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Isaac Harris awarded Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professorship of Mathematics


Isaac Harris has been named the Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics effective January 1, 2023. This early career professorship, funded by Purdue Distinguished Alumna Barbara Kile (BS mathematics ’63), is designed to recognize an outstanding assistant or associate professor in Purdue’s Department of Mathematics.

Professor Harris joined the Purdue faculty in August 2018 after holding positions at Texas A&M University and l’Ecole Polytechnique in France. His research interests focus on inverse problems and partial differential equations, which arise in physical applications such as medical imaging and detecting defects in complex structures. He has taught a wide variety of courses at Purdue, ranging from calculus for first-year undergraduates to advanced graduate courses.

Irena Swanson, department head of Mathematics, said that Harris “has made important theoretical contributions to inverse problems, specifically to transmission eigenvalue problems, as well as to direct sampling methods. His research is supported by an NSF grant, he has published many papers, and he is a much sought-after speaker. Isaac Harris is an excellent teacher of a great variety of courses, including reading courses, and he is a great advisor to students at all levels.”

The benefactor of this professorship, Barbara Kile, noted the mentorship and encouragement she received from Purdue professors as the foundation of her successful career, which culminated with her position as Division Director of Strategic & Information Programs at the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense. Kile said, “Helping the Purdue math department retain an outstanding young faculty member through my sponsorship of a New Frontiers Professorship is a particularly good way to show my gratitude.”

“I chose to identify the award with my maiden name, Barbara A. Kunze, because that was the name I was known by at Purdue and because my father, Elmer G. Kunze, was a high school physics teacher and the single most important influence on my life.”

The recipient is expected to provide leadership in discovery, learning and engagement in the broad area of mathematical sciences. The initial award is for three years’ support with an option to extend for an additional two years.

Purdue University awards distinguished and named professorships to outstanding original, creative and productive faculty whose achievements in discovery and learning have been internationally recognized or who have made a unique contribution to the University through discovery, learning and/or engagement.


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