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MSRI Director David Eisenbud to Receive the 2020 AMS Award for Distinguished Public Service

October 31, 2019

MSRI is honored to announce that MSRI Director David Eisenbud will be presented the American Mathemical Society's 2020 AMS Award for Distinguished Public Service on January 16, 2020 at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Denver. This award recognizes his "exceptional leadership and outreach efforts while director of MSRI, president of the AMS, and director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the Simons Foundation."

David Eisenbud has served as director of MSRI from 1997 to 2007, and began a new term in 2013. From 2009 to 2011, he served as director for Mathematical and the Physical Sciences at the Simons Foundation, and is currently on the foundation's Board of Directors. He was president of the AMS from 2003 to 2005, and is a director of Math for America, a foundation devoted to improving mathematics teaching. He has been a member of the Board of Mathematical Sciences and their Applications of the National Research Council, and is a member of the U.S. National Committee of the International Mathematical Union. Eisenbud was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006, and was a member of the Inaugural Class of AMS Fellows (2013).

Eisenbud's mathematical interests range widely over commutative and non-commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, topology, and computer methods. His interests outside of mathematics include theater, music, and juggling.

The AMS award citation shares the following accomplishments over his career:

  • As the first director of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences division at the Simons Foundation, he was instrumental in forging policies that now provide significant and novel non-governmental support for the mathematical and physical sciences.
  • As a research mathematician, Eisenbud's work is centered in commutative algebra and algebraic geometry. He has advised more than 30 doctoral students, including 13 since first becoming director of MSRI. His book Commutative Algebra: With a View Toward Algebraic Geometry was honored with a Leroy P. Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition in 2010.

In each of these roles, David Eisenbud has gone far beyond the ordinary as an exuberant advocate for the mathematical sciences. He has changed the way others think about our subject and changed aspects of the mathematics profession itself. His exceptional service will affect mathematics for years to come.

In response to the award, Eisenbud has said: "I am very pleased by this recognition from the AMS for the work that I have had the good luck to be able to do on behalf of the mathematics community and of the public’s appreciation of the power, beauty and fun of mathematics!

"Looking back, it seems to me that the mentoring I received played a great role both in my enthusiasm for this sort of work and for enabling me to take on the positions—principally at the AMS, at the Simons Foundation, and at MSRI—that have put me in a position to act on behalf of the community. These mentors in public service (and of course others, also in research) have played an enormous role in my life, one whose magnitude and coherence I only recently came to appreciate. I’m grateful for this chance to reflect on my path, and express my indebtedness to all of them. I can only wish such good fortune for others."

Presented every two years, the AMS Award for Distinguished Public Service recognizes a research mathematician who has made recent or sustained distinguished contributions to the mathematics profession through public service. The 2020 award will be given Thursday, January 16 during the Joint Prize Session at the 2020 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Denver.

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