College of Natural Sciences Assistant Professor Brent Waters won for his research in cryptography and computer security. He was nominated by the National Science Foundation after winning an NSF CAREER award for “Foundations and Extensions of Public Key Cryptography.” A large part of this research focuses on a concept he developed called “functional encryption.”
The other PECASE winner was Brady Cox, who will join the faculty of the Cockrell School of Engineering in August. He’s coming to us from the University of Arkansas, where he was an assistant professor in civil engineering, specializing in geotechnical engineering issues related to earthquake loading and soil dynamics. He has been a part of the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance teams deployed immediately following recent major earthquakes including those in New Zealand and Haiti.
The awards, established in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Winners are chosen for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.
In June, Professor Alessio Figalli was named one of the winners of the prestigious European Mathematical Society Prize. This native Italian earned his PhD at 23 and by the following year he was a tenured professor at the Ecole Polytechnique near Paris. In 2009, he came to UT as a tenured associate professor, and in 2009-10 held one of the University’s prestigious Harrington Fellowships. Last year, at 27, he was named a full professor. Figalli has been most recognized for his work on the optimal transport problem and a version of what’s known as Dido’s problem.
That these faculty members have achieved so much so early in their careers should make us all proud. It also piques my interest in what they might do in the years ahead.