Four College Alumni Named 2017 Sloan Research Fellows

Amir Ali Ahmadi (B.S. ’06, mathematics and electrical engineering), Bryan Dickinson (B.S. ’05, biochemistry), Katherine Mackey (B.S. ’02, biological sciences and agricultural engineering) and Suriyanarayanan Vaikuntanathan (Ph.D. ’11, chemical physics) receive honor

Four alumni from the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences received 2017 Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Two computer science faculty members from the college also received fellowships.  

Amir Ali Ahmadi, assistant professor in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton University; Bryan Dickinson and Suriyanarayanan Vaikuntanathan, assistant professors of chemistry at the University of Chicago; and Katherine Mackey, assistant professor of earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, were recognized by the foundation for distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.  

Ahmadi received bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering from UMD in 2006. At Princeton University, he develops new algorithms and new understanding of optimization problems.  

Dickinson received his B.S. in biochemistry from UMD in 2005. His laboratory at the University of Chicago develops molecular methods based on synthetic chemistry, protein engineering and molecular evolution to measure and control biological systems.  

Mackey received bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and agricultural engineering from UMD in 2002. At the University of California, Irvine, her group studies how photosynthesis shapes, and is shaped by, biological, chemical and physical processes in the ocean, with particular interest in the role and adaptation of phytoplankton.  

Vaikuntanathan received his Ph.D. in chemical physics from UMD in 2011. At the University of Chicago, he develops and uses tools of equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics to understand the behavior of complex systems in physical chemistry, soft condensed matter physics and biophysics. 

The two-year $60,000 Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded to U.S. and Canadian researchers in the fields of chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics. Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists and winning fellows are selected by independent panels of senior scholars on the basis of each candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in his or her field.  

Since 1955, Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win 43 Nobel Prizes, 16 Fields Medals, 69 National Medals of Science, 16 John Bates Clark Medals and numerous other distinguished awards.  

“The Sloan Research Fellows are the rising stars of the academic community,” says Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Through their achievements and ambition, these young scholars are transforming their fields and opening up entirely new research horizons. We are proud to support them at this crucial stage of their careers.” 

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and nine interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.