New York University Faculty of Arts and Science College of Arts and Science Graduate School of Arts and Science

Alumni News

Spring 2015 CIMS Newsletter

Spring 2015 CIMS NewsletterThe Spring 2015 issue of the CIMS Newsletter has been released. A digital copy is available here.

Lisa Braden-Harder M.S. Computer Science '91 Receives Innovation, Leadership Award

Photograph of Lisa Braden-HarderLisa Braden-Harder, CEO of Appen, a company selling highly specialized data sets that help machines learn to read, listen, and speak in 150 different languages, received the Small Business Innovation and Leadership Award at the 11th annual Connecticut Technology Council's Women of Innovation awards program. According to the press release, Ms. Braden-Harder was recognized for leading her company through an IPO on the Australian stock exchange earlier this year. She started the Butler Hill Group in 1993 before merging it with Australian-based Appen in 2010. The company now reaches more than 50 countries, with offices in San Francisco and Seattle as well as Europe and Asia, and employs 150 people. In addition to earning an MS in computer science from Courant in 1991, she received a BS in computer science from Purdue University in 1982.

Man of the Hour - Professor emeritus Louis Nirenberg

Louis NirenbergIt has been an eventful year for Professor Nirenberg, a Courant alumnus (MS, PhD '47) as well as a distinguished member of the faculty. The Institute celebrated his 90th birthday (a few months early) at a reception on October 17, 2014. We were pleased to be joined for the occasion by many of Louis' mathematical friends.

We were then thrilled to learn on March 25 that Professor Nirenberg was named a 2015 Abel Prize winner with John F. Nash, Jr. of Princeton. The Norwegian Academy of Sciences & Letters, which confers the prize, cited Professors Nirenberg and Nash “for striking and seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations and its applications to geometric analysis.” The Institute celebrated with a reception on Monday, March 30. Colleagues, former students and friends offering their congratulations, anecdotes, and fond feelings for Professor Nirenberg included Institute Director Gerard Ben Arous who flew in from Paris, where he has been on sabbatical, Acting Director Mike Shelley, Mr. Martin Fossum of the Norwegian Consul’s office in New York, Bob Kohn, Jalal Shatah, former Nirenberg student Sergiu Klainerman, Peter Lax, Charles Fefferman and NYU President John Sexton.

Holidays and History

Brittany ShieldsThe annual Holiday Lecture was given in December by Brittany Shields (GSAS ’08), presenting “The Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences: A Historical Perspective, 1934-1972”. At the time of the lecture a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Shields has written and presented extensively about the Courant Institute and Mathematics at NYU, including her master’s thesis: “A Sociological and Historical Study of the Early Development of New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences”. She spoke more recently on Richard Courant and NYU’s mathematics enterprise during World War II at the American Mathematical Society Spring Eastern Sectional Meeting on March 8 in Washington, DC.

Peter Lax Biography by Reuben Hersh – Book Signing April 23 at 4 pm

Photograph of Peter LaxProfessor emeritus Peter Lax (PhD ’49) is the subject of a new biography written by Reuben Hersh (PhD ’60) and published by the American Mathematical Society. Peter Lax, Mathematician: An Illustrated Memoir, which appeared in early 2015, covers the Abel Prize winning mathematician’s life from his early life in pre-World War II Hungary to the present. In an engaging volume of text and pictures, Hersh devotes chapters to Lax’s youth in Budapest, his involvement in the atomic bomb project, students and colleagues in the Courant Institute, the momentous late-1960’s, and descriptions of Lax’s mathematical achievements. An ample section of Appendices includes a profile of Lax’s late wife, the mathematician Anneli Cahn Lax, Lax’s own writings on John Von Neumann and Richard Courant, and writings about and by Lax’s late son John. Lax’s C.V., bibliography, a list of academic “offspring” and numerous photographs of family and colleagues complete the picture. Peter Duren (U. Mich) called the book “…well researched and full of interesting facts, yet light-hearted and lively” and Courant’s own Gérard Ben Arous commented “This book brings out both the personal and professional aspects of Peter's work in a captivating manner. It is a great read for people who know Peter as well as for those who do not."

Reuben Hersh has written and co-written numerous popularly-received books on mathematics for general and specialist audiences, including his and Philip Davis’ National Book Award-winning The Mathematical Experience. He is professor of mathematics, emeritus at the University of New Mexico.

Professors Lax and Hersh will be in the Warren Weaver Hall 13th Floor Lounge for a book signing on Thursday, April 23 at 4 pm.

