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Three Named Sloan Research Fellows

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April 1, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Three Northwestern University faculty members in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences have been named Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows.

They are Jianhua Cang, assistant professor of neurobiology and physiology; Kevin J. Costello, assistant professor of mathematics; and Wojciech Olszewski, associate professor of economics.

They are among 118 young scholars recognized for research at the frontiers of physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics and neuroscience. The faculty members will receive grants of $50,000 for a two-year period to pursue lines of research of most interest to them.

Cang's research interest is in the functional development of the visual system. His lab is pursuing two lines of closely related research: revealing how spontaneous activity refines visual maps in the developing brain, and determining how early visual experience reorganizes and fine-tunes synaptic connections in the cortex to ensure normal cortical functions. Cang joined the Northwestern faculty in 2006.

Costello is interested in problems in geometry and algebra arising from mathematical physics, and particularly from string theory. Much of his research concerns the moduli space of Riemann surfaces, which is the space of all possible two dimensional shapes. This space plays a fundamental role in many areas of mathematics and in string theory. In addition, Costello is interested in foundational questions in quantum field theory." Costello joined the faculty in 2006.

Olszewski, who last year received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation, is testing empirically probabilistic theories. He studies tests that reveal if a potential expert is knowledgeable about the actual data generating process (such as with weather forecasts). Olszewski studies only empirical tests -- tests that give a verdict based on the potential expert's theory and observed data.

Another area of Olszewski's research focuses on repeated games with private monitoring. His objective is to find the range of possible equilibrium outcomes for repeated games with imperfect private monitoring — to provide simple and "robust" equilibria, if possible. Olszewski joined the faculty in 2001.

The Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded since 1955. Since then, 35 Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in their fields, and 14 have received the Fields Medal, the top honor in mathematics. Sloan Research Fellowships in economics began in 1983; since then Sloan Fellows have accounted for eight of the 13 winners of the John Bates Clark Medal, generally considered the top honor for young economists.
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