Five Indian-origin/South Asian researchers win 2022 Sloan Research Fellowship

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At least five scientists of Indian and other South Asian origin have been selected for the prestigious Sloan fellowship awarded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. They are among 118 winners announced Feb. 15, 2022 congratulates the winners of the 2022 Sloan Research Fellowships.

“These 118 early-career scholars represent the most promising scientific researchers working today,” the Sloan Foundation said. “Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada.”

Winners receive $75,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense that supports their research.

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Those of Indian/South Asian origin were in 3 fields of research, as follows:

Chemistry

Deep M. Jariwala, University of Pennsylvania

Pratyush Tiwary, University of Maryland, College Park

Computer Science

Pravesh K. Kothari, Carnegie Mellon University

Neuroscience

Aparna Bhaduri, University of California, Los Angeles

Prerana Shrestha, Stony Brook University

Deep Jariwala is an Assistant Professor in Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), which he joined in 2018 and where he started his own group.

Professor Deep M. Jariwala. Photo: iitbhufoundation.org

A graduate in Metallurgical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, he further degrees from top U.S. universities, Northwestern University and Caltech. Jariwala has several patents in his name and has received numerous awards through his career. His research interests broadly lie at the intersection of new materials, surface science and solid-state devices for computing, sensing, opto-electronics and energy harvesting applications.

Pratyush Tiwary, also a graduate of IIT, Banaras Hindu University, leads his research group at University of Maryland to do inter-disciplinary theoretical and computational research to model and predict thermodynamics, dynamics and their interplay in complex real-world systems, relevant to pharmaceutical, chemical and materials sciences, his profile on the UMD website says. A common theme across these diverse systems is that many of these are plagued with hard to model rare events.

Professor Pratyush Tiwary. Photo: chem.umd.edu

Tiwary has received numerous major recognitions and honors including OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, American Chemical Society, 2021; National Science Foundation Career Award, 2021; National Institutes of Health R35 Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA), 2021, among many others. After graduating from India, Prof. Tiwary got further degrees at Caltech, and earned two Postdoctoral fellowships, one at the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zurich, and the other at Columbia University.

In the field of Computer Sciences, Professor Pravesh K. Kothari of Carnegie Mellon University, works broadly in the field of theoretical computer science and its interactions with allied areas such as high-dimensional probability and statistical estimation.

Professor Pravesh K. Kothari, Carnegie Mellon U. Photo: csd.cmu.edu

Kothari is a graduate of IIT, Kanpur, and went on to get his PhD in Theoretical Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin. His research develops a new approach, called the “proofs-to-algorithms” paradigm, for designing algorithms for statistical estimation problems arising in areas such as machine learning and cryptography, Carnegie Mellon said in a press release.

“His recent work has led to progress on long-standing open questions such as finding an algorithm to robustly learn a mixture of arbitrary Gaussians and proving Feige’s conjecture in combinatorics on the length of the smallest cycle in hypergraphs,” CMU said.

“Kothari is a prolific researcher doing influential and deep work at the intersection of algorithms, statistics, machine learning and complexity theory,” Computer Science Department Professor Ryan O’Donnell, who nominated Kothari, is quoted saying on the CMU website. “The ’proofs to algorithms’ paradigm he is developing has greatly enriched our understanding of optimization under stochastic inputs.” He earlier worked at the School of Mathematics of the Institute for Advanced Study, and was a research instructor at Princeton University.

Professor Aparna Bhaduri. Photo: biolchem.ucla.edu

In the field of Neuroscience, Aparna Bhaduri, an assistant professor in biological chemistry at UCLA, received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and B.A. in Political Science from Rice University in 2007. She did her doctoral work in Cancer Biology at Stanford University working with Dr. Paul Khavari where she studied epidermal differentiation and epithelial cancers. While she was a graduate student, she developed her bioinformatic skill set as well as an appreciation for the inverse roles of development and cancer. As a postdoc, she used single-cell RNA-sequencing to characterize the developing human brain and to compare these developmental time points to cortical organoid models of development and glioblastoma brain tumors.

She has received several awards including the 2022 Allen Institute Next Generation Leaders Advisory Council membership; For Women in Science Fellowship, L’Oreal and AAAS; and the 2019 K99/R00 Transition to Independence Award.

Professor Prerena Shrestha. Photo: stonybrook.edu

In the field of Neuroscience, Prerana Shrestha of Stony Brook University in New York, is an assistant professor at the Department of neurobiology and Behavior. She received her B.S. in Biological Chemistry Magna cum laude from Bates College and her Ph.D. in Life Sciences from The Rockefeller University. Shrestha has done original research in the study of the prefrontal cortex and behavior among mice.  During her postdoctoral fellowship with Eric Klann at New York University, she developed genetically encoded cell-type specific protein synthesis inhibitors and studied the role of de novo protein synthesis in specific neuronal populations in amygdala during consolidation of emotional memories. Her laboratory is focused on studying the dynamics of protein synthesis regulation in memory systems. She received the NARSAD Young investigator award in 2017.

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