/Five Princeton faculty members named Sloan Research Fellows (via Qpute.com)
Five Princeton faculty members named Sloan Research Fellows

Five Princeton faculty members named Sloan Research Fellows (via Qpute.com)

Assistant Professor of Physics Biao Lian, Assistant Professor in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs Christopher Neilson, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Yakov Shlapentokh-Rothman, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Leslie Schoop, and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Mark Zhandry are the five recipients of the Sloan Research Fellowship from Princeton. The five awardees were announced in a press release on Feb. 17.

The fellowship, sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, honors 128 of “the most promising scientific researchers working today,” according to the Sloan Research Fellowship website. “Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada.”

Sloan fellows receive a $75,000 grant, “which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research.”

Faculty members expressed their joy at being named fellows and being recognized for their cutting-edge work.

“It made my day,” Zhandry wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian.

“It was definitely a great honor; it’s encouragement of the work I’ve been doing,” Lian said.

Lian researches topological states of matter and two-dimensional systems, among many other topics.

“The ultimate goal for this kind of research is to search for some interesting topological matter in nature that did not exist previously and understand the quantum states involved in them. This could, for example, help us understand how to build a quantum computer out of the matter in experiments,” Lian explained.

Neilson’s area of research focuses on “public policies and regulation in education markets to understand the behaviors of students, families and education providers,” according to a University press release.

Neilson, a member of the Bureau of Economic Research Industrial Organization and Education Economics program, is a faculty member in both the Princeton Department of Economics and the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

Shlapentokh-Rothman’s research focuses on partial differential equations, as well as general relativity and its applications to our understanding of black holes, space, and time.

Nielson and Shlapentokh-Rothman did not respond to requests for comment from the ‘Prince.’


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Schoop explained in an interview with the ‘Prince’ how she first became interested in materials chemistry, and is dedicating her research to synthesizing new materials from a chemical, rather than a physical, point of view.

“I’m a chemist and I love thinking about reaction mechanisms and chemistry and how it works but I never really enjoyed organic chemistry labs. I realized that when it comes to hands-on lab work, I really enjoyed materials chemistry and making materials.” Schoop said.

“It would be really fun if I can combine the theoretical aspect of molecular chemistry with materials chemistry, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Schoop said.

Zhandry’s area of research focuses specifically on cryptography and its applications to quantum computing.

“My research focuses on cryptography, which is broadly about securing communication against malicious third parties. I study many problems in this space, but a particular focus has been understanding both the threats and the potential of quantum computers. While we do not have [a] quantum computer capable of affecting cryptography yet, much progress is being made and the community is getting ready [for] them now,” Zhandry explained.

Nominated by fellow scientists, the 2021 Research Fellows were chosen by a “panel of senior scholars,” according to the press release. Since 1955, when the fellowship was founded, 234 Princeton faculty members have been named recipients.

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