Math Professor Will Sawin Named 2023 Sloan Research Fellow

Fifty-seven past fellows have won a Nobel Prize in their field.

February 15, 2023

Will Sawin, associate professor of mathematics, was named a 2023 Sloan Research Fellow, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced on Wednesday.

The fellowships are given annually to outstanding U.S. and Canadian researchers “whose creativity, innovation, and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of leaders.”

“Sloan Research Fellows are shining examples of innovative and impactful research,” Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, said in a statement announcing this year’s recipients: “We are thrilled to support their groundbreaking work and we look forward to following their continued success.”

Winners receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship, and are selected from more than 1,000 nominees. Fifty-six fellows have won a Nobel Prize in their field; four became Nobel laureates in 2022. Last year’s fellowship class included five Columbia faculty members.

Sawin applies geometry, the study of shapes, to number theory, the study of numbers. He focuses in part on doing math with numbers other than the normal whole numbers (such as 1, 2, 3, 4) used in standard mathematics. He conducts math with other kinds of expressions, like polynomials. An example of a polynomial is x² − 4x + 7. Working with polynomials, which are used to describe curves like the circle and parabola in geometry, allows more geometric tools to be applied to the study of numbers.

Read more about Sawin’s work in Quanta Magazine:

Probability and Number Theory Collide — in a Moment, January 2023.

Big Question About Primes Proved in Small Number Systems, September 2019.