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First Woman President of the International Mathematical Union
18 August 2010
Hyderabad, University of
The International Mathematical Union (IMU) elected its new Executive Committee (EC) members for the term 2011–14, on 17 August 2010. The event was part of the 16th General Assembly Meeting held at Bangalore, India during 16–17 August 2010. The President Ingrid Daubechies (USA), Secretary Martin Grötschel (Germany) and Vice-Presidents Christine Rousseau (Canada) and Marcelo Viana (Brazil) were elected unopposed. Six EC Members-at-Large were also selected from among eight candidates; they are Manuel de Léon (Spain), Yiming Long (China), Cheryl E. Praeger (Australia), Vasudevan Srinivas (India), John Francis Toland (UK) and Wendelin Werner (France).
Prof. Daubechies is the first woman President of the IMU. Her election is doubly encouraging news as the first International Conference of Women Mathematicians was inaugurated in Hyderabad on 17 August. Besides, she is the first woman Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, New Jersey. She is also the first woman to receive the National Academy of Sciences Medal in Mathematics (2000).
In her election speech, Prof. Daubechies said that she was happy that pure and applied mathematicians were interacting more with each other. She also mentioned two domains in which the IMU has been increasingly active and to which she was also committed – the involvement and dialogue with people who cared very much about teaching and in helping developing countries establish good mathematical communities.
Prof. Daubechies is a mathematician and a physicist and works in the Department of Mathematics and in the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. Born in Belgium in 1954, she is now settled in the US (1987 onwards) after her marriage to Prof. Robert Calderbank, a mathematician. She plans to move to Duke University in 2011. She has been a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation from 1992 to 1997. She has won several prestigious awards including the Louis Empain Prize for Physics (1984), the Leroy P. Steele prize for exposition (1994) for her book Ten Lectures on Wavelets, the American Mathematical Society Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize (1997), and the IEEE Information Theory Society Golden Jubilee Award for Technological Innovation (1998).
On the overwhelming task of managing her new responsibilities as IMU President and as Professor at Duke University, Prof. Daubechies said, “When I am the new President, I will have some relief from my duties at Duke. I negotiated that when I knew that this was a possibility. I am very interested in how emerging countries develop mathematics…There is enormous potential in young people...In a sense, mathematics is easier for an emerging country to develop than physics or chemistry because you do not need to have a big layout in materials and labs and so on and lot more money. In mathematics, once you build a nucleus who can work together, then the sky is the limit!”
The day Prof. Daubechies was elected President also happened to be her birthday, making the day a particularly significant one and it was celebrated with great enthusiasm!