Karen Herrera ’24 knows all too well how much work goes into running a student organization. Having started as the events coordinator for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) at Syracuse University, she now serves as the current co-president,…
Bhattacharya, Patteson Win Sloan Research Fellowships
Tripti Bhattacharya, Thonis Family Professor and a member of the Earth and environmental sciences faculty, and Alison Patteson, assistant professor of physics, have been presented with the prestigious honor.
The fellowships recognize “extraordinary U.S. and Canadian researchers whose creativity, innovation and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of leaders,” according to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. More than 1,000 researchers are nominated each year for 126 Sloan Fellowship slots. Winners receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship to help advance their research.
Patteson’s research focuses on cell migration and how cells navigate and respond to the physical features of their environment. Through a five-year MIRA grant from the National Institutes of Health, Patteson and her team are currently investigating how the structural protein vimentin affects cell migration. They are also exploring the properties that control the growth of biofilms, which are slimy clusters of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, that can adhere to wet surfaces.
Bhattacharya uses evidence from the geological past to understand how rainfall will change in the future as a result of global warming. The Sloan Fellowship will support her work using past instances of climate change as natural experiments to explore the fundamental dynamics that shape the response of rainfall to climate change. Using isotopic analyses of plant biomarkers and climate model experiments, her research team seeks to understand how ocean warming patterns are likely to shape rainfall changes in the future.
“I congratulate Professors Patteson and Bhattacharya on being named Sloan Fellows,” says Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Lois Agnew. “In the five years since they joined the College of Arts and Sciences, they have done incredible work in advancing our understanding of the fields of cellular behavior and paleoclimate dynamics. This distinction is a rightful recognition of their innovation and vision in research and teaching.”
The Sloan Fellowship comes at a crucial time for her research team, says Bhattacharya. “We are currently working in settings as diverse as western North America, southern Africa and the tropical Andes, and are hopeful that the results of our studies will provide valuable insights that are directly relevant to understanding changes in extreme drought and extreme flooding in the future.”
Since joining Syracuse University in 2018, Bhattacharya has been awarded over $2 million in research funding. Among many distinctions, she was recognized with the University’s Meredith Teaching Recognition Award in 2021 and has been an invited presenter at the American Geophysical Union Annual meeting in 2019, 2020 and 2022. She also served as one of eight leading climate scholars at a workshop organized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Cell Migration, Biofilms
“From identifying and developing therapeutic treatments for cancers and infectious diseases to developing a framework to understand what promotes or hinders the growth of biofilm, this fellowship will help our group be at the forefront of these emerging fields,” says Patteson. The Sloan Fellowship will support Patteson’s research in all these areas, creating new knowledge that will lead to new societal impacts.
The fellowship comes on the heels of a 2023 Cottrell Scholar award for Patteson, which was presented by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. She also has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Rapid Response Research grant to study cellular uptake of SARS2; an NSF EAGER (Early-Concept Grant for Exploratory Research) award to examine emergent collective behavior of bacteria; and an NSF Collaborative Research grant for her work with biofilms. She has been a faculty member in the Department of Physics since 2018.
Leaders of Great Promise
According to the Sloan Foundation, “the fellowships are one of the most prestigious awards available to young researchers, in part because so many past fellows have gone on to become towering figures in science.”
Past recipients include numerous Nobel prize winners and other renowned researchers and scientists. Candidates are nominated by fellow scientists. The winners are selected by independent panels of senior scholars on the basis of research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in their field. The fellowships are open to scholars in the fields of chemistry, computer science, Earth system science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience and physics.
“Professors Bhattacharya and Patteson are stars in their fields and superb leaders and mentors to their students. Their work in climate science and biophysics is highly regarded and well-recognized,” says University Vice President for Research Duncan Brown. “These Sloan fellowships confirm the impact that their research has on the world and shows outstanding promise for future careers. The University and its students are very fortunate that Syracuse is their research and teaching home.”