December 15, 2020
The Physical Sciences Division of the University of Chicago has selected 20 PhD students in the Departments of Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, and Astronomy & Astrophysics as the 2020–21 Radix Trading Fellows.
Through a generous $400,000 gift from local company Radix Trading LLC and a dollar-for-dollar match by an anonymous donor to the PSD Fellowship Challenge, the Radix Trading Fellows will receive $800,000 of additional funding for the 2020–21 academic year, as well as invitations to networking and cohort-building events throughout the year.
“We are immensely grateful to Radix Trading and alumnus and PSD Council member, Ben Blander, for their continued support of mathematics students,” said Angela Olinto, Dean of the Physical Sciences Division. “In 2018, Radix established a prize for outstanding mathematics students who are close to completing their PhDs. This year, they made an additional gift to increase the impact of the Radix Prize in Mathematics and answered our call for help through the PSD Fellowship Challenge. We look forward to supporting the new Radix Trading Fellows.”
Benjamin Blander, LAB ’95, SB ’98, SM ’98, PhD ‘03 (Mathematics), is a Managing Member at Radix Trading LLC, focusing on quantitative research and scientific trading. Radix is one of the most active liquidity providers on global electronic exchanges. Blander joined the PSD Council in 2019 and has supported the Department of Mathematics with his personal philanthropy and through his company.
“At Radix, we’re constantly evolving our strategies and developing new ones through innovative machine learning and statistical methodologies,” Blander said. “We feel that it is important to support the student scientists developing and learning these methods, and we hope that through this gift our relationship with the University of Chicago’s Physical Sciences Division will strengthen and grow.”
2020–21 Radix Trading Fellows
Meseret Asrat is from Ethiopia. He did his master's in high energy theoretical particle physics in Trieste, Italy, before coming to University of Chicago to pursue a PhD in theoretical particle physics. His current research interests focus on certain special irrelevant deformations of quantum field theories in the context of gauge/gravity duality.
Eray Aydin was born in Istanbul, Turkey. He earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Koc University. Currently he is a third year PhD student in mathematics, working on machine learning and its applications to stochastic control and finance.
Pinhan Chen is a fourth year PhD student in statistics. Before coming to the University of Chicago, he earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Fudan University in China. His research focuses on theoretical statistics, specifically Statistical Decision Theory and Bayesian Theory, where he strives to provide thorough understanding of statistical problems mathematically.
Xiaodong Chen was born in Zhejiang, China. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) before coming to University of Chicago four years ago to pursue a PhD in mathematics. Her research area is in financial mathematics with a focus on applying stochastic control theory in portfolio optimization.
Ti-Lin Chou is from Taipei, Taiwan. He earned his bachelor’s in physics from National Taiwan University before coming to the University of Chicago in 2016 to pursue a PhD in physics. He studies cosmology, where he analyzes the faint microwave signal coming from the beginning of our universe to help answer questions in fundamental physics.
Yucheng Deng is from Shanghai, China. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in mathematics at UCLA before coming to University of Chicago three years ago to pursue a PhD degree in mathematics. His research applies stochastic control and partial differential equations to portfolio optimization for assets driven by multi-scaled mean-reversion factors.
Joel Fuentes is from Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. He received his bachelor’s in physics from the University of Puerto Rico before coming to the University of Chicago five years ago to pursue a PhD in physics. His work involves exploiting superheated liquid techniques in sensitive bubble chambers for direct dark matter detection experiments.
Aurora Ireland is originally from Florida but has since lived all over. She earned undergraduate degrees in physics and German at Arizona State University before obtaining a master's degree in physics at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. She is now in her third year at UChicago pursuing a PhD in physics. Her work involves studying properties of a special type of quantum field theory called conformal field theory using methods of symmetry and effective field theory techniques. She would ultimately like to use this background to address fundamental questions in particle physics.
Gourav Khullar was born in Firozepur, India, and moved to the US in 2015. He studied engineering physics at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, India, before moving to the University of Cambridge, UK, to complete a master’s degree in astronomy. As a sixth year PhD candidate in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Gourav studies the formation and evolution of galaxies in distant galaxy clusters, using data from ground- and space-based telescopes.
Nikiforos Mimikos-Stamatopoulos was born in Athens, Greece. He earned his undergraduate degree in applied mathematics from the National Technical University of Athens before joining the University of Chicago in 2018 to pursue a PhD in mathematics. His work is in partial differential equations, with a focus in Mean Field Games.
Sebastian Munoz was born in Cali, Colombia. He majored in mathematics at the Universidad del Valle, and is now in his third year of pursuing a PhD in mathematics at the University of Chicago. He works in partial differential equations, and is currently doing research on Mean Field Games.
Lizhen Nie was born in Jiangsu, China. She received her bachelor’s in statistics from Zhejiang University and is now in her fourth year of pursuing a PhD in statistics. Her work involves nonparametric change point detection and Bayesian methods.
Andrew Neil is from New Jersey. He earned his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Pennsylvania and is now in his sixth year in the PhD program in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. He uses statistical modeling to study the occurrence and composition of extrasolar planets.
Vedant Sachdeva was born in Delhi, India, but was raised in Princeton, New Jersey. He attended Rutgers University in New Jersey from 2013 to 2017, receiving a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics. He began his PhD at the University of Chicago in biophysical sciences in 2017. He now studies learning and adaptation in biological systems.
Enakshi Saha was born in Kolkata, India. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in statistics from the Indian Statistical Institute before coming to University of Chicago four years ago to pursue a PhD in statistics. Her research focuses on developing fast, flexible, and easy-to-use Bayesian Machine Learning tools that are capable of analyzing large complex datasets.
Carlos Sierra is from Anaheim, California. He earned his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and then received a master's degree at the University of Michigan before coming to the University of Chicago to complete his physics PhD. His work focuses on developing instrumentation that will help to better understand the origins and evolution of the universe through precision measurements of the cosmic microwave background.
Dan Southall was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. He completed his undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo. Dan is now in the fourth year of his PhD at the University of Chicago, working on experimental neutrino astrophysics. His work is split between designing antennas for measuring neutrino-induced radio signals in Greenland's ice sheet, as well as analyzing the data from a prototype mountain-top neutrino detector in California.
Hai Tran-Bach is from Bucharest, Romania. He holds a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is in his third year pursuing a PhD in statistics. His broad research interest is to understand the empirical phenomena in modern machine learning and to use insights to derive principled machine learning algorithms.
Samantha Usman was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and math and a minor in French at Syracuse University, where she was involved in research with the Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). She continued this research during her MPhil in physics and astronomy at Cardiff University in Wales. She is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Her current research focuses on simulating light from the early universe to constrain models of inflation.
Jiacheng Wang is from China. She earned her undergraduate degree in statistics from Fudan University before coming to the University of Chicago four years ago to pursue a PhD in statistics. Her research focuses on tensor learning and applications on multiple biomedical datasets.
Congratulations to the class of 2020-21 Radix Trading Fellows. Those interested in support the PSD Fellowship Challenge effort can visit the Giving Page.