Congratulations to University of Utah School of Computing assistant professor Tucker Hermans, who has received the prestigious 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship, given to researchers “whose creativity, innovation, and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of scientific leaders.”

The awards are open to scholars in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, Earth system science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics. Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists, and winners are selected by independent panels of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field. More than 1000 researchers are nominated each year for 128 fellowship slots. Winners receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship which can be spent to advance the fellow’s research.

Hermans was one of two University of Utah researchers to receive the award this year along with U chemistry assistant professor Luisa Whittaker-Brooks.

“I was truly shocked when I read the news that I would be receiving the Sloan Fellowship,” Hermans said. “I look up to everyone I know in my field who has received this award, and I couldn’t believe I was being recognized at the same level as them. I am really honored to receive this distinction.”

Hermans earned a doctorate in robotics and a master’s in computer science, both from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was a postdoctoral researcher in robot learning at Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany and later a senior research scientist for NVIDIA in Seattle. He joined the U in 2015 as an assistant professor in the School of Computing. He received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award in 2019 and is an IEEE Senior Member.

His research is focused on autonomous learning, planning, and perception for robot manipulation, and he is working on enabling robots to autonomously discover and manipulate objects. He is the director of the Utah Learning Lab for Manipulation Autonomy at the U.

The Fellowship is funded by the the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to improving the welfare of all through the advancement of scientific knowledge. Founded in 1934 by industrialist Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the foundation disburses about $80 million in grants each year in four areas: for research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics; initiatives to increase the quality and diversity of scientific institutions and the science workforce; projects to develop or leverage technology to empower research; and efforts to enhance and deepen public engagement with science and scientists.