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Friends of the ODU Libraries honors mathematician and author John Adam

Friends of the Old Dominion University Libraries presented its Outstanding Achievement Award to John Adam, University Professor of Mathematics, at the organization's 16th annual Author Dinner March 19 in Webb Center.

The event also featured poet Tim Seibles as guest speaker. An associate professor of English and creative writing at ODU, he is the author of several books of poetry.

Adam, who joined the ODU faculty as a full professor in 1984, and was named a University Professor in 1999 in recognition of his contributions in teaching and research. He won an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in 2007.

The Friends of the ODU Libraries award citation, which begins, "Mathematics is the foundation of most science and of more other things than many of us realize, but few people have demonstrated that fact more effectively and to more people than our honoree," also includes the following:

"His breadth of interests and accomplishment is demonstrated by his over 90 professional publications on the mathematical theory of waves, magnetohydrodynamic waves, stability in astrophysics, applied spectral theory of singular ordinary differential equations arising in mathematical physics, mathematical biology, mathematical modeling, especially in the context of cancer biology, wound healing in bone, and mathematical theory of meteorological optics - important work relating to such varied fields of science as astronomy, physics, biology, medicine, and meteorology. He is co-editor of - and contributor to - a book: 'Survey of Models for Tumor-Immune System Dynamics.'

"All of this speaks to the kind of distinguished accomplishments that we expect to honor with this award, but it does not give a sense of the remarkable man known to his students, colleagues, and friends - his curiosity, wit, and insatiable desire to discover new things, especially if they can be explained mathematically. He is an outstanding nature photographer; but he can not only find and capture with his camera flowers, insects, animals, trees, rainbows and other beautiful things - he can derive mathematical formulas to describe and appreciate them. His two books 'Mathematics in Nature' and 'A Mathematical Nature Walk' have elicited critical comments like 'a sharp eye and an ingenious mind are at work on every page' and 'ordinary math becomes adventure.'

"Most recently, he and ODU physics professor Larry Weinstein have published 'Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin,' which has achieved wide acclaim as 'delightful' and 'enlightening and entertaining' for its application of mathematical and physical principles to answering questions that can't be empirically proved - ranging from major problems concerning issues like the effect of world deforestation to more amusing and mundane puzzles like the number of piano tuners in Los Angeles or whether we could create a human chain from Earth to the sun.

"This combination of sound math and science with infinite curiosity and wit is rare, and The Friends of the Old Dominion University Libraries is honored to give its 2010 Outstanding Achievement Award to Professor John A. Adam."

This article was posted on: March 25, 2010

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