Mathematical Sciences Alumna and Husband Together as Courant Math Faculty

Photograph of Miranda Holmes-CerfonCourant Assistant Professor of Mathematics Miranda Holmes-Cerfon (PhD ’10) and Assistant Professor Antoine Cerfon both received 2014 Early Career Research Program awards from the Department of Energy. They were featured as the June 14, 2014 cover story of Advance Scientific Computing Research (ASCR)’s newsletter “At the Universities”. The story covered the interrelationship between Holmes-Cerfon’s work on molecular self-assembly and Cerfon’s work on temperature control of hot plasmas during sustained nuclear fusion, and how “the two have influenced each other toward energy-related research.” Holmes-Cerfon earned her PhD in Courant’s Center for Atmosphere and Ocean Science, which she followed with post-doctoral work at Harvard. She joined the Courant faculty in 2013 after serving as a Courant Instructor in 2012. Antoine, who earned his PhD in Applied Plasma Physics at MIT, joined the Institute in 2012.

New Development Director for Courant

Photo of Robin RoyThe Courant Institute and University Development and Alumni Relations (UDAR), welcome Robin Roy as Director of Development for the Institute. Robin’s career in public relations and development for not-for-profit organizations – largely in university settings - spans over 30 years. She comes to the Courant directly from Barnard College where she was Senior Associate Director of Development. Previously, Robin served as chief fund raiser for Columbia’s School of Nursing and the Mailman School of Public Health, and was Director of Special Development Projects for Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine. She is a graduate of Smith College and earned an MBA at Columbia. “I am honored and excited to have joined this prestigious institution,” Robin recently commented. “I look forward to working with the Institute leadership, faculty, alumni, friends and organizations to advance its important research and teaching mission, to ensure that it retains and continues to attract the most outstanding faculty and talented students, and to build financial resources that will sustain the high value of every Courant alumnus’ degree.” As she settles in and gets to know NYU and the Institute, Robin will be making contact with alumni individually and in groups, and she welcomes your comments and suggestions. Robin can be reached at 212-998-6974 or at robin.roy@nyu.edu.

Barbara Wohlmuth receives Leibniz Prize

Barbara Wohlmuth (CIMS Postdoc, 1997-98) received a 2012 Leibniz Prize "for her research achievements in numerical analysis, which enable direct applications in scientific and engineering computing."  A ceremony will be held for this year's  eleven winners in February 2012 in Berlin.  The full press release is available from the German Research Foundation.

Barry F. Smith receives Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

Barry F. Smith (Ph.D. in Mathematics, '90) has received a 2011 DOE Ernest Orlando Lawrence award, along with eight other winners.  The award honors Smith and co-winner Lois Curfman McInnes "for scientific leadership in advancing the innovative and transformative numerical software package PETSc, which provides robust, efficient, scalable, and extensible tools that are the backbone of numerous high-performance DOE simulation computer codes."  The full press release is available from the Department of Energy.

A Video Interview with JetBlue CIO Joe Eng

In "Business Renewal through IT" Joe Eng (M.S. in CS '90) discusses the transformation of JetBlue's IT function.  The video is available at booz & co.

John Rinzel & colleagues identify key mechanism in brain's computation of sound

Research by John Rinzel (Ph.D., Math Courant '73; Professor, NYU Center for Neural Science and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences) and other NYU researchers have identified "a mechanism the brain uses to help processes sound localization."  The full article is available from physorg.com.

National Arts Club hosts a Roundtable with Edward Belbruno

Edward Belbruno (Ph.D. '79 Math) discusses his work and paintings at the National Arts Club presentation "Moon, Microwaves, and the Art of Edward Belbruno."  The talk, followed by a reception, is being held on Wednesday, January 12, 2010 at 8:00PM.  Full details can be found here.

Brian J. McCartin receives the Chauvenet Prize

Brian J. McCartin (Ph.D. Math '82) received the Chauvenet Prize, "the highest award for mathematical expository writing that’s been described as the Pulitzer of the math world," for  “e: The Master of All."  The full story is available from Mlive.

Courant Mathematics Alumni in Mexico

There are six Courant alumni faculty in the Departamento de Matematicas y Mecanica, Instituto de Investigaciones en Matematicas Aplicadas y Sistemas, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, including Gilberto Flores, Jorge Ize, Arturo Vargas, Pablo Padilla, Clara Garza and Ramon Plaza. Many of them were involved in the VIII Americas Conference on Differential Equations in Veracruz, Mexico, October 19-23, 09,  2009.  For more information and the group photo, please visit http://www.fenomec.unam.mx/acde8/index.htm

Mark Spitznagel writes about Ludwig von Mises in "The Man Who Predicted the Depression"

Mark Spitznagel (M.S. in Math Finance ’05), founder and chief investment officer of Universa Investments LP, writes “The Man Who Predicted the Depression."  The article is about Ludwig von Mises’s ideas from his 1912 “Theorie des Geldes und der Umlaufsmittel” (“The Theory of Money and Credit”) on business cycles and the banking system, and how credit expansion creates conditions for a crash.  The full article can be read at The Wall Street Journal.