Assistant Professor Laura Starkson, Department of Mathematics, is one of two UC Davis faculty named as 2021 Sloan Research Fellows by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Considered one of the most prestigious fellowships given to young researchers, the Sloan Research Fellowship includes $75,000 over two years to support the fellow’s research.
Starkston's research is in symplectic topology and low-dimensional topology. For example, she studies how four-dimensional spaces, or manifolds, can be represented in two or three dimensions. One approach to that, Starkston said, is to construct a series of two-dimensional pieces that fit together in a specific way to define a four-dimensional object, much as a floor, walls and roof can fit together to define a three-dimensional house. The four-dimensional spaces Starkston studies are abstract, but could represent anything with four parameters — such as a three-dimensional object that changes over time.
In addition to the Sloan Research Fellowship, Starkston is the recipient of a 2020 Hellman Fellowship and a 2021 Faculty Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation.
The other UC Davis honoree is Rishidev Chaudhuri, an assistant professor with a joint appointment between the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences; and the Department of Mathematics, College of Letters and Science. He studies how the brain processes information, drawing on ideas from information theory, dynamical systems and machine learning, and using them to build mathematical models of brain function and analyze large-scale recordings of brain activity.
The foundation awards 128 Sloan Research Fellowships a year in eight fields: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, Earth system science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience and physics.
— Andy Fell, UC Davis News & Media Relations