UCLA ranks third in nation in number of 2010 Alfred P. Sloan fellows

Five exceptional UCLA scientists awarded prestigious research fellowships

By Stuart Wolpert

Five outstanding young scientists at UCLA are among 118 scientists and scholars from 56 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada to receive 2010 Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Only Princeton University, with seven fellows, and the University of California, Berkeley, with six, have more 2010 fellows than UCLA. Like UCLA, Harvard University, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Toronto have five fellows.

The fellowships are awarded to “exceptional young researchers” who are “conducting research at the frontiers of physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics and neuroscience,” according to the New York–based foundation.

The UCLA recipients are:

Steven Furlanetto
Furlanetto is an associate professor of physics and astronomy whose research focuses on theoretical cosmology, particularly on the eras of first structure and galaxy formation 13 billion years ago and on the intergalactic medium, the very diffuse gas between galaxies, out of which galaxies form. His primary areas of interest include structure formation in the early universe and cosmic reionization — the process by which galaxies and supermassive black holes ionized hydrogen and helium in the intergalactic medium.

Yu Huang
Huang is an assistant professor of materials science and engineering and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. Her research focuses on creating complex materials structures with nanoscale precision using chemical and biological approaches, and studying the new properties — optical, magnetic, electrical and catalytic — that arise in these new nanoscale architectures. The overall goal of her research is to create functional nanostructures through rational design and to systematically determine the fundamental structure-property relationship at the nanometer scale.

Rupak Majumdar
Majumdar is an associate professor of computer science. His research spans the spectrum of formal verification techniques, from the theoretical foundations in logic and automata theory — especially stochastic systems and games — to practical software engineering tools that systematically analyze thousands of lines of code for programmer errors or proofs of correct behavior, from the low level to the high. He earned a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2006.(www.cs.ucla.edu/~rupak/)

Monica Visan
Visan is an assistant professor of mathematics whose research focuses on nonlinear partial differential equations and harmonic analysis. She earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA, where her adviser was Fields Medal winner Terence Tao.

Xinshu (Grace) Xiao
Xiao is an assistant professor of physiological science and a member of the Molecular Biology Institute at UCLA. Her research interests include the computational and systems biology of gene expression, particularly post-/co-transcriptional gene regulation via multiple DNA and RNA sequence elements and RNA and protein regulators. Her goal is to better understand how gene expression diversity and phenotypic robustness are achieved and regulated at the molecular level in health and disease. Her laboratory tackles these problems by developing and applying approaches in bioinformatics, comparative genomics, molecular biology and genetics, high-throughput biology, and systems modeling.

Sloan Research Fellowships are intended to enhance the careers of exceptional young scientists and scholars. Since the fellowships were first awarded in 1955, 38 fellows have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in their fields, 57 have received the National Medal of Science and 14 have been awarded the Fields Medal, the top honor in mathematics. For more information, visit www.sloan.org.