Two UGA faculty members have been awarded a prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship to support their research for the next two years, the Sloan Foundation announced on Feb. 19.
Elizabeth Harvey of marine sciences and Rachel Roberts-Galbraith of cellular biology will each receive $70,000 from their fellowships over the next two years. Two of 126 Sloan Fellows nationwide for 2019, the assistant professors represent just the 12th and 13th Sloan recipients from UGA since the organization began its fellowship program in 1955.
“Sloan Fellowships are one of the most prestigious monetary awards in the country for faculty in the earlier stages of their careers, and I congratulate Elizabeth and Rachel for being recognized in this remarkable way,” said David Lee, vice president for research. “This signifies the quality of young faculty that UGA is recruiting, something we can all take pride in.”
Harvey, who earned her Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 2013, works on plankton ecology, with a particular focus on how interactions between individual plankton can influence larger-scale patterns in the species’ abundance, distribution and physiology. She is based at UGA’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah.
“It was thrilling to be nominated by my department, but getting the fellowship signals that you, as a researcher, are doing something right,” Harvey said. “The Sloan Fellowship allows researchers to ask questions that are a little more risky or open-ended. I will be able to conduct some research with new colleagues to begin to generate and solidify collaborative research. Also, it will help support undergraduate and graduate students in conducting meaningful scientific research.”
Roberts-Galbraith studies planarians, or flatworms, in hopes of understanding the organism’s ability to regrow missing tissue after a wide range of amputations or injuries. She focuses on how planarians regenerate central nervous system tissue. She earned her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and is the first UGA Sloan Fellow in neuroscience.
“This honor is a huge validation of our research program,” Roberts-Galbraith said. “Our goal is to learn from planarians what successful neural regeneration looks like—how an injured animal remakes neurons and other cells of the brain in the right numbers, with the correct organization and connections. The Sloan Fellowship will allow us to pursue several new and exciting directions in our effort to understand neural repair using our favorite little animals.”
Sloan Fellowships are open to scholars in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics. Candidates are nominated by fellow scientists, and winning fellows are selected by independent panels of senior scholars based on candidates’ research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in her or his field.