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University of Utah

U. mathematics professor elected to the National Academy of Sciences

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL  |  Posted May 7th, 2018 @ 4:13pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — A highly decorated University of Utah professor of mathematics who has significantly advanced the field of algebraic geometry has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Christopher Hacon was among 84 U.S. scientist-scholars and 21 international associates from 15 countries elected at the academy’s annual meeting in Washington earlier this month.

Hacon’s field of algebraic geometry studies the geometric solutions to algebraic equations. At lower dimensions, the shapes that the solutions take are familiar, such as parabolas or cones.

"At higher dimensions the number of solutions is infinite but, as Hacon and former U. postdoctoral scholar James McKernan proved in 2009, the set of possible shapes of fixed dimension and fixed volume is finite. Hacon’s work has wide implications, since algebraic geometry has connections to many other fields in mathematics and beyond," a university press release states.

Late last year, Hacon was honored with the prestigious 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics, an award created in 2012 by the founders of Google, Facebook and the personal genomics company 23andMe.

Hacon has also been awarded the 2016 E.H. Moore Research Article Prize, the 2015 Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award from the University of Utah, the 2011 Antonio Feltrinelli Prize in Mathematics Mechanics and Applications, the 2009 Frank Nelson Cole Prize in Algebra and the 2007 Clay Research Award.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Mathematical Society and holds the U.’s McMinn Presidential Chair in Mathematics.

Hacon said he learned of his election when he found his email full of congratulatory messages.

“I had no clue that I was up for consideration,” he said. “There are lots of amazing researchers in the academy. I’m honored to be considered among them.”

Hacon joins 20 other current University of Utah researchers who have been elected to one of the three national academies, which also include the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine.

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The national academies recognize scholars and researchers for significant achievements in their fields and advise the federal government and other organizations about science, engineering and health policy.

With the latest elections, the National Academy of Sciences members include 2,382 scholars and researchers with 484 international associates.

Past and present University of Utah researchers elected to one or more of the national academies include:

National Academy of Sciences: Brenda Bass, Cynthia Burrows, Mario Capecchi, Dana Carroll, Thure Cerling, James Ehleringer, Kristen Hawkes, James O’Connell, Baldomero “Toto” Olivera, C. Dale Poulter, Peter Stang, Wesley Sundquist, Polly Wiessner, Henry Harpending, Jesse D. Jennings, Cheves Walling, Sidney Velick, John R. Roth, Josef Michl, Ray White, Julian Steward, Jeremy Sabloff, Henry Eyring and Louis Goodman.

National Academy of Engineering: Jindrich Kopecek, R. Peter King, Adel Sarofim, Sung Wan Kim, Gerald Stringfellow, Donald Dahlstrom, George Hill, Jan D. Miller, Milton E. Wadsworth, Thomas G. Stockham, John Herbst, Stephen C. Jacobsen, Willem J. Kolff, Alex G. Oblad, Anil Virkar and William A. Hustrulid.

National Academy of Medicine: Mario Capecchi, Wendy Chapman, Sung Wan Kim, Vivian Lee, Baldomero “Toto” Olivera, Stephen C. Jacobsen, Eli Adashi, Paul D. Clayton and Homer R. Warner.

Some National Academy members were elected before or after their tenure at the U. and some have died since their election.

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