May 1, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 15

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    Five scholars on faculty selected as Sloan fellows

    By Jessamine Chan, John Easton and Steve Koppes
    Graduate School of Business, Medical Center Public Affairs, News Office

    The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has selected five University scholars to receive the 2003 Sloan Research Fellowships. Marianne Bertrand, Associate Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business; Naoum Issa, Assistant Professor in Neurobiology; Sergey Kozmin, Assistant Professor in Chemistry; Yimin Zou, Assistant Professor in Neurobiology; and Andrzej Zuk, Assistant Professor in Mathematics and the College, are among 117 outstanding scientists and economists named from 50 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

    Now in its 48th year, the Sloan Research Fellowship Program has supported more than 3,800 young researchers by awarding more than $99 million. The five Chicago recipients each will receive $40,000 in unrestricted research funds.

    A committee of distinguished scientists, including Lars Hansen, Chairman of Economics and the Homer J. Livingston Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and the College, and Martin Kreitman, Professor in Ecology & Evolution and the College, reviewed more than 500 nominations for the 2003 fellowships.

    “The Sloan Research Fellowships were created by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. in 1955 to provide crucial and flexible funds to outstanding researchers early in their academic careers,” said Ralph Gomory, the president of the Sloan Foundation. “Through the years these fellowships have helped the research careers of their recipients, and we are very proud to be associated with their achievements.”

    Bertrand focuses her research on corporate finance and labor economics. She also recently received widespread media attention for her study, “Are Emily and Brendan More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.”

    Prior to joining the faculty at the GSB in 2000, Bertrand taught at Princeton University. She received a Licence in economics in 1991 and a Maitrise in econometrics in 1992 from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. She received a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1998.

    Issa studies the organization and development of sensory perception in the cerebral cortex, or how the cells of the brain learn to work together to make sense of the world. Issa’s research involves the visual cortex and focuses on how individual neurons respond to specific aspects of information from the retina, detecting edges, for example. He also studies the role of experience in the development of the cortex, such as how sleep enables the cortex to adapt to changes in the environment. Issa was co-author of a recent paper that demonstrated a crucial role for slow-wave sleep in consolidating and enhancing the cortical response to daytime visual experiences.

    A graduate of Southern Methodist University, Issa earned his M.D. and Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He came to Chicago from the University of California at San Francisco in 2001.

    Kozmin specializes in modern organic synthesis. While he conducts basic research, the ultimate goal of his work is to provide new directions for the development of small-molecule modulators of cell-signaling pathways. This work may yield anticancer therapeutic applications.

    Kozmin joined the Chicago faculty in 2000, after serving as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Pennsylvania for two years. He earned his diploma with honors from Moscow State University in 1993 and his Ph.D. from Chicago in 1998. While at Chicago, he earned the Elizabeth Norton Prize for Excellence in Graduate Research.

    Zou studies the initial wiring of the nervous system, the molecular mechanisms that neurons use to connect with each other to form the networks that support the brain’s behavioral functions. Understanding the molecular cues that regulate axonal pathfinding will shed light on the normal development of the nervous system as well as help show how miswiring can contribute to neurological and mental disorders. Zou also studies neural plasticity–how the adult nervous system can rewire itself in response to experience, such as the loss of a limb–research that could provide clues to repairing damage to the central nervous system, such as paralysis caused by traumatic injury or neurodegenerative disease.

    Zou, who came to Chicago from the University of California at San Francisco in 2000, is a graduate of Fudan University and earned his Ph.D. in 1995 from the University of California at Davis and San Diego.

    Zuk focuses his research on geometry and analysis on discrete groups. He is especially interested in computing spectral invariants, representation theory and large-scale geometry of groups and manifolds.

    Zuk joined the Chicago faculty in 2001, following assignments at the Ecole Normale Superieure and Cornell University. He completed his Ph.D. in pure mathematics at the Universite de Toulouse and the Universite d’Orsay in France in 1997.