Four researchers with MIT ties earn 2023 Schmidt Science Fellowships

Tiến sĩ Sương Nguyễn

Four researchers with ties to MIT have been named Schmidt Science Fellows this year. Lillian Chin ’17, SM ’19; Neil Dalvie PD ’22, PhD ’22; Suong Nguyen, and Yirui Zhang SM ’19, PhD ’23 are among the 32 exceptional early-career scientists worldwide chosen to receive the prestigious fellowships.

“History provides powerful examples of what happens when scientists are given the freedom to ask big questions which can achieve real breakthroughs across disciplines,” says Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and president of the Schmidt Family Foundation. “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.”

Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that brings talented people together in networks to prove out their ideas and solve hard problems in science and society. Schmidt Science Fellows receive a stipend of $100,000 a year for up to two years of postdoctoral research in a discipline different from their PhD at a world-leading lab anywhere across the globe.

Suong (Su) Nguyen,
a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Jeremiah Johnson’s lab in the Department of Chemistry, earned her PhD from Princeton University, where she developed light-driven, catalytic methodologies for organic synthesis, biomass valorization, plastic waste recycling, and functionalization of quantum sensing materials.

As a Schmidt Science fellow, Nguyen will pivot from organic chemistry to nanomaterials. Biological systems are able to synthesize macromolecules with precise structure essential for their biological function. Scientists have long dreamed of achieving similar control over synthetic materials, but existing methods are inefficient and limited in scope. Nguyen hopes to develop new strategies to achieve such high level of control over the structure and properties of nanomaterials and explore their potential for use in therapeutic applications.

“I feel extremely honored and grateful to receive the Schmidt Science Fellowship,” says Nguyen. “The fellowship will provide me with a unique opportunity to engage with scientists from a very wide range of research backgrounds. I believe this will significantly shape the research objectives for my future career.”

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