Imperial’s Sahil Loomba plans to take advantage of the interdisciplinary focus of his Schmidt Science Fellowship to expand his public health research.
The prestigious Schmidt Science Fellows postdoctoral program, launched in 2017, aims to break down silos among scientific fields. It will provide early career scientists with $100,000 a year for up to two years, support to develop research projects, and the leadership skills necessary to harness interdisciplinary science to tackle some of the world’s most intractable problems.
As a researcher with an affinity for interdisciplinary work, I appreciate the academic freedom that this fellowship offers to explore a new field. Sahil Loomba
Sahil Loomba, currently an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow in the Department of Mathematics at Imperial, is one of 32 new Fellows worldwide. He has been studying the structural properties of large-scale social networks, by developing mathematical and statistical methods to investigate whether more connected individuals encourage better societal outcomes.
This has led, for example, to him contributing to the Vaccine Confidence Project during his PhD, looking into misinformation and its impact on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loomba’s work involves research at the crossroads of network science, sociology and public health. As a Fellow, he will pivot from statistical network modelling to causal inference – determining the independent effect of a particular component of a larger system.
He plans to measure the effects of large-scale public health campaigns on independently observed outcomes, such as vaccine uptake.
Loomba said: “I am honoured to be a 2023 Schmidt Science Fellow, and excited to join a diverse, supportive, and passionate scientific community. As a researcher with an affinity for interdisciplinary work, I appreciate the academic freedom that this fellowship offers to explore a new field.
“I plan to focus on large-scale networks and improving public health outcomes. I am confident that the knowledge, skills, and collaborations I gain through this fellowship will allow me to contribute to solving challenging problems in science and society.”
Achieving real breakthroughs
The Schmidt Science Fellows program is supported by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative co-founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, in partnership with Rhodes Trust, that aims to equip the next generation of scientists and engineers to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries.
The new cohort was selected based on their scientific achievements, talent, leadership characteristics, and commitment to harnessing interdisciplinary science, as well as their potential to address global challenges.
Commenting on the new Fellows, Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and president of The Schmidt Family Foundation, said: “History provides powerful examples of what happens when scientists are given the freedom to ask big questions which can achieve real breakthroughs across disciplines.
“Schmidt Science Fellows are tackling climate destruction, discovering new drugs against disease, developing novel materials, using machine learning to understand the drivers of human health, and much more. This new cohort will add to this legacy in applying scientific discovery to improve human health and opportunity, and preserve and restore essential planetary systems.”
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