Mathematics Top Stories

There’s an App for That
Akil Narayan, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, is also a computer scientist who combines his expertise to develop computational tools and software. Recently, Narayan helped biomedical engineers at the U build a simulation codebase for understanding how physiological factors influence the ability of human blood to carry and release oxygen. The codebase used mathematical work that Narayan had developed to understand optimal ways to build computational emulators for physical models.

Faculty Spotlight: Aaron Bertram
Aaron Bertram, professor of mathematics, recently was awarded a 2018 fellowship from the Simons Foundation, which will allow him to continue research in his specialty area of algebraic geometry. Bertram will be studying questions about moduli or metageometry, in which points in a metaspace represent different curved spaces. The Simons Foundation named 40 mathematicians and 12 theoretical physicists from universities across the United States and Canada for its 2018 awards.

National Academy of Sciences
Distinguished professor of mathematics Christopher Hacon, who has significantly advanced the field of algebraic geometry, was elected May 1 as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Hacon is among 84 U.S. scientistscholars and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries elected at the Academy’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. He joins 20 other current University of Utah researchers who’ve been elected to one of the three National Academies, which also include the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine. The National Academies recognize scholars and researchers for significant achievements in their fields and advise the federal government and other organizations about science, engineering and health policy. With today’s elections, the number of National Academy of Sciences members stands at 2,382, with 484 foreign associates.

2018 College of Science Research Scholar Award
The College of Science Research Scholar Award is given annually to one graduating student the graduating class who demonstrates a record of exceptional success in research and education. From the Class of 2018, we have selected Rebecca Hardenbrook, a highlyaccomplished student who is graduating with a bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics this year.

Faculty Spotlight: Braxton Osting
Braxton Osting, assistant professor of math, has been interested in mathematics and science since he was a child, and one thing that still amazes him is math's "unreasonable effectiveness in the natural sciences." By that, Osting is referring to a term coined by Eugene Wigner, a HungarianAmerican mathematician, theoretical physicist, and engineer, in which Wigner discussed that mathematical concepts can turn up in entirely unexpected places and with unexpected connections that often prove useful in problem solving.

Churchill Scholar
Scott Neville of Clearfield, Utah, who graduated from the University of Utah in December with a degrees in mathematics and computer science has received the prestigious Churchill Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He becomes one of only 15 students nationally to receive the award this year and is the third Churchill Scholar for the U, all of whom are mathematicians. “Having three Churchill scholars in the last four years is truly remarkable,” said Ruth Watkins, senior vice president for academic affairs and president designate. “There is no doubt that Scott will continue to successfully represent the University of Utah at Cambridge.”

János Kollár Endows Lecturer in Mathematics
János Kollár, a Hungarian mathematician specializing in algebraic geometry and a former professor of mathematics at the University of Utah, is a corecipient of the 2017 Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences. Established in 2002 in Hong Kong, and first awarded in 2004, the Shaw Prize honors outstanding contributions in astronomy, life science and medicine, and mathematical sciences. Kollár has donated a significant portion of his half of the prize to the U’s Department of Mathematics to establish the János Kollár Endowed Assistant Professor Lecturer at the U. Kollár says he was motivated to make the gift because the U provided such excellent working conditions during the 12 years he was here at the beginning of his career, and because several of the results that the prize committee recognized were developed while he was at the U.

Faculty Spotlight: Sean Lawley
Sean Lawley, assistant professor of mathematics at the U, believes the most interesting math often comes from trying to explain phenomena in other fields. For example, if you're seeking an answer to a question about biology, physics, or economics, the answer often leads to new and interesting mathematical theory. "Historically, much of the inspiration for mathematics has come from physics," said Lawley, "but biology is increasingly a driving force that is pushing the frontiers of math."

‘Oscar of Science’ Awarded To U. Mathematician
Christopher Hacon, University of Utah mathematician, will be award the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics at a ceremony in Silicon Valley on Dec. 3. The awards ceremony, hosted by Morgan Freeman, will be broadcast from NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA and begins at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. Live streams of the broadcast can be found on the Facebook and YouTube platforms of Breakthrough Prize and National Geographic. The $3 million prize recognizes Hacon’s work in algebraic geometry, the field that studies geometric objects defined by polynomial equations. It connects and elevates algebra, which solves polynomial equations, and geometry, which describes the shapes arising from those equations.

Faculty Spotlight: Davar Khoshnevisan
Davar Khoshnevisan, a Professor of Mathematics, was recently appointed as the Department Chair for Mathematics at the U. He started a threeyear term on July 1, 2017. “I am honored to serve as Department Chair,” says Khoshnevisan. “We have a worldclass faculty, an amazing staff, not to mention fantastic graduate students, visitors, and post docs. It will be a pleasure to work more closely with them toward our many common goals.”