Prof. Lenny Fukshansky awarded prestigious NSA grant for math research

by Sage Chodosh

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Assoc. Prof. of Mathematics Lenny Fukshansky

The National Security Agency (NSA) has awarded Associate Professor of Mathematics Lenny Fukshansky a $40,000 grant to fund his research on “Analytic techniques and algebraic constructions in geometric lattice theory.”

Fukshansky’s research focus is in Number Theory and Discrete Geometry, most recently addressing the properties of lattices.

He describes lattices as “discrete periodic structures in multi-dimensional spaces… For simple two-dimensional examples, think of lattices used for hanging flowers or rectangular grids on paper.” Understanding lattices is important due to a key role they play in a range of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, molecular biology, and many other branches of science and engineering.

Fukshansky says his research may have potential applications in mathematics and related fields, including digital communications, cryptography (the science of secret encoding of information to prevent hostile intervention) and coding theory (the design of error-free information transmission methods).

The Mathematical Sciences Program (MSP) from which Fukshansky’s grant came, was created by the NSA in 1987 with the goal of promoting mathematical research. The NSA considered the support of self-directed and public research an “urgent need” at the time. The organization continues to believe in the advantages of supporting the maintenance and creation of a thriving academic community through encouraging passionate faculty like Fukshansky.

Out of 300 proposals, only 50 were selected for funding by MSP this year. Even more impressive is the fact that this MSP grant is not Fukshansky’s first. He received the same prestigious grant just two years ago.

“With generally scarce funding, it is a true honor to receive grant money for mathematical research,” says Fukshansky.

Perhaps his success stems from his undeniable passion. Describing math as “possessing natural intrinsic beauty…magnificent and amazing…” he was inspired by his teachers in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia recognizing math as his calling at the age of 16. He now strives to inspire his own students to appreciate the field’s beautiful mysteries.