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Simons Fellowship for Math’s Bridgeman

05/09/13
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Martin Bridgeman (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: May 9, 2013

Mathematics Professor Martin Bridgeman has been awarded a Simons Fellowship to help support his research in moduli spaces.

Bridgeman will use the fellowship to extend his semester sabbatical to a full-year sabbatical, attend math institutes in Providence and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and work with various collaborators. He is the second Boston College Mathematics faculty member to win a Simons Fellowship in the past year: Professor G. Robert Meyerhoff received the award in 2012 for his work on hyperbolic 3-manifolds.

Established by the Simons Foundation — a New York City-based private institution that sponsors programs to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and science — the fellowships are awarded based on an applicant’s scientific accomplishment in the five-year period preceding the application and on the potential scientific impact of the leave period.  

“I am deeply honored to be included among the list of awardees,” said Bridgeman, a faculty member since 1999. “I have always admired the mathematical work of [foundation chairman] Professor James Simons, who made important contributions to the field of geometry — specifically the development of Chern-Simons theory, a cornerstone of modern math and physics — during his early math career.”

Bridgeman’s research is concerned with the interaction between the relation of the topological and structural properties of space with its geometry and shape. This involves the study of moduli spaces, which he described as “the space of shapes of a given space.”

Said Bridgeman, “In a recent paper with my collaborators, we define a geometry on this space, a shape on the space of shapes, whose study will take up much of the sabbatical.”

Another branch of research, he said, is the study of identities on moduli spaces. “An identity is defined as an equation satisfied by a space, like how x^2 + y^2 = r^2 on a circle. In a recent paper, I discovered an identity on moduli space that generalizes some classical identities going back some 200 years. I will continue to work on this with my collaborators during the year.”

Mathematics Chair Professor Solomon Friedberg hailed Bridgeman’s achievement, which adds to a recent surge of good news for the department: Sloan Research Fellowships to Assistant Professors Joshua E. Greene and David Treumann, a National Science Foundation Career Award to Assistant Professor Elisenda Grigsby and election as Fellow of the American Mathematical Society for Professor Avner Ash.

“These milestones indicate that scholarship in mathematics at BC is of nationally recognized significance, and that both junior and senior faculty in our department are competing successfully at the very highest levels,” said Friedberg. “I offer my sincere congratulations to Martin for his Simons Fellowship, as well as to my other colleagues who are being recognized for their outstanding scholarship.”