Congratulations to Assistant Professor Ryan Abernathey for being selected to receive a 2016 Sloan Research Fellowship. Established in 1934 by then-President and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors Corporation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (www.sloan.org ) makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics. The fellowship provides $55,000 in research funds over two years.
Candidates are nominated by their fellow scientists and winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field. Notable past recipients include physicists Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann, and game theorist John Nash.
Ryan was chosen for his potential to make significant contributions to the field of physical oceanography. He studies the role of ocean circulation in the climate system, focusing on mesoscale ocean dynamics – processes that occur at a resolution of less than 100 kilometers. It turns out that most of the kinetic energy in the oceans is found at the mesoscale and that turbulence and mixing at that scale strongly influences large-scale ocean dynamics and climate. A programmer as well as a physical oceanographer, Ryan uses satellite data, computer models and supercomputing clusters to study the impacts of mesoscale turbulence on the larger circulation of heat, water, and nutrients in the global oceans. The exciting work being done by his group is helping scientists better understand past ocean and climate behavior, more accurately forecast current conditions, and predict future changes.