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One of the newest University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty members has earned a five-year, $552,986 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation designed to support early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education.

Department of Mathematics Assistant Professor Yash Lodha, who joined the university in 2022, will use the award to further his research on “group theory,” a central area of mathematics. A group is a mathematical abstraction of symmetries of a physical object or a theoretical space. Groups are fundamental objects in mathematics that also appear in applications in computer science and physics. Lodha will investigate the landscape of infinite groups that emerge as symmetries (homeomorphisms) of the most natural spaces in mathematics, the circle and the real line.

“Winning the NSF CAREER award is a true honor,” Lodha said. “This will provide the resources to pursue an international research program, while also contributing towards the mathematical and overall scientific atmosphere in Hawaiʻi. It will help me identify and nurture the local mathematical talent among the diverse and dynamic body of graduate and undergraduate students here. This will also enable me to continue to be an active part of the international community of mathematicians by organizing, attending, and speaking in conferences, seminars and colloquia.”

As part of the project, Lodha will organize two research workshops aimed at graduate students, and two research programs for undergraduates. These activities will incorporate computational methods into the students’ mathematical exploration of the landscape of infinite groups. Their goals include training the next generation of future leaders in mathematics.

“The UH Mānoa math department was very excited to have Professor Lodha join us in August 2022,” said Department of Mathematics Chair and Professor Rufus Willett. “Professor Lodha has already added to the sense of excitement around research in the department, and the sense of community by, for example, reviving the undergraduate math club. We look forward to a great deal more activity supported by this well-deserved CAREER award.”

In 2021, Lodha earned the START Award from the Austrian Science Foundation, which is regarded as the highest Austrian prize given to young scientists. He earned his PhD from Cornell University in 2015, where his thesis work was awarded the Mary Ellen Rudin young researcher award, an annual award sponsored by the publishing company, Elsevier.

The Department of Mathematics is housed in the College of Natural Sciences.