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3 NYU Faculty Win Sloan Foundation Fellowships

Fri, 02/18/2011 - 8:25am
EurekAlert

Three New York University faculty have been awarded fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Robert Fergus and Jinyang Li, assistant professors of computer science at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and Matthieu Wyart, an assistant professor in NYU's Department of Physics.

Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars in recognition of achievement and the potential to contribute substantially to their fields.

"The scientists and researchers selected for this year's Sloan Research Fellowships represent the very brightest rising stars of this generation of scholars," said Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "The Foundation is proud to be able to support their work at this important stage in their careers."

The $50,000 fellowships, given over a two-year period, are awarded in chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, and physics.

Fergus' research is in the areas of computer vision, machine learning, and computer graphics. A unifying theme of his work is the construction of statistical image models--for example, those for objects and scenes as well as for pixels and edges. These models may then be deployed in a variety of problems, such as object recognition, image search, and computational photography.

Li builds and investigates software systems that can effectively harness the physical resources of a large number of computers to achieve high-computing capacity. Such systems are essential for large-scale web services, data center infrastructures, and high-performance data-intensive computations. Her current projects include Piccolo, a programming model for developing applications that distribute their computation across many machines in data centers, and SumUp, a content voting system that is resilient against Sybil attacks that cast a large number of bogus votes.

Wyart explores the properties of systems displaying structural disorder, a kind of randomness that appears in biophysics, neuroscience, material science, soft matter and in the mathematics of sphere packing. Research in this field seeks to enhance the design and the process of soft materials from the molecular to the macroscopic scale, with applications ranging from pharmaceuticals to the oil industry.

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