Our inaugural fellowship attracted a highly competitive applicant pool, with a 9.8% acceptance rate. Successful applicants demonstrated the promise and drive to develop an idea for a public or private startup.
Our extraordinary cohort of fellows includes a former diplomat, a Princeton dropout/fintech first-hire, an Air Force Special Operations commander, and an accomplished cellist. Thanks to the generous support of our donors, tuition, lodging, and meals are covered. Fellowship applications are now closed. To find out when our next application cycle opens, subscribe to our newsletter.
At UATX, admissions, hiring, and promotions are earned, not gifted. We laud individual achievement, hard work, and ability.
Eric Andresen is a Business Development Representative at Loop. Before joining Loop, Eric worked as the Southeast Sales Manager for AeroFarms. Eric graduated from Duke University ('21) with a double major in Public Policy and History and a minor in Chinese (Mandarin). Before Loop, Eric interned at AS Roma, CBS Sports, Bluefin Trading, and AeroFarms. He loves making his history podcast (dormroomhistory.com), playing guitar, and playing golf.
Teodor Nicolae Cataniciu is a European entrepreneur and writer from Bucharest, Romania. He was named one of the Best Entrepreneurs Under 35 by the Dutch Financial Times, featured on platforms such as TEDx, Outlook Magazine, and Wall Street, and has been selected as one of Romania’s 30 Under 30 by Forbes. He is also an opinion columnist for Adevarul, one of Romania's major newspapers. Teodor is a Distinguished Alumnus of the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University and holds a finance-focused Master of Science from Columbia University in the City of New York, where he served as President of the Class of 2020.
Dave Fan is a Senior Principal at Alumni Ventures, where he has invested in over 40 companies across sector, stage, and geography. Before VC, he helped scale sales and business development at venture-backed companies focused on digital health (Zocdoc) and enterprise cloud software (Shibumi). Dave began his career in investment banking and corporate strategy at Deutsche Bank. He has a BA in Economics from Brown. As the black sheep in a family of doctors and scientists, he is particularly interested in healthcare, education, and the environment. In his free time he enjoys tennis, travel, and piano.
Jonathan Feld is a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. He was previously the research assistant in the President’s Office of the American Enterprise Institute and, while in law school, clerked in the Office of Senator Ben Sasse. Jonathan’s first historical monograph was published by the United States Navy in 2017. He earned his MPhil with Distinction from Jesus College, Cambridge and received his AB, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Princeton University. While studying at the University of Cambridge, he also briefly played in the British Baseball Federation.
Ezra Gershanok is a graduate from Penn State University who serves as co-founder of Ohana Student Housing Co. Previously, Ezra worked at McKinsey & Company. He co-founded the COVID Response Network, which donated 102,000 masks to hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and prisons at the onset of the pandemic. Ezra also co-invented the Keyper, a product in over 300 Barnes & Noble stores designed to solve the problem of lost keys. Ezra was one of 80 students at UATX's inaugural Forbidden Courses summer program.
Jake Greenspan is co-founder & CEO of Skolay, a NYC-based tech company which connects writers & readers for 1:1 conversations. Previously, Jake received a Fulbright scholarship to Greece, worked at the Tikvah Fund, and wrote about the aims and limits of liberal learning. Jake holds an A.B. in Fundamentals from the University of Chicago, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Student Marshal.
Eric Hobby is an MBA student concentrating in finance at McCombs School of Business. Before attending business school, he managed the launch of the vehicle assembly line and the corresponding department at Tesla's GigaTexas factory. Prior to this, he worked as a manufacturing engineer at Tesla's factory in the Bay Area. Eric is from Houston and attended the University of Virginia, where he studied mechanical engineering.
John Kidenda is the Chief of Utility Operations at PowerGen Renewable Energy, a leading distributed power company with operations across 6 African countries. Prior to joining PowerGen, John was a Senior Consultant in Dalberg’s Nairobi office, where he worked in the areas of agriculture, access to finance, and energy. Before Dalberg, John worked as an Associate Director at The Advisory Board Company (ABC), a Washington D.C. based research, technology, and consulting firm. John holds a master’s degree in Public Administration in International Development (MPAID) from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
Shlomo Klapper is an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. Previously, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. Steven J. Menashi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 2020, he received his J.D. from the Yale Law School, where he won a number of awards for his writing, including the Thomas I. Emerson Prize. Before starting law school, he worked as a behavioral researcher for Dan Ariely at Duke, a Deployment Strategist at Palantir Technologies, and a speechwriter at the United Nations. He earned a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School and a B.A. in European History from the University of Pennsylvania, both summa cum laude.
