Five faculty selected for Sloan Fellowships

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has chosen five Stanford scientists to receive Sloan research fellowships for 2006: Zhenan Bao, associate professor of chemical engineering; Simon Brendle, assistant professor of mathematics; Anne Brunet, assistant professor of genetics; Muriel Niederle, assistant professor of economics; and Tim Roughgarden, assistant professor of computer science.

They are among the 116 outstanding young researchers in the United States and Canada to receive $45,000 in unrestricted research grants over the next two years. The fellowships are designed to help promising young faculty members freely pursue their research interests.

Zhenan Bao received her doctorate in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1995 and joined the Department of Chemical Engineering as an associate professor in 2004. Her work focuses on synthesis and self-assembly of nano- and microstructures with novel electronic and photonic properties. She has developed several high-performance organic semiconductors that are used in flexible electronic circuits and displays. Bao's work may lead to ever smaller microprocessors with the circuitry printed onto a flexible plastic surface. Her current research explores organic semiconductors for small biological and chemical sensors, high-performance organic photovoltaic materials, carbon nanotube-based flexible electronics and self-assembling microstructures. Bao's work has been awarded 16 U.S. patents. She has won several awards for her innovations, including the American Chemical Society Team Innovation Award in 2001.

Simon Brendle received his doctorate from the University of Tübingen, Germany, in 2001 and came to the United States in 2002 to work at Princeton University. In 2005 he joined the Stanford Department of Mathematics as an assistant professor. Brendle's area of expertise is differential geometry. He studies the deformations of surfaces by their curvature using equations known as "curvature flows." Brendle is trying to understand the long-term behavior of these non-linear differential equations. He also is interested in problems of mathematical finance, including the problem of portfolio optimization in the case of incomplete information.

Anne Brunet earned her doctorate in cell biology from the University of Nice, France, in 1997. She completed a neuroscience postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in 2003 and came to the Stanford Department of Genetics as an assistant professor in 2004. Brunet's research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of longevity. Increasingly, studies show that aging is not a simple matter of wear and tear but is mediated by specific genes and molecular processes. To investigate the molecular processes of aging, Brunet studies two transcription networks, which have been shown to control of longevity in worms and other model organisms. Her research attempts to tease out the role these genetic pathways may play in mammals and how they may respond to external factors such as caloric restriction or oxidative stress.

Muriel Niederle earned her doctorate in economics from Harvard University in 2002 and came to Stanford that year as an assistant professor of economics. Her research focuses on market design, the evolution of rules and market institutions, and the role of institutions in market outcomes. She has written a number of papers about the National Residency Matching Market, which matches newly graduated doctors with medical residency programs. Partially in response to a class-action lawsuit filed against the Matching Market in 2002, Niederle began investigating the many ways that matching may help or harm new doctors. Her work is still in progress, but she has found that the controlled market of the resident matching program improves resident mobility without suppressing wages. Niederle also is interested in the gender gap in earnings and has done several experiments to learn more about the way gender differences play a role in the job market.

Tim Roughgarden earned his doctorate in computer science from Cornell University in 2002 and came to Stanford as an assistant professor of computer science in 2004. His work deals primarily with theories of network optimization. Many networks, including the Internet and other computer networks, suffer from the selfish, uncoordinated behavior of each individual user. Roughgarden's work focuses on designing algorithms for centralized network control that can reduce the cost of selfish routing. He wrote a book on this topic titled Selfish Routing and the Price of Anarchy, which was published in 2005. He is currently investigating a wide range of issues in algorithmic game theory including the cost of selfish behavior in games.

Emily Saarman is a science-writing intern at Stanford News Service.