Cornell joins Schmidt AI in Science research initiative after Ph.D

Cornell is one of nine universities worldwide selected to join the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a program of Schmidt Futures, to accelerate the next scientific revolution by applying artificial intelligence to research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Schmidt AI in Science Fellowships, a $148 million program, is part of Schmidt Futures’ $400 million effort to support researchers who develop and use AI in innovative ways to make the world a better place. Each university will select a cohort of up to 20 postdoctoral fellows per year for up to six years; Cornell will hire and train a cohort of up to 100 postdoctoral fellows over the next six years in the natural sciences and engineering.

Cornell co-directors of the program are Carla Gomez, the Ronald S. and Antonia V. Nielsen Professor in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computer and Information Sciences; and Fengqi You, Roxanne E., and Michael J. Zack, professor of energy systems engineering in the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, in the College of Engineering.

“This is such an exciting program and will directly complement our Radical Collaboration Initiative in AI, which includes a large number of faculty engaged in AI,” said Gomez. “Cornell is a pioneer in AI, and in particular AI for scientific discovery, but there is much more to do.”

“This program will catalyze creative and transformative applications of AI for breakthroughs in science and engineering,” Vie said, “and enable the broader Cornell research community to adopt AI in research applications across a range of science and engineering fields.”

Also on the program leadership team are Alex Flecker, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences); and Jesse Goldberg, associate professor of neurobiology and behavior (College of Arts and Sciences).

Cornell will deploy Schmidt’s postdoctoral fellows in four broad areas – materials discovery; physics; biological sciences; and sustainability sciences – using their strength in interdisciplinary research. Cornell also plans to partner with other institutions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by working with Global Cornell to advance AI’s ability to improve lives around the world.

The Schmidt AI in Science Fellowships program seeks to accelerate the incorporation of AI techniques into the natural, engineering, and mathematical sciences by providing access to AI tools and training to the sharpest minds on the front lines of scientific innovation.

Universities in the program will provide advanced AI training, funded research support and professional development opportunities – both to shape research in their own departments and to help build a global network of AI-trained scientists.

“Scientific innovation today is too often defined by new use cases of existing technologies or refinements of previous achievements, rather than creating entirely new areas of discovery,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures. “That’s why we need to accelerate the next global scientific revolution – by supporting the broad and deep incorporation of AI techniques into scientific and engineering research.”

The fellowship aims to create breakthroughs in a range of scientific fields, from creating new drugs to fight disease to helping to produce and store energy more efficiently.

“Cornell is an established leader in AI and has top scientists in disciplines as diverse as materials discovery, sustainability, and the biological and physical sciences. This program brings them together,” said Kavita Bala, Cornell Bowers CIS Dean and Lead Dean of the Cornell AI Radical Collaboration Initiative. “We are thrilled to be part of this philanthropic initiative to nurture the next global cohort of scientific leaders using AI to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

In addition to Cornell, the first Schmidt postdoctoral fellowship universities include: University of Toronto; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; National University of Singapore; University of Oxford; Imperial College London; University of California, San Diego; University of Chicago and University of Michigan.

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