Two University of Chicago researchers named 2021 Sloan Fellows

Award recognizes promising early-career scholars in economics, molecular engineering

Two University of Chicago scholars have earned prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships, which recognize early-career scholars’ potential to make substantial contributions to their fields.

This year’s UChicago winners include a molecular engineer who seeks to develop new ways of engineering large, complex quantum systems, and an economist who studies global currency and fixed income markets, financial regulations, and emerging market finance.

Awarded since 1955 to the brightest young scientists across the United States and Canada, the two-year Sloan Fellowships are one of the most competitive and prestigious awards available to early-career researchers. This year’s 128 winners, announced Feb. 16, will receive two-year fellowships in the amount of $75,000 to further their innovative research.

Hannes Bernien is an assistant professor at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. 

His lab focuses on understanding how to scale fully controlled quantum systems from the current few-particle level to many particles, and to study the fascinating effects that arise from the increased complexity in these systems. The lab combines techniques from quantum control and quantum optics with ultracold atoms and nanotechnology in order to develop new ways of engineering large, fully controlled quantum systems and studying the phenomena that arise in such systems.

Bernien plans to use the 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. 

His previous awards include the International Quantum Technology Young Scientist Award, the Kavli Ph.D. Thesis Prize, the Elsevier Diamond and Carbon Materials Young Scholar Prize and the Paul Ehrenfest Award. He earned his master’s at Hannover University in Germany and his Ph.D at the Technical University Delft in the Netherlands.

Wenxin Du is an associate professor of finance and Fama Faculty Fellow at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a research affiliate at the Center for Economic Policy Research. She studies global currency and fixed income markets, financial regulations, and emerging market finance, and has won several top academic awards for her research, including the Amundi Pioneer First Prize and AQR Insight Award Top Prize for her work on deviations from covered interest rate parity.

Du’s findings have been featured in Bloomberg, Financial Times, The Economist and The Wall Street Journal, and her work has been published in leading academic journals. She also serves as an associate editor at the Journal of International Economics.

Prior to joining Booth, Du held the position of Principal Economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, where she was responsible for monitoring and analyzing developments in international financial markets for the FOMC. She was also a central bank research fellow at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland. During her doctoral studies, she interned at the International Monetary Fund.

She earned a master’s and a Ph.D. from Harvard University, both in economics, and a B.A. in economics and mathematics from Swarthmore College with highest honors.