Brenner Honored for Innovative Research
Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics Michael P. Brenner was awarded the George Ledlie Prize this week for his innovative and interdisciplinary research, as well as his commitment to education.
The Ledlie Prize is a University honor awarded every other year since 1956 to a Harvard affiliate deemed to have made the most significant recent achievements towards the advancement of science.
Brenner’s work at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences—where he has been a faculty member since 2001—has focused primarily on applying both old and new mathematical methods to a wide range of scientific questions. His research has often led him to collaborate with faculty members from other departments.
For example, Brenner worked with Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Physics Vinothan N. Manoharan to gain a better understanding of the assembly of very small spheres into well-defined structures using mathematical models.
“We’ve been working to try to figure out what the rules are, and how one would design a system to get it to assemble into a desired structure as opposed to any other structure,” Brenner said.
Faculty and students say that Brenner—also the area dean of Applied Mathematics—brings the same interdisciplinary approach into practice within the classroom.
Brenner created Applied Mathematics 50—an overview course that introduces prospective concentrators to the use of mathematics in different fields—and was involved in the creation this year of the popular course Science of the Physical Universe 27: “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter.”
“His courses have a creative, different architecture,” said Marie D. Dahleh, assistant dean for academic programs at SEAS.
“He works diligently to devise his curricula.”
Paula M. Maouyo ’14, who took “Science and Cooking” last semester, said she admired the course for its “great interdisciplinary approach.”
“The course combined cooking and science without compromising the science part,” she added.
Brenner said he hopes to continue to enhance the undergraduate concentration in Applied Mathematics.
“I know for a fact that I will continue to explore more compelling scientific questions using mathematical models,” he added.