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Malgo Peszynska standing in front of tree

Mathematics professor to serve as NSF Program Director

By Debbie Farris
Mathematics Professor, Malgo Peszynska

The National Science Foundation has selected Mathematics Professor Malgo Peszynska to serve as rotating Program Director within its Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) in Washington, DC, effective September 16, 2019. Rotator assignments usually span up to two years.

The mathematics professor will review national research proposals and make crucial funding recommendations during her term. She will review proposals “ranging from single-investigator projects that develop and analyze innovative computational methods to interdisciplinary team projects that not only create and analyze new mathematical and computational techniques, but that also use or implement them to model, study, and solve important application problems are strongly encouraged,” according to the NSF website.

“We are thrilled that Malgo has received this great honor for her many accomplishments in the field of mathematics,” said Roy Haggerty, dean of the College of Science. “We wish her well as she serves in this important leadership role that reflects represents Oregon State Mathematics on a national level while advancing the mission of DMS.”

The unique opportunity will enable Peszynska to help shape the future of the field of mathematics research and education while retaining a connection with Oregon State. Specifically, she will work within the DMS Computational Mathematics program, which supports mathematical research in areas of science where computation plays a central and essential role, emphasizing analysis, development and implementation of numerical methods and algorithms, and symbolic methods. The prominence of computation with analysis and ultimate implementation efficiency of the computational methods in the research is a hallmark of the program.

“So far I am enjoying the position and sunny, historic, Alexandra, Virginia, very much even if I miss my family and friends and the beautiful mountains of Oregon,” said Peszynska.

We wish Malgo well as she serves in this important leadership role that reflects represents Oregon State Mathematics on a national level while advancing the mission of DMS.

In addition, her responsibilities lie in the special research program, Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences  (CDS&E-MSS), which supports research that aims to advance mathematics or statistics in a significant way and will address computational or big-data challenges. The program promotes the creation and development of the next generation of mathematical and statistical theories and tools that will be essential for addressing such issues.

In her new role, Peszynska will review proposals that confront and embrace the host of mathematical and statistical challenges presented to the scientific and engineering communities by the ever-expanding role of computational modeling and simulation on the one hand and the explosion in production of digital and observational data on the other.

“I am proud to see Dr. Peszynska recognized with this distinction, and look forward to her bringing back a fresh and broader perspective on the mathematical sciences that will benefit our department and our students,” said Bill Bogley, professor of mathematics and department head.

A devoted teacher, Peszynska looks forward to supporting to future leaders in mathematics and statistics through her involvement with the Division’s Career Development programs, including Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, and the Infrastructure program, which fosters the continuing health of the mathematical sciences research community on a national scale.

Thanks to release time and travel funds from NSF, the mathematician will continue her own research, which is broadly defined as applied and computational mathematics modeling of real life phenomena, with foundations in analysis and other core mathematics and with interdisciplinary applications and collaborations in geosciences (hydrology and oceanography), engineering and material science. She currently has two active NSF grants “Modeling with Constraints and Phase Transitions in Porous Media,” which is temporarily suspended, and another “Phase transitions in porous media across multiple scales,” which continues to support her students under the direction of a substitute PI.

Pesznyska will also continue advising the research of her graduate and undergraduate students. She has directed many postdoctoral, doctoral, master’s and undergraduate students throughout her career. She will also continue her professional service, including her editorial work at SIAM Journal on Numerical Analysis, her leadership as SIAM PNW Section President and committee service for both the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM)  and the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Peszynska holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Augsburg in Germany and an MS in applied mathematics and Habilitation in mathematics from Warsaw University of Technology in Poland. She joined the Department of Mathematics at Oregon State University in 2003. She has held academic positions at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw University of Technology, Purdue University and The University of Texas at Austin.

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