Stoddard named Schmidt Science Polymath

Schmidt Futures announced today that Mary Caswell “Cassie” Stoddard is one of 10 Schmidt Science Polymaths for 2022.


Cassie Stoddard

The Schmidt Science Polymath program makes long-term bets on recently tenured professors with remarkable track records, promising futures and a desire to explore interdisciplinary research. Each professor is awarded $500,000 per year for up to five years to explore new ideas across disciplines and use emerging technologies to test risky theories that may not otherwise receive funding or support.

Stoddard, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, studies the extraordinary diversity of signals and traits in nature. Her lab investigates the evolution of animal coloration and morphology, with a focus on birds — the most colorful terrestrial vertebrates, with tetrachromatic (four color-cone) vision and ultraviolet sensitivity. The researchers on her team apply an interdisciplinary approach, using using field biology, optics, computer vision, genomics and bioengineering to explore color, perception and eggshell structure in the avian world.

The first two Schmidt Science Polymaths were announced in 2020 and awarded in 2021; today's announcement brings the total to 12, of whom Stoddard is the first from Princeton University. The Schmidt Science Polymath program is part of Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt. Eric Schmidt earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Princeton in 1976 and is the former executive chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.