KATHMANDU: Parag Pathak (30), son of Nepali parents who immigrated to the United States in the 1970s, has won the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships for 2012.
An Economics Career Development Assistant Professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pathak is among 126 American and Canadian researchers selected as Sloan Research Fellows for this year.
The Sloan Research Fellowships are endowed annually since 1955 to early career scientists and scholars in seven scientific fields—chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, and physics.
Pathak’s expertise lies in game theory, which he describes as the engineering side of economics.
“Today’s Sloan Research Fellows are tomorrow’s Nobel Prize winners,” said Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, while announcing the fellowship in February. “These outstanding men and women are responsible for some of the most exciting science being done today. The Foundation is proud to support them during this pivotal stage of their careers.”
Pathak grew up in Corning, New York, with his doctor father and writer mother and attended the Harvard University as an undergraduate. As an undergraduate at Harvard, he studied applied mathematics and took courses in game theory.
Pathak studied the problem of how students are assigned to public schools in his dissertation. Since then, he has moved on to study the effects of education reforms and housing markets, according to the MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences lauding Parag’s research papers which study the impact of alternative schooling models such as charter and magnet schools.
“Since arriving at MIT in 2008, Pathak has taught courses in microeconomic theory and game theory. His influential papers have considered the properties of matching systems used in open choice school systems, such as how they perform when some do not understand the rules,” reads Pathak’s profile on the MIT website.
For Pathak, great ideas come from books. “Collecting books is a long-standing family tradition that goes back to my great grandfather in Nepal,” Pathak has said in the MIT community profile.
“Though he passed away decades before I was born, he was a well-known Sanskrit scholar with an enormous library.”