Our Mission

We empower exceptional students to understand and change our future.

Like an atlas, we help you navigate the world: in our programs, fellows practice careful reasoning that enables them to make sense of confusing evidence, mitigate cognitive biases, and develop accurate beliefs that map onto reality.

Together, we then apply these analytical tools to global challenges that we think are important, such as global poverty, existential risks to humanity, risks from advanced AI, or the reform of economic institutions.

But most importantly, we hope that Atlas Fellows will discover important problems and solutions beyond our own understanding. We believe that thoughtful young people can fix the parts of our civilization that are broken—so we want to raise their ambitions and empower them with tools, resources, and a community.

For more about our background philosophy and inspiration, see the corresponding section in our FAQ.
Meet the team

Staff and instructors

Jonas Vollmer Profile Pic

Jonas Vollmer

Jonas co-founded the Atlas Fellowship. He previously oversaw $20 million in grants to high-impact projects and co-founded and led an AI risk research non-profit with 20 full-time staff. At Atlas programs, he loves discussing ending global poverty and playing capture the flag.

Ronny Fernandez

Ronny studied philosophy at Rutgers University and likes to think about how artificial intelligence grounds philosophy in the concrete. He also did AI forecasting research at AI Impacts. At Atlas, he enjoys discussing formal epistemology and strategizing for Killer Queen games.

Ricki Heicklen

Ricki is a freelancer splitting her time between NYC and the Bay Area. Her background is in quantitative trading and forecasting; she spends a lot of time thinking about markets, incentives, and human dynamics. She likes talking about philosophy, playing and designing board games, and building elaborate costumes.

Ashley Lin profile pic

Ashley Lin

Ashley co-founded the Atlas Fellowship. Previously, she founded a nonprofit that brought online cultural exchange to >1,000 students in 35+ countries and wrote a book on community building. At Atlas programs, she likes to explore China-related AI policy or how to learn better.

Alex Fields

Alex studied Computer Science at Columbia University, worked as a Strategy Consultant for Coca-Cola and Caterpillar, and led strategic initiatives at a chatbot company. At Atlas programs, he likes discussing LLMs and the potential near-term impacts of AI progress.

Moritz von Knebel

Moritz has a background in Political Science and Philosophy, taught at universities and in high schools, and has worked as an AI governance researcher. In his free time, he likes to hike high mountains and lift heavy weights.

Yulia Ponomarenko

Yulia is a former software engineer who is pivoting her career for more impact. She's interested in coordination problems and the philosophy of science.

Elizabeth Van Nostrand

Professionally, Elizabeth is an epistemic vigilante; she researches ideas for entrepreneurs, investigates long Covid risks, and fights with people about nutrition. She is broadly interested in how constraints shape systems.
Personally, Elizabeth is into the standard introvert hobbies: reading, video games, cats, etc.

John Croxton

John lives in Washington DC and co-organizes the Network on Emerging Threats, a national security policy group focusing on the risks from AI, biosecurity, nuclear war, and great-power conflict. He loves competitive games, friendly debates, and big-picture ideas.

Aric Floyd

Aric has worked as an actor (and occasional composer) in film and television since he was 16. He became interested in ethics and public speaking as a competitive high school debater, and went on to study physics and philosophy as an undergraduate at Stanford University. He is currently exploring ways to effectively communicate with the general public about pressing global problems.

Nicole Sanna

Nicole studies political science and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and is interested in learning about media, social sciences, and humanities. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and podcasts, reading, writing, yoga, and exploring.

Jack Carroll

Jack is a silly creature who's split their skill points between systems operations and interpersonal skills. As the Center for Applied Rationality's Director of Operations, they handle finances, teach classes on decision making, and coach people in feeling their feelings.

John Steidley

John is currently an instructor for the Center for Applied Rationality. He used to be a software engineer. He's interested in group dynamics, economics, machine learning, and dancing.

Ewelina Tur

Ewelina is a psychologist and a licensed cognitive behavioural therapist.

Tzu Kit Chan

Tzu represented Malaysia in the International Philosophy Olympiad and subsequently founded a non-profit to promote critical thinking via philosophy. He's currently growing in boxing / muay thai, Brazilian jiu jitsu, fencing, and bouldering; he did ballet for a year, and he is a certified coach for olympic lifts (he nerds out on great lifting techniques 🤓).

Claire Short

Claire is currently working in AI safety, with a background in neuroscience and data science. She enjoys art, swing dancing, techno, and capybaras.

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Atlas Fellowship

Our Story

The Atlas Fellowship evolved out of a program called Uncommon Sense, which had a focus similar to the Atlas summer program and proved impactful for its participants. Sydney Von Arx, one of the co-founders of Uncommon Sense, partnered with Ashley Lin and Jonas Vollmer to found the Atlas Fellowship to vastly expand the scale and scope of that program—starting the Atlas Fellowship in 2022.

In 2022, the Atlas Fellowship ran five 11-day programs in Berkeley (California) and Oxford (United Kingdom) for 111 Fellows from 18 countries, selected from over 7,000 applications. We plan to continue and refine our programs, and potentially support a substantially larger number of students in future years.

The Atlas Fellowship is a 501(c)(3) public charity in the United States (EIN 88-1678673). It is funded by Open Philanthropy, a large philanthropic organization in the United States. Previously, it also received funding from the Future Fund. If you are interested in supporting us, or if you have any questions about your donation, please contact us at info@atlasfellowship.org.
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Are you interested in science, philosophy, and the future?