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Professor wins prestigious math prize

Tue, 10/27/2015

LAWRENCE – A University of Kansas professor has been recognized with one of the top honors in the field of applied mathematics.

Mathew Johnson, assistant professor of mathematics, has been awarded the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Activity Group on Analysis of Partial Differential Equations Prize for 2015. The prize is awarded every two years to the authors of a paper that contains significant research contributions to the field of analysis of partial differential equations.

The award is listed as “prestigious” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The organization describes itself as the “nation’s pre-eminent source of high-quality, objective advice on science, engineering and health matters.”

“This is an outstanding achievement for a mathematician of any age and especially impressive for a researcher as young as Mat. His career is off to a great start, and we are very proud to have him as a faculty member in our department,” said Dan Katz, chair of the Department of Mathematics.

Johnson won the award with co-authors Pascal Noble (Institut de Mathématiques de Toulouse), Miguel Rodrigues (Université de Rennes 1) and Kevin Zumbrun (University of Indiana). The award recognized their paper, Behavior of Periodic Solutions of Viscous Conservation Laws Under Localized and Nonlocalized Perturbations, published in the journal Inventiones mathematicae, one of the most important mathematics journals.

“My co-authors and I are very honored to receive this award from SIAM,” Johnson said. “This particular work is part of an ambitious general program we started in 2009 to rigorously understand the behavior of modulated wave trains, which form fundamental building blocks in a variety of applications including pattern formation, flame front propagation and inclined thin film flow. Our results have been well-received by both the mathematical and physical communities, which is particularly gratifying to us as applied mathematicians.”

The award will be presented at the SIAM Conference on the Analysis of Partial Differential Equations on Dec. 9 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

A congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln formed the National Academy of Sciences in 1863 to “investigate, examine, experiment and report upon any subject of science.” The National Academy of Sciences eventually expanded to include the National Research Council in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964 and the National Academy of Medicine, which was established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine.

The Activity Group on Analysis of Partial Differential Equations fosters activity in the analysis of partial differential equations (PDE) and enhances communication among analysts, computational scientists and the broad PDE community. Its goals are to provide a forum where theoretical and applied researchers in the area can meet, to be an intellectual home for researchers in the analysis of PDE, to increase conference activity in PDE and to enhance connections between SIAM and the mathematics community.

Johnson’s research interests are in the existence, stability and dynamics of nonlinear waves in a variety of partial differential equations that arise in applied mathematics and mathematical physics. He received the 2014 G. Baley Price Award for Excellence in Teaching from the KU Department of Mathematics. He co-organized the 2015 KUMU PDE, Dynamical Systems and Applications Conference in Lawrence.

Johnson received his doctorate in 2009 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He served as the Max Zorn Postdoctoral Fellow and National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Indiana University before coming to KU. 

The Department of Mathematics is part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, which encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Through innovative research and teaching, the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. The College is KU's broadest, most diverse academic unit. 



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