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IU Bloomington professor named American Mathematical Society Fellow

Dec 13, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – An Indiana University Bloomington mathematician has been named a 2018 fellow of the American Mathematical Society for his contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics.

The recipient is James F. Davis, professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Mathematics. Davis’ election raises the university’s total number of American Mathematical Society fellows to 16.

“Jim’s election to the 2018 class of AMS fellows recognizes his excellent contributions to mathematics through his work in geometric topology and, in particular, for his work in surgery theory,” said Elizabeth Housworth, chair of the IU Bloomington Department of Mathematics. “It is a well-deserved honor.”

Davis is a recognized leader in the area of geometric topology. His research focus is “surgery theory,” a mathematical technique named for its ability to “cut and paste” in high dimensions. The theory interacts with a broad range of theoretical mathematics, especially geometry, analysis and algebra.

His work has been continuously supported by the National Science Foundation for over 35 years, a rarity in the field of mathematics. In 2016, Davis organized a National Science Foundation summer school on “Surgery and the Classification of Manifolds” at the University of Calgary in Canada, which was attended by graduate students and recent Ph.D. recipients from across the globe.

Davis’ nomination also recognizes his notable expository work on surgery theory. His book “Lecture Notes in Algebraic Topology” provides a clear, accessible introduction into modern algebraic topology. Davis co-authored the text with Paul Kirk, professor in the IU Bloomington Department of Mathematics.

“The election as fellow is a well-deserved honor,” said Michael Mandell, professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Mathematics. “Jim is a world expert on the assembly map in K- and L-theory, and on group actions on spheres and related spaces, among other topics. He is also fantastic as an advisor for graduate students, doing a marvelous job at bringing out his students’ full potential.”

Davis holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from Stanford University. He joined IU in 1985 and served three years as chair of the Department of Mathematics. He previously was a faculty member at Princeton University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago. His numerous awards include the Humboldt Fellowship, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Research Professorship and the National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.

“I am grateful to the American Mathematical Society for awarding me this honor and grateful to Indiana University and my colleagues in the math department for providing a supportive atmosphere for my research in geometric topology for over thirty years,” Davis said.

He will be officially recognized as a fellow at the 2018 Joint Mathematics Meetings from Jan. 10 to 13 in San Diego. The event is the largest annual gathering of mathematicians in the world.

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