Christine Aidala and Kai Sun, assistant professors in the Department of Physics, are among early career faculty from the United States and Canada selected as 2015 Alfred P. Sloan research fellows.

The foundation honors researchers it deems "rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders." The fellows, who were nominated by their peers and chosen by a panel of senior scholars, each receives $50,000 to further their research.

Assistant Professor Aidala performs accelerator-based experimental research to understand the internal structure of the proton in terms of its subcomponents, known as quarks and gluons. Her experiments take place at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Main Injector at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She is particularly interested in the dynamical behavior of quarks and gluons within the proton, including correlations between their spin and orbital motion. Among her current research projects, she is excited to be searching for the first-ever evidence of color entanglement, in which quarks enter into a quantum-entangled state across two colliding protons.

Assistant Professor Sun works in the general area of many-body physics. His research covers a wide-range of topics including condensed matter physics and ultra-cold atomic gases. The main research efforts in his studies focus on the search for novel states of matter and providing theoretical understanding of their exotic properties. His recent work includes fractional topological states in topological flatbands; interaction induced topological insulators, topological Kondo insulators and holographic elasticity. He has also studied various non-Fermi liquids in strongly correlated fermionic systems, focusing on the quantum liquid crystal phases, and frustrated magnetism.

"The beginning of one's career is a crucial time in the life of a scientist. Building a lab, attracting funding in an increasingly competitive environment, and securing tenure all depend on doing innovative, original high-quality work and having that work recognized," said Paul Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships were established in 1955 to provide financial support and recognition for the very best young scientists early in their faculty research careers. Currently a total of 126 fellowships are awarded annually in seven fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics.

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.