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Two win prestigious NSF early career awards

August 1, 2013

Woman squatting on a cliff's edge at the ocean

Geologist Tessa Hill will receive $613,000 over five years to study how marine ecosystems have responded to abrupt climate change during the past 20,000 years. (Tessa Hill/courtesy photo)

Two young professors at the University of California, Davis, have earned prestigious National Science Foundation Early Career Development awards, totaling just over $1 million, to fund projects aimed at taming new areas of statistics for use in medicine and astronomy, and at understanding the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems in the recent past.

The recipients are Ethan Anderes, assistant professor in the Department of Statistics, and Tessa Hill, associate professor in the Department of Geology and at the Bodega Marine Laboratory.

NSF's Faculty Early Career Development Program supports junior faculty who perform outstanding research, are excellent educators, and integrate education and research in their work. The awards, known as CAREER awards, typically support both a five-year research program and a program of outreach and education in local schools and colleges.

Anderes was awarded $400,000 over five years to study statistical tools called smooth invertible deformations for statistics, image analysis and gravitational lensing problems in cosmology. He aims to make these tools more widely available and easier to use for scientists and statisticians. In addition, Anderes will develop recent results found in the theory of optimal transport, with the goal of providing a rigorous, theoretical foundation for quantifying morphological structure in the statistical analysis of images. The project will also help train graduate students in statistics who can work with these tools across a broad range of interdisciplinary fields.

Anderes majored in mathematics and philosophy at the University of Minnesota, and received a doctorate in statistics from the University of Chicago in 2005. He was an NSF mathematical sciences postdoctoral research fellow at UC Berkeley before joining the faculty at UC Davis in 2008.

Hill will receive $613,000 over five years to study how marine ecosystems have responded to abrupt climate change during the past 20,000 years. Using seafloor sediment records from along the California coast, Hill will reconstruct how marine species respond to, and recover from, periods of rapid environmental change, with an eye toward predicting the response of these same species to human-induced climate change.

As part of the project, Hill will work with the UC Davis Math and Science Teaching program to integrate the results into a sixth-grade curriculum.

Hill earned her bachelors degree from Eckerd College (1999) and a doctorate from UC Santa Barbara (2004), both in marine science. She was a UC president's postdoctoral fellow at UC Davis from 2004 and joined the geology department and Bodega Marine Laboratory as a faculty member in 2006.

Including these latest awards, current UC Davis faculty members have held a total of 65 NSF CAREER awards.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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