Apply to our Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowships and research how to develop innovative technologies in AI in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.
Eight 2-Year Fellowships in AI in Science
What is included in our fellowship:
Our fellowship helps talented independent researchers thrive in a career using AI to advance science.
Our fellows are colocated in a cohort of 20-30 fellows based in I-X. They are thus based next to our >20 I-X faculty members who each have expertise in AI. In addition to their mentors (that they propose in their application) fellows are allocated an I-X faculty member as a 'buddy' to help them connect to our staff and to I-X.
The fellows have regular social events from weekly to coffee mornings to evening socials and including joint events with I-X faculty members.
The fellows have their own pedagogical seminar series 'AI: Cutting-edge overviews and Tutorials' and their own Senior Teaching Fellow who provides bespoke training including a pre-acceleration training pack before they start. Fellows are also given access to the wider range of courses provided by Imperial. Peer-to-peer skill exchange is a key part of the fellowship.
The fellows have their own dedicated career development consultant who works in collaboration with Imperial's unique Post-doc and Fellows development centre.
Fellows join the wider network of Schmidt Futures supported fellows and attend yearly Schmidt Futures supported AI in Science meetings.
The fellows have a wider support staff, joint with I-X, composed of a Centre Director and Manager, Operations Assistant and Communications team.
Please consult the FAQ below which includes eligibility details.
FAQ and eligibility: This is the FAQ section for the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, supported by Schmidt Futures and the Chapman-Schmidt Fellowship. If you are applying for the Imperial College Research Fellowship supported by Schmidt Futures, please consult the webpages for that fellowship here.
What roles are being advertised?
- Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, supported by Schmidt Futures (6 posts): Deadline 23.59 on 28 September 2023. These are also available as joint Fellowships with CNRS and the Institute for Cancer Research. Further details to be found at the end of the FAQ.
- The Chapman Schmidt Fellowship (2 posts): Deadline 23.59 on 28 September 2023
Can I apply for multiple roles?
Yes, you can apply for more than one of the roles.
Which role is most suitable for me?
- The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, supported by Schmidt Futures (Research Fellow Level) is for applicants who have several years post-PhD experience and experience of supervision of team members; the experience post-PhD can be in either academic research or industry.
- The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, supported by Schmidt Futures (Research Associate Level) is most suitable for those more recently out of their PhD.
- The Chapman-Schmidt Fellowship (Research Fellow level) is for applicants who have several years post-PhD experience and experience of supervision of team members; the experience post-PhD can be in either academic research or industry. This is a 2-year role where the principal mentor is in Mathematics.
- The Chapman-Schmidt Fellowship (Research Associate level) is most suitable for those more recently out of their PhD. This is a 2-year role where the principal mentor is in Mathematics.
Where will my main desk be?
Within I-X on the White City campus. We nonetheless expect that fellows will have close ties with the group(s) of their mentor(s).
What is an Imperial Mentor?
Applications must be supported by a mentor who is a permanent member of staff within the Academic and Research Family at Imperial. Mentors may be full-time or part-time members of staff. Where a candidate is proposing to work with a mentor who is employed part-time, the candidate must enlist the support of a second mentor, so that they will have access to the equivalent of full-time sponsorship support. Applicants from Imperial are required to move from their existing supervisor to a new mentor for their Schmidt Fellowship, to increase both their independence and their breadth of experience. Mentors are not obliged to accept a request for support. If they choose not to support a potential applicant, it is at the mentor’s discretion if they choose to give feedback. We encourage applicants to consider the having two mentors e.g., one with expertise in AI and a mentor with expertise in the application area.
Do you have a list of Imperial Mentors/Can you help me find an Imperial Mentor?
It is your responsibility to find an Imperial mentor to support your application. An Imperial mentor MUST be secured prior to submission. Applications that are not fully supported by an identified Imperial mentor will not be considered. Useful links below (including the Imperial AI Network and the I-X list of academics) within the College’s website can help you find a potential mentor.
Can I apply if I have not secured an Imperial Mentor?
No, an Imperial mentor must be secured prior to submission. It is not enough to have just contacted a possible Imperial mentor. The Imperial member of staff MUST have agreed to be your mentor.
If my principal mentor is in the mathematics department, what roles can I apply for?
You can apply for the 2-year Chapman-Schmidt fellowships starting in September 2024. If you want to apply for the 2-year Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowships starting in September 2024, then you need to have a principal mentor in a department which is not mathematics (you can, of course, have a second mentor from mathematics). You can also apply for the Imperial College Research Fellowship supported by Schmidt Future as the Department of Mathematics is participating in this scheme here.
Application Form and Additional Information Required
When is the deadline?
23:59 on the last day advertised.
Do I need a title for my proposed research?
Yes please. Please provide a clear title for your research project.
Besides the application form and my CV, what additional documents do I need to upload as part of my application?
Please upload an additional single file with:
- Publication Elaboration: a 1 page, or less, note outlining the contribution of up to three papers by the applicant. This should be suitable for a general/lay reader.
