2010 Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows Announced

The Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows program has a long history of attracting the best and brightest young scientists. This year is no exception. For the second consecutive year we received a record number of applications. From this highly competitive field we are pleased to announce that the 2010 Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows are S. Derin Babacan, Simon Fischer-Baum, Malini Ranganathan, Ilia Solov’yov, and Jonathan Viventi.

The Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows program, which was initiated in the fall of 1991, has a long history of attracting the best and brightest young scientists. This year is no exception. For the second consecutive year we received a record number of applications from scholars at prestigious institutions from around the globe. From this highly competitive field we are pleased to announce that the 2010 Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows are S. Derin Babacan, Simon Fischer-Baum, Malini Ranganathan, Ilia Solov’yov, and Jonathan Viventi.

Beckman Institute Director Tamer Başar (interim) said that the class of Postdoctoral Fellows is exceptionally strong this year. “Year after year we are fortunate to receive applications from extremely talented young scientists. The program advisory committee did a wonderful job of evaluating these applications and identifying individuals who will be great fit to both the University of Illinois and the Beckman Institute. The 2010 Fellows show great promise in launching stellar post-doctoral careers here at the Beckman Institute, and benefiting from and contributing to the intellectual and scientific environment at the Institute.”

The Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows program provides an excellent opportunity for young scholars to initiate a post-Ph.D. career of independent research in a stimulating and supportive interdisciplinary environment. The 2010 Fellows are appointed for up to three years and will begin as early as July of this calendar year. They are selected based on evidence of professional promise, capacity for independent work, outstanding achievement, and interdisciplinary research interests that correspond to one or more of the Beckman Institute’s research themes and initiatives.

The Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows for 2010 are:

S. Derin Babacan
Derin will join the Beckman Institute from Northwestern University where he completed his Ph.D. work in Electrical Engineering in December, 2009. His research interests are focused on problems in image processing, computer vision, and compressive sensing. He is interested in investigating novel Bayesian modeling and inference procedures that effectively utilize complex signal and degradation models that are consistent with the nature of imaging instruments and subjects. These novel methods could potentially advance the state-of-the-art in many imaging applications.

Simon Fischer-Baum
Simon will earn his Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Johns Hopkins University in the fall of 2010. He is currently a William Orr Dingwall Foundation Neurolinguistic Fellow at Johns Hopkins. His research seeks to identify domain-independent principles of cognitive processing, specifically regarding how serial order is represented and processed. This line of research could have implications for many aspects of biological intelligence including more high-level cognitive processes like language and problem solving, and more peripheral processes like perception and motor control.

Malini Ranganathan
Malini will earn a Ph.D. in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California at Berkeley by the summer of 2010. Her dissertation research explores the political ecology of water in the city of Bangalore in India, specifically focusing on the implications of market-oriented reforms for equity at the peri-urban interface. At Beckman, she will continue to investigate the specific social and environmental vulnerabilities – particularly related to water infrastructure – of populations living in fringe areas of developing cities. She aims to substantiate the claim that greater resilience to water-related environmental hazards in peri-urban Manila or Bangalore can, in part, be explained by the existence of neighborhood associations, their relationships with the state, and the wider social and political networks in which they operate.

Ilia Solov’yov
Ilia received a Ph.D. in Physics from Frankfurt University in Germany in 2008 and a Candidate of Science degree in Theoretical Physics from the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2009.  His current research interests cover a broad range of questions on the structure and dynamics of nanosystems and biomolecules. Specifically his research explores animal magnetoreception in creatures including migratory birds. This work could eventually lead to solutions in protecting airports from birds.

Jonathan Viventi
Jonathan is completing his Ph.D. in Bioengineering with Dr. Brian Litt from the University of Pennsylvania in May, 2010. His research focuses on developing technology for a new generation of implantable medical devices that are flexible and can conform to the shapes of organs and biological structures. At the Beckman Institute he specifically plans to focus on developing flexible sheets of high-resolution multiplexed electrodes that can map and disrupt the abnormal regions of the brain that give rise to epileptic seizures and map and ablate cardiac arrhythmias on the epicardial surface of the heart.