New Science 2022 Summer Fellowship
New Science is a 501c3 nonprofit with the goal of facilitating scientific breakthroughs by building the 21st century institutions of basic science and empowering the next generation of scientists. We are philanthropically funded and, to date, we have raised more than $1.5m from the Survival and Flourishing Fund (funded by Jaan Tallinn, who co-founded Skype), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and other donors. We are advised by Tessa Alexanian, George Church, Tyler Cowen, Andrew Gelman, Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy, Konrad Kording, Tony Kulesa, Raymond Tonsing, and Elizabeth Yin.
In the summer of 2022, in Boston, New Science will launch a summer research program for which we will select a group of up to ten extraordinary young scientists who have the drive and the vision to pursue a high-risk independent research idea in the area of the life sciences.
In contrast to traditional programs where you are either given freedom to work on your project and are left to your own devices or are attached to a more experienced scientist and their project to work on, New Science 2022 Summer fellowship will give its fellows both:
- Complete intellectual freedom to pursue and to direct a project of their own creation.
- As much on-the-ground support and mentorship from New Science as possible.
Specifically, New Science will provide you with:
- Help to refine and concretize your ideas, in order to attack them as directly and as productively as possible over the summer.
- Lab space in Boston and all of the equipment you need.
- In-lab support from our staff with wet lab experiments, computational, and theoretical work.
- Access to our network of more experienced scientists who will mentor you and advise you but not tell you what to do or what to think.
- Several other brilliant young scientists, likely to become your close friends and potential future collaborators over the summer.
- $5,000/month in project costs.
- $25,000 in computational credits over the summer (if you need them; no cryptocurrency mining 🙂).
- $6,000/month stipend (plus additional $2,000/month in child support per child).
- Research workshops and opt-in social and educational events (hikes, invited talks, happy hours, technique demos, etc.).
The fellowship is focused on independent researchers doing independent work. You will be driving your project and growth day to day. We expect that, by default, the fellow will determine every degree of freedom in the project idea and execution, but encourage reaching out to fellows and mentors as much as necessary.
Although anyone can apply, we expect that the program is best suited for experienced undergraduates, graduate students, lab techs, or people outside of the standard academic path with similar level of scientific maturity.
Fellows should expect to generate and publish Go/No-go proof of concept results within the 3 months.
New Science is a nonprofit focusing on basic science, not a VC firm. We are not interested in the generation of IP per se. We are interested in basic science ideas either too early to be funded commercially or without any concrete commercial application in sight.
For New Science, the summer fellowship is the first step towards our long-term vision of facilitating breakthroughs in basic science by empowering scientists and to the bigger vision of spurring a new era of institutional renewal in the area of basic science, creating the institutions of science suited to serve scientists and humanity in the 21st century.
What are the kinds of ideas we are looking for?
We are looking for wet lab, computational, and/or theoretical projects.
We are especially excited about the intersections of chemistry and biology, physics and biology, statistics and biology, and mathematics and biology.
And more generally about ideas that are too risky or too weird for academia and the NIH.
Examples of project types could include using conventional systems cleverly to answer novel questions, or using novel systems to get new information about age-old questions. We expect projects of the general form ‘half theory and half experiment (toy models)’ will be among the best suited for this program.
We are looking for projects that will yield information and consistently have doable steps week-to-week and can make progress / conclusions for the field on the scale of months.
Something that is beyond the scope of any one lab is totally welcome and we will help you seek out additional mentors. We are just going to screen based on the feasibility and logic of the project (and you can help us understand these if we are lacking background).
Resources and mentorship
If you’re going to be working on a wet lab project, we’ll get you a dedicated bench with access to all basic lab equipment. For access to specialized equipment and setups, we’ll leverage our broad network of scientists in Boston.
For general mentorship and support (both in-person and remote), you’ll be able to tap into our unique network that includes professors and postdocs at top universities, brilliant scientists working in biotech, our technical staff, independent scientists, and technical experts.
