Penn Evolutionary Biologist and Computer Scientist Awarded Sloan Research Fellowships

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | | 215-573-6604February 26, 2009

PHILADELPHIA -– Joshua Plotkin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and Steve Zdancewic, associate professor of computer and information science at Penn, have been named Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows for 2009.

The Sloan Research Fellowships honor scientists for research at the frontiers of physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics and neuroscience with two-year, $50,000 grants administered by each Fellow’s institution. Sloan Research Fellows are free to pursue what interests them, and they are permitted to employ Fellowship funds in a wide variety of ways to further their research. Sloan Fellowships are awarded to faculty members at an early stage of their scientific careers and are intended to identify highly promising individuals across the sciences.

Plotkin holds appointments in both the Department of Biology in Penn’s School of Arts and Science and the Department of Computer and Information Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. His research focuses on population genetics, with the goal of understanding how organisms evolve at the molecular level.

Zdancewic's research focuses on programming languages and computer security with the goal of helping software developers create more secure, reliable and robust programs. His most recent work, which draws on type theory and authorization logic, is developing language-based enforcement mechanisms for information-flow and access-control policies.

“It is extremely gratifying to see the work of Dr. Plotkin and Dr. Zdancewic recognized by this prestigious award,” Susan B. Davidson, chair of the Department of Computer and Information Science, said. “They have a bright future ahead of them, and we will all benefit from the discoveries they will make as they expand our understanding of evolution and computation.”