Through the program, twenty innovative early-career scientists and engineers in the fields of astrophysics, biomedical engineering, chemistry, computer and informational science, neuroscience, and plant biology will each receive $875,000 over five years to pursue their research. This year’s fellows include Blakesley Burkhart (Rutgers University), whose research suggests that turbulence in the interstellar medium of galaxies is of paramount importance to star and planet formation; Edward Chuong (University of Colorado, Boulder), who is using genomic and experimental approaches to investigate an emerging link between virus-like parasites known as transposons and variation in immune responses across individuals and species; and Carlos Ponce (Washington University in St. Louis), whose lab is advancing understanding of how the brain represents visual information from the natural world, a mechanism behind essential processes such as object recognition.
Established in 1988, the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering are among the nation’s largest nongovernmental fellowships and are designed to allow maximum flexibility in how the funding is used.
"Now more than ever, we need science," said Frances Arnold, chair of the Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel, former Packard Fellow, and 2018 Nobel laureate in chemistry. "In a year when we are confronted by the devastating impacts of a global pandemic, racial injustice, and climate change, these twenty scientists and engineers offer us a ray of hope for the future. Through their research, creativity, and mentorship to their students and labs, these young leaders will help equip us all to better understand and address the problems we face."
For a complete list of 2020 Packard Fellows in science and engineering, see the Packard Foundation website.