Suzanne Paradis wins Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship

Biologist recognized for exceptional research early in her career

Brandeis biologist Suzanne Paradis has been named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow for her pioneering research into how synapses are formed in the mammalian brain.

The Sloan Research Fellowships support the work of exceptional young researchers early in their academic careers, and often at pivotal stages in their work, according to Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “I am proud of the foundation’s rich history in providing the resources and flexibility necessary for young researchers to enhance their scholarship, and I look forward to the future achievements of the 2009 Sloan Research Fellows.”

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 the funds in a variety of ways to further their research goals.

“I’m honored, excited, and grateful for the Sloan Foundation support, which will further the important research in my lab,” said Paradis. Synapses are specialized sites of cell-cell contact that mediate communication between cells in the nervous system and as such form the basis for all brain functions and human cognition.

“In order to understand how the brain is wired together, we must first understand how synapses form. To this end, our lab studies the molecular basis of synapse formation in the mammalian hippocampus,” Paradis explained.

Paradis is one of 118 outstanding early career scientists, mathematicians, and economists selected as Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows. The winners are faculty members at 61 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada who are conducting research at the frontiers of physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, and neuroscience.

The Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded since 1955, initially in only three scientific fields: physics, chemistry, and mathematics. 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 8 of the 13 winners of the John Bates Clark Medal, generally considered the top honor for young economists.
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