Santa Fe Institute

New leadership for new science: SFI expands its Omidyar Fellowship

Nov. 13, 2012 9:24 a.m.

SFI today announced that its highly successful Omidyar Fellows program will be expanded for 2013, with enhancements designed to sharpen the program’s focus on preparing some of the world’s most promising early-career scientists to lead tomorrow’s most critical transdisciplinary scientific programs, companies, and research.

Beginning in 2013, the SFI Omidyar Fellows program will increase each postdoctoral class size by one third; provide additional leadership development opportunities; and offer increased opportunities for scientific collaboration across multiple disciplines.

Changes to the program stem from SFI’s recognition that the most worrisome problems of our time arise from the complex financial, ecological, political, technological, and social systems we rely on. These challenges are difficult precisely because their solutions lie at the intersections between disciplines. SFI believes that today, more than ever, creative solutions that draw on insights from many fields are needed to address complex problems such as global economic instabilities or the long-term effects of human population growth.

“We don’t know who tomorrow’s scientific leaders are going to be,” said SFI President Jerry Sabloff. “We do know they are among us now in our schools and universities. Through the SFI Omidyar Fellowship, we want to identify the most promising young postdoctoral scholars working on important problems, and provide them the skills, opportunities, and freedoms to become tomorrow’s Albert Einsteins, tomorrow’s Margaret Meads, tomorrow’s Murray Gell-Manns.”

In order to provide the conditions needed for these emerging leaders to succeed, the program is making the following improvements, beginning with the class of 2013:

  • Greater number of appointments (increase each class of Fellows by 3-4 to total 11-13);
  • Greater diversity among the Fellows, which will enrich the activities of each class, and opportunities to explore intersections across disciplines; 
  • Expanded leadership training and professional development; and, 
  • Increased support for travel and scientific collaboration to strengthen the foundations of the Fellows’ future careers.

The annual financial support and dollar-for-dollar matching contributions from Pierre and Pam Omidyar will fuel the enhancements and help ensure the long-term sustainability of the program.

“These changes will create added opportunities for our Fellows to do great science here at the Santa Fe Institute,” said Sabloff. “We are delighted with the Omidyars’ vision and their commitment to this important program. With their support, we are changing the future of scientific discovery. This Fellowship is an important investment in the future of humanity.”

The Fellowship’s enhancements are designed to optimize what is already a great program, he adds. “Through the imagination and generosity of the Omidyars, this Fellowship has, in just a few years, distinguished itself as the premier postdoctoral appointment in transdisciplinary science anywhere in the world. That is a singular achievement, and it has established a new standard for postdoctoral programs. But with the program’s success comes greater opportunity and we’re ready to take it further.”

More about the Santa Fe Institute's Omidyar Fellowship

At the Santa Fe Institute, top minds from many fields gather to grapple with the complex systems of greatest consequence to science and humanity. SFI Omidyar Fellows spend up to three years in residence at the Institute where they collaborate with leading scholars, forge creative new research directions, advance the sciences of complex systems, and prepare to serve as the “new leadership for new science.”

For more information about Pierre and Pam Omidyar and their work around the world, please visit omidyargroup.com

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