2024 Sloan Research Fellowships awarded to Maya Fishbach, CITA, and Daniel Litt, Mathematics

February 20, 2024 by A&S News

Two researchers from the Faculty of Arts & Science have been awarded prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Maya Fishbach is an assistant professor with the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) whose gravitational wave research is helping revolutionize our understanding of stellar evolution, the evolution of galaxies and cosmology.

Daniel Litt is an assistant professor with the Department of Mathematics whose current research focuses on using algebraic-geometric and arithmetic tools to answer classical questions in geometry, topology, number theory and dynamics.

Sloan Research Fellowships honour exceptional Canadian and U.S. researchers whose creativity, innovation and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of scientific leaders. The fellowships are among the most competitive and prestigious awards available to early-career scholars. They are considered a marker of the quality of an institution’s faculty and proof of an institution’s success in attracting the most promising early-career researchers to its ranks.

Profile picture of Maya Fishbach.
Maya Fishbach. Photo: Diana Tyszko.

Fishbach plays a leading role in the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA gravitational-wave collaboration and is the principal investigator in the LIGO scientific collaboration group at CITA. Her foundational work on bridging the fields of gravitational- and astro-physics is helping shape the exploding field of multi-messenger astronomy — a new realm of research that draws on observations of both gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation.

“It’s a huge honour to have my research recognized by the Sloan Foundation — especially because so many of my role models are past Sloan fellows, including several U of T physicists and astronomers,” says Fishbach.

“I am super grateful for the support of all of my mentors, especially Professor Juna Kollmeier for always believing in me and Professor Dick Bond for nominating me for this fellowship. I am also thankful to all the wonderful students, postdocs and colleagues around the world without whom my research wouldn’t be anywhere near as productive or fun.”

“I am delighted that Professor Fishbach has been recognized and honoured for her important contributions to this most exciting area in astrophysics,” says CITA’s director, Juna Kollmeier. “A profoundly new era has dawned on humanity, where we can probe the universe in a fundamentally new way. It has been an honour to be Maya's colleague and I look forward to the new insights and discoveries she will be making in the future.”

Profile picture of Daniel Litt.
Daniel Litt. Photo: Supplied.

Litt is emerging as the world leader in using modern algebraic geometry to prove classical results in algebraic geometry. He is a prolific researcher who in the past year alone has posted seven papers to the pre-print server, arxiv, and resolved two classical questions.

“I'm honoured to receive the Sloan Research Fellowship, and I deeply appreciate the Sloan Foundation's recognition of my work on the arithmetic and topology of algebraic varieties,” says Litt.

“I am excited to continue working towards a deeper understanding of the interrelationships between number theory, low-dimensional topology and algebraic geometry. My hope is that this continued work will help us discern answers to some of the fundamental questions in mathematics that lie in the interplay between these areas.”

“Daniel’s work explores the beautiful interactions between three core areas of mathematics: algebraic geometry, number theory and topology,” says Robert Jerrard, chair of the Department of Mathematics. “This honour recognizes the tremendous depth and impact of his contributions in these fields, as well as the promise his research program holds for further advances. It also helps cement U of T’s status as a top mathematics department in these areas.”