This year, there are fifteen fellows recruited through the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship program. One of the fellows is Dr. Samvida Venkatesh, who has completed their DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics and is a Rhodes Scholar. They will be joining the department in time for the 2024/2025 academic year.

The Fellowship

The Fellowship is a programme of the Schmidt Sciences which aims to accelerate the next scientific revolution by supporting talented postdoctoral researchers to apply AI techniques across the natural sciences, engineering and mathematical sciences. This initiative adds to Schmidt Sciences’ existing philanthropic efforts to support the development and application of AI in innovative ways.

The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship will seek to change how science is done by accelerating the incorporation of AI techniques into the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematical science (STEM), providing access to AI tools and training to the sharpest minds on the frontlines of scientific innovation. The Fellowship adds to Schmidt Futures’ efforts of more than $400M and counting to support talent that is developing and using AI in innovative ways to make the world better.

Schmidt Future

Non-Coding Genomes

For their project, Dr. Venkatesh will be taking a ‘Multi-pronged approach to systematically identify and validate the transcriptional effects of non-coding genetic variation’.

Up to 85% of genetic variants associated with human traits are in the ‘non-coding’ genome and alter gene expression levels rather than protein structure. It is challenging to decipher the precise effect of these variants. This project will benchmark statistical and machine learning models for linking ‘non-coding’ genetic variants to changes in gene expression and transcription. Using a combined model may reduce experimental costs, and improve the ability of models to capture long-range genome interactions.

With the Fellowship, Dr. Venkatesh will receive training in AI to support their research into genomes and their use of statistical and machine learning models. Through receiving this support, the project shows to be an innovate approach to the application of AI in the mathematics and medical sciences.

I'm very grateful to Schmidt Futures for their support in broadening my skillset as I develop my academic career. I think that AI holds incredible promise for improving our understanding of fundamental biological processes, and I'm excited to work on this project to understand the effects of non-coding genetic variation in human cells. I especially look forward to receiving thorough training in the responsible use of AI, and to working with my fabulous mentors Chris (Holmes) and Jim (Hughes).

Dr. Samvida Venkatesh

Due to the cross-disciplinary nature of the programme, there is the ability to combine parts of the AI landscape in novel ways through the wide variety of research projects supported by the programme. With the talented postdoctoral researchers, AI techniques will be applied across the mathematical sciences, engineering, and the natural sciences. This covers the full breadth of the MPLS Division and it's research.

Other Opportunities

In addition to the training and research support, the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellows have the opportunity of becoming Associate Research Fellows at the University’s newest College: Reuben College.

Reuben College was founded in 2019 as the 39th college of the University of Oxford to help meet the university’s need to meet the demand for graduate students: the engines behind the research success of Oxford. The college aspires to create a community of scholars embracing opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and developing initiatives to generate wider impacts and positive benefits from research, entrepreneurship, and public engagement.

Congratulations to Dr. Samvida and the other Fellows for receiving the fellowship!

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Photo Credits

Original image of Dr. Samvida: Henry Nott (Magdalen College School Oxford)