Yuri Tschinkel, Simons Foundation

TITLE: Director of Mathematics and the Physical Sciences

FUNDING AREAS: Mathematics, theoretical physics, and theoretical computer science

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IP TAKE: Tschinkel is an esteemed mathematician and experienced administrator, so he knows how to spot proposals that push the frontiers of his fields.

PROFILE: When David Eisenbud left the Simons Foundation for the Mathematical Sciences Research Foundation in Berkeley, California, Simons' leaders knew they had big shoes to fill. They found the right intellectual and administrative skills in Yuri Tschinkel.

Tschinkel is a mathematician who specializes in algebraic geometry and number theory. A native of East Berlin who earned his undergraduate degree at Moscow State University as the Soviet Union was in its final throes, he came to the United States for his PhD in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which he earned in 1992.

Since then, Tschinkel's work in abstract mathematics has taken him around the world and back, from the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn to the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Japan and finally to the Courant Institute at New York University.

It was his time at New York University that earned Tschinkel special notice. Not only did it place him among the faculty at one of the world's most influential mathematics programs, but he also chaired the Courant Institute's mathematics department and was part of a team of mathematicians who established the Research Training Group in Number Theory program at NYU, whose goal is to extend to students the full breadth of a field that has developed dramatically in recent decades.

Tschinkel expanded his repertoire even further by serving as executive producer of Colors of Math, a film that traces the links between abstract mathematics and the human senses. The film has been screened at a number of festivals, including the Moscow International Film Festival and the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York City.

The Simons Foundation liked this mix of academic heft, administrative experience, and artistic flair. "Yuri was the clear choice for us as an experienced leader and administrator of similar programs, with years of experience in the areas we are dedicated to supporting," said foundation President Marilyn Simons.

Tschinkel inherited a successful Mathematical and Physical Sciences division that is set only to gain influence. The Simons Foundation's giving focuses on individuals and institutions that do basic research in mathematics, theoretical physics, and theoretical computer science. This includes the Simons Investigators program, a new but highly coveted prize that supports basic research by offering recipients $100,000 for five years.

Now Tschinkel holds the purse strings for the Investigators and the variety of other math and science grants that receive a share of the Simons Foundation's $2 billion endowment. With his technical expertise, he's in a commanding position to direct funding to the projects that count.