9 UC Berkeley faculty members awarded Sloan Research Fellowships

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Nine UC Berkeley faculty members were awarded Sloan Research Fellowships, which recognize promising young researchers in the physical and biological sciences, mathematics, computer science and economics.

UC system campuses accounted for 15% of all Sloan fellowships, according to a UC system press release. With nine fellowship recipients, Berkeley is second only to Stanford University’s 10 and exceeds Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s five, according to fellowship recipient Aditya Parameswaran.

“Sloan Research Fellowship records show that Berkeley has an enviable ability to attract and retain top young scientific talent,” said Nate Williams, communications director for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in an email. “No public university in the country had as many Fellows. And this holds up historically. Since 1955, Berkeley ranks second among all colleges and universities in terms of total Sloan Research Fellows, with 282. Only MIT has more.”

An independent committee of senior scholars reviewed the applications and selected this year’s 126 winners, who receive a two-year fellowship of $75,000 for their research funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Heather Gray, one of the campus fellowship recipients, is working on research addressing new questions about the Higgs boson, the most recently discovered particle.

“The financial support will enable me to do some things with my research that really wouldn’t be possible otherwise,” Gray said.

Campus physics assistant professor Michael Zaletel, another fellowship recipient, addresses the behavior of electrons in quantum materials in his research.

Fellowship recipient Sung-Jin Oh, an assistant professor of mathematics, studies the mathematical equations that describe wave phenomena in physics.

“In addition to advancing my current research projects, I’m hoping to use the freedom and flexibility offered by the fellowship to explore outside my comfort zone and talk to the physicists and engineers who study the same objects with different viewpoints and motives,” Oh said in an email.

Two faculty members in the economics department, Cecile Gaubert and Benjamin Faber, were also awarded the fellowship. Faber studies globalization in developing countries, while Gaubert focuses on international trade and economic geography.

Sanjam Garg of the electrical engineering and computer sciences, or EECS, department received the fellowship for his work in theoretical computer science and cryptography.

Daniel Stolper, an assistant professor of earth and planetary science, researches and interprets Earth’s climate records. Another campus fellowship recipient, Stephen Brohawn, studies life’s electrical system from a molecular and biophysical perspective.

Parameswaran, who works in the campus EECS department and the School of Information, works on building tools to enable people unfamiliar with programming to understand large datasets.

“My aim is to democratize data science or make data science more accessible,” Parameswaran said in an email. “I am truly humbled and delighted to get this honor, especially given its historical significance —  many of the Sloan research fellowship awardees have gone on to have illustrious careers.”

Alexandra Feldman is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @a_p_feldman.