Grants Foster Collaboration, Innovation and Impact

CMC Mathematics Professors Fukshansky, Needell receive collaboration grants from Simons Foundation

Professors Lenny Fukshansky and Deanna Needell of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at CMC have received pivotal grants from the Simons Foundation to support their collaboration with other scholars.

“Mathematics is a very social subject,” says Dr. Fukshansky, associate professor and chair, mathematical sciences. “More than 50% of papers are written in collaboration. At least 80% of my work is collaborative.”

Among professor Fukshansky’s research interests, the grant will support his collaboration on geometric lattice theory, work that has broad potential application in cryptography (the practice and study of secure communication), digital communications and radio transmission, among other impacts.

The five-year Collaboration Grants awarded to each faculty member provide $7,000 annually to support collaboration, travel and research expenses for the recipient and funds for the awardee’s department to enhance the research atmosphere within the department. A selection committee of distinguished scientists looks for “accomplished, active researchers,” assessing the quality of the applicant’s previous research and the likely impact of the grant on future research.

“This is very validating,” says Dr. Needell, assistant professor of mathematical sciences and computer science. “It says that your work is important. Face to face interaction speeds progress on collaboration, funding to do that is important.”

Needell’s work on compressed sensing has applications in computational biology, DNA analysis, geophysics and digital file compression common with web-based communication. This research also holds great potential benefits in speeding up medical imaging.

Both plan to use the grant to travel to conferences and other meeting opportunities with other scholars. They also plan to bring more scholars to Claremont and enhance collaboration within their department and across the colleges.

The Simons Foundation, based in New York City, is one of the nation’s leading private funders of basic scientific research. Incorporated in 1994 by Jim and Marilyn Simons, the foundation’s mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. Jim Simons, who serves as chairman of the foundation is the mathematician best known for the discovery and application of certain measurements, now called Chern-Simons invariants, used widely in theoretical physics and other disciplines. President of the foundation Marilyn Simons, is a noted philanthropist and advocate for basic scientific research and K-12 education in the greater New York City area.