The joint prize session is only 50 minutes long and doesn’t have a red carpet, but it is a chance for mathematicians to get together and congratulate each other for doing good math. The prize session and the AWM prize session the night before really show how varied* mathematics and the joints meetings themselves are. There are prizes for research accomplishments, research articles, expository writing, communicationservice to the profession, teaching, undergraduate research, and, if that were not enough, lifetime achievement. The recipients work on a huge range of topics in pure and applied mathematics.
The prize session recognizes a number of individuals, but reading the prize booklet and hearing their brief remarks started to make me feel warm and fuzzy. Even though we recognize them as individuals, they all seem to thank their families, their collaborators, and their students. Math is not a solo activity!
On a personal note, I can take no credit, but I am absolutely thrilled that one of my students, Mackenzie Simper, was awarded the Alice T. Schafer prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. I only met her last semester when she was in my complex analysis class, after she had done much of the work that would earn her the prize. Nevertheless, I can at least claim I knew her when…
You can read about all the prize awardees here (pdf).
*I originally wrote the word “diverse,” but a glance up at the stage showed a sea of white men in dark suits. There were a few people who didn’t fit that description, but I’m afraid we have a lot of work to do before I can use the word “diverse.”