Laura Komkov is the Head of Marketing for Molecula (DBA FeatureBase), a data infrastructure company that includes an open-source project as well as a cloud offering. Before joining FeatureBase, she worked as the lead client partner for a customer data platform startup called Umbel (now MVPIndex). Previously, she was at the Ascension Foundations of Texas in strategy operations and co-founded a CPG cannabinoid-based wellness company called Canvas 1839. Laura began her career at Hill+Knowlton Strategies creating digital strategy and crisis communications programs across various industries. She is from Austin, TX, and studied acting and art history at the University of Texas.
Andrew Liu is a Management Development Associate at McMaster-Carr, where he has worked in strategy & operations and product development. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2022, where he received a B.A. with Distinction in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) with minors in Legal Studies & History and Classical Studies. His Honors Thesis, The Digital Leviathan, argued for the rights of online social media users to receive due process in moderation. Andrew is passionate about innovation in the public policy sphere and seeks to attend law school where he can develop a grand legal theory of online freedom and political rights to protect Constitutional liberties.
Bohan Lou is a product manager at Lyft leading projects that improve marketplace efficiency and user retention. He has previously worked in enterprise AI at Gong.io in Israel and on autonomous vehicles at NIO in China. Bohan graduated from Yale in 2021 majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, but spent much of his time studying religion and philosophy because he is interested in the belief systems that give people purpose and organize humans through millennia. Bohan was born and raised in Shanghai but has lived in the US for the last 6 years.
Jordan is a public policy specialist with a background at the intersection of international trade and security. He is a Vice President at CEO advisory firm Teneo, and previously served as speechwriter and economic policy advisor to Canada’s Leader of the Opposition. Jordan was on the frontlines of a successful leadership campaign and worked on a national campaign for Canada’s 2021 election. He holds degrees from McGill University, University of Oxford, and Tsinghua University where he was a Schwarzman Scholar. A proud French-Canadian, Jordan lives in Montréal, Canada.
Gunnar Michelsen is a senior at the University of Chicago, where he studies economics and history. At UChicago, he founded a peer-to-professional social organization for students interested in entrepreneurship and venture capital, and participated in fellowships such as the 8VC fellowship and Identity Review fellowship. This past summer, Gunnar worked at a macro-hedge fund and learned how to incorporate Geopolitical Alpha into investment decisions. Upon graduation, he hopes to work on government contracts and asset management/investment. Gunnar is originally from San Diego, California but currently lives in Austin, Texas.
Trent Nelson is a Director of Go-to-Market Strategy & Operations at ZoomInfo Technologies. Prior to ZoomInfo, he was a private equity investor at Irving Place Capital, and before that he was an investment banking analyst in the Mergers & Acquisitions group at Evercore. He grew up in Santa Monica, California, and studied economics at Harvard University. His interests include mental health advocacy, astronomy, and small-town getaways with his fiancée and Corgi.
John Pedro is currently an MBA Candidate at Harvard Business School. After graduating from Cornell, John served in Air Force Special Operations for five years. He has prior work and/or fellowship experience with the American Enterprise Institute, The Hudson Institute, The Claremont Institute, and The Foresight Project of the University of Pennsylvania. He continues to serve part-time in the Air Force Reserves as he charts a course for a civilian career focused on leadership and service.
Jeff Pickhardt is a senior staff software engineer at Palo Alto Networks. Before joining Palo Alto Networks, he worked at Google, Wealthfront, and Optimizely — and he launched a Y Combinator startup. Jeff attended Stanford and is originally from Minneapolis, MN. He likes reading, coding, and playing strategy card games in his free time.
Carmen Rodriguez is Director of the Learning Innovation Center, a program which offers workshops and resources to faculty on how to foster deep, active, and collaborative learning at Universidad Francisco Marroquin (UFM). She is also a Socratic facilitator at the Michael Polanyi College at UFM. Previously, Carmen was a facilitator and curriculum developer at Acton Academy Guatemala. She is an active learning environments researcher and a Peterson Fellow at Acton School of Business.
Cassandra Shand researches strategy optimization as a PhD candidate in Engineering at the University of Cambridge. She also works as a Policy Fellow at the Cicero Institute, is active in the startup scene, and frequently publishes commentary on innovation and foreign policy strategy. She holds Master’s degrees from the University of Cambridge (Politics and International Studies) and the University of Chicago (Public Policy with a Certificate in Finance). Cassandra completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA where she graduated two years early, summa cum laude, with a double major in Political Science and History. She is originally from San Diego and loves sailing, hiking, traveling, and all things foreign policy.
