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MSU Math Professor Awarded Prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship

Thomas Walpuski

Thomas Walpuski, assistant professor in the Michigan State University Department of Mathematics in the College of Natural Science (NatSci), is among an elite group of 20 researchers nationally that were recognized with a 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in mathematics.

Walpuski will receive a two-year, $65,000 stipend to advance his work on gauge theory of G2-manifolds and the analysis of generalized Seiberg-Witten equations. The Sloan Foundation supports early career scientists in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their fields of research.

“Having been selected for a Sloan Research Fellowship is a tremendous honor,” said Walpuski, who received his Ph.D. from Imperial College London. “The list of previous Sloan Research Fellows includes many mathematicians that I admire for their work. I consider myself very lucky to be part of this group.”

Walpuski’s research focuses on trying to understand certain 7-dimenional objects called G2-manifolds. According to M-Theory, our universe is 11-dimensional, with three space dimensions and one-time dimension. The remaining seven dimensions are a tiny G2-manifold, which encodes the fundamental properties of the universe.  In his research Walpuski tries to understand G2-manifolds by studying how they interact with Yang-Mills gauge theory—a generalization of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism. During the course of his work, Walpuski and his collaborators have discovered an important connection between this gauge theory and Seiberg-Witten theory on special 3-dimensional objects living inside the ambient 7-dimensional G2-manifold.

“This award will allow me to intensify my existing collaborations. In recent years, some of the areas I’m working on have attracted a number of young researchers,” Walpuski said. “I hope to use some of the funds to arrange visits of these researchers to MSU.”

Walpuski joins a distinguished group of scientists who have received Sloan Research Fellowships since they were established in 1955. Forty-three fellows have gone on to win Nobel Prizes later in their careers. A faculty member in NatSci since 2017, Walpuski previously was a C.L.E Moore Instructor in the Department of Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Professor Thomas Walpuski’s Sloan fellowship reflects his international stature as a young leader working at the interface between geometry and topology,” said Keith Promislow, MSU Department of Mathematics chair.

“This award solidifies the stature of our geometry-topology group as one of a handful of top programs nationally, and allows us to recruit the best new faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students,” Promislow added. “The stipend from this award will allow Professor Walpuski to focus his efforts on his research accomplishments.”

For a complete list of 2018 Sloan Research Fellowship Award recipients, visit https://sloan.org/fellowships/2018-Fellows.

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