- Research Proposal Lay Summary: a 1 page or less, summary of the proposed research suitable for a general technical reader that is not expert in your area. The summary should include an interpretable title for the project. Particular attention will be paid to this summary. It should answer the question of why/how this application of AI will be transformative for the target area of science. The proposal should start by mentioning, the applicant’s proposed department and at least one mentor who could support the application – one mentor should be within the fellow’s proposed department, but others could be outside. It is not essential that the mentor be a very close fit to the proposed research, entirely independent research efforts are welcomed, but a collaborative mentorship is likely to make the science more credible.
- Research Proposal: a proposal (3 pages maximum) that explains why and how the proposed research could be transformative for a particular area of science. It can be structured around background, a small number of hypotheses/aims, and work packages. It can be assumed that the reader will first read the Lay Summary and so content need not be repeated.
- Training Plan: a ½ page or less plan, identifying any particular skills that need to be acquired for the proposed research to succeed. Training is a key part of the proposed fellowship, whether helping an AI expert master a scientific topic or a scientific topic expert advance their AI skills. Deep expertise in AI (or the particular Science area) is not a pre-requisite: the minimum level of AI/Science experience is that needed to credibly articulate a plan for how AI will advance Science.
- Kindness Statement: a ¼ page or less outline of your view on the need for kindness among scientists. The fellow will join a cohort of fellows in AI for Science with opportunities for outreach and LMIC engagement.
- Mobility Statement: Schmidt Futures seeks to enable national and international mobility: candidates from outside Imperial are particularly encouraged to apply. Candidates that are already in Imperial are asked to supply several sentences in their mobility statement outlining how remaining in Imperial is the best route for their personal growth. Applicants from Imperial are required to move from their existing supervisor to a new mentor for their Schmidt Fellowship, to increase both their independence and their breadth of experience (existing mentors cannot be listed as secondary mentors).
Please note that without these additional documents, you application will not be considered.
What do you mean by a lay summary?
A summary of the project suitable for a general technical reader from any scientific/engineering discipline. Specific details about what you will do should be included. The summary need not be a piece of popular science or be highly discursive in tone.
Do I need to write the proposal on my own or can it be a collaborative effort with my mentor(s)?
While we would expect you to be the principal writer and to have a key role in the development of the ideas it can be a very good thing to iteratively develop a proposal with your mentor(s). It is also equally acceptable to largely develop the proposal yourself but identify a mentor who is happy to host the proposed work in their labs.
Is the training plan a statement about what is required or a narrative of how this will be acquired?
An indication of what skills need to be acquired is the principal requirement. The Centre and mentor will aim to support identification of resources in the event of success, however, if applicants want to give details of how they will go about acquiring the required skills, then this could be advantageous. The training plan is not intended to be a statement about the skills you already have - it is about the skills you intend to acquire.
What scope is there for experimental consumables?
Each fellow is allocated 4k per annum as a baseline for travel and consumables (this is in addition to international travel to LMICs and Schmidt Futures events which are budgeted separately and will be covered by the AI in Science Centre). For additional costs beyond this there will be a negotiation between the fellow, host department and AI in Science centre: there is headroom for some fellows to have additional experimental expenses. A heavy programme of experiments with extensive expensive new equipment/reagents etc may be hard to achieve without extra funding from additional grants/ support from the host mentor: this will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. We are expecting that a significant proportion of the time of all fellows will be devoted to computational work. Candidates with an experimental programme are invited to supply an additional (optional) page justifying the experimental resources requested and including a breakdown of costs (this can increase the number of pages of the proposal).
What is the AI in Science remit again?
Here ‘AI’ is interpreted very broadly, e.g.: including topics in Bayesian Inference and Robotics; ‘Science’ covers any typical topic in Natural Science and Engineering (Epidemiology, Biology and basic science in biomedicine are included but very clinical medical themes are not covered, including conventional medical imaging). Example topics include Bayesian optimization for molecular or materials design; machine learning for single cell data; physics-based ML for turbine design; satellite imaging to predict disease risk; and Astrostatistics. These posts are not suitable for research into generic AI with general application: candidates must be aiming to substantially advance a particular area of science. Applicants could view themselves as AI researchers tackling a particular piece of Science or Science researchers using AI to transform their area. A deep knowledge of AI is not a precondition for this fellowship: only an appreciation of the need for AI and a willingness for skill acquisition in AI.
Does the fellowship cover the social sciences and humanities?
We do include epidemiology but outside this no: the grant’s principal orientation is towards the natural sciences and engineering.
What departments are participating?
The Faculties of Natural Sciences and Engineering are participating. If the principal mentor is from mathematics, then the applicant needs to apply via the Chapman-Schmidt Fellowship. The Centre for Environmental Policy is only participating via the Imperial College Research Fellowships supported by Schmidt Futures. Applicants to medicine can only be via the Imperial College Research Fellowships. The Business School is not participating. Importantly candidates can have second mentors from any
department including those in Medicine or the Business School.
Does the fellowship cover medical research?
