NSF Fellowship

NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship


Alex Rasmussen receives a Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

The three-year fellowship is awarded to support future leaders in mathematics and statistics by helping them participate in postdoctoral research that will enhance their development.

Rasmussen is a Research Assistant Professor in the department. “I’m very grateful to be recognized for my research and to the people who helped me along the way, including my advisors, collaborators, mentors, and teachers,” he said. “The award will allow me to devote more time to my research program. In addition, it will enable me to take on more activities to serve the math community, such as mentoring undergraduates and organizing conferences.”

Rasmussen’s work focuses on symmetries of geometric objects. Specifically, he’s interested in symmetries of spaces that are “negatively curved.” “The geometry of negatively curved spaces is quite unlike that of our own space, and it makes them exotic and also very beautiful,” he said.

A bunch of symmetries form a group, and a group can be thought of as symmetries of many different negatively curved spaces at the same time. A large part of Rasmussen’s research is spent on classifying the different spaces associated to one group. He finds the subject interesting because it allows him to draw pictures, engage his creative and aesthetic senses, and use tools from other fields, such as commutative algebra.

Alex Rasmussen

"I’m very grateful to be recognized for my research and to the people who helped me along the way, including my advisors, collaborators, mentors, and teachers."

 

In high school, he wasn’t especially interested in math. He did well at it but found it somewhat dry and mechanical. His first math class at Colby College was a multivariable calculus class taught by Scott Taylor, Associate Professor and Department Chair. Taylor used pictures of curves and surfaces in his teaching. This was a revelation to Rasmussen, who began to discover the beauty, depth, and creativity of math. From that point on, he took more math classes.

He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and began a graduate program at the University of California Santa Barbara, where he received a master’s degree. He obtained a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University in 2020.

He has a few research goals he’d like to work on over the next few years. These include classifying hyperbolic actions of metabelian groups and classifying geodesic laminations on infinite type surfaces. Metabelian groups are a wide class of relatively simple groups that can still have complicated hyperbolic actions. Geodesic laminations are 1-dimensional objects on surfaces consisting of long straight lines interacting in complicated ways. “These are pretty hard problems that will keep me busy for a while. Along the way, many other related problems will pop up naturally,” he said.

 

by Michele Swaner, first published @ math.utah.edu

 

Outstanding Post-Doc

Outstanding Post-Doc


Amir Hosseini has received an Outstanding Post-Doctoral Fellow Award from the College of Science.

Amir received his PhD in Chemistry from Indiana University, where he trained with one of the world’s premier organic electrochemists (Dr. Dennis Peters). He then joined the University of Utah in December 2020, as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the NSF Center of Organic Synthetic Electrochemistry (CSOE) where he is working in Prof. Henry White’s laboratory.

Amir’s research project is focused on the discovering novel electroorganic transformations and using variety of electroanalytical tools to explore the mechanism of the reaction at the molecular level. Recently, he developed a new synthetic strategy for electrooxidation of alcohols that is refer to as electroreductive oxidation. The general idea is to electrochemically generate highly oxidizing radicals by reduction of a sacrificial reagent, i.e., reduction is used to initiate a desired oxidation reaction. Amir has demonstrated that this process is effective for selective oxidation of alcohols to aldehydes and acids.

Amir Hosseini

Amir is greatly passionate about mentoring and education of the next generation of scientists. He participated in the Science Research Initiative (SRI) program during the 2021 spring semester when he mentored undergraduate students.

 

This mentorship activity included defining research projects, teaching each student the basic knowledge relevant to their research project, and supervising the progress of research projects. Additionally, he has been part of ACCESS program working with other CSOE volunteers to assist students in performing at-home chemistry experiments. Finally, he mentors graduate students, teaching them the fundamentals of electrochemistry and laboratory safety, and advising them on their graduate research.

Equity and inclusion in academic setting is a very important matter for Amir. He is currently serving as the post-doc representative on the DEI committee of the Department of Chemistry. However, his outreach activities are not limited to academia. He volunteers to help new Iranian and Afghan families settling in Salt Lake City. In this role, he assists families who need a translator for taking care of paperwork, enrolling their children in school, and communicating with federal and state officials regarding their urgent needs.