Ben Winer *19 named Schmidt Science Fellow

Written by
Office of Communications, Princeton University
April 10, 2020

Photo courtesy of Schmidt Futures

Winer’s Ph.D. research in molecular biology involved developing advanced human liver tissue culture models and humanized mouse models to study how the Hepatitis B virus establishes chronic infections. He was the first student to complete a Ph.D. in the lab of Associate Professor of Molecular Biology Alexander Ploss. As a Schmidt Science Fellow, Winer plans to take a systems biology approach to explore how migratory immune cells navigate the body. By understanding at a molecular level how individual cells interpret external chemical cues for proper guidance, he hopes to advance knowledge in immunology, infectious disease and cancer biology.

The other Schmidt Science Fellows from Princeton are William (“Chuck”) Witt and Evan Zhao. They completed their doctoral degrees in 2019. With three fellows this year, Princeton is the institution with the highest number of recipients in one year since the founding of the program three years ago.

Schmidt Science Fellows are supported to pursue a postdoctoral research placement at a world-leading laboratory anywhere in the world. This placement must be in research at a significantly different discipline from the fellow’s Ph.D., with the aim of exposing them to ideas and skills that will help them examine scientific problems and approaches from different perspectives and to accelerate discoveries. Each fellow receives a $100,000 stipend and is paired with an internationally accomplished and experienced senior scientist as a mentor.

“As the need for rapid and innovative scientific discovery and response grows more urgent during this global pandemic, we are convinced now, more than ever, there is tremendous value in recruiting the most promising scientific minds to apply their intellectual rigor and investigation to additional disciplines,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures. “These exceptional early-career scientists join a growing community of Schmidt Science Fellows working to make transformative contributions, including new ways to fight against pandemic pathogens. Eric and I are excited to see what they can accomplish together.” 

“The current crisis has shown us the importance of scientists working across disciplines and engaging with society and policymakers,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and a 1976 graduate of Princeton’s engineering school. “This new group of Schmidt Science Fellows demonstrates our commitment at Schmidt Futures to investing in talented people who can make the world a better place, in the long run and even during some of the most challenging times in recent memory.”