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UC San Diego Mathematics Multiplies Excellence by Three


  • Cynthia Dillon

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  • Cynthia Dillon

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Ruth Williams

Ruth Williams. Photo by Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego Publications

In the Department of Mathematics at the University of California San Diego, the “rule of three” applies in more ways than one. Just factor-in faculty members Peter Ebenfelt, Lei Ni and Ruth Williams, who all recently received national and international honors. Ebenfelt, associate dean of the Division of Physical Sciences, and Ni, chair of the Department of Mathematics, were selected as members of the 2018 Class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). They share this honor with their colleague Williams, whose many titles also include holder of the Charles Lee Powell Endowed Chair in Mathematics and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Now Williams adds winner of the 2017 Advancement of Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences (WORMS) Award to her long list of distinctions.

The annual WORMS Award, given by the international Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), recognizes an individual who has contributed significantly to the advancement and recognition of women in operations research and management sciences. According to INFORMS Fellow Anna Nagurney, distinguished professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Williams has contributed to helping numerous individuals in their research, while her mathematical contributions have inspired awe.

“I am honored to receive this award and very touched by this appreciation of my efforts to encourage talented women researchers,” said Williams.

Peter Ebenfelt

Peter Ebenfelt. Photo courtesy of Peter Ebenfelt

Ebenfelt and Ni received recognition from the AMS Fellows program for their outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics. The AMS selects fellows for their diverse contributions to the mathematical sciences and to the mathematics profession. The program functions to develop a deep class of mathematicians who are peer-recognized for their contributions to the profession. In so doing, the fellows program lifts the morale of its professionals by providing healthy competition for awards, promotions and honors, while advancing more mathematicians in leadership positions at their own institutions and in the broader society. AMS Fellows, in turn, elect new members to publicly represent excellence in mathematics and to lend advice and counsel to AMS leaders.

Lei Ni

Lei Ni. Photo courtesy of Lei Ni.

Mathematics is one of the 10 most declared majors at UC San Diego. Faculty research produces new results in different areas of the mathematical sciences: statistics and probability, analysis and optimization, algebra and differential geometry, and computational mathematics and modeling. UC San Diego mathematicians’ research efforts positively impact many areas of the natural sciences, engineering, health and social sciences.

“Mathematics has made tremendous progress in the past 100 years,” noted Ni. “But the applications of these advances toward the sciences, engineering, economics and more has only just begun.”

The UC San Diego Department of Mathematics, along with others across campus, will participate in the collaborative Halicioglu Institute for Data Science being established at the university. Mathematicians and other researchers from the Division of Physical Sciences lead multiple data-driven projects and develop the fundamentals of data science by focusing on creating new methods and algorithms with applications in data science, cyber infrastructure and platforms, and teaching methodologies that are key elements of data science practice.

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