Fellowship class of 2021

The Foresight Fellowship is a one-year program committed to giving change-makers the support to accelerate their bold ideas into the future.

Our mission is to catalyze collaboration among leading young scientists, engineers, and innovators who are working on emerging new technologies that have the power to transform society. Since 1993 Foresight Institute has been rewarding those who are making strides in the field of Nanotechnology with the Feynman Prize. In 2016, one of our former Feynman Prize winners, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work with molecular machines. We think that providing a strong network, knowledge exchange, and platform for fellows early can significantly advance their capability to make important strides in a variety of fields. During the 1 year program, Fellows are invited to engage in events, connect with fellows and mentors, and help each other succeed with their endeavors. 

Biotech & Health Extension

JJ, Ben-Joseph

2021 Foresight Fellow in Biosecurity and Artificial Intelligence

JJ Ben-Joseph has spent much of his professional career in the confluence of security and artificial intelligence. As a member of B.Next, In-Q-Tel’s biosecurity practice, he guides and invests in artificial intelligence startups to advance national security. He is a technical contributior to artificial intelligence projects, architecture and policy mostly in pandemic response. Mr. Ben-Joseph is an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security for 2020-2021. Mr. Ben-Joseph holds a master’s degree with honors in computer science from Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Florida Atlantic University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Stephen Malina

2021 Foresight Fellow in Machine Learning for Virus & Protein Design

Stephen is currently an ML scientist at Dyno Therapeutics (dynotx.com), where he’s working on applying machine learning to design better viral vectors for gene therapy. Immediately prior to joining Dyno, Stephen graduated from Columbia with an MS, during which he worked on ML and causal inference for genomics. Before that, he worked as an infrastructure/backend software engineer at Uber and at a startup called Compass before that.

Molecular Machines

James Arthur Cooper

2021 Foresight Fellow in Transmembrane Molecular Nanotechnology

James Arthur Cooper is a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of Reading in the UK. His current research interests focus on the development of stimuli-responsive transmembrane assemblies and coupling molecular networks with compartmentalized architectures. James is also the chair of the Foresight Molecular Machines Group.

Prior to joining Reading, James received his undergraduate education from the University of York, a PhD from the University of Bristol, and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Edinburgh and Northwestern University. His previous research focused on the development of synthetic transmembrane anion transporters, using transmembrane protein nanopores to study interactions at the single-molecule level, systems chemistry, and the development of artificial molecular machines.

Maxim Ziatdinov

2021 Foresight Fellow in Physics-Guided AI for Molecular Machines

Dr. Ziatdinov’s research is directed primarily toward the synergy of theory, experiment, and machine learning for accelerated discoveries in the fields of materials science and nanoscience. He is particularly interested in developing physics-based machine learning approaches for automatic reading/recognition of complex molecular, atomic and electronic patterns from scanning probe and electron microscopy experiments on various nanoscale systems and in machine learning-enabled “smart” automation of imaging and spectroscopic instrumentation.

Yunyan Qiu

2021 Foresight Fellow in Molecular Machines

Yunyan Qiu is currently a postdoctoral fellow with Sir Fraser Stoddart at Northwestern University (NU), where he researches in the field of molecular machines and related functional materials. Most of his work at NU is to design and harness artificial molecular machines (AMMs) to produce functional polymers and materials in a controlled manner. As a polymer chemist by training, he developed an ever-increasing amount of interest in exploring practical applications of artificial molecular pumps (AMPs), a subset of AMMs, in polymer chemistry and materials science. In particular, he worked on harnessing AMPs as precise polyrotaxane synthesizers to produce enthalpically and entropically demanding mechanically interlocked polymers with exquisite control over the number of threaded rings.

Yunyan is originally from China. He completed his undergraduate training at Peking University, majoring in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Then he came to the US and earned his PhD degree in Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) under the guidance of Professor Kevin Noonan and Tomek Kowalewski. At CMU, his research encompassed organometallic chemistry and polymer science, focusing on the rational design of conjugated polymers and the development of controlled methodologies to afford well-defined functional materials using metal-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions. In 2018, he was selected to be one of the 2018 PMSE Future Faculty Scholars and honored to participate in the 2018 CAS SciFinder Future Leaders program. In 2020, Yunyan was awarded one of the 2020 IIN Outstanding Researchers Awards by the International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN) and the 2020 Dream Chemistry Top 5 Prize organized by the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Jessica V. Lamb

2021 Foresight Fellow in Molecular Catalysis

After graduating with First Class Honors in Chemistry (M.Chem.) from the University of Leeds, Jessica completed her doctorate (D.Phil.) in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Oxford. Her current research focuses on designing novel metallocene catalysts for targeted polymerization applications, which has led to the development and planned commercialization of a new industrial-scale catalyst system. Her patented research has yielded 8 papers in the last two years and resulted in her presenting her work around the world. She was also recently recruited by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to move her research to the U.S. and apply her work to the upcycling of plastic waste.

