James McKernan, professor of mathematics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has recently been awarded the prestigious Clay Research Award, one of three awards presented by the Clay Mathematics Institute this year.
The institute presents the Clay Research Award annually to recognize major mathematical breakthroughs. Awardees receive the bronze sculpture "Figureight Knot Complement vii/CMI" by Helaman Ferguson and one year of flexible research support.
The awards will be presented in conjunction with the Clay Research Conference, to be held May 14-15 at the Harvard University Science Center. The aim of the conference is to present an outstanding exposition of recent research progress.
McKernan shares the award with Christopher Hacon, associate professor at the University of Utah, for their work in advancing our understanding of the "birational geometry of algebraic varieties in dimension greater than three, in particular, for their inductive proof of the existence of flips."
McKernan received his B.A. from Trinity College in 1985 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1991, under the direction of Joseph Harris. He held postdoctoral positions at the University of Utah and the University of Texas at Austin. After a one-year visiting position at Oklahoma State University, McKernan joined the faculty at UC Santa Barbara in 1995.
The Clay Mathematics Institute is a private, non-profit foundation based in Cambridge, Mass., that is dedicated to increasing and disseminating mathematical knowledge. The institute aims to further the recognition of the beauty, power and universality of mathematical thought. Its programs include an annual summer school, conferences and workshops, public lectures, programs for talented high school students, and support for individual researchers, notably the Clay Research Fellows and Clay Senior Scholars.