Assistant professor Pratyush Tiwary Receives 2022 Sloan Research Fellowship

The two-year, $75,000 fellowships are awarded annually to early-career researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field. 

Pratyush Tiwary
Pratyush Tiwary. Credit: Lisa Helfert.

“We are very proud to see three of our faculty members recognized in the same year,” said Amitabh Varshney, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS). “Lei, Alicia and Pratyush have very bright futures ahead of them and we appreciate the Sloan Foundation recognizing their potential and supporting them now during their early careers.”

Awarded this year to 118 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. 

“Today's Sloan Research Fellows represent the scientific leaders of tomorrow,” said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “As formidable young scholars, they are already shaping the research agenda within their respective fields—and their trailblazing won't end here.”

Pratyush Tiwary, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry with a joint appointment in the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, arrived at UMD in 2017. He will use the fellowship to develop artificial intelligence tools to model and predict the structure, thermodynamics and dynamics of complex systems at molecular and atomic scales. One of his goals is to use the universality of statistical mechanics to better understand how drugs interact with molecules in the human body, how randomly moving atoms suddenly form beautiful crystals, how different proteins fold, and even design new artificial intelligence methods for molecular sciences. 

"I am honored to receive this recognition, especially for the flexibility it provides in pursuing ideas,” Tiwary said. “I am grateful to the university, including both my department and institute, for helping me maintain an energetic, interdisciplinary research group that makes doing science so much fun.”

Using statistical mechanics, theoretical chemistry and artificial intelligence, Tiwary develops algorithms that simulate the behavior of molecules and atoms at the femtosecond timescale. Understanding the behavior of atoms at this very fine resolution will help answer questions about such things as when and how proteins fold and change shape or precisely when molecules in a given medicine stop interacting with cells in the body.

In 2021, Tiwary received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation, a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institutes of Health, and an Open Eye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Computers in Chemistry. In 2019, he was one of 30 young researchers named to the “Future of Biochemistry” list in the journal Biochemistry. 

Tiwary joined UMD after completing postdoctoral fellowships at Columbia University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich. Tiwary earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in materials science from the California Institute of Technology and a B.Tech. in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Varanasi.