UTCS Assistant Professor Pradeep Ravikumar is one of 126 outstanding U.S. and Canadian researchers selected by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as recipients of the 2014 Sloan Research Fellowships. Ravikumar currently teaches Statstical Learning and Data Mining, and his main area of research interest is in statistical machine learning.
Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders. “For more than half a century, the Sloan Foundation has been proud to honor the best young scientific minds and support them during a crucial phase of their careers when early funding and recognition can really make a difference,” said Dr. Paul L. Joskow, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “These researchers are pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge in unprecedented ways.”
Past Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to notable careers and include such intellectual luminaries as physicist Richard Feynman and game theorist John Nash. Since the beginning of the program in 1955, 42 fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective field, 16 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, 13 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, and 63 have received the National Medal of Science.
Hailing from 61 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, the 2014 Sloan Research Fellows represent a diverse variety of research interests. Fellows this year include:
- A chemist who is devising ways to turn carbon dioxide into fuel;
- A neuroscientist who has discovered a “Dracula” mutation in fruit flies that inverts their sleep behavior, making them sleep during the day and rise at night;
- An ocean scientist who studies tiny marine microbes and the even tinier viruses they carry and how those viruses affect chemical processes in the oceans;
- An astrophysicist who searches for hidden deep space quasars, to learn more about the supermassive black holes that lie at the heart of every galaxy;
- A computer scientist who creates smartphone applications for disadvantaged populations in developing countries;
- A mathematician who may be the first to produce reliable 30-day weather forecasts using advanced mathematical models of the atmosphere;
- An economist who studies the subtle and unsubtle ways health insurers weed the sick out of their risk pools; and
- A molecular biologist who develops software allowing researchers to easily analyze the huge, unwieldy datasets that are transforming the biological sciences.
“When you think about great science programs, it is easy to think of the usual institutions,” says Dr. Daniel L. Goroff, the Vice President who oversees Sloan’s Research Fellowship Program, “but the list of awards shows how many universities are investing in great science and great scientists. North Dakota State University and Claremont McKenna College both received their first ever fellowships this year, for example. Exciting, inspiring science is happening everywhere.”
Awarded in eight scientific and technical fields—chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics—the Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded through close cooperation with the scientific community. Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists, and winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field. Fellows receive $50,000 to further their research.
For a complete list of winners, visit: www.sloan.org/sloan-research-fellowships/2014-sloan-research-fellows
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economic performance. www.sloan.org