To name just a few of our mentors:
- Sam Rodriques (Assistant Professor, Crick Institute) - Sam has invented a new nanofabrication method, a new approach to sensing neural activity with probes in the bloodstream, and new ways to extract spatial and temporal information from RNA sequencing. He founded the Applied Biotechnology Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in January 2021 with the goal of combining bioengineering and entrepreneurship to develop and deploy new biotechnologies that address major unmet needs for biology and medicine. His lab is developing a broad range of technologies, including new AAV viral vectors, new diagnostic technologies for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and new ways to map connections between neurons in the brain. He also invents new mechanisms for funding research, such as focused research organizations.
- Ulkar Aghayeva (Postdoc, Columbia University) - Ulkar studies adaptive control and conditioning of the pancreatic endocrine function in mice, and is interested in developmental biology, particularly transcriptional regulation of neuronal development, phenotypic plasticity (polyphenisms) in invertebrates, interdependence of perception and action in phylogeny and ontogeny, and human time perception.
- T. Ben Thompson (independent) - Ben studied planetary science at MIT and Harvard and is interested in software development, computational math, high performance computing, machine learning, integral equations, and earthquake science.
- Lena Simine (Assistant Professor, McGill University) - Lena is broadly interested in developing computational techniques to study disordered molecular systems on a computer. Lena is particularly interested in simulating disordered biological molecules such as some proteins, short sequences of DNA (DNA aptamers), etc. The goal is to predict their properties: 3D structure, ligand binding, dynamics. Applications include but are not limited to drug and biosensor design.
- Erik Hoel (Adjunct Professor, Tufts University) - Erik’s research interests are threefold. First, he investigates fundamental theories of consciousness (like Integrated Information Theory) and their problems and potential. Second, he develops formal mathematical theories of emergence based on causal analysis, which he seeks to apply in the brain and other biological systems using computational toolkits. Third, he works on the Overfitted Brain Hypothesis, which posits that dreams may be a form of data augmentation to assist with learning; a goal of his is to test this hypothesis empirically.
- Pablo Cordero (Data Scientist, Stripe) - Pablo was a computational biologist at Hexagon Bio, where he mined the world’s fungalome for drugs. Before that, he had been a postdoc at UCSC’s systems biology group doing applied machine learning research on single-cell measurements and he did his doctoral work in RNA structure, the genomics of cardiovascular disease, and other things with Rhiju Das and Euan Ashley at Stanford University.
- Ryan Flynn (Assistant Professor, Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital) - Ryan has a long-standing interest in the molecular basis of human disease, with a major focus on developing and implementing tools to understand RNA biology. Specifically, he explores features of nuclear, cytosolic, and most recently cell surface RNA biology through RNA modifications, RNA secondary structure, RNA-protein interactions studies. These efforts have uncovered biological features in cancer, infectious disease, and stem cell biology. More recently, he expanded the scope of RNA biology, leading to the surprising discovery that small noncoding RNAs are modified with complex N-glycans.
- Eduardo Beltrame (Scientist, Retro Bio) - Eduardo’s main research interest is on the topic of single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). During his PhD, he worked on both experimental and computational method development for scRNA-seq, working with machine learning models for scRNA-seq data. He’s also interested in 3D printing, society, and international politics.
- Sasha Targ (Head of Research, New Science) - Sasha’s previous work includes methods development for multiplexed single cell RNA expression studies and intracellular interaction dynamics in the immune system. She is interested in extending these approaches to understand how responses to physiological cues are integrated into useful (or detrimental) patterns within populations of cells more generally.
- Ethan Garner (Associate Professor, Harvard University) - Ethan’s lab uses advanced microscopy and since molecule imaging to dissect the mechanisms behind bacterial growth, cell division, and inter-bacteria communication
- Manjari Narayan (Postdoc, Stanford University) - Manjari’s research involves developing statistical methods for interventional neuroimaging experiments where researchers simultaneously perturb neural activity using TMS while collecting measurements via fMRI or EEG. Previously, her research interest included applying tools from statistical decision and estimation theory to analyze algorithms for image processing and restoration.
- Gavin Taylor (IGDORE) - Gavin’s research has focused on using computational methods to derive insights into biological systems and took him from collecting insects in tropical rainforests to imaging them in synchrotrons. He has recently redirected his research towards exploring novel technical countermeasures against viral pandemics.
