Two Texas A&M University mathematicians have been selected to receive 2019 fellowships from the New York-based Simons Foundation.

Texas A&M professors Eric C. Rowell and Guoliang Yu are among the 39 mathematicians across the United States and Canada recognized this year with the prestigious award intended to support distinguished scientists in their research. Simons Fellows program funds in both mathematics and theoretical physics enable recipients to take extended leave -- anywhere from a semester to a full year -- from their classroom teaching and administrative obligations to focus solely on research for the long periods often necessary for significant advances.

Established in 2010, the Simons Foundation Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) division supports research in mathematics, theoretical physics and theoretical computer science by providing funding for individuals, institutions and science infrastructure.

Rowell and Yu are Texas A&M's inaugural honorees in the program's eight-year history. Rowell plans to use his funding to further his research on the mathematical foundations of topological quantum computation during the 2019-2020 academic year at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also is co-organizing a semester-long program on quantum symmetries at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, set for spring 2020. Meanwhile, Yu will spend the upcoming academic year at the University of Chicago conducting research collaborations on higher invariants of differential operators and their applications to topology of manifolds.

"Both Dr. Rowell and Dr. Yu are highly deserving of this prestigious fellowship, and I am proud to be their colleague," said Dr. Emil J. Straube, professor and head of the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics. "Winning two of only 39 across the U.S. and Canada speaks very well for them and our department."

Rowell, a 2018 Texas A&M Presidential Impact Fellow, joined Texas A&M Mathematics in 2006 after earning his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of California, San Diego in 2003 and completing a three-year VIGRE postdoctoral fellowship at Indiana University. His research, based in algebra and focused on the mathematical foundations of topological phases of matter, has been funded primarily by the National Security Administration and National Science Foundation. Rowell is one of four principal investigators currently involved in a three-year, $1.3 million collaborative NSF grant with the potential to usher in the next big thing in quantum computing -- a working topological quantum computer capable of fundamentally transforming the landscape of information science and technology as we know it. In addition to offering a spring 2018 topics class in topological quantum computation, Rowell co-organized a related international workshop hosted in September 2018 at Texas A&M. He has served since 2015 as a research consultant for Microsoft Quantum - Santa Barbara (Station Q) and currently spends two months a year in residence at Beijing International Center for Mathematical Research (BICMR) at Peking University as a distinguished visiting professor.

Yu joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2012 as a professor of mathematics with tenure on arrival. In addition to being the inaugural holder of the Thomas W. Powell Chair in Mathematics, he was appointed in 2018 as a University Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M's highest honorific faculty rank. Yu is recognized for his central contributions to a rather large area of mathematics centering around problems, including the Baum-Connes conjecture, the Novikov conjecture and related geometric properties of groups -- areas in which his influential work has laid the groundwork for a host of new developments and techniques. Prior to coming to Texas A&M, Yu served 12 years as a professor of mathematics at Vanderbilt University and eight years on the faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1991 under the mentorship of his eventual Texas A&M distinguished professor colleague Ron Douglas. He also has held visiting appointments at many of the world's most prestigious research institutes, including Germany's Max-Planck Institute of Mathematics, the Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge, Switzerland's Bernoulli Center of Mathematics, Shanghai's Fudan University and The Australian National University. An inaugural fellow of the American Mathematical Society (2012), Yu was an invited speaker at the 2006 International Congress of Mathematicians as well as a plenary speaker at the International Congress of Chinese Mathematicians. His research has resulted in more than 60 referred publications and four co-authored books, in addition to substantial and continuous NSF funding support, and he and serves on the editorial boards of four highly regarded international journals, including as managing editor for one.

For additional information about the Simons Foundation or the Simons Fellows program, visit https://www.simonsfoundation.org/.

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

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Eric C. Rowell

  • Dr. Guoliang Yu

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