Aloysius "Loek" Helminck of North Carolina State University will receive the 2016 AMS Distinguished Public Service Award. Helminck is honored for "his dynamic and public-spirited leadership of the Department of Mathematics at North Carolina State University, and for his work, both in his department and at the national level, to increase the diversity of the mathematical research community."
Helminck has been head of the NCSU Department of Mathematics for the past decade. In that time, he has set an outstanding example of how to be a strong leader and build a strong department. He set forth a positive and cohesive vision that the entire department could rally around.
The department runs one of the largest Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs in the nation, supports mathematics achievement in the local area through contests, and hosts community enrichment activities. The department has also successfully recruited and retained doctoral students who are members of groups underrepresented in mathematics.
For these and other achievements, the department received the AMS Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement by a Mathematics Department in 2010, as well as the AMS Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference Award in 2011. The citation for the Distinguished Public Service Award, which honors Helminck personally, notes that his "leadership of multiple programs, both local and national, fostering the goal of diversity in the mathematical community, calls for individual recognition."
Helminck directed his department's REU and REU+ programs, the latter of which is designed to facilitate REU participation by promising minority students. He also directed the Research Scholars Program in Mathematics, which provides scholarship funding at NCSU for promising undergraduate and graduate students in mathematics.
Helminck has also been an effective leader at the national level, serving as the founding director of the National Alliance for Building Faculty Diversity in the Mathematical Sciences and the co-director of the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences, both of which aim to support and encourage advanced mathematics study by members of underrepresented groups.
On top of his achievements as department head, Helminck has published nearly 50 research papers related to algebraic groups, especially symmetric spaces. He has directed 22 doctoral theses, including 17 since becoming department head.
"The range, extent and impact of Dr. Helminck's efforts richly merit recognition with the Distinguished Public Service Award," the citation concludes.
Presented every two years, the AMS Award for Distinguished Public Service recognizes a research mathematician who has made a distinguished contribution to the mathematics profession during the preceding five years. The award will be presented on Thursday, January 7, 2016, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Seattle.
Find out more about AMS prizes and awards at http://www.
Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.