University alumna receives prestigious mathematics research fellowship

Deanna Needell will continue her studies on signal and image processing and compression

3/11/2014 | By: Patrick Harris  |

Deanna Needell, a 2003 alumna from the University of Nevada, Reno, was one of 126 national researchers chosen for a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship.

"I am very honored to have this recognition and credit much of the recognition to Claremont McKenna College," Needell said. "I'm also happy to share this with my professors from University of Nevada, Reno, where I first became interested in math."

To be eligible for the Sloan Research Fellowship, applicants must have recently completed their post-doctorate studies and hold a tenure-track position at a national university or college. More than 700 fellowship applicants were analyzed by three judges in the research fields of chemistry, computer science, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics. Only 126 researchers were chosen, and Needell was one of 20 recipients in the mathematics category. Her fellowship includes a two-year, $50,000 grant to continue her studies on signal compression.

"I study a field of applied mathematics, which focuses on dimension reduction while preserving the important signal information," Needell said. "It is about representing large date in a small way."

Her research uses algorithms to compress signals without losing vital information when accessed. For example, compressed sensing applied to MRI imaging means significantly reduced scan time, lower cost and less sedation. Needell uses probability and large-scale linear algebra to determine how this can be done successfully.

Needell's interests in math began during her time at the University of Nevada, Reno in the early 2000s from professors Jerry Johnson and Alexander Kumjian. After graduating with a mathematics degree in 2003, she continued her education at University of California, Davis and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford. She is now an assistant professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.

"My professors from the University (of Nevada, Reno) really spurred me on and got me interested," Needell said. "I really appreciate and owe a lot to the mathematics and computer science departments at the University."

The Sloan Research Fellowship is sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to broadening education and funding research since 1955. Chemistry professor Liming Zhang was the University's most recent Sloan fellow in 2009.


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