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UH Manoa scientists receive prestigious 2005 Sloan Foundation Research Fellowships

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Apr 5, 2005

HONOLULU - University of Hawaii astronomer Michael Liu and Kirill Melnikov, assistant professor of physics, were recently named recipients of the 2005 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship.

Liu has been awarded a Sloan Fellowship to search for newly-formed planets outside of the solar system. Using the Keck telescope on Mauna Kea, Liu is studying the formation of planets around young stars - those about 10 million years old. By comparison, Earth and the rest of our own solar system formed around 4.6 billion years ago.

By studying how young planets form around new stars, Liu hopes to learn how planets formed in our own solar system, as well as around other stars.

Liu grew up in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of Cornell University and University of California at Berkeley. He came to the University of Hawaii as the Beatrice Watson Parrent Fellow in 2000 and was appointed to an assistant professorship in 2004.

Liu was first introduced to astronomy in Hawaii while doing graduate work in California. "Some of my doctoral research involved observing with the telescopes on Mauna Kea. The first time I came here, I remember how fantastic it was to visit Hawaii in the wintertime, while the rest of the country was cold and snowy. I feel lucky to be living here and doing astronomy at UH."

Melnikov received a Sloan Fellowship including a grant to support his research with the university‘s High Energy Physics Theory Group.

The fellowship follows on the heels of another prestigious national award presented to Melnikov, the U.S. Department of Energy‘s Outstanding Junior Investigator Award, which Melnikov received in 2003.

Melnikov joined UH Mānoa in 2002 after doing post-doctoral work in Karlsruhe, Germany, and at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, a national laboratory operated for the U.S. Department of Energy by Stanford University. He received his master‘s degree from Novosibirsk State University in Russia, and a doctorate from Mainz University in Germany.

He is an internationally recognized expert on precision calculations in elementary particle physics. These calculations are crucial for the interpretation and elucidation of experiments at high energy accelerators, such as the proton antiproton collider at Fermilab near Chicago, or at the hadron supercollider, the LHC, scheduled to begin operation at the European laboratory CERN in Geneva, Switzerland in 2007.

Melnikov was one of 23 scientists awarded the Sloan Research Fellowship in the field of physics this year. Liu was one of eight young scientists in the field of astrophysics to receive awards.

The Sloan Research Fellowships, which were established in 1955, provide support and recognition to early-career scientists and scholars, often in their first appointments to a university. The fellowships are one of the most prestigious marks of recognition that a young scientist can receive early in their career. Sixteen Sloan Fellows have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics, with an equal number going on to receive the prize in other disciplines.

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