Eric Libby (left) and Ben Althouse (right), two of SFI's incoming Omidyar Fellows, by InSightFoto

This fall, the Institute welcomes four new postdoctoral researchers to SFI’s Omidyar Fellowship program. 

A gift from eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar in 2008 established the Omidyar Fellowship, which brings to SFI early-career scholars from the social, physical, and natural sciences. Omidyar Fellows spend up to three years at SFI as postdoctoral fellows, delving into the major questions facing science and society in a transdisciplinary, collaborative environment.

For more information about SFI's Omidyar Fellowship and to meet the fellows, visit here.

The 2014 Omidyar Fellows:

Ben Althouse brings a computational background to the study of infectious disease epidemiology. Because infections do not spread uniformly through populations, Althouse’s research simulates those aspects of the disease transmission process that give rise to a pathogen’s heterogeneous transmission patterns. He hopes his work might help explain similar phenomena in other fields, and he looks forward to exploring these applications from within SFI’s interdisciplinary community. He holds degrees in biochemistry, mathematics, and biostatistics and has recently completed his PhD in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University.

Ruben Andrist is exploring the future landscape of quantum computing. As a researcher and a programmer, he investigates the stability of various quantum codes by determining how well they could retain information in the presence of external noise. Andrist’s current research draws from the distinct fields of quantum information theory and statistical mechanics, and he expects to develop a wealth of new applications in collaboration with SFI researchers from other disciplines. He holds a PhD in computational physics, statistical mechanics, and quantum information processing from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich).

Eric Libby is exploring a critical and not-well-understood phase in evolution – the transition from single-celled to multicellular life. As a quantitative biologist, he models the environments and pathways that could lead single-celled organisms to emerge as multi-celled individuals. He works in close partnership with experimental evolution researchers, and he looks forward to exploring topics such as self-organization at SFI. He is completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study. His PhD is in mathematical biology from McGill University.

Sam Scarpino tracks infectious disease epidemics. The epidemiology of pathogens is directly affected by the complex, dynamic landscape of human and animal populations. Sam believes epidemic models must integrate quantitative techniques from fields such as economics, genetics, ecology, and statistics. The interdisciplinary nature of his work makes SFI an ideal place to advance his research, he says. Sam recently earned his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, where he worked with public health officials to improve influenza surveillance.

The four new SFI Omidyar Fellows join current Omidyar Fellows Evandro Ferrada and Paul Hooper.

Departing fellows

Seven SFI postdoctoral fellows and Omidyar Fellows have recently left the Institute for positions in academia.

SFI Omidyar Fellow Rogier Braakman has joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a postdoctoral fellow.

SFI Omidyar Fellow Laura Fortunato has joined the University of Oxford, as University Lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, and as Tutorial Fellow at Magdalen College.

SFI Omidyar Fellow Anne Kandler has joined the School of Mathematical Sciences at City University London as an assistant professor.

SFI Omidyar Fellow James O’Dwyer has joined the Department of Plant Biology in the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois as an assistant professor.

SFI Omidyar Fellow Scott Ortman has joined the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder as an assistant professor.

SFI Omidyar Fellow Charles Perreault has joined the Department of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-Columbia as an assistant professor.

SFI Omidyar Fellow Jeremy Van Cleve has joined the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center as a postdoctoral fellow.

SFI Postdoctoral Fellow HyeJin Youn has joined the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, as a senior research fellow.

Meet SFI's Omidyar Fellows, learn about or apply for the Fellowship, or support the Omidyar Challenge here.