Three Penn Researchers Awarded 2016 Sloan Fellowships

Three University of Pennsylvania faculty members are among recipients of this year’s Sloan Research Fellowship, two from Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, one from Penn’s Wharton School, granted annually to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders. 

Matthew Kayser
Assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience
Perelman School of Medicine

Matthew Kayser is a practicing psychiatrist at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, specializing in issues related to sleep and mental health. His lab works on how neural circuits give rise to complex behaviors and how dysfunction of neural processes can cause mental illness. His particular focus is in understanding how sleep — a highly conserved behavior whose core function remains a mystery — contributes to sculpting brain circuits during development and in other times of life.

Zongming Ma
Assistant professor in the department of statistics 
The Wharton School

Zongming Ma conducts research on statistical analysis of high-dimensional and massive datasets, such as those arising from neuroscience and social networks. His research focuses on the core statistical problems that are common to these and other related application areas. By building the mathematical foundation for these problems, his goal is to gain sufficient theoretical insights to design practical algorithms for better data analysis.

Golnaz Vahedi
Assistant professor of genetics and a member of the Institute for Immunology 
Perelman School of Medicine

Golnaz Vahedi studies the biological circuits that underlie cellular processes in immune cells to uncover the molecular basis of major inherited diseases. Her lab works with vast quantities of rich, high-dimensional data that capture system-wide properties at molecular and cellular resolution in immune cells. A major focus of the Vahedi lab is to deconstruct gene-environment interactions in complex diseases such as autoimmune disorders by generating the epigenomic maps of immune cells and developing computational methods to integrate these maps with human genetics.

Sloan Research Fellows are nominated by their peers and selected by an independent panel of senior scholars. Each Fellow receives a $50,000 award to further his or her research. 

“Getting early-career support can be a make-or-break moment for a young scholar,” said Paul L. Joskow, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “In an increasingly competitive academic environment, it can be difficult to stand out, even when your work is first rate. The Sloan Research Fellowships have become an unmistakable marker of quality among researchers. Fellows represent the best of the best among young scientists.”