National Museum of Mathematics appoints local resident as distinguished visiting professor  

The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) appointed of Rutgers University math professor and MoMath’s dean of Academic Content, Dr. Alex Kontorovich, as MoMath’s distinguished visiting professor for the Public Dissemination of Mathematics beginning Sept. 1.

During his one-year appointment, Kontorovich will present public programs, “Fall into History,” tracing mathematical ideas over time, and “Spring into Sound,” delving into the deep intersections between math and music.

In a joint statement, Marilyn and Jim Simons said, “We are thrilled that Alex Kontorovich has accepted this year-long role at MoMath, focused on sharing the joys and nuances of mathematics with the general public. He is an ideal torch-bearer to carry on the work of engaging everyone with math and mathematical thinking, already so well-begun by his predecessors.”

In the fall, the West Windsor-Plainsboro resident will lead a series of programs focusing on “The Arc of Math, Ancient to Modern,” studying the twists and turns of mathematical ideas throughout history, according to the statement. In Spring 2021, Kontorovich will lead “The Surprising Intersections between Math and Music,” exploring complex and fascinating interactions between mathematics and music from basic structures of melody, rhythm, harmony, and form, to Fourier analysis, digitization, and representation theory.

“We’re honored to announce Dr. Kontorovich as MoMath’s third distinguished visiting professor for the Public Dissemination of Mathematics,” Cindy Lawrence, CEO and executive director of MoMath, said in the statement. “Dr. Kontorovich has a passion and desire to teach, and presents mathematics to the MoMath community in new and exciting ways. This upcoming year is going to be filled with inspiration, creativity, and surprising mathematics that presents the subject in a way that has broad popular appeal and connects with math lovers of all ages.”

Kontorovich came to the U.S. when he was eight as a refugee from the former Soviet Union. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Princeton University, followed by a PhD in Mathematics at Columbia University. He is currently a professor of Mathematics at Rutgers University, MoMath’s dean of Academic Content, and serves on MoMath’s Advisory Council. His research interests include interactions between number theory, geometry, dynamics, and representation theory, which he will incorporate into his lectures, mini-courses, and series of MoMath events and initiatives, according to the statement.

“It is such an incredible honor and privilege for me to serve in this position, especially after the tremendous precedents set by the previous two Distinguished Visiting Professors,” Kontorovich said in the statement. “I’m grateful to MoMath for this opportunity, and the Simons Foundation for their continued and dedicated support, allowing such programs to flourish. I’m most excited about interacting regularly with the public at all levels, from school children and their parents and teachers, to math-loving (or just math-curious) adults. I hope to work to demystify some of the deeper concepts and modern ideas in mathematics, to help expose all to the joys and trials and tribulations of my beloved subject.”

In 2017, Kontorovich became a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and was elected Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Quanta Magazine and is the editor-in-chief of the journal Experimental Mathematics. He has received the American Mathematical Society’s Levi Conant Prize for mathematical exposition, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a Simons Foundation Fellowship, and a von Neumann Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, according to the statement.

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