2020 Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award

Dr. Irena Lasiecka (center) with Students

The Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award is the highest distinction given to a faculty member by the University. The award is given annually to one faculty member who has made outstanding and sustained contributions to scholarly creative activity, teaching and service, bringing honor and recognition to the University.

Dr. Irena Lasiecka, Distinguished University Professor and Chair in the Department of Mathematical Sciences is recognized as the recipient of the Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award for 2020.

Before joining the faculty at UofM in August 2013, Lasiecka served 26 years at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, as a Commonwealth Professor of Mathematics, an endowed chair. She earned her PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Warsaw. She taught at the Polish Academy of Sciences before being invited as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles under the guidance of late distinguished professor A.V. Balakrishnan.

Her present-day research is focused on mathematical control theory of models governed by interactive dynamical systems with a variety of goals, including suppressing turbulence in uids, achieving noise attenuation in an acoustic environment or controlling utter in an oscillating structure. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Oce of Scientific Research and the Army Research Oce.

She has published over 350 research papers and eight research monographs. Her work is highly cited with over 16,000 citations on Google Scholar. 

Dr. Lasiecka was the first woman to receive the 

  • The 2011 W.T. Idalia Reids Prize awarded by SIAM [Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics] for her contribution to Differential Equations and Control Theory
  • The 2019 Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award, awarded by the AACC-IFAC [American Automatic Control Council] with the citation for her contribution to boundary control theory of distributed parameter systems

She is a Fellow of AMS-American Mathematical Society (2015), with the citation contribution to control theory of PDEs, mentorship and service to professional societies, Fellow of SIAM - Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (2019) with the citation For fundamental contributions to control theory of partial differential equations and their dissemination through numerous invited talks, administrative positions in professional societies, and the mentoring of many PhD students and postdoctoral associates., Fellow of IEEE - the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (2004) with the citation: for a contribution to boundary control system, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Collegium of Eminent Scientists of the Kosciuszko Foundation (2004).

She is the recipient of the IFIP Silver Core Award of the International Federation of Information Processes IFIP (1989). She holds an honorary Presidential Professorship in Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences (2012).

She has been plenary/ key note speaker at many major Conferences sponsored by the AMS, SIAM, IFIP, AIMS. This includes: SIAM Reed Prize Lecture in 2011, Main Lecturer at the NSF-SIAMCBMS Series of lectures at the University of Nebraska , Invited 1-hour AMS Address at Stony Brook in 2016, Plenary Speaker at SIAM-SEAS Conference, Birmingham 2014, Plenary Speaker at IMACS Conference, Athens, GA 2015., Main Lecturer at Oberwolfach Seminar Series, Germany 2016, Bold Aspiration Lecture Series at the University of Kansas, 2013.

Dr. Lasiecka serves as the editor-in-chief of two leading journals in her field: Applied Mathematics and Optimization [Springer Verlag] and Evolution Equations and Control Theory [American Institute of Mathematical Sciences]. She serves as an associate editor of over dozen of other mathematical journals.

Dr. Lasiecka serves as a Vice Chair of IFIPs Technical Committee 7 on Modeling and Optimization. IFIP - International Federation for Information Processing - with headquarters in Laxenburg, Austria- is the leading world-wide organization in Information and Communications Technologies and Sciences. It is recognized by the United Nations and represents IT Societies from over 40 countries, covering five continents, with a total membership of over half a million. IFIP links more than 3,500 scientists from Academia and Industry. It comprises of 13 Technical Committees with Technical Committee 7 being one of these.

Dr. Lasiecka has advised 30 PhD students and 18 Postdoctoral Fellows. Many of these occupy prominent research positions in Academia and Governmental Labs. They are recipients of major research distinctions and awards such as Bocher Prize in Mathematics, fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and most recently the 2019 PECASE [Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers] .

Dr. Lasiecka has been recently appointed as an Eisenbud Professor at MSRI [Mathematical Research Institute], the University of California, Berkeley, to conduct research during the Scientific Program "Mathematical Problems in Fluid Dynamics", to be held in Spring 2021.