Stephan Spazier leads the Global New Markets team at Tesla, focusing on international expansion from strategy to execution. Prior to joining Tesla, he spent 10 years as a diplomat on assignments in Cairo, Bangkok, and New York, focusing on Business and Economic Development, Investment Promotion, and Tech Diplomacy. He served as Military EMT with the Austrian Armed Forces and held a position with global impact investment advisory CrossBoundary. Stephan holds Master's Degrees from the University of Innsbruck and Stanford's Graduate School of Business, where he graduated as a Robert L. Joss scholar.
Michael Tartre is a Senior Machine Learning Engineer at Predata. After studying information theory at UC San Diego and Management Science & Engineering at Stanford, Michael worked at McKinsey and Company, and Two Sigma Investments in technical and analytical roles. Since leaving Two Sigma in 2017, Michael has worked with startups in advisory, engineering, and founder roles.
Corin Wagen is a Ph.D candidate in organic and computational chemistry at Harvard, whose research focuses on developing and optimizing new methods for fine chemical synthesis. He previously attended MIT, where he studied chemistry. Originally from Austin, in middle school and high school he worked as a full-stack software developer and won three national Quiz Bowl championships (and a History Bowl championship). He is married, has an energetic toddler, and enjoys running, coffee roasting, theological arguments, and writing murder mystery games for parties.
Henry Wetherall has recently realized his lifelong dream of living in the USA, where he independently consults for an agricultural company. Prior to his move, he enjoyed a career that spanned industry and geography, including running his own business in Australia, working for an industrial tools manufacturer in Germany, and developing the branch strategy for a large New Zealand bank. A graduate of Oxford and Melbourne University, Henry maintains a keen interest in economics, and has published research in multiple countries. Always one to take on a challenge, Henry was a trial member for Australia's Olympic Team in 2016 and is the current New Zealand national champion in surfboats.
Eliana Yang is a cellist pursuing a graduate degree at the Juilliard School. Eliana has performed recitals around the globe, and has shared the stage with members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Emerson, Borromeo, Tokyo, and Vermeer string quartets, among others. When not playing her instrument, Eliana enjoys reading, cooking, and exploring new cities.
Kelvin Yu is currently exploring the intersection of emerging tech and US-China geopolitics. Previously, he was engineer/employee #1 at a fintech startup, Zage, which he joined after dropping out of Princeton University. Prior to Zage, he wore many hats from engineering to product to Chief of Staff, across five seed-Series B startups and a public tech company. He is also an active angel investor and previously worked at a $500M VC fund in Shanghai and helped raise a seed fund in Silicon Valley. He studied CS and international relations at Princeton and loves to read ancient history, hack on side projects, and play basketball in his free time.
Darren Zhu studied biology at Yale before leaving to join the first class of Thiel Fellows, where his startup Synbiosys was also supported by the Gates Foundation. He has been involved with synthetic biology companies including Enevolv (acquired by Zymergen) and Hexagon Bio (funded by 8VC/TCG/Softbank). He’s currently working on Atoms.org, a research platform designing new models for science funding and publishing with support from the Ethereum Foundation and Protocol Labs. He grew up in North Carolina and is an avid skier / hiker / mountain biker / climber, as well as an accomplished classical pianist and carillonneur.
Our Fellows are young professionals, many of whom are just starting their careers. Most of our Fellows have graduated college, though it is not necessary for applicants to have attended or graduated.
The year-long fellowship is largely held remotely with three in-person weekends in Austin, TX.
Our Fellows are young professionals, many of whom are just starting their careers. Most of our Fellows have graduated college, though it is not necessary for them to have attended or graduated.
The Polaris Fellowship is designed for working professionals. As such, Fellows may work full-time or part-time jobs during the program. Some of our Fellows are currently developing new ventures.
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, hotels, some meals, and activities are covered by UATX. Participants are responsible for covering their travel expenses to three planned in-person meetings.
1) A CV or résumé\n 2) Unofficial transcripts from any institutions of higher education that the applicant has attended\n 3) Unofficial record of one undergraduate or graduate standardized test score, e.g., SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT, GMAT, etc.\n 4) Short bio\n 5) Two academic/professional/personal recommendations\n 6) Brief essay(s)\n 7) An academic or professional writing sample of no more than 15 pages
Fellows are not required to be U.S. citizens, but they must be proficient in the English language. During the application cycle, we highly recommended that non-U.S. applicants submit a writing sample to demonstrate their proficiency in English. At this time, we cannot help with visa applications.
No, our program is not a credit-bearing or degree program. Fellows may not earn continuing education credits, credit hours, or a diploma for participation in this program. The program is a part-time enrichment program of no more than twenty hours of content per month.
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