Yale Faculty Awarded Fellowships for ‘Outstanding Promise’

Two Yale faculty, neuroscientist Daniel A. Colón-Ramos and astronomer Marla Geha, have won Sloan Foundation Fellowships in recognition of their "outstanding promise."

The prestigious awards, given annually to 118 early-career researchers, recognize "distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field." The fellowships are awarded for research in physics, chemistry, mathematics, neuroscience, computer science, molecular biology and economics.

Colón-Ramos, assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology and in the Yale Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair, studies how the neuronal circuits form during development.

By studying this in a tiny roundworm called C. elegans, his lab can probe these processes at a molecular and cell biological level and understand how the correct development of circuits ensues, and how it can go awry in disease.

Geha, assistant professor of astronomy and physics, studies the formation, evolution and destruction of dwarf galaxies — objects much smaller than our own Milky Way galaxy that contain only a few billion stars. Geha and her collaborators discovered that the faintest of these dwarf galaxies discovered so far contain the highest concentrations of dark matter in the known universe. Geha was also named one of Popular Science magazine's "Brilliant 10" young scientists in the country last year.

Being chosen as a Sloan Foundation Fellow has a special meaning for the astronomer. The foundation also funded one of astronomy's largest scientific initiatives, called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which uses telescopes in New Mexico to study distant astronomical objects and aims to map 25% of the sky.

"I'm honored to be selected as a Sloan Fellow," Geha said. "The Sloan Digital Sky Survey was key to finding the ultra-faint galaxies, and I appreciate the foundation supporting our continued efforts in studying these remarkable objects."

In addition to the Sloan Foundation Fellowships, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, established in 1934, awards grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economic performance.