Princeton University

To help develop the next generation of matter-to-life scholars by supporting a Center Fellow pursuing physics-of-life research

  • Amount $426,879
  • City Princeton, NJ
  • Investigator William Bialek
  • Year 2023
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Matter-to-Life

Training the next generation of researchers is an essential component of any healthy academic field. Here William Bialek and Joshua Shaevitz, Professors of Physics at Princeton University and Co-Directors of the Center for the Physics of Biological Function, request three years of support for a Center Fellow pursuing physics-of-life research. This prestigious postdoctoral fellowship will offer a young researcher both intellectual freedom and a support structure, and grant funds would support either a theorist or an experimentalist. A fellowship offering intellectual freedom to an early-career scholar is typically challenging to fund through federal agencies focused on supporting specific projects, despite the fact that this freedom can play an important role in establishing a young scientist as an independent researcher. The Center for the Physics of Biological Function is a partnership between Princeton and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; a partnership anchored by a core community of sixteen CUNY/Princeton faculty. The Center focuses on science at the interface of physics and biology with the goal of creating ‘a physicist’s understanding of living systems: a physics of biological function that connects the myriad details of life, across all scales, to fundamental and universal physical principles.’ Center Fellows will be offered a competitive salary, travel funds, and independence to select a compelling line of research. The Center Fellow is not obligated to any particular faculty member, instead the Center exposes young physicists to problems posed by a wide range of living systems and gives them ‘considerable freedom to explore these problems, crossing boundaries among topics that would be in separate groups or departments at most institutions.’ This freedom is balanced by a support system as the Fellow is held accountable to formulating a feasible plan by interacting with senior Center faculty, and there’s a community of Fellows that provide peer advice and guidance.

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