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New postdoctoral fellowship focuses on sustainability

The first group of scholars supported under the new Sustainability Accelerator Fellowship program will focus on the challenge of removing billions of tons of greenhouse gases annually from Earth’s atmosphere by the middle of this century.

Each spring, in fields ranging from engineering to political science, a new class of sustainability-minded graduate students will successfully defend their dissertations and earn their PhDs. Awaiting the 2024 class of PhDs will be a challenge as great as any humanity has faced – helping people and nature thrive together long term. 

To kickstart this important work, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability’s Accelerator has created a new postdoctoral fellowship program to support sustainability innovators. The program is designed to help fellows develop scalable technologies and policy solutions necessary to meet growing sustainability challenges in food, water, energy, climate, and other sectors of society. The 2024-25 fellowship will be focused on our first Flagship Destination: greenhouse gas removal at the gigaton scale by midcentury.

“Recent graduates are the future of sustainability. They have just the right combination of optimism, know-how, and pragmatism needed to tackle these challenges in new and, we expect, surprising ways,” said Yi Cui, faculty director of the Sustainability Accelerator and the Fortinet Founders Professor in the School of Engineering. “We hope this alchemy of talent and ideas, unleashed within the incomparable Stanford research environment, will lead us in exciting new directions and produce rapid global impact. We are excited to welcome these fellows into the Stanford sustainability community.”

Flag bearers

The inaugural cohort of postdoctoral fellows will begin work in the 2024-25 academic year and will focus specifically on the first of the Sustainability Accelerator’s Flagship Destinations: greenhouse gas removal, or GHG-R, at the gigaton scale. 

“We are thrilled that the first group of Sustainability Accelerator Fellows will be focused specifically on greenhouse gas removal,” said Jeffrey Brown, managing director of the GHG-R Flagship Destination. “The school is committed to scaling new ways to remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere at the scale of billions of tons per year. We are eager to see how and where this first cohort of Sustainability Accelerator Fellows progresses us toward that important goal.”

Ideal candidates will be highly driven problem solvers across a range of disciplines, including policy, economics, and business in addition to sciences, engineering, and technology. Their goal will be to develop never-tried solutions with a potential for gigascale impact. Such innovation will be necessary to tackle our most pressing sustainability challenges.

Program details

Each year, the program will select two to four fellows per Flagship Destination. In addition to financial support, the Sustainability Accelerator will support fellows’ professional growth through faculty mentoring and entrepreneurial coaching from Stanford’s globally recognized network of leaders in law and policy, business, engineering, environmental sciences, and more. 

Fellows will enjoy opportunities to network with other postdoctoral scholars and researchers within the Sustainability Accelerator and across the school and university, all while leveraging Stanford’s academic resources to advance their projects.

“This is a different type of postdoctoral fellowship focused on developing a new generation of multidisciplinary sustainability innovators,” said Audrey Yau, who directs the fellowship program for the Sustainability Accelerator. “Our aim is to create a launchpad for postdocs who share an entrepreneurial spirit and a deep desire to make an impact on global sustainability.”

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