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Three Physical Sciences Faculty Named Newest Hellman Fellows

Nov. 20, 2019 | By Cynthia Dillon

Half of the six 2019 – 2020 UC San Diego Hellman Fellowships in the sciences and engineering went to faculty members in the Division of Physical Sciences. The three new fellows are Elena Koslover, Tianyi Zheng and Alina Schimpf. Each represents one of the division’s three departments.

Hellman fellowsFrom left to right: Tianyi Zheng, Elena Koslover and Alina Schimpf

“Congratulations to Professors Koslover, Zheng and Schimpf for being selected as Hellman Fellows. Each of these faculty has shown incredible early accomplishment in their respective fields,” said the division’s Dean Steven Boggs. “The fact that all three of our departments are represented shows the strength of our recent hires across the board in physical science. We are very proud of these three.”

Koslover is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics whose research centers on the multi-scale physics of intracellular soft matter—from biopolymers to membranes to fluids. Her research group uses theoretical techniques to explore the movement and mechanics of cellular components and their biological consequences. She was named a Sloan Fellow in 2018.

Zheng, a 2019 Sloan Fellow, is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, whose primary research interests lie in probability theory and geometric group theory. One focus of her work is analyzing random walks and harmonic functions on some interesting families of groups. She works to unveil their interactions with other topics in geometric group theory, such as volume growth of Cayley graphs, which encode information about group structure.

Schimpf, an inorganic chemist, is assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry with research interests in spectroscopy and nanoscale materials. Her team’s research aims to develop and characterize solid-state materials with unique electronic or photophysical properties that can be accessed with inexpensive, solution-based techniques. Research in the Schimpf Lab involves the synthesis of new nanoscale materials, the use of chemical environment to control material properties and characterization of electronic and photophysical material properties.

The Hellman Fellowship Program was established at UC San Diego in 1995 through the generosity of Chris and Warren Hellman. The three 2019 – 2020 Division of Physical Sciences’ Hellman Fellows earned the title during the program’s 25th year. Designed to provide financial support and encouragement to early-career faculty in the core disciplines, the program recognizes individuals who show capacity for great distinction in their research and creative activities. Funds awarded are intended as one-time support for activities that will enhance the individual's progress toward tenure. Before receiving a fellowship, faculty recipients must serve at least two years at the assistant professor rank as evidence of their promise of distinction. The maximum award amount is $50,000. The application process for the Hellman Fellows Program is administered by the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor. Following is a full list of the university’s 2019 – 2020 Hellman Fellows:

  • Matthew Daugherty (molecular biology)
  • Elena Koslover (physics)
  • Ndapandula Nakashole (computer science engineering)
  • Cory Root (neurobiology)
  • Alina Schimpf (chemistry & biochemistry)
  • Tianyi Zheng (mathematics)
  • Sara Hankins (music)
  • Nicole Miller (visual arts)
  • Lara Rangel (cognitive science)
  • Vanessa Stalling (theatre & dance)
  • Saiba Varma (anthropology)
  • Kathryn Walkiewicz (literature)
  • Pinar Yoldas (visual arts)