Hawkins serving as an NSF Program Director

photo-2Professor Jane Hawkins is spending an exciting year at the National Science Foundation (NSF), located just outside Washington D.C.

Created in 1950 by an act of Congress, the NSF is an independent federal agency “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense‚Ķ” [About the National Science Foundation]. In promoting basic scientific research in the United States, the NSF is the major source of funding for academic mathematical research.

Hawkins is a Program Director holding what is known as a “rotator position,” meaning she is on loan to the NSF from Carolina. She is one of a group of 8 mathematicians and statisticians hired this year as rotators in the mathematical sciences, each chosen for their specific area of expertise. In her role as Analysis Program Director, Hawkins will receive proposals for mathematical research in a variety of topics, assemble panels of experts for advice on the quality and feasibility of the proposed projects, and work with the NSF team to decide which proposals get funded. By using experts from universities as program directors, the NSF is able to keep the flow of innovative research ideas fresh and up to date.

There are many Carolina Mathematics faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates who have benefited from NSF grants coming into the department through awards made to our faculty members. NSF has provided funds for a variety of laboratories and classrooms that students have used in the Department and provided summer support for many graduate students and undergraduates. So it is wonderful for Carolina that Hawkins is able to participate in the inner workings of this important national program, and we are sure to benefit from her direct knowledge and experience at the NSF.

While we will miss having her here at Carolina during this experience, we wish Jane all of the best in this exciting endeavor.