional and career development, wellness, community-building, and other resources provided by the Office of Postdoctoral Scholar Affairs and campus and community partners. More information about resources and training for postdocs, including the EPIC Postdoctoral Training Program and Bootcamp, can be found on the Office of Postdoctoral Scholar Affairs website.

Other Questions