UMass Amherst Polymer Scientist Gregory Grason Awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

February 22, 2012

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AMHERST, Mass. - Gregory M. Grason, assistant professor of polymer science and engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is among 126 researchers in the United States and Canada to be awarded prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Grason and the other recipients of the two-year fellowships represent 51 colleges and universities where they are conducting research at the frontiers of physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience and ocean sciences.

Grants of $50,000 for a two-year period are administered by each fellow’s institution. Once chosen, Sloan Research Fellows are free to pursue whatever lines of inquiry are of most interest to them, and they are permitted to employ fellowship funds in a wide variety of ways to further their research aims.

A member of the UMass Amherst faculty since 2007, Grason investigates the geometric structures of densely-packed filament assemblies and how the constraints at work in these structures affect the assemblies’ various properties. Filament assemblies are familiar objects in our everyday lives, with examples including textile fibers and steel cables, which offer superb strength while still maintaining flexibility. On a much smaller scale, filament assemblies of proteins provide a structural and mechanical connection from nanoscopic molecules and proteins to microscopic cells and tissues. Grason’s research seeks to determine the optimal packing of such bundles.

"I am excited and gratified that this fellowship will allow us to push our research on complex assembly and dense packing of filaments into new and unexplored directions." said Grason. "On one hand, this provides new opportunities to connect with the best researchers worldwide working in this area through support for travel and visitors. On the other hand, it will also allow us to pursue some very exciting but potentially riskier ideas, like developing experimental systems to test the theoretical limits of dense filament packing."

"Today’s Sloan Research Fellows are tomorrow’s Nobel Prize winners," said Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "These outstanding men and women are responsible for some of the most exciting science being done today. The Foundation is proud to support them during this pivotal stage of their careers."

Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded since 1955. Since then, 38 Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in their fields and 14 have received the Fields Medal, the top honor in mathematics. Although Sloan Research Fellowships in economics only began in 1983, Sloan Fellows have subsequently accounted for eight of the 13 winners of the John Bates Clark Medal, generally considered the top honor for young economists.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit, grant-making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-president and chief executive officer of the General Motors Corporation, the foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economic performance.