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Thursday, August 2, 2012

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Adam to Receive Award from Mathematical Association of America

Mathematician John Adam of Old Dominion will receive a prestigious annual award from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for an expository paper he published exploring the principles that determine the structure of the human circulatory system.

"Blood Vessel Branching: Beyond the Standard Calculus Problem" appeared in Mathematics Magazine.

Adam, who is University Professor of mathematics and statistics at ODU and the recipient in 2007 of the State Council of High Education for Virginia's Outstanding Faculty Award, will be presented with the Carl B. Allendoerfer Award at the MAA MathFest next month in Madison, Wis.

"I am delighted and honored to receive the Allendoerfer Award. After undergoing open-heart surgery in 1996, it is perhaps not surprising that I started to develop an interest in the biophysics of the blood circulatory system," Adam said, employing the wit for which he is known inside and outside the classroom.

"In almost every calculus textbook these days there is an optimization problem about vascular branching, and as a result of devoting some class time to this topic, my appetite was further whetted to see if more sophisticated, and accurate, models of branching and bifurcation existed. Consequently, I determined to try and reproduce the stated results, and re-develop them in the more pedagogic context of mathematical modeling," Adam said.

The announcement of the award by the MAA stated: "This well written article provides an excellent example of mathematical modeling in a context that is accessible and of obvious importance. It clearly shows the interaction of appropriate mathematical techniques with relevant scientific principles and illustrates the complexity of the modeling process. The reader is left with a deeper understanding of the power of mathematics to shed light on natural phenomena."

Adam, who received his Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics from the University of London in 1975, is the author of approximately 100 papers in several areas of applied mathematics and mathematical modeling. His first book, "Mathematics in Nature: Modeling Patterns in the Natural World," was published in 2003 by Princeton University Press.

He co-authored "Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin" (2008 Princeton) with ODU's Lawrence Weinstein, University Professor of physics. More recently he has authored "A Mathematical Nature Walk" (2009 Princeton) and "X and the City: Modeling Aspects of Urban Life" (2012 Princeton).

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