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Malgo Peszynska headshot.

New endowed faculty scholar position honors late professor

By Hannah Ashton

Mathematics Professor Malgorzata (Malgo) Peszynska has been named the inaugural Joel Davis Endowed Faculty Scholar.

Honoring late College of Science Professor Joel Davis, the award supports a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics who focuses on numerical analysis research.

Davis worked at Oregon State University for 31 years, serving on the Faculty Senate and the Mathematics Department Advisory Committee. Tragically, two weeks after retiring, Davis died in a bike accident in Corvallis in 1995.

Jerry Jacoby, one of Davis’s former students, wanted to honor his mentor by creating the award. He earned three OSU degrees, including a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics.

“Although I never met him, Joel Davis must have been an incredible professor who affected many students. I feel humbled to receive this award,” Peszynska said. “It will be wonderful to explore the opportunities this award creates.”

Peszynska has been at Oregon State for 19 years. During that time she has received numerous awards including the College of Science Champion Award, the Joel Davis Faculty Excellence Award and the Graduate Faculty Award.

Her research includes applied and computational mathematics modeling of real-life phenomena, such as flow, transport and other coupled processes. Her interdisciplinary projects have included the fields of hydrology, oceanography, statistics, environmental, petroleum, civil and coastal engineering, physics and material science.

From 2019 to 2021, she served as a program director at the National Science Foundation in the Computational Mathematics program.

Internationally, Peszynska was elected a 2020 fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was honored for her “outstanding contributions to multidisciplinary mathematical and computational modeling of flow and transport in porous media.” She was also awarded the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Career Prize in Geosciences in 2021.

The faculty scholar award committee noted Peszynska’s extraordinary record of accomplishments in research and success educating and mentoring students at Oregon State and beyond.

“My motto is ‘Pay it forward,’” Peszynska said. “I am sure I’ve had supporters, many of whom I didn’t know who they were. I can’t pay them back directly, but I can pay it forward to the students and other junior computational scientists and to the computational mathematics community.”

The committee also pointed out Peszynska’s numerous leadership roles in national and international arenas. She has served leadership roles within the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Association of Women in Mathematics, Mathematics Department Graduate Committee, Oregon State President's Commission on the Status of Women and Oregon State Faculty Senate Committee.

Peszynska will hold the faculty scholar position for three years.