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U of T researchers win prestigious Sloan fellowships

Toronto, ON April 23, 2003 Five young University of Toronto researchers were recently chosen from among hundreds of promising candidates across North America to receive the prestigious Sloan research fellowships this year.

Professors Peter Andolfatto (zoology), James Colliander (mathematics), Kentaro Hori (physics), Hae-Young Kee (physics) and Daniel Lidar (chemistry) have the distinction of being the largest group of U of T winners in one year the second highest annual number of recipients was three in 1996. They also represent the lion’s share of Canadian winners in 2003, taking five of the six fellowships given to scholars at Canadian universities.

These two-year, US $40,000 fellowships are given annually by the New York-based Alfred P Sloan Foundation to 116 young research faculty at US or Canadian universities. They are intended to recognize new faculty members who show the most promise of making fundamental contributions to knowledge in seven scientific fields: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience and physics.

U of T’s strong showing this year was on par with many of the top US schools and even surpassed the number of fellowships awarded to researchers at elite institutions such as Harvard and Yale.

“I feel especially honoured to receive this award,” said Professor Daniel Lidar of chemistry, adding that young scientists in the US typically have the edge in this competition. “I now feel more compelled than ever to carry out exciting research.”

Lidar’s work focuses on the growing field of quantum computing, the study of powerful new supercomputers that can solve certain computational problems much faster than today’s conventional systems. While workable prototypes are still years away, Lidar says their most exciting use might be to simulate other interactions that depend on quantum mechanics for example, the way atoms interact with each other as a drug meets a virus.

“The university is thrilled that our brilliant new research faculty are competing so strongly with their counterparts at the top schools across North America,” said Professor Carolyn Tuohy, interim vice-president (research and international relations). “This record success reflects the critical mass of talent that continues to build here at U of T.”