Laura DeMarco of Northwestern University will receive the 2017 AMS Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize in Mathematics. DeMarco is honored "for her fundamental contributions to complex dynamics, potential theory, and the emerging field of arithmetic dynamics."

The work of Laura DeMarco centers on dynamical systems, a branch of mathematics that studies systems that change and evolve, such as models of weather patterns that change over time. The systems can be built from very simple procedures, such as: start with a number, square it and add another number; use the result as the starting point for the next iteration; continue the procedure.

Even such simple dynamical systems can exhibit complex and beautiful patterns; an example is the well-known Mandelbrot set. Because these systems are based on arithmetical rules, connections with number theory arise. These connections have led to the emerging area of arithmetic dynamics, to which DeMarco has become one of the leading contributors.

DeMarco has brought groundbreaking new ideas into dynamical systems by using tools and ideas from other areas of mathematics. The prize citation notes in particular her joint work with M. Baker, which developed new methods through a remarkable confluence of ideas from dynamical systems theory and other areas such as logic, number theory, and analysis. Other work by DeMarco and K. Pilgrim led to striking new results, including a generalization of the well-known theorem that the Mandelbrot set is connected. In her most recent work, DeMarco pinpoints relations between dynamical systems and the arithmetic geometry of objects called elliptic curves.

Laura DeMarco earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia and her master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2002, she received her PhD from Harvard University. At the University of Chicago, she was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, a Dickson Instructor, and an assistant professor before she joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago. While there, she received the NSF Career Award and a Sloan Fellowship. During the academic year 2013-14, DeMarco was the Kreeger-Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in the mathematics department at Northwestern University. In 2014 she assumed her present position as professor of mathematics at Northwestern. DeMarco was awarded a Simons Fellowship in 2015 and was named a Fellow of the AMS in 2012.

Presented every two years, the AMS Satter Prize recognizes an outstanding contribution to mathematics research by a woman in the previous six years. The prize will be awarded Thursday, January 5, 2017, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta.

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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.