UBC material scientist receives prestigious U.S. Sloan Fellowship

A PhD student with Dr. Alannah Hallas in the lab.

UBC researcher Dr. Alannah Hallas—an expert on developing new quantum materials through high-pressure synthesis—has been named a 2023 Sloan Research Fellow. The two-year, $75,000  (US) fellowships are awarded to rising stars in fundamental research who have the “potential to revolutionize” their fields of study.

"Sloan Research Fellows are shining examples of innovative and impactful research,” said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “We are thrilled to support their groundbreaking work and we look forward to following their continued success."

Hallas, who joined UBC in 2019, is a principal investigator at the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute and an assistant professor with the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She joins 47 faculty from UBC who have received a fellowship since 1955—more than half from UBC Science.

“One of the amazing aspects of this award is that it comes with generous funding that can be used for any research purpose. I’m aiming to use the funds to hire graduate students to work on new projects and expand our reach to collaborate with other labs and facilities from across Canada and beyond,” said Dr. Hallas.

“Dr. Hallas is a visionary leader and an exceptional interdisciplinary scholar with expertise in physics, chemistry and mathematics,” said Blusson QMI Scientific Director Professor Andrea Damascelli. “Her research program and achievements are world-class, and she is on a global-leadership trajectory in quantum materials.”

A Sloan Research Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards available to young researchers—among the past fellows are renowned physicists such as Richard Feynman and Donna Strickland.

As the head of the Quantum Material Design Lab, which is still in the development stage, Dr. Hallas plans to develop high-pressure synthesis capabilities, including a high-pressure image furnace apparatus that will be the first of its kind in Canada.

“We're working towards having a very unique set of synthesis capabilities, which will allow us to explore quantum materials under extremely high pressures to discover materials that can't be accessed in any other way, and those materials we hope will have very fascinating quantum properties,” Dr. Hallas said.

Dr. Hallas has been recognized with numerous major international awards, including: Vanier Graduate Scholarship (2014); Smalley-Curl Postdoctoral Fellowship in Quantum Materials (2017); Neutron Scattering Society of America Prize (2018), and the prestigious Bryan R. Coles Early Career Prize awarded at this year Strongly Correlated Electron System’s Conference (2022). In 2020, she was named CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in Quantum Materials, a competitive international program recognizing tomorrow’s outstanding research leaders.

More about the Sloan Research Fellowships

Awarded this year to 126 of the brightest young scientists across the U.S. and Canada, the Sloan Research Fellowships are one of the most competitive and prestigious awards available to early-career researchers. They are also often seen as a marker of the quality of an institution’s science faculty and proof of an institution’s success in attracting the most promising junior researchers to its ranks.

"I’m aiming to use the funds to hire graduate students to work on new projects and expand our reach to collaborate with other labs and facilities from across Canada and beyond.”

Chris Balma
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