Science professors win Sloan fellowships for research efforts


David Gleich

Computer Science professor David Gleich

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation named Computer Science professor David Gleich and Chemistry professor Christopher Uyeda as two of the 126 “early career scientists of outstanding promise” for 2016. 

Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships honor early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders. Fellows receive $55,000 to further their research.

Gleich’s research deals with enabling currently infeasible analysis of large data in science and engineering. He works to craft new methods that combine insights about how computer algorithms behave on these data with complex engineering characteristics of the computers themselves. 

“The software I've written based on this research has been used to study reducing jet-noise from new airplanes, to study how to identify different types of tissue in an MRI scan, to find groups of related proteins between different animals, among even more diverse uses,” Gleich explained. He sees that the fellowship will greatly benefit his work and allow it to evolve in exciting new ways. It also will provide him the resources to further make high-quality software based on the research available for others to use.

Uyeda said the fellowship will have a great impact on his work as well.

“First, the funding will let us pursue some of our more high-risk, high-reward research directions,” he stated. “Second, we’re excited about the recognition it will bring to our chemistry. An important aspect of doing science is communicating ideas and results to the community. This is an excellent platform to broaden the impact of our program.”

Uyeda’s research focuses on “the development new transition metal catalysts that streamline the synthesis of organic compounds.”

“A vast majority of the existing transition metal catalysts contain just a single metal center in their active site,” Uyeda added. “Our group has been fascinated by the observation that enzymes found in nature often contain clusters of multiple metals that function in tandem to achieve truly remarkable catalytic activity. Our group has been at the forefront of trying to design new synthetic catalysts that can benefit from the cooperativity between multiple metal centers.

The nature of the Sloan fellowship is particularly exciting to Uyeda. Its freedom will allow him to explore areas that could lead to tremendous breakthroughs.

“We’re grateful to the Sloan foundation for the opportunity to pursue some ideas that don’t necessarily fit squarely in our current research directions,” Uyeda explained. “For example, we have recently been studying molecular catalysts that contain multiple transition metal centers in their active sites. We’ll be using a significant part of the funding to expand the scope of this approach and pursue novel reactivity."

Christopher Uyeda

Chemistry professor Christopher Uyeda

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