Two U of T Scarborough mathematicians win prestigious awards

Robert Haslhofer and Stefanos Aretakis
Robert Haslhofer (left) and Stefanos Aretakis (right) recently received awards from the Canadian Mathematical Society

Bridget Newson

Two professors at U of T Scarborough’s department of computer and mathematical sciences have been recognized with awards by the Canadian Mathematical Society.

Associate Professor Robert Haslhofer is the recipient of the 2023 Coxeter-James Prize, given to an early career mathematician who has made outstanding contributions to mathematical research. Associate Professor Stefanos Aretakis has been named the recipient of the 2023 Cathleen Synge Morawetz Prize. This prize is awarded for an outstanding research publication, or a series of closely related publications, on the topic of Applied Mathematics.

“We congratulate both Dr. Haslhofer and Dr. Aretakis as recipients of these awards. We’re tremendously proud of their outstanding contributions to mathematics. They both have promising careers ahead, and we are glad they can flourish at U of T Scarborough,” says Irena Creed, vice-principal of research and innovation at U of T Scarborough.

U of T Professor Robert J. McCann notes that Haslhofer has established himself among the leading geometric analysts of his generation. A long list of accomplishments make him richly deserving of the Coxeter-James award. Most spectacular among them is the resolution of the mean-convex neighbourhood conjecture for singularities of mean-curvature ow, a twenty-year old conjecture of his PhD advisor Tom Ilmanen. Together with his postdoctoral fellow Kyeongsu Choi and his former PhD student Or Hershkovits, Haslhofer resolved this conjecture rst for surfaces, and then with the addition of Brian White in higher dimensions.”

After earning his Ph.D. in Mathematics from ETH Zurich in 2012, Haslhofer was an instructor at New York Universitys Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. He joined U of T Scarborough in 2015 and is also affiliated with the department of mathematics on the St. George campus.

Previous recognitions include the Andre Aisenstadt Prize (2020), a Sloan Research Fellowship (2018-2022) and an NSERC Discovery Grant (2016-2023). Haslhofer is celebrated by nominating colleagues as one of the most distinguished and most promising mathematicians worldwide in Riemannian geometry and geometric analysis.

Explaining his current area of study, Haslhofer says geometric flows describe the evolving geometric shapes like soap bubbles and the universe itself. He also makes a point of thanking his collaborators. “It’s always more fun working with amazing collaborators, he says.

Aretakis, who is also affiliated with the department of mathematics on the St. George campus,  completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2012. He was subsequently a Veblen Research Instructor at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study (2012-2015), before becoming an assistant professor at Princeton University (2015-2016). Aretakis previous awards include the Sloan Research Fellowship, the Connaught Fellowship and an Early Research Award from the Government of Ontario.

The Cathleen Synge Morawetz Prize recognizes, “Dr. Aretakisgroundbreaking work on instability in extremal black holes (what has come to be known as Aretakis instability), conservation laws for wave equations, and their long-term behaviour in asymptotically flat backgrounds.”

“The Aretakis instability is now widely discussed and its consequences are helping to inspire the next generation of experiments in high-energy physics and gravitational wave observations,” says McCann.

“Aretakis and Haslhofer are world-renowned leaders in their research areas,” says Professor Michael Molloy, chair of the department of computer and mathematical sciences at U of T Scarborough.

“They are also devoted and engaging teachers.  It is exciting to have them producing their field-impacting work in our department and for our students to have the opportunity to learn from them.”