Five Faculty Members Named 2010
Sloan Research Fellows
Special from The Record
Five Columbia faculty members were named research fellows by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which awards two-year, $50,000 grants to support the work of exceptional young researchers early in their academic careers. They were honored along with 118 scientists, mathematicians and economists.
Columbia’s new Sloan Fellows are:
Navin Kartik, an associate professor of economics, does research in the fields of applied microeconomic theory and political economy, primarily using game theory models. Much of his work deals with strategic communication of private information, with the broad goal of understanding how information is transmitted between agents (such as individuals or firms) when there are conflicts of interest. Kartik has been with Columbia since 2008 following stints at the University of California, San Diego and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
Eitan Grinspun, associate professor of computer science, uses computer graphics to simulate the motion of everyday objects. Drawing on ideas from graphics, applied mathematics, differential geometry and engineering, his research findings have been used by movie studios creating special effects and in the manufacture of nonwoven textiles like baby diapers and surgical masks. Recently he has been working with physicists to understand the motion of hair and other long, slender objects.
Assistant professor of chemistry Tristan Lambert is looking at ways that simple hydrocarbon-based molecules, called aromatic ions, can catalyze or otherwise promote chemical reactions. The term aromatic, once only associated with certain pleasant smelling chemicals, describes a special property of stability found in many different molecules, such as benzene. The aromatic ions Lambert studies are both stable and electrically charged, making them capable of activating molecules in ways that have traditionally required metal-based reagents or other highly reactive, sensitive and often toxic reagents. Lambert came to Columbia to teach in 2006 after serving as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Scott Snyder, assistant professor of chemistry, received a grant for his work synthesizing individual molecules found in nature to understand their biological mechanisms and to find everyday applications for them. By identifying the chemicals in red wine that give prolonged life or by studying the toxins created by sea sponges, Snyder’s work may lead to methods of combating diseases such as cancer and HIV. Snyder came to Columbia in 2006 after serving as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.
Tanya Zelevinsky, assistant professor of physics, and her research group at Columbia are building a new laboratory to study the quantum effects in atoms and molecules at temperatures near absolute zero. She is also collaborating with a particle physics group, using cold-atom techniques in which laser light is used to trap and cool atoms for precision measurements. The group is searching for dark matter, a hypothetical form of matter that is believed to make up most of the universe. Zelevinsky has been with Columbia since 2008, following postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado, where her team developed a highly precise atomic “lattice” clock.
—by John Uhl