Math, applied math scholars at Brown earn prestigious Simons Foundation fellowships

With yearlong sabbaticals to focus on research projects, Dan Abramovich, Hongjie Dong and Benoit Pausader will use the fellowships to advance their scholarship on cutting-edge mathematics.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Simons Foundation, whose mission is to advance the frontiers of research in math and basic science, has awarded fellowships to three Brown University faculty members for 2021. The faculty are among 40 U.S. scholars receiving the prestigious fellowships, and the awards mark the first time Brown has won three Simons Fellowships in a single year. 

An image associated with algebraic geometry
Algebraic geometry is the study of shapes associated with the solutions to polynomial equations. Dan Abramovich is participating in a program on the subject at ICERM, Brown's national mathematics institute. Credit: Anders Buch

The awards to Professor of Mathematics Dan Abramovich, Professor of Applied Mathematics Hongjie Dong and Associate Professor of Mathematics Benoit Pausader will fund academic sabbatical leaves that enable recipients to focus solely on research projects for the extended time period often necessary for major advances.

“These fellowships will enable three outstanding mathematical scholars to advance knowledge, building on their current research and starting new directions,” said Jill Pipher, Brown's vice president for research and a professor of mathematics. “This Simons Foundation support will allow them to work on solving critical problems and participate in important collaborations.”

As part of his fellowship work, Abramovich is participating in a spring semester program at Brown’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) on combinatorial algebraic geometry. He is involved in mentoring early-career participants, running a group study seminar and leading a group of Brown undergraduates in a software project related to the ICERM program.

Next fall, he plans to take part in a similar project in Sweden through a Mittag Leffler Institute program on Moduli spaces and algebraic cycles. He is also preparing to extend a long-term collaboration with a colleague in Jerusalem about resolution of singularities, the attempt to untangle and smooth out corners, pinches, nicks and other imperfections in geometric shapes. 

With his fellowship, Dong will continue his research in the partial differential equations governing the behavior of composite materials and fluid flows. He will be part of a program run by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., on the h­principle, a way to solve partial differential equations, and its applications to problems in analysis and geometry.

Pausader is spending the first half of his sabbatical now in Paris, where he is working on a project to develop new tools to understand better the mechanisms in play in systems of many particles which disperse over time, as well as concentrating on advancing new areas of the research. The fellowship will allow him to extend his sabbatical to a full year, and next fall he serve as a co-organizer of a semester-long program at ICERM on “Hamiltonian Methods in Dispersive and Wave Evolution Equations.”

Faculty members Yan Guo, Jeremy Kahn, Govind Menon, Richard Schwartz, Marcus Spradlin and Anastasia Volovich have received Simons fellowships in prior years. Professor of Physics Stephon Alexander is a senior member of the Simons Society of Fellows.