The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced on Tuesday the 128 researchers who’ve been selected for a 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship. The highly prestigious fellowships have been awarded annually since 1955 to early-career, scientific scholars who appear destined to become leaders in their academic fields.

To be eligible for selection as a Sloan Research Fellowship, candidates:

  • must hold a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in chemistry, computer science, Earth system science, economics, mathematics, molecular biology, neuroscience, physics, or a related field.
  • must be members of the faculty of a college, university, or other degree-granting institution in the U.S. or Canada.
  • must be tenure-track, though untenured, as of September 15, 2020.
  • must have a regular teaching obligation as part of their faculty position.

Considered to be one of the most highly coveted awards available to young scientific researchers, Sloan fellowships are awarded in eight broad fields of study. “A Sloan Research Fellow is a rising star, plain and simple” said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “To receive a Fellowship is to be told by the scientific community that your achievements as a young scholar are already driving the research frontier.”

Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists, and the winners are selected by independent panels of senior scholars based on a candidate’s research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field. According to the Sloan Foundation, more than 1000 researchers are nominated each year for the available fellowship slots.

Each Sloan Fellow receives a $75,000 stipend, which can be used over a two-year period to support the fellow’s research interests, including “staffing, professional travel, lab expenses, equipment, or summer salary support.” Fellows are obligated to submit a substantive report of their work and an accounting of how their award funds were spent.

From cryptography to retinal functioning, from behavioral economics to solar cells, whether charting sea level changes or uncovering the mysteries of dark matter, the range of investigatory interests among the 2021 cohort is extraordinary. The full list of the 2021 class, affiliated with 58 different institutions in the U.S. and Canada, can be found here.

In the field of Chemistry, 23 fellows were selected, representing 20 universities. Pennsylvania State University, MIT, and the University of California, San Diego each had two winners.

Computational and Evolutionary Molecular Biology had ten winners, from eight separate institutions. Stanford was home to three fellows in this category.

In Computer Science, there were 20 fellows, representing 13 universities. Stanford had three fellows, and MIT, Cornell, UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Toronto each had two.

Earth Systems Science included eight fellows, from eight different universities. Notable in this group was Sarah Mazza from Smith College, distinguishing it as a small, liberal arts college with a 2021 fellow.

In the field of Economics, eight fellows were selected. Seven universities were represented, with the University of California, Berkeley employing two winners.

Mathematics boasted 20 winners, selected from 18 universities. The University of Southern California and Northwestern University were the only two schools employing multiple winners, with two Mathematics fellows each.

Neuroscience had 16 fellowship winners, representing 15 schools. The University of Rochester was the sole university with two winners in the Neuroscience group.

Tied with Chemistry as the largest field, Physics saw 23 fellows selected. Of the 19 universities included, four schools were each home to two Physics fellows – Harvard, Rutgers, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas.

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The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a private, not-for-profit foundation that makes “grants primarily to support original research and education related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics.” Its current president is Adam Falk, who formerly was president of Williams College, and it’s overseen by a Board of Trustees that includes several academic leaders and accomplished research scientists.

Founded in 1934 by industrialist and former General Motors President Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the Foundation awards about $80 million in grants each year. Its support has helped establish some of the leading scientific institutions and programs in the country, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Support from the Sloan Foundation has also been key to the development and advancement of scientific fields such as cognitive science, behavioral economics, and indoor microbial ecology.



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