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Virginia Tech mathematician wins international award

Virginia Tech Professor John A. Burns will receive a prestigious mathematics prize in recognition of his "fundamental contributions in computational methods for, and applications in, the control, design, and optimization of infinite dimensional dynamical systems." The W. T. and Idelia Reid Prize in Mathematics will be awarded to Burns at the 2010 Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Annual Meeting which will take place in Pittsburgh July 12-16. The prize is awarded for outstanding research in the broadly defined areas of differential equations and control theory.

Burns is the Hatcher Professor of Mathematics in the College of Science and the technical director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Mathematics at Virginia Tech. He is currently working on computational problems associated with the design and control of high performance energy efficient buildings. This is a research area where the challenges involve modeling, simulation, control and optimization of highly complex dynamical systems. "The payoffs in terms of reducing energy consumption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving national energy independence are huge," Burns said.

He will be honored at the Prizes and Awards Luncheon to be held on Tuesday, July 13, 2010. At the luncheon, he will receive an engraved medal and a cash award of $10,000. On Wednesday, July 14, Burns will present The Reid Prize Lecture in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

The W. T. and Idelia Reid Prize in Mathematics was established in 1993 by SIAM. It is funded by an endowment from the late Mrs. Idalia Reid to honor the memory of her husband W. T. Reid. The prize, one of the most coveted in the field of applied mathematics, is awarded annually and may be given either for a single notable achievement or a collection of achievements.

"It is a great honor to be joining the list of the distinguished mathematicians who have previously been awarded the W. T. and Idelia Reid Prize and this Prize has special meaning to me since Professor Reid was my Ph.D. advisor," Burns said. "Although it is gratifying to be recognized by my peers, my work has always been a collaborative effort with many colleagues, postdoctoral researchers and students, so I feel this honor also belongs to them."

Much of Burns' research has centered on mathematical issues that arise when developing computational methods for control, design and optimization of infinite dimensional systems. He has worked on a variety of problems including the theory of functional differential equations, computational control theory, structural control, control of fluid flows, smart materials, nano-technology, aerodynamics, mathematical biology, energy efficient buildings and sensitivity analysis. Burns has worked on many aspects of applied mathematics, ranging from highly theoretical analysis to the development of numerical algorithms and computational tools that can be used to address a broad range of practical engineering and scientific problems.

Burns received his M.S.E. in mathematics in 1968 from Arkansas State University and his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Oklahoma in 1973 under the direction of Professor Reid and he joined Brown University as a postdoctoral fellow in the Lefschetz Center for Dynamical Systems. He has been a professor of mathematics at Virginia Tech since 1974. Burns has been a consultant and advisor to Booz Allen & Hamilton, NASA Langley Research Center, the Air Force Research Laboratories, DARPA, The Babcock and Wilcox Company, Solers Inc. and United Technologies. He has held several academic visiting positions in the USA, Europe and Asia. He has served on more than 12 editorial boards and he was the founding Editor of the SIAM Book Series on Advances in Design and Control. He has served as Vice President of SIAM, as Chair of the SIAM Activity Group on Systems and Control and has been a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) since 2001.


Contact: Susan Trulove
Virginia Tech

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