Two NYU Faculty Win Sloan Foundation Research Fellowships

Originally published by James Devitt at NYU News.

Two New York University faculty have been awarded fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Michael Halassa, an assistant professor of psychiatry, neuroscience, and physiology at NYU Langone Neuroscience Institute, and Jennifer Jacquet, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies.

The fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as “the next generation of scientific leaders,” the Sloan Foundation said in announcing this year’s fellows.

“The beginning of a one’s career is a crucial time in the life of a scientist. Building a lab, attracting funding in an increasingly competitive environment, and securing tenure all depend on doing innovative, original high-quality work and having that work recognized,” said Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “For more than 50 years the Sloan Foundation has been proud to celebrate the achievements of extraordinary young scientists who are pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge.”

Fellows each receive $50,000 to further their research.

Halassa’s research aims to understand the basic circuit mechanisms of how the brain appropriately selects sensory input to guide cognitive behavior and how disruptions in these circuits can lead to neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. His studies are geared towards cracking the neural code underlying normal circuit function as well as discovering and treating aberrancies in disease. Halassa has an M.D. from the University of Jordan and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jacquet is an environmental scientist whose scholarship centers on large-scale cooperation dilemmas, with a specific interest in climate change and overfishing. Current research projects examine the effectiveness of seafood eco-certification, policies that govern the exploitation of marine life in Antarctica, and the scale of the Internet wildlife trade, including for marine species. Her book about the evolution, function, and future of the use of social disapproval, Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool (Pantheon), was published this month. Jacquet holds a Ph.D. in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from the University of British Columbia, where she worked with the Sea Around Us Project.

Past Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to notable careers and include physicist Richard Feynman and game theorist John Nash. Since the beginning of the program in 1955,
43 fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective field, 16 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, and 65 have received the National Medal of Science.

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