Former TUM doctoral candidate Sema Karakurt-Fischer wins prestigious Schmidt Science Fellowship!


Congratulations to former TUM doctoral candidate Sema Karakurt-Fischer to win the prestigious Schmidt Science Fellowship!

Sema did her doctoral research under the supervision of Professor Jörg E. Drewes at the Chair of Urban Water Systems Engineering, TUM Department of Civil, Geo and Environmental Engineering. In her research, Sema aims to understand the role of treated wastewater in rivers and how this impacts downstream drinking water quality. During her fellowship year, she plans to pivot from engineering into biology to explore the potential for biodegradation on so-called “forever” chemicals to provide sustainable clean drinking water.

Schmidt Science Fellows, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, seeks to create a new generation of scientific leaders through a combination of a postdoctoral fellowship of $100,000 a year and workshops at some of the world’s leading universities, as well as individualized mentoring. Fellows are supported to pursue a postdoctoral placement at a world-leading laboratory anywhere in the world in a disciplinary pivot from their doctoral research. During their Fellowship Year, they also participate in a varied and challenging Global Meeting Series that introduces new research ideas, techniques, and questions, in addition to a tailored training program. Fellows benefit from a personalized mentoring program, providing professional development support from experienced and internationally accomplished scientists, and at the completion of the Fellowship Year, join the Senior Fellows community of alumni for ongoing support, interaction, and programming opportunities.

The application for the Schmidt Science Fellows 2022 cohort is open until June 17, 2021. For further information, please visit the TUM Graduate School website.

In order to motivate and to provide other TUM doctoral candidates in the current application round for the Schmidt Science Fellows 2022 cohort, Sema kindly shared some of her experience:

  • What was your main motivation to apply for the Schmidt Science Fellows?

This grant program is very ambitious to address global challenges by supporting young researchers working on high-risk interdisciplinary projects. Other post-doctoral funding opportunities tend to be conservative and like to support projects that are almost 100 % certain. This leads to incremental change. During my post-doc, I wanted to take a big leap and go through a steep learning curve, so I saw this fellowship program as a unique opportunity for me.

Also, through this fellowship program, I would be part of an ambitious cohort, have the opportunity for international exchange, accompanied by a sound training and mentoring program. This huge network would help me to develop new ideas and pursue them during my future career.

  • What is the most important aspect for a successful application? Do you have any tips for other TUM applicants?

I would really recommend you to emphasize, why and how you fit the program with different examples from your life. Except having a good idea in your proposal, the academic panel is also highly interested in the big picture. Besides the obvious, being authentic and showing enthusiasm, confidence, competence, curiosity, are a big part of a successful application process.

We wish Sema a very successful fellowship year and all the best for her future!