Four researchers with MIT ties win Schmidt Science Fellowships | MIT News

Four researchers with ties to MIT—Juncal Arbelaiz, Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao, Sandya Subramanian, and Heather Zlotnick ’17—have been honored with competitive Schmidt Science Fellowships.

Established in 2017, the fellowship program aims to bring together the world’s brightest minds “to solve society’s toughest challenges”.

The four MIT-affiliated researchers are among 29 Schmidt Science Fellows from around the world who will receive postdoctoral support for one or two years with an annual stipend of $100,000, as well as one-on-one mentorship and participation in the Global Meeting Series. from the program. Fellows will also have the opportunity to engage with thought leaders from science, business, politics, and society. According to the award announcement, fellows are expected to pursue research outside the focus of their PhD, to help expand and enhance their future as scientific leaders.

Juncal Arbelaiz is a PhD student in applied mathematics at MIT, completing her PhD this summer. His doctoral research at MIT is advised by Ali Jadbabaie, JR East Professor of Engineering and Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Anette Hosoi, Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Dean of the School of Engineering; and Bassam Bamieh, professor of mechanical engineering and associate director of the Center for Control, Dynamical Systems, and Computation at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Arbelaiz’s research focuses on designing optimal decentralized intelligence for spatially distributed dynamic systems.

“I can’t think of a better way to start my independent scientific career. I feel very excited and grateful for this opportunity,” says Arbelaiz. With her fellowship, she will use systems biology to explore how the nervous system encodes and processes sensory information to address future safety-critical artificial intelligence applications. “The Schmidt Science Fellowship will provide me with a unique opportunity to work at the intersection of biological intelligence and artificial intelligence for two years and will be a stepping stone towards my longer-term goal of becoming a bio-inspired artificial intelligence researcher. “, she says. .

Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of T. Alan Hatton, Ralph Landau Professor of Chemical Engineering and Impact Fellow at the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium. Cao received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 2021, during which he focused on microscopic precision in the simultaneous delivery of light and fluids by optofluidics, with advances relevant to healthcare applications and of durability. As a Schmidt Science Fellow, he plans to be co-advised by Hatton on carbon capture, and Ted Sargent, professor of chemistry at Northwestern University, on carbon utilization. Cao is passionate about integrated carbon capture and utilization (CCU) from molecular to process level, machine learning to inspire smart CCUs, and bridging technology, business and policy for CCUs.

“The Schmidt Science Fellowship provides me with the perfect opportunity to work across disciplines to study integrated carbon capture and utilization from the molecular to the process level,” Cao says. “My vision is that by integrating carbon capture and use, we can simultaneously make scientific discoveries and unlock economic opportunity while mitigating global climate change. In this way, we can turn our carbon liability into an asset.

Sandya Subramanian, A 2021 PhD graduate from the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technologies (HST) in the field of medical engineering and medical physics, he is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford Data Science. She focuses on the topics of biomedical engineering, statistics, machine learning, neuroscience, and healthcare. His research focuses on the development of new technologies and methods to study the interactions between the brain, the autonomic nervous system and the gut. “I am extremely honored to receive the Schmidt Science Fellowship and to join the Schmidt community of leaders and scholars,” said Subramanian. “I’ve heard so much about fellowship and how it can open doors and give people the confidence to pursue challenging or unique journeys.”

According to Subramanian, the autonomic nervous system and its interactions with other body systems are poorly understood, but are thought to be involved in several disorders, such as functional gastrointestinal disorders, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, migraines and eating disorders. The goal of his research is to improve our ability to monitor and quantify these physiological processes. “I’m really interested in understanding how we can use physiological monitoring technologies to inform clinical decision-making, particularly around the autonomic nervous system, and I look forward to continuing the work I recently started at Stanford in as a Schmidt Science Fellow,” she says. “A big thank you to all the mentors, colleagues, friends and leaders I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with HST and MIT; I couldn’t have done this without everything I learned there.

Hannah Zlotnick ’17 attended MIT for his undergraduate studies, majoring in biological engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering. At MIT, Zlotnick was a student-athlete on the women’s varsity football team, a UROP student in Alan Grodzinsky’s lab, and a member of Pi Beta Phi. For his doctorate, Zlotnick attended the University of Pennsylvania and worked in Robert Mauck’s lab in the departments of bioengineering and orthopedic surgery.

Zlotnick’s doctoral research has focused on harnessing remote forces, such as magnetism or gravity, to enhance engineered cartilage and osteochondral repair both in vitro and in large animal models. Zlotnick now plans to turn to the field of biofabrication to create tissue models of the knee joint to evaluate potential treatments for osteoarthritis. “I am honored to be part of the Schmidt Science Fellows community and excited to venture into the field of biofabrication,” said Zlotnick. “Hopefully this work uncovers new therapies for patients with inflammatory joint disease.”

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