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08-28-2000

Clarkson's Fokas Wins Uk's Most Prestigious Applied Math Award

Thanasis Fokas, professor of mathematics at Clarkson University and Imperial College in London, was recently awarded Great Britain’s most prestigious prize in applied mathematics, the Naylor Prize. 

Fokas joins an illustrious group of winners, including noted physicist Stephen Hawking, a 1999 recipient, and 1991 winner Roger Penrose, the British mathematician who calculated many of the basic features of black holes.  Fokas is the first non-British scientist to claim the honor, which is awarded by the London Mathematical Society; the recipient conducts a lecture in the year following the award.

Fokas has been affiliated with the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Clarkson University since 1980, first as an assistant professor from 1980-82, an associate professor from 1983-86 and as professor and chair from 1986-93. 

In 1996, he was appointed to a chair in applied mathematics at Imperial College, which, together with Cambridge, Oxford and the London School of Economics, are the most prominent universities in Great Britain and among the most prestigious worldwide.  However, he has continued to maintain his affiliation with Clarkson, spending several months each year at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

"We are very proud of this recognition of Prof. Fokas,” says David L. Powers, professor and chair of the Department of Math and Computer Science.  “Clarkson students are fortunate to have the opportunity to take a course with such an outstanding mathematician. This fall he will teach a sophomore course, ‘Elementary Differential Equations,’ and give an advanced seminar for faculty and graduate students about his recent research."

According to the award citation, Fokas “has made substantial contributions to the theory of integrable systems and to the theory of other important linear and nonlinear equations, including boundary-value problems.  He has established himself as a leading analyst worldwide in these significant areas of applied mathematics.”

Considered an authority in nonlinear differential equations, Fokas recently introduced a new method for solving certain types of differential equations, acclaimed as one of the most important developments in the theory of differential equations since the original works of the classics in the beginning of the 18th century.  Such “pioneering work is expected to have major ramifications for elucidating the behavior of differential equations,” according to the citation.

Fokas has written about 170 papers, including 70 with various collaborators.  His research areas range from applied areas such as modeling of leukemia and magnetoencephalography, to areas in pure mathematics such as geometry. 

Fokas received a B.Sc. in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College in London in 1975, a Ph. D. in applied mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1979 and an M.D.  from the University of Miami in 1986.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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