Two Arts and Sciences faculty named 2018 Sloan Research Fellows
Zeynep Saygin, assistant professor of psychology, and Hannah Shafaat, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, have been named recipients of the 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowships — a noteworthy award given annually to early-career scientists “of outstanding promise” from across the U.S. and Canada.
The two-year fellowships — each totaling $65,000 — are granted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to scientists in eight fields (chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational/evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics).
Saygin and Shafaat join 124 additional 2018 awardees, as well as 52 past Sloan Research Fellows from Ohio State since 1956. They are the first to be named from the university since 2015.
Saygin’s fellowship was awarded in neuroscience for her pioneering research on the developing human brain. She and her team are using neuroimaging tools to predict reading development in children and hope to eventually predict other skills and behaviors.
“As we learn more about the brain and behavior ... we should be able to use that knowledge to prevent and intervene in disorders,” said Saygin, adding that her current research is focused on understanding brain development in neonates during the very beginning stages of life.
Shafaat was selected for the Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry based on her research surrounding energy and how nature has evolved to manage the biological energy budget.
“For example, how are certain organisms able to convert sunlight into fuels so efficiently, or use toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide for food?” said Shafaat, explaining that the answers to such questions have implications in developing a carbon-neutral energy economy, as well as understanding the origins of life on Earth.
“I am honored and excited to be part of such a prestigious class of scholars,” she said.
Both Saygin and Shafaat were nominated for the fellowship by their peers and were then selected by an independent scientific panel comprising experts in their respective fields, who choose fellows on the basis of “independent research accomplishments, creativity and the potential to become leaders in the scientific community.”
“The Sloan Research Fellows represent the very best science has to offer,” Sloan President Adam Falk said in the foundation’s press release. “The brightest minds, tackling the hardest problems, and succeeding brilliantly — Fellows are quite literally the future of twenty-first century science.”
Notable past fellows include Richard Feynman, Steven Weinberg and John Nash, among others. Dozens of Sloan Research Fellows have won a Nobel Prize; 16 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics; 69 have received the National Medal of Science; and 17 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, including every winner since 2007.