LAWRENCE — Emily Witt, associate professor of mathematics, has been awarded the 2022-2023 Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize from the Association of Women in Mathematics and Cornell University.
Witt was selected for her research accomplishments in commutative algebra. Her results on local cohomology modules based on applications of invariant theory were found to be groundbreaking, and her techniques are innovative and broadly applicable. Witt will use the award to pursue a research project at the intersection of commutative algebra, algebraic geometry and singularity theory. The project’s title, “Invariants of Singular Plane Curves,” is a tribute to the paper with the same title published posthumously by Ruth I. Michler.
Witt will interact with experts in commutative algebra such as Irena Peeva and Mike Stillman at Cornell’s mathematics department.
“It is an honor to receive the Michler Memorial Prize. Ruth Michler’s work in the field of algebra makes the award especially meaningful to me. I am grateful to the AWM and the Michler family for the opportunity to interact with Cornell’s fantastic researchers in algebra and geometry and related fields,” Witt said.
Witt received her doctorate from the University of Michigan in 2011. Since 2015, she has been a faculty member at the University of Kansas, where she was promoted to associate professor in 2020. She currently holds a KU Keeler Intra-University Professorship, which facilitates her collaboration with computer science faculty members on the use of proof assistant software to develop formal proofs.
Witt’s achievements have been recognized by awards from her current institution, the National Science Foundation, the Simons Foundation and the National Security Agency. She currently holds an NSF CAREER Award.
In addition to her research achievements, Witt is involved in a number of initiatives promoting diversity in the mathematical community. She co-organized the first Women in Commutative Algebra research collaboration workshop and co-directed, with Daniel Hernández, associate professor of mathematics, an REU program in algebra and cryptography serving students from underrepresented groups. One of Witt’s goals while visiting Cornell is to learn more about the mathematics department’s successful programs that address diversity and inclusion in STEM.
The Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize was established through a donation from Ruth Michler’s parents, Gerhard and Waltraud Michler of Essen, Germany. The award grants a midcareer mathematician a residential fellowship in the Cornell University mathematics department without teaching obligations. The Michlers established the memorial prize with the Association for Women in Mathematics to honor Ruth Michler’s commitment to the AWM mission of supporting women mathematicians. Cornell University was chosen as the host institution because of its distinctive research atmosphere and because Ithaca was Michler’s birthplace. At the time of her death, Michler was in Boston as an NSF visiting scholar at Northeastern University. A recently promoted associate professor of mathematics at the University of North Texas, she died Nov. 1, 2000, at age 33 in an accident, cutting short the career of an excellent mathematician.