Faculty awarded Sloan fellowships

Three Tech faculty members have been recently awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a $50,000 research grant that will enable recipients to further their research in the fields of science, economics, computer science and mathematics. Awardees from Tech were Christopher Peikert from the College of Computing, Shina Tan from the Physics Department and Silas Alben from the Mathematics Department.
The Sloan Fellowship awards young scholars who have received their doctorate within the past six years and who are working on innovative research. Established in 1934 by the then General Motors President and CEO Alfred Sloan, the foundation was created to recognize those scholars who are researching topics that could result in an important contribution to society. These three faculty chosen at Tech were selected among 118 other national scholars. They were also the only ones selected from the state of Georgia.
Ellen Zegura, the Chair of the College of Computing, recognized Christopher Peikert’s cryptology research as an important component for the future of computer science.
“One of the exciting things about his work is that he’s looking at systems to do with cryptology that still work even if we are able to build quantum computers…that’s a big deal,” Zegura said.
Although they have not yet been developed completely, quantum computers are predicted to play an important role in the future of computer science and cryptology, because they can break almost all of the cryptographic techniques used today.
“As far as we know, this lattice [cryptography] cannot be broken by quantum computers,” Peikert said.
With this fellowship, Peikert plans to continue his research by gathering a group of students to help him further tackle this challenge. He is also considering purchasing specific cryptographic equipment for this purpose.
One other recipient was Shina Tan, who was recognized for his research on the theory of dilute matter in extremely cold temperatures. He said this subject is increasing in popularity in the field.
“Cold matter is getting more and more diverse. People are now studying more and more of complex states [of matter], Tan said.
Lastly, Silas Alben was also chosen to receive this award.
“It really is a great honor, I was very excited of course. It is a really big honor for people in my field of applied math. It was something I had hoped to get,” Alben said.
Alben is advancing the field of fluid dynamics by trying to discover a more efficient computation method. Currently, Alben is working with biologists in a study of how krill form their schools and move as a body.
Peikert, Tan and Albens will be able to use the grant this upcoming Sept. All three plan to apply the grant to purchasing equipment, paying for student stipends and for any additional travel to conferences or workshops.

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