May 03, 2023
The Schmidt Science Fellows program, which provides a $100,000 stipend per year to postdoctoral scholars to solve the world's most pressing issues, has named Asim Gazi as Georgia Tech's first Fellow. The Schmidt Science Fellows program seeks to identify the brightest minds in the natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computing, who are planning to conduct research in a field outside of their Ph.D. area.
“The amount of support you are provided as a Schmidt Science Fellow is unheard of,” said Gazi, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Not only are you supported for two years to pursue postdoctoral research anywhere in the world, but you are also paired with an Academic Council member who draws on their wealth of experience to provide you with scientific and career mentorship. On top of that, you partake in the program’s Global Meeting Series, where you are hosted by leading institutions around the world and provided unique training and networking opportunities. As an aspiring professor, this Fellowship is a game changer.”
Over 360 highly accomplished candidates were nominated from over 90 of the world’s leading research universities and institutes, and 32 were ultimately selected for the 2023 cohort. When Gazi received the email stating that he had been selected, he was in disbelief.
"I probably closed and re-opened, read and re-read, and simply stared at that email for longer than I should admit,” said Gazi. “With how selective the program is and how impressive previous Fellows have been, I had convinced myself that there was no way I would be one of the few selected. Finding out I was–it felt like a dream. Once the news finally set in, I was overwhelmed with gratitude."
To be eligible for the Fellowship, candidates must complete all requirements for the conferral of their Ph.D. within a specified date range. Gazi, who is advised by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors Omer Inan and Christopher Rozell, is set to complete his Ph.D. from Tech in July.
“Asim truly embodies the essence of what the Schmidt Science Fellows program intends to reward,” said Inan. “He is an emerging scientific leader in the community whose research already crosses many disciplinary boundaries. I am confident he will emerge over the coming years as an outstanding independent researcher who will be at the forefront of exciting discoveries spanning neuroengineering, controls, machining learning, and psychiatry.”
Gazi will work with an Academic Council mentor to guide his postdoctoral research direction.
“I plan to start my postdoctoral position in October, so I am still in the process of nailing down the specifics,” said Gazi. “Having two years of external support opens doors that may not have been open otherwise, so I want to make sure I weigh my options carefully and make the most of this opportunity.”
He is considering research directions motivated by his long-term vision.
“During my undergraduate years, two of my closest relatives were both admitted to psychiatric facilities due to struggles with mental illness,” said Gazi. “What hurt me most at the time was my inability to recognize their anguish and do anything to support them. I have since devoted myself to exploring how technology can be used to monitor and care for mental health during everyday life. My ultimate goal is to address the critical gap in care that exists before individuals seek help or after patients leave the clinic.”
Fellows are placed in a full-time, 12–24-month postdoctoral Fellowship in a laboratory anywhere in the world where they conduct research in an area different from their Ph.D. This pivot in discipline is central to the program’s aim to foster greater interdisciplinarity.
“During my Ph.D., I designed algorithms to help wearables sense and react to acute stress in daily life, particularly the severe episodes faced by patients with trauma and anxiety disorders,” said Gazi. “As a Schmidt Science Fellow, I am interested in continuing my research journey on technologies for mental health but pivoting to a new area to broaden my horizons and explore this interdisciplinary field from a new perspective.”
The program works with leading research universities across all regions of the globe to help select emerging scientific leaders to nominate for the Fellowship.
“Joining a tight-knit group of accomplished researchers that all have a passion for impacting society is a recipe for fruitful collaboration,” said Gazi. “The stories of previous fellows’ joint research endeavors and impactful outreach work are inspiring. I am looking forward to continuing their legacy with the help of my fellow Schmidt Science Fellows.”
To learn more about the Schmidt Science Fellows, please visit their website at https://schmidtsciencefellows.org/.
The Schmidt Science Fellowship program is an initiative of Schmidt Futures, delivered in partnership with the Rhodes Trust.