Two professors awarded Sloan Research Fellowships

Kelly Sutherland of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and Clark Honors College
Kelly Sutherland of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and Clark Honors College

Two University of Oregon professors have been selected for 2016 Sloan Research Fellowships, an award given to 126 professional researchers in 52 colleges and universities from across the U.S. and Canada.

With the addition of this year’s two UO awardees — biologist Kelly Sutherland and mathematician Benjamin Elias — the total number of UO Sloan fellows has jumped to 34 since the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation began giving the grant in 1955. Awardees must be nominated by their fellow scientists.

A complete list of the 2016 fellows and a historical archive of past winners can be found on the foundation’s website. 

The award provides $55,000 in funds over two years for researchers in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics.

For Sutherland, an assistant professor of biology in the Clark Honors College, the grant money will help fund her recent work and continued research on the mobility and interaction between marine animals in ocean environments, primarily jelly-plankton.

“I plan to use the Sloan funding to leverage travel to research sites locally in the Pacific Northwest and abroad, in Panama and France, where there’s a diversity of jelly-plankton,” Sutherland said. “We use a mechanistic approach, often getting nose-to-nose with marine animals via scuba diving, to investigate how they swim and feed in a watery, three-dimensional environment. In other words, we want to know how these animals ‘work.’”

Elias, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, was also recently awarded a National Science Foundation Career Grant. He is planning to use the combined funds to continue his research around the concept of categorization of algebraic structures. His research often involves working closely with fellow academics from around the world, as well as his own graduate students here at the university.

“I don't know yet which money I'll be spending on what, but together, the grants will fund travel, summer salary and support for my grad students and possibly a course release,” Elias said. “When I was a graduate student I had a remarkably generous advisor, so I will be happy to be able to give back to my own grad students.”

— By Nathaniel Brown, University Communications intern