Mathematics Department - News Item: Felix Browder Receives Nation's Highest Science Honor

News Item: Felix Browder Receives Nation's Highest Science Honor

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J., Jan. 31, 2000 -- President Bill Clinton today named Felix E. Browder, university professor of mathematics at Rutgers, a recipient of the 1999 National Medal of Science, the nation's highest science and engineering honor.

Browder, a North Brunswick resident, is one of 12 honorees selected for the medal, which will be presented at a White House ceremony March 14. The new medalists are the last to be named in the 20th century.

"The contributions of these scientists are so profound, so connected to our everyday lives and so lasting that these medals go only a short way to express the gratitude the nation owes them," said Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The National Medal of Science, established by the 86th Congress in 1959 and administered by the NSF, honors the impact of individuals on the present state of knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, social and behavioral sciences. Not including the 1999 recipients, the medal has been awarded to 362 distinguished scientists and engineers, including two previous Rutgers winners.

"We are extremely pleased that Felix Browder has received this well-deserved recognition," said Rutgers President Francis L. Lawrence. "It not only honors him personally for his scientific and professional accomplishments, but also speaks well of the university where he has spent the last 14 years."

Browder was cited by the NSF for pioneering mathematical work in the creation of nonlinear functional analysis and its applications to partial differential equations. He was also recognized for serving as a leader in the scientific community and expanding the range of interaction of mathematics with other disciplines. Browder serves as president of the 33,000-member American Mathematical Society (AMS).

"While Felix Browder is known for achievements in abstract mathematical theory, he has also shown us that mathematics is one of the central elements of our culture and civilization," said Joseph J. Seneca, university vice president for academic affairs. "He has brought the relevance of mathematics to generations of students and the general public alike, sharing knowledge and stimulating those around him intellectually."

"Mathematics is increasingly relevant to us all," said Browder. "Computers are fundamentally mathematical, as is biotechnology. The problems of physics are increasingly mathematical in nature, and finance, in its global complexity, is mathematical as well. The amount of sophisticated mathematics you have to know to do almost anything, especially anything scientific, has increased dramatically."

In his role as president of the AMS, Browder has lobbied in Washington for mathematical education and research funding. "We want to develop more visibility for mathematics, to publicize mathematics and its purpose to the general public. I am devoted to carrying forth the cause of mathematics," he added.

Browder's intellectual prowess is legendary: He graduated from high school at age 16 and completed his doctorate by age 20. He arrived at Rutgers in 1986 as the university's first vice president for research. Prior to coming to Rutgers, he headed the University of Chicago's mathematics department for 12 years, and also held posts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Brandeis and Yale. His interests range widely today, far beyond the precincts of mathematics. With a library at home in excess of 30,000 volumes, he continues to pursue his interests in science, philosophy and history.

Previous Rutgers recipients of the National Medal of Science are Martin D. Kruskal (1993), the David Hilbert Professor of Mathematics, and James L. Flanagan (1996), vice president for research and director of the Center for Advanced Information Processing.

About this image:The image is courtesy of Nick Romanenko, Rutgers University Photo Services.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Browder.

Joseph Blumberg, University Relations
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