Prof. Chudnovsky Wins MacArthur “Genius” Grant
Professor Maria Chudnovsky
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
- Q&A: Maria Chudnovsky on the MacArthur Award, The Jewish Daily Forward, Oct. 2
Maria Chudnovsky, associate professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR), has won a MacArthur Fellowship, a five-year $500,000 “genius” grant to individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future.
“I am incredibly excited and honored, but mostly shocked, to be recognized in such an extraordinary way,” says Chudnovsky. “This grant will enable me to focus my research on problems that I love, but that may have seemed too hard to tackle until now.”
Chudnovsky, who joined the IEOR Department in 2006, is interested in exploring the structure of abstract graphs, focusing her research on graph theory and combinatorial optimization.
“Graph theory does not involve what most people normally think of as graphs,” she says. Instead, it involves groups of points, or vertices. Sometimes they form geometric objects like squares and pentagons. Other times, they are distributed as randomly as cities or cell phone towers on a map.
“A graph is a good model for many practical problems, like finding the best route for a delivery truck or routing Internet traffic or calculating the shortest itinerary on a GPS,” she adds.
Chudnovsky was a part of a team of four researchers that proved the “strong perfect graph theorem,” a 40-year-old conjecture that had been a well-known open problem in both graph theory and combinatorial optimization. For this work, she was awarded the Ostrowski Foundation research stipend in 2003, and the prestigious Fulkerson prize in 2009. She was a research fellow at the Clay Mathematics Institute from 2003–2008 and was named one of the "brilliant ten" young scientists by Popular Science in 2004.
She received her B.A. and M.Sc. from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.
— by Holly Evarts