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Jill Pipher elected AMS president Feb. 1

Brown’s VP of research, math professor will helm American Mathematical Society next February

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Soon to take on her role as president of the American Mathematical Society, Vice President of Research and Professor of Mathematics Jill Pipher served as president of the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Jill Pipher, vice president for research and professor of mathematics, became president-elect of the American Mathematical Society Feb. 1 — a position which she will hold until she becomes officially president next February. The election process took place mostly last year, and the result was announced publicly Dec. 5. “I am thrilled and humbled by the honor and by the job,” Pipher said.

“I don’t know anybody more qualified than Jill,” said Dan Abramovich, chair of the mathematics department. “She has served the community in many, many ways.”

Pipher was the founding director of the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics at Brown from 2010 to 2016 and served as president for the Association for Women in Mathematics from 2011 to 2013. She will be the third female  president of the AMS, according to its website.

Pipher will remain the University’s vice president for research while she serves as president of the AMS. “There’s a great deal of synergy between these two positions,” she said, as aspects of both jobs overlap, such as visiting Washington D.C. to promote research. The AMS is headquartered in Providence, which will make attending meetings easier, Pipher added.

The AMS was founded in 1888 and aims to “further the interests of mathematical research and scholarship … through its publications, meetings, advocacy and other programs,” according to its website.

In the next year, as president-elect, Pipher will serve ex-officio on various AMS committees, allowing her “to learn in more detail about the workings of the organization and the various things that they do,” she said.

“It’s really wonderful for both Jill and for Brown that she’s going to assume office in one year as president,” said current AMS President and University of California at Berkeley Professor of Mathematics Kenneth Ribet ’69, MA ’69, ScD ’98 hon., P ’19. “I certainly look forward to working with her.”

The president of the AMS must chair and attend meetings, as well as serve on various task forces, Ribet said. Pipher will also appoint people to head committees, which she said will have “a great deal of influence over the shape and the governance of the society.”

As president, Pipher hopes to help the AMS further its tradition of being a welcoming society for mathematicians. “I’m concerned with issues of diversity and inclusion,” she said. She also hopes to grow the number of prizes, awards and fellowships distributed by the society to mathematicians, as there are “so many people making extraordinary contributions.”

Ribet added that his greatest challenge as AMS president “has been Donald Trump.” He added that the AMS participated in the March for Science last spring and has urged Trump to appoint a science advisor — a position currently unfilled.

“The challenge of our time is to promote evidence-based inquiry, to promote science and to promote research,” Pipher said, adding there is some “bipartisan agreement on the importance of research.”

“There’s opportunity for more agreement, and I intend to go to Washington and talk to anyone who will listen to me about that,” she said. “I feel that many of the things that I know about research and the things that I value, I can communicate to just about anybody.”