Fellowship Honors Three Ec Profs

The economics department scored a hat-trick of sorts last week when three of its professors—Roland G. Fryer Jr., Pol Antras, and Aleh Tsyvinski—were awarded the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for young scholars.

Economics, which could only nominate three faculty members for the two-year, $45,000 award, is home to half of Harvard’s Sloan fellows this year. Two neuroscientists and a physicist round out the Harvard portion of the 116 names on the 2007 Sloan fellow roster.

Fryer, an associate professor, couldn’t contain his excitement when asked about the $45,000 sum.

“Is that how much it is? Wow. Cool. I still have not gotten over the shock of winning,” he said. “I will certainly use the money to continue my work on racial inequality.”

In an interview, Fryer also brushed aside rumors that he would be advising presidential hopeful Barack Obama on education.

“I have decided to stay far away from politics,” he said. “My life goal is to better understand racial inequality. For that, you need science, not politics.”

Tsyvinski, an associate professor, said that he would be using the scholarship money towards travel for research.

“I will be using it to go to Moscow, and to Italy, and to a couple of other places to get different ideas and viewpoints on the problem of how to design governmental taxation policy,” Tsyvinsky said.

Antras, an assistant professor who is on leave this academic year, said that the nomination and selection process took under a year.

“Around May or June of last year my department told me that I was being nominated. I gather that [the nomination] follows from a consensus among senior faculty,” Antras said.

Granted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the fellowship honors researchers with “outstanding promise,” according to the foundation’s Web site.

In addition to the three economists, Harvard’s Sloan fellows for this year are Maurice Smith, an associate professor for bioengineering; Rachel Irene Wilson, an assistant professor of neurobiology at the Medical School; and Markus Greiner, an assistant professor of physics.

—Staff writer Aditi Banga can be reached at