[Chronicle]

April 15, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 14

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    Mathematicians, economist receive Sloan Fellowships to continue their research


    Three University mathematics professors and one economics professor were recently selected as 1999 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship recipients for their exceptional promise to contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

    The recipients are Steven Levitt, Associate Professor in Economics; Benson Farb, Assistant Professor in Mathematics; and Matthias Schwarz and Shankar Venkataramani, Assistant Professors in Mathematics. Now in its 44th year, the Sloan Research Fellowship Program has supported more than 3,400 young researchers by awarding nearly $83 million. The four Chicago recipients will each receive $35,000 in unrestricted research funds.

    Fellowship candidates are nominated by department chairs and other senior scholars familiar with their talents. More than 400 nominations for the 100 awards were reviewed by a committee of distinguished scientists and scholars, including Lars Hansen, the Homer J. Livingston Professor in Economics at the University.

    Once chosen, Sloan Fellows may pursue whatever lines of inquiry are of most interest to them, and they are permitted to employ fellowship funds in a wide variety of ways to further their research aims.

    Levitt studies the economic aspects of crime. In a recent paper, “Juvenile Crime and Punishment,” he showed that crime rates drop as teen-agers reach adulthood and begin to receive harsher penalties for their criminal actions. Levitt received a B.A. in economics from Harvard in 1989 and a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. He joined the faculty in 1997, and in 1998, he received the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

    Farb conducts research in geometric group theory, low-dimensional geometry and topology, and discrete subgroups of Lie groups and rigidity. He received his B.S. degree in mathematics summa cum laude from Cornell with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1989 and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1994. He came to the University as an L.E. Dickson Instructor in Mathematics in 1994 and became an Assistant Professor in 1996.

    Schwarz studies symplectic geometry and Hamiltonian dynamical systems and global analysis. He received his Diplom in mathematics from Ruhr-Universitšt Bochum, Germany, in 1992 and his Ph.D. from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1995. Schwarz served as a Leibniz postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge, England, in 1995-96 and as the Szegoe assistant professor at Stanford University from 1996-98. He joined the Chicago faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1998.

    Venkataramani specializes in partial differential equations, dynamical systems and their applications, systems with many degrees of freedom, fluid flows and scientific computation. He received a B. Tech. degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India, in 1992. He completed his M.S. in 1995 and his Ph.D. in 1996, both in physics, at the University of Maryland.

    Venkataramani came to the University as a Research Associate at the James Franck Institute and the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center in 1996. He received an additional appointment as an L.E. Dickson Instructor in Mathematics in 1997, then became an Assistant Professor in 1998.