Thomas Schroeder

2021 Foresight Fellow in Biologically Inspired Engineering

After receiving an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Northwestern, Tom pursued a Ph.D. in chemical engineering under Michael Mayer at the University of Michigan, which he received in 2017 after moving with the group to the Adolphe Merkle Institute in Fribourg, Switzerland in early 2016. There, he and his coworkers designed an electrical power source made of gels and salt that was based on the anatomy of the electric eel and was capable of generating over 100 volts. Since late 2018, Tom has been working as a postdoctoral fellow in Joanna Aizenberg’s lab at Harvard. Tom is interested in the ways in which biological macromolecules mediate ion transport in living systems to produce emergent functions that enable complex life. For example, the opening and closing of ion channels in insulating membranes underlies the function of the nervous system, and the precise deposition of salts from solution onto protein templates enables the formation of skeletal structures such as bone with controlled morphologies. Tom seeks to learn from these processes and apply the lessons to the design of synthetic materials. His current research focuses on using responsive chemistry and polymer physics to control the generation of electrical signals and the growth of crystals in polymeric systems.

Liang Feng

2021 Foresight Fellow in Molecular Machines and Robust Dynamics

Liang Feng is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Prof. Fraser Stoddart’s group at Northwestern University. He earned his B.Sc. in Chemistry from Wuhan University in 2016 under the guidance of Prof. Hexiang Deng, and obtained his Ph.D. in 2020 from Texas A&M University under the supervision of Prof. Hong-Cai Zhou. During this graduate period, he focused on the synthesis of framework nanomaterials with hierarchical nanoporosities, architectures, and compositions and their applications in catalysis, transportation, and gas separation. More specifically, he developed several general synthetic strategies, including linker thermolysis, reinstallation and migration, modular synthesis and programming, in a quest to engineer hierarchical porosity, distribution and composition in multicomponent metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and their hierarchical superstructures. He is currently most enthusiastic about achieving the repeated dynamics of molecular machines in systems that exhibit “robust dynamics”.

Dr. Feng was the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Student Award from the Foresight Institute. Over the past three years, Liang has published twenty-eight peer-reviewed articles as a first/co-first author and sixteen peer-reviewed articles as a contributing author in prestigious journals. His graduate research accomplishments have also been recognized by, in 2020, the Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award, the Elsevier Reaxys PhD Prize Finalist, Texas A&M Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Research, Dow Chemical Company Charlene Black Miller ’79 Endowed Memorial Fellowship in Chemistry, and the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad. Currently, his work has received a total citation of 2,062 with an h-index of 19 (accessed on Dec. 7, 2020).

Intelligent Cooperation

Jazear Brooks

2021 Foresight Fellow in Decentralized Market Design

Jazear is a computer scientist (BS Computer Science and Economics from Yale) with a decade of leadership and engineering experience working within the technology and financial services industry. Before moving into blockchain, Jazear held positions at Microsoft, Glassboard, Pixorial, and Madrone (a hedge fund analytics company). Blockchain became Jazear’s paradise when he was able to combine his skill set in engineering and economics to develop novel cryptoeconomic models and trading strategies. Jazear has developed blockchain software for various notable cryptocurrency projects including Cosmos and Thorchain before starting Sifchain.

Sifchain’s mission is to be an omni-chain DEX. It will also simplify the process of blockchain integration, lowering the development process for the open source community so that additional cross-chain integrations will be cost minimized in terms of money and developer resources.

Sifchain’s goal is for new blockchains to consider cross-chain integration as essential as a wallet or block explorer. Liquidity from all cryptocurrencies can then be accessed on-chain, allowing the coordinated deployment of capital from all cryptocurrencies by DAOs.

Christine Webber

2021 Foresight Fellow in Decentralized Social Networks

Christopher Lemmer Webber works on decentralized/federated social network systems and on other technical issues surrounding expanding user freedom and agency. Chris co-authored and co-edited the W3C ActivityPub standard, which as of 2020 is the most popular and widely deployed web-based decentralized social network protocol to date. Their current work on Spritely is a research project on advancing decentralized social networks by introducing better privacy and security through integrating object capability theory, as well as exploring how to expand these systems towards full virtual worlds with richness of interactions parallel to our own.

Kate Sills

2021 Foresight Fellow in Smart Contracts

Kate Sills is a software engineer at Agoric, building composable smart contract components in a secure subset of JavaScript. Previously, Kate has researched and written on the potential uses of smart contracts to enforce agreements and create institutions orthogonal to legal jurisdictions. Kate earned her degree in CS from UC Berkeley, and is building a tiny house in her spare time.

