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Harold Widom wins prestigious Pólya Prize

Alva Noë awarded Ryskamp Research Fellowship

Jopseph Bunnett named IUPAC fellow

April 15, 2002


Harold Widom wins prestigious Pólya Prize

Harold Widom
UCSC Photo Services
Harold Widom, professor emeritus of mathematics, will share the prestigious George Pólya Prize with UC Davis professor of mathematics Craig Tracy. The two mathematicians are being honored for their recent breakthroughs in the field of mathematical analysis.

Widom and Tracy are being recognized for their recent work on random matrices, which has aroused great interest among physicists. They have discovered a new class of distribution functions called Tracy-Widom distributions. Like the Gaussian distribution, the familiar bell-shaped curve that describes fluctuations in repeated measurements of a physical quantity, Tracy-Widom distributions describe fluctuations for other classes of random events. Tracy-Widom distributions arise in many different situations, including statistical mechanical growth models and tiling problems.

The Pólya Prize, which consists of a medal and $20,000 in cash, was established by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) in 1969. Given every two years, the prize alternately awards an achievement in combinatorial theory and one in another area of interest to George Pólya, such as complex analysis or probability theory. Pólya, author of How To Solve It, is best known for his contributions to the field of problem solving. The prize will be presented to Widom and Tracy at SIAM's annual meeting in July.
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Alva Noë awarded Ryskamp Research Fellowship

Alva Noë
Photo: Angelica Farber
Alva Noë, assistant professor of philosophy, has been awarded a $60,000 Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship by the American Council of Learned Societies. The fellowship supports Noë's research and writing of Action In Perception (forthcoming, MIT Press), which presents a new way of thinking about perception and perceptual consciousness that Noë has named the "enactive approach."

This is the inaugural year of the Ryskamp Fellowships, which support advanced assistant professors in the humanities and related social sciences whose scholarly contributions have furthered their fields.
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Joseph Bunnett named IUPAC Fellow

Joseph Bunnett, professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry, has been named a Fellow of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The IUPAC Fellows Program recognizes past service to the Union and facilitates continuing dialogue with individuals who have been active in IUPAC programs.

Bunnett chaired the IUPAC Ad Hoc Committee on Chemical Weapons Destruction Technologies. He remains active in IUPAC and other international efforts aimed at the destruction of chemical weapons. He has served on committees of the National Research Council, the Department of Defense, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Bunnett's research interests are in the kinetics, equilibria, and mechanisms of organic reactions. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was founding editor of Accounts of Chemical Research.
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