Two Indiana University professors named American Mathematical Society Fellows

  • Jan. 8, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two Indiana University mathematicians have been named 2016 fellows of the American Mathematical Society for their outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics.

The recipients are Valery Lunts and Vladimir Touraev, both in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Mathematics. Only 50 mathematical scientists were honored worldwide this year.

"I'm delighted to join with the AMS in recognizing and celebrating the inspiring accomplishments of the 2016 class of AMS Fellows," said Robert L. Bryant, president of the American Mathematical Society. "It is a pleasure to welcome them and thank them for their manifold contributions to our mathematical culture."

The election of Lunts and Touraev raises the university's total number of AMS fellows to 15 across all campuses.

"The Department of Mathematics is pleased that AMS has recognized our stellar faculty's contributions to mathematics, and that Valery and Vladimir have joined the ranks of IU faculty honored as AMS Fellows," said Elizabeth Housworth, professor and chair in the Department of Mathematics at IU Bloomington.

Lunts is a professor in the Department of Mathematics at IU Bloomington and a major figure in the Russian mathematical world. He is known, among other things, for a private seminar held each year outside Moscow that attracts many leaders in the field.

He has made a number of deep contributions to mathematics in a variety of subjects, including algebraic geometry, category theory, representation theory, homotopy theory, non-commutative geometry and mathematical physics. He has also done work in quantum groups, toric varieties, deformation theory and non-commutative differential operators.

In a field characterized by deep specialization, the breadth and depth of this work is notable.

"Valery's work is characterized by its elegance and natural quality," said Michael Larsen, Distinguished Professor in Mathematics at IU Bloomington, who wrote Lunts' nomination letter. "He makes mathematics look easy as well as beautiful."

He also credits Lunts for encouraging cross-continental collaborations in mathematics, attracting many leading figures to visit the U.S., and IU Bloomington.

Lunts joined the IU faculty in 1991. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Touraev is the Boucher Professor of Mathematics at IU Bloomington and an internationally recognized leader in the area of low-dimensional topology.

Low-dimensional topology is the study of the properties of geometric shapes, including two-, three- and four-dimensional structures such as knots, braids, tangles, links, surfaces and manifolds. Topology plays a role in string theory, the study of complex networks and movement planning in robots, among other topics.

Starting in 1989, Touraev and colleagues laid a foundation for a new field known as "topological quantum field theory." More recently, he was named the leader of a scientific mathematics center in Chelyabinsk, Russia, established with over $2.7 million from the Russian government -- one of 42 "mega-grants" awarded to scientists across the world in 2014.

"The breadth of Vladimir's interest and influence is reflected in the list of his co-authors, which contain a remarkable variety of people," said Kevin Zumbrun, Distinguished Professor in Mathematics at IU Bloomington, who wrote Touraev's nomination letter. "He has done joint work with many young researchers and also some of the world’s leading topologists and algebraists."

Touraev holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from St. Petersburg State University. He joined IU in 2006, previously serving 17 years as research director with the French National Center of Scientific Research in Strasbourg, France. He began his career as a high school math teacher in Russia.

Other AMS fellow at IU are Hari Bercovici, Michael J. Larsen, Eric Bedford, David Fisher, Robert Glassey, Russell Lyons, Michael Mandell, Peter Sternberg, Roger M. Temam, Shouhong Wang and Kevin Zumbrun at IU Bloomington and Alexander Its and Michal Misiurewicz at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

A reception for the fellows is scheduled today at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time in Seattle at the 2016 meeting of the American Mathematical Society, the largest annual gathering of mathematicians in the world.

A 30,000-member organization, the American Mathematical Society was founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship.

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Valery Lunts

Valery Lunts | Photo by Indiana University

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Vladimir Touraev

Vladimir Touraev | Photo by Indiana University

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