Two University of Chicago scientists named 2022 Guggenheim Fellows

Guggenheim Fellowships have been awarded this year to two University of Chicago scientists, chosen on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

Profs. Lek-Heng Lim and Manyuan Long are among the 180 fellows selected in this year’s class from nearly 2,500 applicants. Their fellowships will support new research efforts related to mathematics and gene origination, respectively.

Prof. Lek-Heng Lim is recognized for introducing high-level algebra, geometry and topology to applied mathematics. In particular, he works with a type of mathematical object called a tensor and how the concept can be used in computational mathematics and the information sciences.

Appointed in the Department of Statistics, Lim is also interested in computational algebraic and differential geometry, and in applying Hodge theory and the geometry of subspaces and flags to optimization and machine learning.

Lim works with the Committee on Computational and Applied Mathematics at UChicago, which was established in 2016 to address the critical need to train a new generation of computational and applied mathematicians who can confront data-centric problems in the natural and social sciences. For example, Lim has used tensors to extract surgically useful 3D images of neurons in the human brain from MRI results and to analyze New York City taxi trajectories.

“I am grateful to the Foundation for this generous fellowship; the University for its excellent scientific environment; my students, postdocs and collaborators for the privilege of working with them; and my family for their frequent encouragement,” said Lim. “I have an optimistic outlook that all of mathematics, however esoteric at first glance, may eventually be applied in the real world. This fellowship will permit me to explore some higher-risk ideas in this vein."

Lim, who joined the UChicago faculty in 2010, is also a fellow of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

His other accolades include the 2019 Hans Schneider Prize of the International Linear Algebra Society, the SIAM James H. Wilkinson Prize in Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing in 2017, and the Foundations of Computational Mathematics’ Stephen Smale Prize in 2017.

Prof. Manyuan Long is an evolutionary geneticist who focuses on how new genes originate in organisms. His work combines theoretical, computational, and molecular experimental approaches to explore the functions of new genes, the evolution of essential genes in development, gene interactions with new genes, sexual selection and conflict on new genes, and de novo gene origination.

Long is the Edna K. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor of Ecology and Evolution and has been on the faculty at UChicago since 1997. He has trained dozens of young scientists, from undergraduates to graduates to postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have themselves become professors or independent researchers at major universities and research institutions.

Long’s Guggenheim Fellowship will support research and writing for a new book on how genes originate. Over the past three decades, he and other scientists have made meaningful discoveries in the phenomenology and concepts shaping the study of gene origination, and his proposed work seeks to summarize the major discoveries that led to conceptual innovations in the understanding of evolutionarily new genes.

“I feel lucky and honored to win this fellowship, which I think is kind of a seal of approval to the works I have done with the concept of gene origination I proposed and explored since my graduate study,” he said. “With this support, I will be able to focus on writing and doing related research at institutions in the U.S. and a few other countries in the next few years.”

Long has published hundreds of scientific papers, reviews and commentaries, and two books. He was also honored as a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014.