Schmidt Science Polymaths

Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Please see the program webpage for complete information about the funding opportunity.   

Program Summary 

Achieving tenure (or equivalent status) should be a moment when professors feel a new sense of freedom that allows them to innovate and attempt new research paths as the head of their own teams. Unfortunately, this time is often coupled with a lack of resources and a pressure to continue producing results within their established research portfolio. The key goal of the Schmidt Science Polymath program (“the program”) is to encourage the best “polymath” scientists to expand their research portfolio by exploring new lines of research that are substantively different from their ongoing and proven research activities.

These grants are intended for the exploration of new ideas across disciplines that use new technologies and insights that are generally too new or risky to garner regular support. They are not intended to relieve the researcher of pursuing other grants to continue their mainstream work, nor be large enough to fully support a modern lab.

Schmidt is looking for the brightest minds in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computing who have gained recognition for significant progress on one or more research problems while also showing a capacity for generating a continuing flow of innovative new ideas and approaches in a variety of areas. They will have demonstrated their high variance thinking through successful research in areas widely divergent from their main field of expertise. Schmidt Science Polymaths are expected to be intensely creative science leaders who demonstrate an immense capacity for innovative new thinking or shifts in research directions that can lead to impactful breakthroughs given flexible resources.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST August 7, 2023

Sponsor Nomination Deadline: September 1, 2023

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Personal Statement (3 pages maximum): Please include the following: 1) past accomplishments; 2) a description of potential problems or projects you might pursue if awarded; 3) and a list of ~10 references who will be able to testify to not just your past accomplishments, but also your creativity, adventurousness, and likelihood your will pursue excellent new directions in research given flexible resources. Please also reference the nomination form requirements and include any relevant information into your internal submission:
  • PI Curriculum Vitae

To access the online application, visit:


Schmidt Futures is seeking the highest quality candidates from a specific and pivotal period in their career. Candidates must meet the following qualifications:

  • Have achieved tenure or equivalent status within the past three calendar years (2020 or later),
  • Have a remarkable record of accomplishment in area(s) of science and engineering,
  • Have a demonstrated history of pursuing and publishing results in more than one field,
  • Demonstrate a need for additional funding to enable new experiments, explorations, or shifts in research directions.

Limited Submission Guidelines

Institutions may nominate up to two candidates, and should be limited to truly exceptional researchers who meet the candidate criteria.

Award Information

Awards will consist of USD $500K per year for up to 5 years to support part of a research group.

Review Criteria

Applications will be judged based on:

  • The breadth and depth of the candidates' work,
  • The quality, impact, and innovation displayed in the candidates work,
  • The candidates’ track-record of high variance thinking and approaches, as well as their capacity for creative new research or shifts in research directions given flexible resources
  • The candidate’s proposed research directions and projects as outlined in their application, including likelihood of success and significant impact, and expectation that the candidate’s research directions will change over time.