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Professors Chen and Essig Named SBU’s First Simons Investigators

Simons foundation

Xiuxiong Chen, Professor of Mathematics, and Rouven Essig, Associate Professor of Physics at Stony Brook University, have been named 2019 Simons Investigators, becoming the first faculty members at the University to receive this coveted award.

These awards — carrying $100K of research costs per year for five years and renewable for another five — support outstanding scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership to the field and effectively mentoring junior scientists.

“Generous support from the Simons Foundation continues to drive high-risk, high-reward research endeavors at Stony Brook University,” Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said. “These talented young researchers are a testament to the world-class excellence of our faculty.”

Xiuxiong Chen

Xiuxiong Chen
Xiuxiong Chen (photo by Holly Chen)

Chen is a leading figure in complex geometry with fundamental contributions to the field. He and his collaborators have made major breakthroughs and finally settled several long-standing problems. In 2018 Professor Chen won the Veblen Prize — the premier international award in geometry — with Sir Simon Donaldson and Professor Song Sun for their three-part breakthrough paper, “Kähler-Einstein metrics on Fano manifolds,” that proved a remarkable nonlinear Fredholm alternative for the Kähler-Einstein equations on Fano manifolds. The work was  published in the Journal of the American Mathematical Society. Chen (with Bing Wang) confirmed the Hamilton-Tian conjecture on the Kähler-Ricci flow on Fano manifolds and (with Jingrui Cheng) found a groundbreaking a priori estimate for Kähler metrics, under assumptions on the scalar curvature, which involved a fourth-order differential equation and verified the fundamental Donaldson geodesic stability conjecture and the properness conjecture.

“I am thrilled that Xiuxiong Chen has won this very prestigious award,” said Robert Lazarsfeld, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics. “He is a world leader in the field of complex differential geometry, and we are very lucky to have him on our faculty.”

Chen received his PhD from University of Pennsylvania, and has been a professor at Stony Brook since 2009. With interests in differential geometry and complex differential geometry, Chen was named a 2015 Fellow of the American Mathematical Society and a 2016 Simons Fellow in Mathematics.

Rouven Essig

Rouven Essig
Rouven Essig

Essig’s research spans a broad range of topics in particle physics that covers the cosmic, intensity and energy frontiers. A member of the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics (YITP), he is particularly interested in the search for dark matter and other new particles beyond the standard model. He has helped pioneer several novel direct-detection concepts to probe dark matter below the proton mass and has been a leader in establishing this as a new research direction, attracting significant theoretical and experimental efforts. He has also been a leader in conceiving of fixed-target experiments to search for new forces, helping to spawn several new efforts. Although a theorist, he is co-leading or participating in several experiments searching for dark matter and new forces.

“Rouven Essig has long been one of our up-and-coming stars, and his career reflects another success for the University’s investments,” said George Sterman, Distinguished Professor of Physics and YITP Director.

Essig earned his undergraduate degree in Physics (2001) and Mathematics (2002) from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, and his PhD from Rutgers University in 2008. He was a postdoctoral research associate at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory from 2008-2011. He received the Department of Energy’s Early Career Award in 2012, was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 2013 and won the Henry Primakoff Award for Early-Career Particle Physics in 2015.

More About the Simons Awards

Each year, the Simons Foundation requests nominations from a targeted list of institutions in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland for the Simons Investigators programs. Simons Investigators are outstanding theoretical scientists who receive a stable base of research support from the foundation, enabling them to undertake the long-term study of fundamental questions. The Simons Foundation’s mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. Co-founded in New York City by Jim and Marilyn Simons, the foundation exists to support basic, or discovery-driven, scientific research undertaken in the pursuit of understanding the phenomena of our world.

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