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Professor Jon Kujawa stands in a suit coat and smiles in his headshot outdoors surrounded by greenery.

College of Science welcomes new Hartmann Faculty Scholar as incoming Department Head of Mathematics

By Erica Martin

The College of Science is excited to announce Professor Jonathan Kujawa as Department Head of Mathematics following a competitive national search, effective January 1, 2024. Kujawa brings expertise in departmental leadership as associate chair of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Oklahoma, as well as extensive research experience and undergraduate, graduate student and postdoctoral mentorship.

“I am thrilled to welcome Jonathan Kujawa as our new mathematics department head. An astute leader, he deeply understands the critical role a strong mathematics program plays in shaping the success of all STEM programs. His track record demonstrates a commitment to impactful research and communication, undergraduate mentorship, community outreach and inclusive mathematics education – aligning well with our department and College strategic goals,” said Vrushali Bokil, interim head of the College of Science.

“I am confident he will lead the department in casting a vision and creating an environment that nurtures and champions innovation, contributing to successes at Oregon State University and beyond.”

Honored last year with the University of Oklahoma’s Nancy Scofield Hester Presidential Professorship in recognition of professional excellence, including teaching and mentoring, Kujawa is passionate about making mathematics accessible to all. His work can be found in his regular column on mathematics in 3 Quarks Daily which targets the math curious as well as in well-regarded journals like Advances in Mathematics, Algebra and Number Theory, International Mathematics Research Notices, and Compositio Mathematica. He has helped organize the annual Math Day for high school students and previously served as the advisor to the undergraduate Math Club.

In addition to finishing a five-year term as the associate chair of the mathematics department at the University of Oklahoma, Kujawa has served on the math department’s executive committee twice. His role entailed determining departmental policies, supervising faculty and performing administrative tasks to ensure its smooth operation and academic excellence. His experiences have led him to believe that leadership in academia works best when it is based on communication, transparency and shared governance.

“Oregon State is well known in the mathematical community for its excellence in research as well as its commitment to teaching, mentoring, and community,” said Kujawa.

It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to lead the department as it builds on its current strengths, and as it tackles the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Kujawa received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Oregon and a B.A. in mathematics from Gustavus Adolphus College. His research interests center around representation theory and Lie theory – particularly their connections to algebraic geometry, low-dimensional topology, and algebraic combinatorics – to understand the mathematics of symmetry. This field involves many areas of mathematics and other disciplines including physics, biology and art. His research has been funded by the NSF, NSA and the Simons Foundation. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Algebra.

The senior member of a small research group funded by the American Institute of Mathematics, Kujawa is visible in the research community, regularly publishing in academic journals and making meaningful contributions to ongoing discussions and developments in the field of mathematics.

Kujawa is also the newly appointed Hartmann Faculty Scholar, starting January 1, for a period of five years with an expectation to provide outstanding scholarship and leadership, enriching and enhancing the reputation of the department, the College and the university.

Professor Bill Bogley stepped down as the department head of mathematics at the end of June. His leadership in mathematics over the last five years contributed greatly to the department’s continued success and the College of Science expressed sincere gratitude for his service. As head, Bogley sustained the mathematics department amid daunting challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his stewardship, the mathematics department committed to improving opportunities for women and underrepresented minority faculty and students, convening a Diversity, Equity, Justice and Inclusion committee in the department that adopted a statement of core values in 2021.

As of July 1, Professor of Mathematics Enrique Thomann accepted the position of interim department head in Mathematics. The department will remain in his leadership until Kujawa’s arrival, January 1. Thomann has previously served as Head of Mathematics and is deeply dedicated to continuing to serve the mathematics community.

Interim Dean Bokil and the college leadership expressed sincere thanks to Professors Bill Bogley and Enrique Thomann for leading the Department of Mathematics and helping the department to smoothly transition to new leadership. They thanked the mathematics head search advisory committee for their tremendous service to the college and for their collaboration in completing a successful head search for the department.

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