Newswise — EVANSTON - Four Northwestern University faculty members -- mathematicians Gang Liu and Yifeng Liu, computer scientist Michael Rubenstein and neuroscientist Tiffany Schmidt — each have been awarded a prestigious 2017 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The four are among 126 outstanding early-career scholars being recognized for their achievements and potential to contribute substantially to their scientific fields. This year’s recipients were chosen from 60 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

The $60,000 fellowships are awarded in the fields of chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics.

“The Sloan Research Fellows are the rising stars of the academic community,” says Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Through their achievements and ambition, these young scholars are transforming their fields and opening up entirely new research horizons. We are proud to support them at this crucial stage of their careers.”

Gang Liu was selected as a Sloan Research Fellow in mathematics. He is an assistant professor of mathematics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Gang Liu’s current research is on the Gromov-Hausdorff limit of Kahler manifolds with curvature lower bound. In particular, he is interested in its application to a conjecture of Yau on Kähler manifolds with positive bisectional curvature.

Yifeng Liu was selected as a Sloan Research Fellow in mathematics. He is an assistant professor of mathematics in Weinberg College. Yifeng Liu’s research program is dedicated to using methods from algebraic geometry, arithmetic geometry, representation theory and harmonic analysis to study some long-standing problems in number theory, such as solving Diophantine equations.

Michael Rubenstein was selected as a Sloan Research Fellow in computer science. He is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of electrical engineering and computer science in the McCormick School of Engineering. His research interest is to advance the control and design of multi-robot systems, both to enable their use instead of traditional single robots and to solve problems for which traditional robots are not suitable. Rubenstein investigates how these multi-robot systems can offer more parallelism, adaptability and fault tolerance when compared to a traditional single robot. In addition, he is also interested in investigating how new technologies will allow for more capable multi-robot systems.

Tiffany Schmidt was selected as a Sloan Research Fellow in neuroscience. She is an assistant professor of neurobiology in the department of neurobiology, Weinberg College. Schmidt’s research program centers on identifying the neural circuits underlying how light influences physiology and behavior through multi-level analyses of retinal cellular response properties, brain connectivity patterns and visual behaviors in a variety of animal models.

The Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded annually since 1955. Administered and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the fellowships are awarded in close cooperation with the scientific community. Potential fellows must be nominated for recognition by their peers and subsequently are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars.

-Megan Fellman, science and engineering editor, and Morgan Searles, newsroom coordinator, both in University Relations, contributed to the story.