Mathematician Svitlana Mayboroda Receives the 2023 Blavatnik National Award

Jamey Guy for Quanta Magazine

Mathematician Svitlana Mayboroda has been named the winner of the 2023 Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists in the physical sciences and engineering category.

Mayboroda is the McKnight Presidential Professor of Mathematics and Northrop Professor at the University of Minnesota and a professor at ETH Zurich. As director of the Simons Collaboration on Localization of Waves, she leads some of the world’s top mathematicians and physicists in understanding and exploiting the localization of waves brought about by disordered environments and complex geometry.

The Blavatnik National Awards recognize America’s most innovative faculty-ranked scientists and engineers under the age of 42, according to the Blavatnik foundation website. The winner from each of the three categories — life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences and engineering — receives $250,000, the largest unrestricted scientific award in the country.

In its award announcement, the Blavatnik Family Foundation spotlighted Mayboroda’s work developing an “elegant new mathematical theory to understand electronic waves.” She and her colleagues invented localization landscape theory, which solves many long-standing problems in condensed matter theory and opens the door for new technological innovations in everything from semiconductors to LED lights.

“It’s a huge deal for a mathematician to receive an award like this because it’s a subject where it can take years to prove a good theorem and get results,” Mayboroda said in an announcement by the University of Minnesota. “It’s an incredible honor for me to receive this award, and it provides great recognition of the research in mathematics that can impact science and technology in the real world.”

Mayboroda was born in Ukraine, and attended the University of Kharkiv, where she went on to earn advanced degrees in finance and applied mathematics. She then moved to the United States to earn her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Missouri in Columbia. Her research focuses on analysis and partial differential equations, particularly on the localization of waves.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences will hold a ceremony for Mayboroda and the other winners and finalists at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History on September 19. Among this year’s finalists is Shirley Ho, leader of the Cosmology X Data Science group at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics (CCA).

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