Hannes Bernien named Sloan Research Fellow

Asst. Prof. Hannes Bernien has received a prestigious 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships honor early-career U.S. and Canadian researchers whose creativity, innovation, and research have the potential to make significant contributions to their fields. Each year, only 128 are chosen to receive a fellowship from more than 1,000 nominees.

“The Sloan Fellowship is a wonderful recognition for my previous and current work, but also for the promise and potential for future work,” Bernien said. “It’s a highly regarded award that follows the wonderful tradition and line of researchers who have already received them. This tradition is really inspiring.”

Indeed, past fellows include 51 Nobel Prize recipients—including the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics for the past three years, Andrea Ghez (2020), James Peebles (2019), and Donna Strickland (2018). Former fellows also include 194 researchers from the University of Chicago.

“A Sloan Research Fellow is a rising star, plain and simple,” said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “To receive a fellowship is to be told by the scientific community that your achievements as a young scholar are already driving the research frontier.”

Bernien plans to use the two-year, $75,000 fellowship to continue his current research—scaling quantum systems in both the number of qubits and the distance between qubits—as well as try a few new pursuits.

“The fellowship is flexible with how I spend the award,” he said. “So, I’d like to spend it trying out new ideas that are higher risk than what you would normally get funded. I have the freedom to be bold, to try something a little risky but highly promising.”

The Sloan Research Fellowships are open to scholars in eight scientific and technical fields—chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, Earth system science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics. Candidates are nominated by their fellow scientists, and winners are selected by independent panels of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in their field.