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Sloan Foundation names two from Stanford for research fellowships

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has selected assistant professors Kefeng Liu of mathematics and Scott Thomas of physics for its 1998 Research Fellowships.

Stanford's new Sloan Fellows were among 100 researchers in physics, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, neuroscience and economics chosen for a boost at the early stages of their careers because of their "exceptional promise to contribute to the advancement of knowledge."

Each will receive a $35,000, two-year grant to pursue the lines of inquiry that are most interesting to them. "This flexibility is often of great value to young scientists who are at a pivotal stage in establishing their own independent research projects," according to an announcement of the awards prepared by the Sloan Foundation.

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More than 3,300 young researchers have received Sloan Research Fellowships since the program's inception in 1955. Hundreds have gone on to earn prestigious awards and honors, including 23 Nobel Prizes.

Kefeng Liu has been an assistant professor of mathematics since September 1996. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993 and served as a C.L.E. Moore Instructor at MIT for three years. Liu's field of study is algebraic topology: a mathematical field that explores ways to classify different kinds of geometric objects. The mathematics that arises from this basic approach is used in a number of different scientific fields, including biology (particularly in the analysis of DNA) and chemistry. Liu has made major contributions to the field, including the discovery that a powerful technique in number theory called modular forms, which was used recently to solve Fermat's last theorem, can be applied to algebraic topology.

Scott Thomas was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Physics in April 1997. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 1993 and then did several years of postdoctoral work at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Thomas is regarded as the leading junior phenomenologist in theoretical particle physics. His research uses novel applications of supersymmetric gauge theories to study current problems in phenomenology.


By David F. Salisbury

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