‘Science’ covers any typical topic in Natural Science and Engineering (Epidemiology, Biology and basic science in biomedicine are included but very clinical medical themes are not covered, including conventional medical imaging): fellows are expected to have their principal mentor in the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Faculty of Engineering, but Medicine participates via the ICRF scheme. We are pleased to support medical research that attempts to characterise a biological system/process including a pathophysiological process/state. Our centre does not seek to support translational medical research or the development of therapeutic technologies. A proposal can certainly connect to therapy and technology, but this should not be the principal objective of the fellowship.
I am a scientist/engineer with an introductory grasp of AI, but an idea of how it might make a difference to my field, can I apply?
Yes! Deep knowledge of AI is not a precondition for applying -- the fellowship can help you pivot into acquiring AI skills to advance your disciplinary area. You might want to pick your mentors and design your training program accordingly.
I am an AI researcher, with an introductory grasp of an area of science, but an idea of how AI might make a difference to that area, can I apply?
Yes! Deep knowledge of the Scientific area is not a precondition for applying -- the fellowship can help you pivot into acquiring deeper subject area expertise. You might want to pick your mentors and design your training program accordingly.
I am an AI researcher and I look at a number of application areas, can I apply?
Yes! Critically you should view this fellowship as an opportunity to pick one application area and pivot into gaining a much deeper mastery of it -- you cannot cover multiple application areas in different fields within the fellowship. You might want to pick your mentors and design your training program accordingly.
I already do AI for new Science, can I apply?
Yes! You would need to cover how the AI you do is somewhat distinctive and not very widespread in the field.
In my area, we use particular AI tools as a matter of conventional scientific practice: is my work within remit if I use those routine tools?
In some scientific subfields there are now very well-established AI tools, and the use of these particular AI tools could be considered ‘completely routine,’ ‘standard practice appearing in almost all papers within the scientific subfield’ or extremely widely used’: these fellowships are broadly intended to unlock new areas of science through AI. While we appreciate that this is a grey area, we ask candidates to clarify if they are proposing a different set of AI tools to those that are very well established (or developing new AI tools) with the goal of unlocking new science; or taking some kind of distinctive approach; or that their approach is not very standard practice. A particular use of AI that is standard practice in one subfield might be rare in another (perhaps close) subfield: for any given AI approach our fellowship favours the application of an AI approach to a subfield in which it is more rarely used.
The Centre makes a distinction between AI and Science -- can this boundary be clarified?
This fellowship is not about supporting researchers that already do generic AI to continue doing more of their work without strong engagement with specific disciplinary concerns outside their current area in generic AI. AI includes topics like inference, robotics, control, signal processing, AI hardware etc. Science is as above and explicitly excludes topics within ‘AI’ as defined. A project is not AI in Science if e.g., it uses new ideas from signal processing to develop robotics or new Machine Learning to improve robotic control or Bayesian Optimization to Improve AI Hardware -- these would be ‘AI in AI’ projects. Research projects that e.g., seek to develop better AI by studying the brain are outside remit (Science for AI).
What parts of mathematics count as AI and what parts count as science?
An answer through examples is easier. A researcher in algebraic geometry might want to use the fellowship to pivot into acquiring AI skills to allow development of theorem proving assistants in algebraic geometry. Or a fellow might use large libraries of solutions to equations and develop AI tools to make sense of them. In both cases insight into specific mathematical structures is gained by using AI and thus is within remit. A possible heuristic is to ask -- “am I trying to use AI to (ultimately) make a mathematical discovery”? A researcher with a focus on PDEs might use the fellowship to use AI (e.g., physics-based ML) for a specific scientific or engineering challenge (nominal engagement with a specific area is insufficient). Many areas like Astrostatistics, Biomathematics, Climate Mathematics or Engineering Mathematics often already straddle both AI and Science and so will often be straightforwardly within remit (providing that AI is used to advance some particular area of science). Statistics with generic application areas is not in remit; method development with generic application areas is not in remit.
Joint Fellowships (CNRS and ICR)
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
If you can secure a CNRS mentor (as well as an Imperial mentor) then you can apply as a CNRS candidate for the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, supported by Schmidt Futures. The application process is the same except CNRS applicants must indicate via a tick box that they are joint with CNRS and include a letter of support from their CNRS mentor. The mentor letter of support MUST state that:
- They are happy to host the applicant for short-term stays during their fellowship.
- The applicant will be able to use CNRS lab facilities during their stay.
- The added value for the project in having such a double affiliation (Imperial and CNRS).
All joint CNRS fellows will be contracted to Imperial wholly for the two years but may spend some of their time at their CNRS lab. CNRS may make available funding for additional years spent in their CNRS lab beyond the initial 2 years. All CNRS queries should be directed to Louis Avigdor email@example.com and/or Carl Ialamov firstname.lastname@example.org.
Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
If you can secure an ICR mentor (as well as an Imperial mentor) then you can apply as an ICR candidate for the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, supported by Schmidt Futures. The application process is exactly the same except that applicants must indicate via a tick box that they are joint with ICR and must have a named ICR mentor. All joint ICR fellows will be contracted to Imperial wholly for the two years but are expected to spend some of their time at ICR.