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Mathematician at UTSC awarded prestigious research fellowship

Professor Balazs Szegedy of computer and mathematical sciences at UTSC has won a Sloan Research Fellowship.

by Eleni Kanavas

Professor Balázs Szegedy of the department of computer and mathematical sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) has won a prestigious American-based Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The two-year fellowships recognize exceptional performance and unique potential among early-career scientists in the fields of chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, molecular biology and physics. Each fellowship provides $50,000 (US) to enable the scientists to pursue further research and make substantial contributions to their field.

Szegedy joins an esteemed group of four U of T winners this year: Computational biologist Michael Brudno; chemist Dvira Segal; and mathematicians Spyros Alexakis and Larry Guth.

They are among 118 young scholars awarded the 2010 Sloan Research Fellowship, most of whom hail from Canadian and American universities.

“I’m extremely happy,” said Szegedy, who learned he had won after receiving several congratulatory emails. “It’s very encouraging to get such positive feedback, and it makes me work harder.”

Szegedy is an assistant professor appointed to the department of computer and mathematical sciences at UTSC and the tri-campus graduate department of mathematics. Earning his PhD at Hungary’s Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Szegedy joined UTSC in 2006. His area of research focuses on the conjunction of two mathematical fields called combinatorics, which focuses on countable discrete structures and group theory.

“On behalf of the campus community, I want to congratulate Balázs Szegedy on this prestigious research award,” said Professor Malcolm Campbell, vice-principal (research). “The Sloan Research Fellowship recognizes key achievements among up-and-coming researchers and we are all thrilled and delighted that Professor Balázs Szegedy has been honoured in this way.”

Asked what drew him to his field, he replied, “My mentor, Laszlo Lovasz, introduced me to this beautiful subject during my post-doc years at Microsoft.  I feel lucky to work in a field which is at the meeting point of many interesting subjects such as combinatorics, analysis, topology, group theory and probability.”

Szegedy says he plans to use a substantial amount of the funds to invite visiting collaborators to UTSC. He also hopes to finish a research project this year and to work on an article popularizing “limits of finite structures.”

Professor Vassos Hadzilacos, chair of the department of computer and mathematical sciences (CMS), said, “It’s a striking sign of the quality of our department’s faculty that five of our 18 tenure-stream faculty have now won this very prestigious fellowship.”

Other CMS faculty recipients of the Sloan Research Fellowship are: Lisa Jeffrey and Balint Virag (mathematics), and David Fleet and Mike Molloy (computer science).

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit 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. For a complete list of recipients, visit www.sloan.org.




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