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Nov. 5, 2012

Two Faculty Members Named to Inaugural Class of American Mathematical Society Fellows

While having even one woman named as a Fellow is rare among liberal arts colleges, women's colleges Smith and Barnard each have two.

1NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — Smith College faculty members Ileana Streinu and Marjorie Senechal were recently recognized for their outstanding contributions to mathematics and named among scientists from around the world to the 2013 prestigious inaugural class of American Mathematical Society (AMS) Fellows.

Streinu, Charles N. Clark Professor of Computer Science, and Senechal, Louise Wolff Kahn Professor Emerita in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology, are among the 1,119 Fellows who represent more than 600 institutions. 

The new Fellows will be celebrated during the Joint Mathematics Meetings Jan. 9- 12, 2013.

The Fellows designation recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication, and utilization of mathematics.

"Recent advances in mathematics include solutions to age-old problems and key applications useful for society,” said AMS President Eric M. Friedlander .“The new Fellows Program recognizes some of the most accomplished mathematicians— members who have contributed to our understanding of deep and important mathematical questions, to applications throughout the scientific world, and to educational excellence."

2In 2010, Streinu received a prestigious award for mathematical research addressing a longstanding fundamental problem in geometry, with applications in robotics and computational biology. The David P. Robbins Prize from the American Mathematical Society (AMS) is awarded just every three years for a paper that reports on novel research in algebra, combinatorics or discrete mathematics. Streinu was honored for her algorithmic solution of the “carpenter’s rule problem,” which asks whether any polygonal chain—a connected series of line segments—can be continuously straightened out in a way that avoids self-intersections.

In addition, Streinu was the inaugural director of the Four College Biomathematics Consortium aimed at training the next generation of scientists in the rapidly emerging field of biomathematics and created in 2011 by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

3Senechal is the recipient of the prestigious Carl B. Allendoerfer Award of the Mathematical Association of America and in the Millia Davenport Publication Award of the Costume Society of America. She is formerly the director of Smith’s Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute that supports collaborative research among Smith faculty, students and visiting scholars without regard to the traditional boundaries of departments, programs and academic divisions.

Senechal’s books include "Shaping Space," "Crystalline Symmetries," "Quasicrystals and Geometry," "Long Life to Your Children! A Portrait of High Albania," and "American Silk." Her biography about a former Smith College physics professor, "I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science," will be released Dec. 3.

Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, the 30,000-member AMS fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and everyday life.

The AMS strongly supports equal opportunity in employment. The organization's website notes that despite increasing participation at many levels, "retention and promotion of women and underrepresented minorities remain unacceptably low, particularly at research universities. Therefore, AMS members, both individual and institutional, are urged to examine frequently their policies and procedures to find ways to facilitate careers in mathematics research for women and underrepresented minorities."


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