Our mentors and staff will be able to help with:
- Critical thinking / intellectual components / framing of the project.
- Specialized knowledge of topic relevant to your project.
- Technical expertise (practical know-how of the most appropriate methods).
- Low-latency sounding board for your latest results and troubleshooting.
Although we don’t believe there’s anything wrong with getting grants and publishing papers in top journals per se (and many of our mentors are extremely good at doing these), this is not what New Science will optimize for.
The fellowship will run for 12 weeks from May 30 2022 until August 22 2022.
2-3 months before the fellowship commences, we will be in touch with you, encouraging you to start making concrete plans about your first steps during the fellowship (thus ensuring that all the resources and equipment you’ll need for your project are in place on day 1). If there are experiments that can be outsourced before the program even begins, we will encourage you to consider outsourcing them.
The program itself will consist of fellows living in Boston for the duration of the fellowship and working on their projects in the lab space and in the office space we provide. We will have no more than 2h/week of mandatory programming but we’ll have regular (opt-in) dinners, hikes, guest lectures, happy hours, etc.
We plan to host three short workshops:
- March. A remote workshop to brainstorm and to discuss ideas, as well as to meet other fellows.
- Late May. An in-person workshop to prepare people for the start of the fellowship.
- Late August. An in-person workshop to think seriously about future directions and collaborations while finishing writing up results and interpretations, culminating in our Demo Day.
In the last days of August, we are going to host a Demo Day for the fellows to talk about the work that they’ve done over the summer, their successes and failures, and future plans, etc. to an audience of scientists, industry professionals, funding agencies, and policy-makers.
What’s after the fellowship?
You’ll spend the summer working on the proof of concept of your idea. If your project shows promise, we plan to continue supporting you by either directly funding your research at New Science (for example, via our 2022 one-year fellowship), helping you to find a lab where you’ll be able to continue your research (for example, if your summer fellowship mentor would like to continue working with you on your project), or by connecting you to a biotech with an aligned research vision.
The application deadline was on 23:59 Pacific Time (UTC-8) January 19, 2022. If you are interested in submitting a late application, please email us and we’ll let you know when we are going to be able to evaluate it.
For applications submitted before the deadline, we will send acceptance letters no later than February 19, 2022 and we’ll ask you to confirm your participation by March 1, 2022.
We will be interviewing applicants on a rolling basis. We expect that the application process will consist of 1-2 interviews for applications that passed the first round.
We hope to be able to host people outside of the US but unfortunately we cannot guarantee that we are going to be able to sponsor the required visas at the moment.
If you personally refer someone who ends up becoming a fellow, we’ll fly you out to Boston for the Demo Day in late August.
Submit your application
Since this is our inaugural program, we expect many of the potential fellows to have an outline of something they’d be interested in applying with but unsure whether their project would be a good fit for the fellowship thematically or whether it’s at the right research stage and we expect that they will find early feedback from us very helpful.
Therefore, if you are considering applying, we encourage you to send us a 100-200 word outline of your idea (and we’ll get back to you quickly about whether it could be a good fit).
The application consists of a 3-page proposal (as a pdf). Your proposal can include text and figures.
Suggested sections for the proposal are as follows:
- What question/problem are you solving?
- Project description (we expect this to constitute the biggest part of the proposal)
- Potential bottlenecks and pitfalls
- Brief itemization of needed resources
- Preliminary progress / validation on this project (optional; we are very interested in extremely early proposals with little to no preliminary data)
- Proposed timeline
The project description component should make it clear what the first step in your project is, what you expect to be able to discover (positive or negative) or accomplish over the summer, and anticipated future directions. Your proposal should identify resources (e.g. specific antibodies, cell lines, machines) that will be needed in order for us to ensure access to all required equipment and materials.
We are providing an optional round of feedback on the 3-page proposal draft to all interested applicants. You can send your draft to us via email before submitting the application itself.
For inquiries about:
- Joining the summer fellowship as a mentor.
- Joining someone’s project as a technical fellow for a portion of the fellowship (for example, if you have background in physics/cs/other technical area and want to get into bio).
- Collaborating with New Science (lab space, equipment, other resources, etc.).