College of LAS « Illinois


Illinois faculty members named Sloan Research Fellows

Awards are given to early-career scientists

Elena Fuchs Kami Hull Joaquín Rodríguez-López Yue Shen Jian Peng

Five University of Illinois faculty members, including four in the College of LAS, have received the 2016 Sloan Research Fellowship for early-career scientists from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

This year, 126 Sloan Research Fellowships were awarded to early-career scientists and scholars from 52 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. Senior scholars chose awardees from nominated candidates based on research accomplishments, creativity and leadership potential in the candidate’s field. The U. of I. recipients are Elena Fuchs, Kami Hull, Joaquín Rodríguez-López, Yue Shen, and Jian Peng. Each will receive $55,000 to pursue further research.

Fuchs joined the mathematics department at the U. of I. in 2014. Her work uses a combination of arithmetic and geometry to prove new number theoretic results about so-called thin groups such as the Apollonian group, central to the study of Apollonian circle packings. Fuchs also studies thin groups outside of the number theoretic setting, for example, proving that groups are generic in a natural sense.

Hull joined the chemistry department at Illinois in 2012. Her research focus is on developing new catalytic methods, specifically using transition-metal catalysts to streamline organic synthesis. Her research aims to maximize efficiency while minimizing negative environmental impacts and natural resource waste.

Rodríguez-López, a professor of chemistry, joined the U. of I. faculty in 2012. His research centers on the fundamentals of electrochemical energy storage and conversion. His group develops chemically sensitive tools for exploring ionic and electronic reactivity in nanomaterials, leading to strategies for powering next-generation batteries.

Shen, an astronomy professor, joined the Illinois faculty in 2015. He studies distant supermassive black holes that linger at the center of galaxies. He uses ground- and space-based telescopes to explore the physical nature of these exotic black holes, their evolution across cosmic time and their roles in the formation of galaxies.

Peng joined the computer science department at Illinois in 2015. His research focuses on computational biology and machine learning. In particular, his research group develops advanced computational techniques for studying the molecular mechanisms of human diseases, predicting protein structure and function and analyzing large-scale biological data sets.

By Sarah Banducci, Illinois News Bureau
February 2016