Three Texas A&M University mathematicians have earned selection to the 2018 class of American Mathematical Society (AMS) Fellows in recognition of their international excellence in mathematical science and service.

Texas A&M professors Roger Smith, Sarah Witherspoon and Catherine Yan are among 63 mathematical scientists worldwide honored with selection to this year's class -- announced November 1 by the society -- in the program's sixth year.

Smith was cited "for contributions to operator theory and operator algebras."

Witherspoon was cited "for contributions to representation theory and cohomology of Hopf algebras, quantum groups, and related objects, and for service to the profession and mentoring."

Yan was cited "for contributions to combinatorics and discrete geometry."

The prestigious designation recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics. The AMS Fellows Program seeks to create an enlarged class of mathematicians recognized by their peers as distinguished for their contributions to the profession and to honor excellence.

A member of the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics faculty since 1975, Smith served two years as a visiting assistant professor, moving into an assistant professor role in 1977. He earned promotion to associate professor with tenure in 1981 and then became a full professor in 1989. Smith received his Ph.D. in 1975 from Oxford University, where he also was a Visiting Fellow in 1986-87. His research focuses on von Neumann algebras, C*-algebras, CSL-algebras and operator theory and has been funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF) throughout his 42-year Texas A&M career. He was a member of the editorial board for Bulletin, Journal and Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society from 2008-2013. Smith has been recognized with multiple departmental teaching and service awards through the years. In addition to past search committees for both the Head of Mathematics and Dean of Science, he previously has served as chair of the Texas A&M Mathematics Undergraduate Program and many unit committees. Smith currently chairs the department's speakers committee.

Witherspoon joined the Texas A&M Mathematics faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor, earning promotion to associate professor in 2006 and then full professor in 2010. She received her Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Chicago and held several postdoctoral positions, including at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, prior to coming to Texas A&M. An expert in algebra, her research program has received continuous funding from either the NSF or the National Security Agency (NSA) since her arrival. Witherspoon was the recipient of a prestigious 2005-2006 Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship. Her service to the mathematics community includes her election as a past Member-at-Large on the American Mathematical Society Council and to the current Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Human Resources Advisory Committee. In addition to serving as editor for AMS Contemporary Mathematics: Proceedings of the Conference on Group Theory, Combinatorics, and Computing in 2012, Witherspoon is a member of the editorial boards for Algebras and Representation Theory and Communications in Algebra, as well as a moderator for arXiv. Her proven skill at teaching courses ranging from advanced calculus to mathematics education was recognized by the department with its Outstanding Teaching Award in 2015. Witherspoon also is an outstanding thesis advisor and plays an important mentoring role for incoming graduate students.

Yan joined the Texas A&M Mathematics faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor, earning promotion to associate professor in 2002 and then full professor in 2004. She received her Ph.D. in 1997 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and came to Texas A&M after a two-year stint as a Courant Instructor at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Yan's research interests include algebraic combinatorics, ordered algebraic structures and probabilistic methods -- work supported by grants from the NSF, the NSA, the Qatar National Research Foundation, and General Motors, among other sources. As a 2001 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, she spent the 2000-2001 academic year at Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Study and also has served as an invited professor at several universities in China. Yan, who has organized numerous AMS-related conferences and seminars across the state, nation and world, has been one of the leading organizers of the CombinaTexas Conferences since 2000. An editor for the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics and co-editor-in-chief for Advances in Applied Mathematics, Yan is also a member of the editorial boards for the Journal of Combinatorics and Number Theory and Discrete Mathematics, Algorithms and Applications. She is co-author of a 2009 book, Combinatorics: The Rota Way (Cambridge University Press), about her advisor, Gina-Carlo Rota, who passed away in 1999.

Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, the 30,000-member AMS fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and everyday life.

Smith, Witherspoon and Yan join 15 other Texas A&M Mathematics faculty who have achieved AMS Fellow distinction. Harold P. Boas, Ronald A. DeVore, Ronald G. Douglas, Rostislav Grigorchuk, William B. Johnson, Peter Kuchment, Gilles Pisier, Frank Sottile, Emil J. Straube, Clarence Wilkerson and Guoliang Yu each were among the inaugural class named in 2013, followed by David Larson in 2015, Thomas Schlumprecht in 2016, and Yalchin Efendiev and Joseph Landsberg in 2017.

For more on the AMS Fellows Program and a complete list of 2018 honorees, visit http://www.ams.org/profession/ams-fellows/new-fellows.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Emil J. Straube, (979) 845-6028 or straube@math.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Roger Smith

  • Dr. Sarah Witherspoon

  • Dr. Catherine Yan

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