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Six Young Northwestern Faculty Receive Sloan Fellowships

Six faculty members at Northwestern University have received research fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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March 20, 2007 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Six faculty members at Northwestern University have received research fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

They are Franz Geiger, Bartosz Grzybowski, Lincoln Lauhon, David Nadler, Karl Scheidt and Joshua Singer.

The foundation awarded 116 Sloan Research Fellowships this year. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the only institution with more recipients than Northwestern. MIT had seven while Harvard University, like Northwestern, had six.

The Sloan Fellows are scientists and scholars in the early stages of their careers chosen on the basis of exceptional promise to contribute to the advancement of knowledge. They receive grants of $45,000 for a two-year period to pursue whatever lines of inquiry are of most interest to them. Thirty-five Sloan Fellows have won Nobel Prizes later in their careers.

Geiger, associate professor of chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Dow Chemical Company Research Professor, is a physical chemist whose work focuses on the special roles that surfaces and interfaces play in tropospheric and soil chemistry and their implications for climate change and environmental pollution. His research involves using laser spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. In one example, Geiger's research group uses lasers to determine how tightly pollutants stick to environmental interfaces. His group also studies how indoor air pollutants interact with catalysts, with the goal of developing remediation strategies for indoor air pollution.

Geiger is the recipient of numerous honors, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Environmental Chemistry Award and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Northwestern Undergraduate Chemistry Council. He was named a Searle Teaching Scholar and serves on the editorial board of Geochemical Transactions. He came to Northwestern in 2001.

In his interdisciplinary research, Grzybowski, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, combines elements of inorganic and organic chemistry, physics and materials science to focus on the synthesis of new classes of micro- and nano-structured materials through self-assembly (bottom-up) and self-organization (top-down). In addition to the great practical promise they hold, both the bottom-up and top-down approaches present a range of fundamental questions regarding the nature of spontaneous processes at small scales.

He has received a Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award, an NSF CAREER Award, a 3M Nontenured Faculty Award and the American Chemical Society Unilever Award for Outstanding Young Investigator in Colloid and Surfactant Science. He also was named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences_. Before joining Northwestern in 2003, he was director of research at Concurrent Pharmaceuticals and an associate of the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University.

Lauhon, assistant professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Morris E. Fine Junior Professor in Materials and Manufacturing, synthesizes nanostructured semiconducting materials for use in nanotechnology-enabled applications. His research group also is developing new techniques for visualizing the structure and properties of materials on the nanoscale.

Lauhon joined the Northwestern faculty in 2003 following a chemistry postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. His research was recognized with an NSF CAREER Award, and he was named a Junior Fellow by the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence. His publications have been cited more than 2,000 times to date. Lauhon is the topical editor for nanoengineering for the journal Nanoscale Research Letters.

In his research, Nadler, assistant professor of mathematics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is interested in representation theory of real groups, singularities of algebraic spaces and maps, perverse sheaves and Morse theory, loop spaces and the geometric Langlands program.

Nadler joined Northwestern in 2005 after holding a National Science Foundation postdoctoral research fellowship for three years while a mathematics instructor at the University of Chicago.

Scheidt, assistant professor of chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, seeks to advance the field of chemistry through the discovery of new catalytic reactions. His research program integrates chemical synthesis, bioorganic chemistry and materials science. Scheidt's investigations into new chemical processes have the potential to minimize the environmental impact of chemistry. He uses nature as an inspiration for the development of important building blocks for medicine, biology and material science. Scheidt's group also is engaged in the synthesis of new anti-tumor natural products with the goals of understanding their modes of action and improving their potential for use in medicine.

His honors include an NSF CAREER Award, an Amgen Young Investigator Award, an Abbott Laboratories New Faculty Award, the Boehringer-Ingelheim New Investigator Award in Organic Chemistry and the Northwestern University Distinguished Teaching Award. After a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, Scheidt joined Northwestern in 2002.

Singer, an assistant professor of ophthalmology and physiology in the Feinberg School of Medicine, seeks to understand how the output of a neural circuit reflects the behaviors of the individual neurons that compose it. Specifically, he studies how connections between neurons in the retina allow light to be encoded as a visual signal.

Singer has received a Career Development Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Before joining Northwestern in 2005, Singer was a postdoctoral research fellow at NIH for six years. While there, he received the Fellows' Award for Research Excellence from NIH and the Pharmacology Research Associate Training Program Fellowship from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Sloan Research Fellows are selected from the top young investigators who do research in the disciplines of chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience and physics, and often are in their first appointments to university faculties.