College of Sciences names Dan Margalit as Inaugural 2016 Leddy Family Faculty Fellow

Award brings two years of research support to the School of Mathematics professor.

The College of Sciences has selected Dan Margalit to receive the inaugural 2016 Leddy Family Faculty Fellowship. Margalit is a professor in the School of Mathematics who does research in geometric group theory and topology.

The fellowship provides research support over two years, made possible by a generous gift to the College of Sciences by alumnus Jeffrey A. Leddy (B.S. in Physics 1978) and his wife, Pam. 

“This is an incredible honor and a great surprise,” said Margalit upon hearing of his selection. “The fellowship will have a huge impact for the next two years – and beyond.”

Margalit’s research is about surfaces, which could be that of a ball or a donut. “Surfaces are central in mathematics,” Margalit said in April 2016. “They can describe the possible motions of a robot arm or all the possible solutions of a polynomial.”

Increasingly, Margalit sees mathematics as a social activity. Advances in solving difficult problems are often made by assembling the right group of experts, he explained. “I will use the Leddy Fellowship to promote collaboration through seminars, mini-conferences, and the hiring of a postdoctoral researcher,” he said. “My colleagues and I will be attacking important long-standing problems on the abstract symmetries of surfaces and graphs.”

In nominating Margalit for the fellowship, School of Mathematics Interim Chair Prasad V. Tetali emphasized Margalit’s top-notch research and its connections to many fields including biology, chemistry, robotics, and solar astrophysics. Tetali also underscored Margalit’s “extensive and extremely influential” service to Georgia Tech and the School of Mathematics and his strong record of teaching and mentoring at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels.  

“Dan Margalit has an exceptional record as a member of the School of Mathematics,” Tetali wrote. “I am confident he will put the award money to creative, meaningful, and overall excellent use.”

“We all appreciate mathematics for its impact, including across the sciences. But we should also treasure it for its uplifting beauty, as we do the sonnets of Shakespeare or the sculptures of Bernini,” says College of Sciences Dean Paul M. Goldbart. “In Dan Margalit, we have a colleague whose work delivers both: beauty and impact. I congratulate Dan on his selection as the inaugural Leddy Family Faculty Fellow. And I thank the Leddy family for its generous support of the College of Sciences.” 

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