The College of Arts and Sciences selected its second cohort of Klarman Fellows from over 260 applicants, inducting eight scholars into its three-year postdoctoral research program.
The fellowship awards each fellow a yearly stipend, research budget and a Cornell professor as a mentor. Klarman Fellows come from a wide variety of research backgrounds, with this year’s cohort conducting research in fields ranging from religious studies to math.
The eight scholars in the 2021 cohort are Toni Alimi, Christian Gaetz, Nancy Lin, Alejandro Martinez-Marquina, Richard Nally, Anna Shechtman, Amalia Skilton and Matthew Zipple. Hailing from several prestigious universities across the country, each fellow has a unique focus for the three years they will spend in the program.
Lin, for example, is currently a doctoral student studying art history at the University of Chicago researching contemporary Chinese art practices in cities. She will continue to research how art intersects with different social groups, including for migrant and middle-class workers.
Zipple, another fellow coming from Duke University, is researching how the social behavior of adults influences offspring survival in primates. At Cornell, he plans to work with Prof. H. Kern Reeves, biology, to build a model that connects maternal survival and offspring fitness to longevity.
Another STEM-based fellow is Gaetz, who studies mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research currently focuses on combinatorics and their application to computer science and physics.
The 2020 Klarman Fellows were the inaugural class in the program, and several have made significant progress in their research, overcoming COVID-19 related hurdles.
Baobao Zhang, a 2020 Klarman Fellow studying the governance of artificial intelligence, said that the pandemic shifted her research focus and allowed her to study technology that didn’t exist before, such as contact tracing apps.
“It’s important to talk to other people at Cornell and to open yourself up to new experiences,” Zhang said, reflecting on the past year. “I didn’t know I was going to focus on COVID and tech policy when I signed the contract last year, but I realized that this is an important part of research that I should be pursuing.”
Charles Petersen, a 2020 fellow studying meritocracy, has appreciated the close connection the fellowship gave him with his host professor, describing going on walks with Prof. Aaron Sachs, history, and Prof. Aziz Rana, law, to discuss his research.
“There are plenty of postdocs where you are not set up with a specific faculty host, and so it’s very easy to be lost in the institution,” Petersen said about what makes the program special. “Instead, I felt extremely welcomed. Despite all of the pandemic stuff, I felt like I’ve gotten lots of mentorship.”
Peterson is also looking forward to the program growing and developing as more fellows are inducted.
“I think that the program will become much more interdisciplinary and conversational, not just because of the end of COVID, but because it’s really going to grow,” Petersen said.
The Klarman Fellowship program is funded by Seth Klarman ’79 and Beth Schultz Klarman, who have been regular donors to the University and are the namesake of Klarman Hall.