Five U of T researchers recognized with Sloan Research Fellowships

Five University of Toronto researchers – two from the Faculty of Arts & Science, one from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and one each from U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough – have been awarded prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships for 2022.

The fellowships, awarded annually by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation since 1955, honour the extraordinary early career researchers in Canada and the United States “whose creativity, innovation and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of scientific leaders.”

U of T was among a handful of North American schools to receive five or more fellowships this year, tying with Stanford University, University of Chicago and Columbia University – and just behind University of California, Los Angeles, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. The other Canadian school to receive a fellowship was the University of Alberta.

The five U of T researchers to be awarded Sloan Research Fellowships, which each provide US$75,000 over two years to advance fundamental research, are: 

  • Assistant Professor David Duvenaud, department of computer science with a cross-appointment to the department of statistical sciences, Faculty of Arts & Science
  • Assistant Professor Michael Groechenig, department of mathematical and computational sciences, U of T Mississauga
  • Assistant Professor Alec Jacobson, department of computer science with a cross-appointment to the department of mathematics, Faculty of Arts & Science
  • Assistant Professor Alexander Kupers, department of computer and mathematical sciences, U of T Scarborough
  • Assistant Professor Nicolas Papernot, Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical and computer engineering, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Professor Marsha Chechik, chair of the department of computer science in the Faculty of Arts & Science, congratulated Duvenaud and Jacobson on their awards.

“Through his deeply insightful research in machine learning, David has demonstrated the power of radically disruptive ideas,” Chechik said. “Alec has made outstanding contributions to the area of geometry processing, and it has been exciting to witness the impact of his prolific research across a range of fields.”

Professor Deepa Kundur, chair of the Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical and computer engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, similarly offered her congratulations to Papernot for his award.

“Professor Papernot exemplifies the ECE mindset with forward-looking research and a willingness to learn about and incorporate other fields for impactful solutions,” Kundur said. “The Sloan Foundation has made an excellent choice for its early-career fellowship.” 

At U of T Scarborough, Professor Irena Creed, vice-principal, research and innovation, lauded the work of Kupers.

“Congratulations to Professor Kupers on this tremendous – and much deserved – honour,” Creed said. “This fellowship recognizes researchers who are in the early stages of their careers and show great promise in making significant contributions to their fields. We look forward to seeing where his research will lead in the future.”   

Professor Leah Cowen, U of T’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives, called each Sloan Research Fellow a rising star.

“From breakthroughs in computational chemistry to developing trustworthy artificial intelligence, they are pushing beyond the frontiers of what we know today to be possible,” Cowen said.

“U of T continues to be a leader in research with these prestigious fellowships – we received more fellowships than any other Canadian institution this year, and over the past decade, our remarkable researchers have accounted for half of Canada’s Sloan Fellows.

“We are immensely proud to see this latest group flourish in their fields.”