The American Mathematical Society (AMS) will recognize mathematician David Eisenbud with its 2020 AMS Award for Distinguished Public Service.
The award recognizes Eisenbud for his exceptional leadership and outreach efforts in his roles as founding director of the Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences division, AMS president, and director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, California.
“In each of these roles, David Eisenbud has gone far beyond the ordinary as an exuberant advocate for the mathematical sciences,” the AMS wrote in its announcement. “He has changed the way others think about our subject and changed aspects of the mathematics profession itself. His exceptional service will affect mathematics for years to come.”
Eisenbud received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1970. After serving on the faculty of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, he became a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley in 1997. He served as director of MSRI from 1997 to 2007, and again from 2013 to the present. He served as AMS president from 2003 to 2005.
In 2009, the Simons Foundation hired Eisenbud as vice president for mathematics to direct what would become its Mathematics and Physical Sciences division. The division supports research in mathematics, theoretical physics and computer science.
During his tenure, Eisenbud oversaw the establishment of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at the University of California, Berkeley, implemented programs to support researchers in different stages of their careers, and organized and funded symposia and lecture series. Eisenbud is currently a member of the board of directors for both the Simons Foundation and Math for America.
In the award announcement, the AMS highlighted Eisenbud’s work at the Simons Foundation, where he “was instrumental in forging policies that now provide significant and novel non-governmental support for the mathematical and physical sciences.”
Eisenbud’s mathematical interests include commutative and noncommutative algebra, algebraic geometry, topology, and computer methods. Outside of mathematics, he pursues theater, music and juggling. He has even co-authored a paper on the mathematics of juggling.
In response to the award, Eisenbud thanked the people who mentored him and gave him opportunities to serve. “I am very pleased by this recognition from the AMS for the work that I have had the good luck to be able to do on behalf of the mathematics community and of the public’s appreciation of the power, beauty and fun of mathematics!”