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Geometry Expert Honored in Italy

Mathematician Zair Ibragimov Receives International Prize for Research

Dec. 7, 2012

For Zair Ibragimov, assistant professor of mathematics, receiving an international award from his peers in recognition of his research in geometry, is the highest honor, so far, of his teaching and research career.

Ibragimov is the recipient of the 2012 International Anassilaos Prize in Mathematics from the Associazione Culturale Anassilaos. The mathematics prize is in honor of the 20th-century Italian geometer, Renato Calapso.

"It's a great honor," Ibragimov said of his first award. "It's a good feeling that all of my hard work has culminated in this global recognition. This also means that Cal State Fullerton has been put on the world stage."

His department chair agreed. "This highly prestigious award brings recognition not only to Zair himself, but also to our department, college and the university," said Stephen W. Goode, chair and professor of mathematics.

Ibragimov traveled to Reggio Calabria, Italy, to attend a Nov. 10 ceremony where he accepted the award in memory of his doctorate adviser, the late Frederick W. Gehring, a world-renowned mathematician and distinguished university professor emeritus at the University of Michigan. Gehring died in May.

"Fred would have been really proud that one of his students got this award," said Ibragimov, who earned a Ph.D. in mathematics in 2002 under Gehring's mentorship as his 29th and last doctoral student.

According to the prize citation, he received the honor in recognition of his "distinguished contributions to analysis and geometry, including geometric function theory, metric geometry and hyperbolization of metric spaces...." Ibragimov was nominated for the award by his Italian colleague, David Carfi, a mathematician from the University of Messina. He was one of two recipients of the award, with his fellow honoree an Italian mathematician.

Support of Colleagues

His colleagues praised Ibragimov's research work and called the award deserving.

"Dr. Ibragimov has set a bar that all can strive to reach," said Robert A. Koch, acting dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, adding that he is a likely candidate for other recognition for outstanding scholarship.

Bogdan Suceavă, professor of mathematics, agreed. "He is a genuine visionary, a gifted researcher, foreseeing open paths for future substantive research. His recognitions won't end here; my guess is that this is just the beginning."

Ibragimov, a native of Uzbekistan in central Asia, near Russia, has lived in the United States for 18 years. He earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Novosibirsk State University in Russia, a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma and then his doctorate at the University of Michigan. He joined Cal State Fullerton in August 2007, and during his tenure, has taught a variety of lower- and upperdivision geometry courses.

An author of more than 20 publications and collaborator with scientists from all over the world, Ibragimov often involves undergraduates in his research efforts and has published two papers with students. He leads and organizes a weekly research seminar for undergraduates and colleagues, often inviting outside math experts to speak. Each year, he attends a half-dozen national and international conferences to present his research and network with colleagues.

"My advice to junior faculty is to stay active in their fields, and nearby fields, and to travel as much as they can to conferences, so they can network with colleagues and keep abreast of new research," he said.

Earlier this year Ibragimov received a four-year grant from a science foundation in Uzbekistan to teach advanced geometry during summers at Urgench State University. Last summer was his first session. He also led a campus delegation that attended a higher education partnership summit and worked to further develop ties with Uzbekistan universities.

Ibragimov lives in Fullerton with his wife, Marina Borovikova, who earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma and is a Cal State Fullerton lecturer in mathematics. The couple often team together on research projects, including work that led to his award.

"She's not only been my companion for 21 years, she is also a fine mathematician. I'm constantly discussing math ideas with her. She has been a big inspiration and part of the mathematical discoveries for which I got this award."

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

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