Joscha Bach

2021 Foresight Fellow in Cognitive Systems and Artificial Intelligence

Worked as AI researcher at Humboldt University of Berlin, Waikato University, University of Osnabrück, MIT Media Lab and Harvard Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, currently VP of Research at AI Foundation, San Francisco. My main interest lies in using AI as a lens to understand the human mind, and minds in general, with a focus on agency, autonomy and motivation, and their relationship to perception and control.

Zhu Xiaohu

2021 Foresight Fellow in Safe AGI

Xiaohu (Neil) Zhu is the Founder and Chief Scientist of University AI, an organization providing AI education and training for individuals and big companies in China. He got a master degree on AI in Nanjing University with a background on algorithmic game theory, mathematical logic, deep learning, and reinforcement learning. He started the investigation on AGI/AI safety in 2016 and now focuses on mechanism design / value alignment / robust and safe (Multi-Agent) RL. He has translated several books on AGI/AI safety and Alignment Newsletters by Rohin Shah, Richard Ngo, Dan Hendrycks, and Cody Wild, as well as the sequence of posts from DeepMind and OpenAI. Now He is building a team researching on Safe AGI in China.

Existential Hope

David Manheim

2021 Foresight Fellow in Positive Long Term Futures

David Manheim a post-doctoral researcher focusing on long-term risks and future prospects for humanity. His recent work for has focused on understanding and mitigating global catastrophic risks, and most recently responding to and learning from COVID-19. Prior to this, he completed a PhD in public policy and decision theory at the RAND Corporation while doing work that ranged from informing policy decisionmaking for infectious diseases, to flood insurance and resiliency building in the wake of catastrophes, to counter-terrorism finance and virtual currencies.

Primavera De Filippi

2021 Foresight Fellow in Extitutional Theory

Primavera De Filippi is a Permanent Researcher at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, a Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and a Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute.

Former member of the Global Future Council on Blockchain Technologies at the World Economic Forum, she is the founder and coordinator of the Internet Governance Forum’s dynamic coalitions on Blockchain Technology (COALA).

Her research focuses on the legal challenges and opportunities of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence, with specific focus on trust and governance. She is the author of the book “Blockchain and the Law,” published by Harvard University Press. She has recently been awarded a €2M grant from the European Research Council to investigate the implications of blockchain technology on institutional governance and global governance.

Primavera is also an artist (http://plantoid.org) and legal expert for Creative Commons in France.

Yip Fai, Tsei

2021 Foresight Fellow in Animal Ethics For Artificial Intelligence

Fai is a strategy and research consultant at Mercy For Animals. With a focus on Asia, he specializes in determining the best approaches to protecting farmed animals. Fai is also a 2021 Tianxia fellow. Outside his role at MFA, Fai researches the development of artificial intelligence and its implications for animal suffering. He aims to build or assist in building a new field of animal ethics that is applicable to sophisticated technologies, especially artificial intelligence. He hopes, in turn, to help create a positive long-term future for all sentient beings.

With a background in chemistry, economics, and philosophy, Fai is also interested in US-China relations and how they relate to the future he envisions. In his former role at a state-owned material-science company in Beijing, Fai gained invaluable experience in communicating and collaborating with the Chinese government and party officials. He was instrumental in securing the company’s first government technological development grant. Fai is also a multiple patent holder in the fields of material science and industrial production.

For artificial intelligence to be truly beneficial and ethical, Fai believes we cannot overlook its impact on nonhuman animals. He also believes that artificial intelligence will present humanity with great opportunities to make the world a better place for everyone, including nonhuman animals.

He has recently become a research assistant of Peter Singer, researching Animal Ethics For Artificial Intelligence. The project is supported by Princeton University’s University Center for Human Values (UCHV) and the Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) where Yip is working as a contractor.

Phoebe Tickell

2021 Foresight Fellow in Ecosystem Capacity Building

Phoebe is a complex systems thinker developing new systems and governance better suited for a complex world. Previously Researcher at Imperial College London in Microbial Engineering, now Associate Lecturer at Schumacher College, she has worked across multiple contexts applying a complexity and systems thinking lens to governance, organisational design, philanthropy, advising government, education and strategy. She sits on the Advisory Board of the International Bateson Institute.

She is an ex-microbiologist and 10+ years systems thinker. She works across multiple societal contexts applying a complexity and systems thinking lens and has worked in organisational design, advised government, the education sector and the food and farming sector. Most recently, this is in the field of philanthropy and funding. She is working in The National Lottery Community Fund to implement systems-thinking approaches to funding and reporting models and leading insight and learning at the Digital Fund.

Phoebe has been called “the voice of the emerging future” and “one of the most important systems thinkers of her generation”. She is a systems thinker developing new routes and approaches to perceiving complexity, and designing better systems and governance for a complex, interdependent world.