Patrick Shih in front of his plants

Credit: David Slipher/UC Davis

Patrick Shih, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Biology, is one of four young faculty members to be awarded Sloan Research Fellowships this year. Shih is studying the evolution of photosynthesis.

Nineteen faculty from seven different University of California campuses have been named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows, a distinguished annual award that recognizes early-career scientists and scholars.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recognized 126 outstanding American and Canadian faculty from 57 colleges and universities. Sloan fellows are nominated by their peers and selected on the strength of their research achievements, creativity and potential to become leaders in their fields. Winners are awarded a two-year, $70,000 fellowship to further their research.

“Sloan Research Fellows are the best young scientists working today,” said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Sloan fellows stand out for their creativity, for their hard work, for the importance of the issues they tackle, and the energy and innovation with which they tackle them. To be a Sloan fellow is to be in the vanguard of 21st century science.”

Sloan Research Fellowships are open to scholars in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics.

First awarded in 1955, past Sloan fellows have gone on to make significant scientific contributions. Forty-seven fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective field, 17 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, 69 have received the National Medal of Science, and 18 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, including every winner since 2007.

The 2019 Sloan fellows hail from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco and UC Santa Barbara. They are:


Yongjie Hu, UCLA

Hu, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, conducts research on heat transfer and electron transport in nanostructures, interfaces and packaging. Hu’s work has contributed to developing the most efficient semiconductor material.

Computational and evolutionary molecular biology

Priya Moorjani, UC Berkeley

Priya Moorjani headshot
Priya Moorjani
Credit: UC Berkeley

Moorjani’s research focuses on using statistical and computational approaches to study questions in human genetics and evolutionary biology, with a central aim of understanding the impact of evolutionary history on genetic variation and its application to human history and biology.

Patrick Shih, UC Davis

Shih is an assistant professor in the department of plant biology at UC Davis. His research focuses on engineering and investigating the evolution of metabolic pathways using synthetic biology.  

Computer science

Moritz Hardt, UC Berkeley

An assistant professor in electrical engineering and computer science, Hardt’s research aims to make the practice of machine learning more robust, reliable, and aligned with societal values.

Sergey Levine, UC Berkeley

Levine’s research as an assistant professor in electrical engineering and computer science focuses on the intersection between control and machine learning, with the aim of developing algorithms and techniques that can endow machines with the ability to autonomously acquire the skills for executing complex tasks.


Denis Chetverikov, UCLA

Chetverikov, an econometrician at UCLA’s department of economics, has recently researched work on high-dimensional models, shape restrictions and applications of empirical process theory in econometrics.

Philipp Strack, UC Berkeley

Strack, an assistant professor of economics, is a microeconomic theorist who studies the behavior of people in dynamic situations. Applications of his work include revenue maximizing sales of airplane tickets, optimal unemployment benefits and competition between mutual fund managers.

Gabriel Zucman headshot
Gabriel Zucman
Credit: UC Berkeley

Gabriel Zucman, UC Berkeley

An assistant professor of economics, Zucman’s research focuses on global wealth, inequalities and tax havens.


Shirshendu Ganguly, UC Berkeley

Ganguly, an assistant professor in statistics, researches probability theory and its applications. Recently he’s examined problems in disordered metric geometries.

Tianyi Zheng, UC San Diego

As an assistant professor in UC San Diego’s department of mathematics, Zheng’s primary research is in random walks on groups. Of particular interest are harmonic functions on groups, metric embeddings, and the “spectral” approach to problems in geometric group theory.

Xin Zhou, UC Santa Barbara

Zhou researches differential geometry, the calculus of variations and general relativity as an assistant professor within UC Santa Barbara’s department of mathematics.  


Saul Kato, UCSF

Saul Kato headshot
Saul Kato
Credit: UCSF

An assistant professor of neurology, Kato runs the Kato Lab at UCSF’s Center for Integrative Neuroscience. The lab develops and applies computational, cutting-edge engineering and experimental approaches to basic and applied neuroscience and builds theories of brain function in humans and animals.

Thomas Sprague, UC Santa Barbara

Sprague is an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences. His lab examines how the actions we wish to perform impact neural representations of the world by combining computational neuroimaging, behavioral testing and model-based analysis techniques to shed light on how brain networks support and constrain our ability to represent information about our environment.

Ocean sciences

Rachael Bay, UC Davis

Rachael Bay headshot
Rachael Bay
Credit: UC Davis

Bay is an assistant professor in the department of evolution and ecology. Her lab studies interactions between human-induced changes in the environment and evolutionary processes. This includes how animals respond to changes in their environment that are caused by humans, as well as how evolution might mitigate some of the negative impacts of human-induced change.

Wei Liu, UC Riverside

Liu, an assistant professor in the department of earth sciences at UC Riverside, focuses his research on the dynamics controlling the evolution and variability of the climate system and associated climate adaptation.


Eduardo H. da Silva Neto, UC Davis

As an assistant professor of physics at UC Davis, da Silva Neto uses advanced spectroscopic techniques to investigate the electrons in modern quantum materials.

Courtney Dressing, UC Berkeley

Dressing, an observational astronomer and assistant professor of astronomy, focuses her research on detecting and characterizing planetary systems orbiting nearby stars. Curious about how planets form and evolve with time, she uses telescopes on the ground and in space to search for planets, probe their atmospheres, measure their masses and constrain their bulk compositions.

Aaswath Raman, UCLA

Aaswath Raman headshot
Aaswath Raman
Credit: UCLA

Raman, an assistant professor in UCLA’s materials science and engineering department who has been honored for his research on renewable energy, explores how light and heat can be controlled at the nanoscale to enable new technological possibilities for cleaner energy, information processing, sensing, displays and communication systems.

Inna Vishik, UC Davis

Inna Vishik headshot
Inna Vishik
Credit: UC Davis

Vishik is an assistant professor of physics who focuses her research on high-resolution angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and ultrafast optical studies of quantum materials. Her lab examines the growth and study of novel quantum materials, particularly unconventional and high temperature superconductors, correlated electron systems, topological materials and energy materials.