Precup wins NSF CAREER award

Martha Precup

Martha Precup, an assistant professor of mathematics and statistics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, won a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation for her project “Hessenberg varieties, symmetric functions and combinatorial representation theory.” The highly prized NSF award recognizes junior faculty who excel at mentoring while successfully integrating research and education.

Precup will use the grant to search for patterns within geometric data. Her research focuses on solutions to polynomial equations, which explain the relationships between numbers and variables. Precup works with many equations and hundreds of variables at once, a challenge that requires innovative thinking and new mathematical approaches.

Specifically, Precup is looking at equations that define a particular type of geometric object called a Hessenberg variety. Such equations are often used in numerical linear algebra to streamline calculations, but Precup is most interested in the theoretical challenge.

“I work in the field of pure math,” she said. “I’m not necessarily looking for applications but, of course, applications do sometimes arise. Since the system of equations defining each Hessenberg variety is so large, we look for patterns to recover relevant information instead of computing directly.”

The CAREER award also will help Precup expand her outreach as a teacher and a mentor.

Read more on the Ampersand website.

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