Department of Mathematics selects inaugural Scott Hanna award recipients

Red background and yellow icons of a mathematical compass, ruler and protractor, and calculator

Fall semester opens with an exciting development for Iowa State mathematics. The department  has established the Scott Hanna Professorship and the Scott Hanna Faculty Fellowship with the appointment of two faculty to these newly minted positions.

Shlomo Gelaki, a professor of mathematics who joined the department this summer, was named the first Scott Hanna Professor. Michael Young, an associate professor of mathematics and nine-year veteran of the department, was named the first Scott Hanna Faculty Fellow.

Each award recipient will be formally recognized during a medallion ceremony on October 3 in the Cardinal Room of the Memorial Union.

Both positions were created after Scott Hanna (’77 metallurgy) bequeathed a generous seven-figure donation to the math department. The awards enable recipients to further advance their ongoing research, math scholarship and dedicated service to students.

“These endowed professorships are transformational for our department and also for Iowa State,” said Hal Schenck, professor and chair of the mathematics department. “They allow us to recruit and retain talented faculty, while providing top educators with the resources to continue carving out their math legacies at Iowa State.”

The Scott Hanna endowed professorships recognize outstanding math faculty who demonstrate excellence in teaching, research and service, in addition to making meaningful contributions to the field of mathematics.

Shlomo Gelaki

Hanna Professorship recipient Shlomo Gelaki is an internationally recognized mathematician with expertise in the areas of Hopf algebras, quantum groups, representation theory and tensor categories.

A talented math researcher and educator, Gelaki arrived at Iowa State after 19 years at Technion, a top university in Israel. During his tenure there, he rose to full professor while publishing more than 50 papers in leading mathematics journals. He is also the author of two math textbooks.

“Shlomo Gelaki is a world-class mathematician with a superlative research record and we are thrilled to welcome an educator of his caliber to Iowa State University,” Schenck said. “He has accomplished great things on an international scale and we look forward to his contributions to our department as the first Scott Hanna Professor.”

Gelaki’s research has made broad impacts with more than 1,000 citations on the American Mathematical Society database MathSciNet and 2,300 on Google Scholar.

“I am very honored and excited to be the first named Scott Hanna Professor,” Gelaki said. “It will surely help me to establish my research in algebra as a new faculty member at Iowa State University.”


Michael Young

The inaugural Hanna Faculty Fellow, Michael Young has built a legacy of unparalleled success and achievement during his nine years in the Department of Mathematics.

Young’s expertise in combinatorics and graph theory has resulted in three National Science Foundation (NSF) awards: An individual $60,000 grant, a $300,000 NSF INCLUDES grant and a $1.5 million NSF Core Research grant. Young is also a co-principal investigator and key player in the math department’s $1.5 million Research Training Group award. He recently won the 2019 LAS Award for Mid-Career Achievement in Research as well as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Advancing One Community Award.

“Michael Young is an exceptional researcher and mathematician and it is fitting that he has been named the first Scott Hanna Fellow,” Schenck said. “His commitment to student success is unwavering. He has profoundly influenced the careers and lives of countless Iowa State students.”

At Iowa State, Young spearheaded the creation of a postbaccalaureate math program with Bernard Lidický, associate professor of mathematics, which he currently directs. He also established the Mathematics of Color Alliance (MOCA), an organization that serves minorities studying college mathematics. Young spends part of every summer teaching underserved populations at Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science.

“It is an honor to receive this fellowship,” Young said. “It certainly provides additional opportunities to build on my research in Discrete Math. More importantly, it provides me with more space to help our students reach their goals and become successful and effective mathematicians.”

Future effects

Schenck notes that endowed professorships and fellowships are critical to the success of the department and a strategic way to provide a quality education to students.

“When students learn from highly acclaimed and highly regarded professors, there is value added to their education,” Schenck. “Students gain from the expertise and experience offered by these remarkable leaders in mathematics.”

He added, “We’re very grateful to Scott Hanna for his generous gift. His vision and commitment to the success of the Department of Mathematics will impact faculty members and students far into the future.”