Hertz Fellow Michael Baym Receives Packard Fellowship
listed in Fellows
This year not only marked the 30th anniversary of the David and Lucile Packard
Fellowships for Science and Engineering but the 13th year
this specific Fellowship has been awarded to a Hertz Fellow.
Every year, the Packard Foundation invites the presidents of 50
universities to nominate two early-career professors from their institutions. 2004
Hertz Fellow Michael Baym was chosen by Harvard in a two-stage process where he
was selected from faculty across the University in basic sciences and
engineering. Baym is one of 18 innovative, early-career scientists and
engineers selected by the Packard Foundation to receive $875,000 over five
years to pursue his research.
There has never before been a Packard Fellow from Harvard Medical
School. The inspiration for Baym to begin the application process actually came
Fellow Mikhail Shapiro who was awarded a Packard Fellowship two
years ago. Both Fellows were among the 2004 Hertz Fellows, and Shapiro’s
mentorship through the process made it seem possible.
The impact of Baym’s Hertz Fellowship dates back even before he was
inspired by Shapiro to apply for a Packard Fellowship. The work his Hertz Fellowship
enabled him to do and the connections he made laid the ground work for the
research he did after. The chain of events that led him to his current research
in antibiotic resistance began with a conversation he had with Senior
Fellowship Interviewer Lowell Wood and Hertz
Fellow Jeff Gore at a 2008 Hertz Retreat. Wood discussed the Gates
Grand Challenges, including antibiotic resistance, which was of great interest
to Baym, and Gore pointed Baym to Roy Kishony at Harvard Medical School.
Fast forward 10 years and Baym is a Principal Investigator, Assistant
Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Member of the Laboratory of Systems
Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. His laboratory’s research is
centered around the problem of antibiotic resistance, at the intersection of
experimental, theoretical and computational techniques. His work ranges from
understanding the basic mechanisms of evolution to the development of
algorithms for computation on massive biological datasets. Baym’s lab uses a
combination of experimental evolution and data science to understand this
dynamic process, in order to design practical interventions to decrease,
prevent, or even reverse resistance evolution. With the Packard Fellowship,
Baym plans on furthering his research and expects great things, much like his
Hertz Fellowship afforded him, in the coming years.
“The Packard Fellowship’s mission aligns perfectly with our own,’”
Hertz Foundation President Robbee Baker Kosak said. “They provide scientists
and engineers with the resources and freedom to innovate, just as we do. This
flexibility is meant to nurture research that improves the lives of many and
the universe around us. We’re excited to see how far Michael can take his research with the
support of the Foundation.”
Prior to his current position at Harvard Medical School, Baym was a
graduate student with Bonnie Berger in Mathematics at MIT, and a postdoctoral
fellow with Roy Kishony in Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. In
addition to a Packard Fellowship and Hertz Graduate Fellowship, he was also the
recipient of an NSF Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. He
is a part-time inventor, holding over 40 US patents.
Baym remains deeply interested and committed to
antibiotic resistance, and, if in 5-10 years he is doing something he could
imagine today, he believes he hasn’t been creative enough.