Brendan Hassett will become the next director of Brown University’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM), one of eight institutes for mathematics across the country funded by the National Science Foundation. Hassett, formerly of Rice University, will begin serving as director in July 2016.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brendan Hassett has been appointed the next director of Brown University’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM), one of eight national mathematics institutes funded by the National Science Foundation

Hassett, formerly the Milton Brockett Porter Professor of Mathematics at Rice University, will assume the directorship of ICERM in July 2016. He will succeed Jill Pipher, who has led ICERM since it was established in 2010 with a $15.5 million grant from the NSF. Hassett has accepted an appointment as professor of mathematics in Brown’s Department of Mathematics beginning this fall.

Brendan Hassett
Director designate, ICERM

“Brendan has proven academic leadership as a former department chair and a manager of a large NSF grant,” said Pipher, the Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor of Mathematics. “In addition, he has a deep appreciation and knowledge, through his own research, of the mission of ICERM.”

ICERM’s mission is to support basic research in mathematics, focusing on the interplay between mathematics, computation and experimentation. The institute draws leading scholars from around the world to study new ways to bring computational and experimental methods to bear on a variety of mathematical problems. Programs hosted at ICERM have included topics in pure mathematics as well as topics in applied mathematics such as cybersecurity, climate modeling, and the challenges of exascale computing.

“The institute model plays a crucial role in moving mathematics research forward,” Hassett said. “It is important in mathematics to bring people together from diverse backgrounds to explore new ways of approaching hard problems. Jill Pipher and the management of ICERM have been extremely successful in starting from scratch and shaping an excellent institute. I am looking forward to building on the tremendous foundation Jill and her team have put into place.”

Hassett has been a member of the faculty at Rice University since 2000, serving as chair of the mathematics department from 2009 to 2014. He has established himself as a leading scholar in the field of algebraic geometry, the study of geometric objects that are defined as solutions to polynomial equations. The tools of algebraic geometry contribute to research in areas ranging from mathematical physics to computer graphics.

Hassett’s research has been supported by numerous grants from the NSF and private foundations. He serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals and has published an introductory textbook for algebraic geometry. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Yale in 1992 and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard in 1996.

“The establishment of ICERM is one of Brown’s most notable achievements in research,” said David Savitz, vice president for research at Brown. “Leading this complex institute requires a combination of academic excellence and administrative talent, which Jill has demonstrated at the highest level. Recruiting Brendan to fill this important position bodes very well for the continued and expanded success of the institute.”

Among Hassett’s priorities for ICERM will be the continuing development of the institute’s mentoring efforts for young scholars and researchers.

“I think that young people are really receptive to the ICERM model because they are, in many ways, in the best position to learn new approaches to problems,” he said. “ICERM's professional development programs for postdocs are the best I have seen anywhere, and it’s an area where I will continue to focus.”

Over the next year, Hassett will have the opportunity to participate in ICERM board meetings and observe the institute's many conferences and activities before taking the helm in 2016. Pipher will return to teaching and research as a member of the faculty in Brown's Department of Mathematics.

“I am grateful to the ICERM board members and Brown faculty who served on the search committee to identify and recruit the next director of the institute. I am confident in ICERM’s future under Brendan’s leadership,” Pipher said.