Fields Medal-winning mathematician Efim Zelmanov joins SUSTech faculty
Yingying XIA | 09/14/2022

Efim Zelmanov, recipient of the Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize, has joined the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) as Chair Professor of the Department of Mathematics.

On September 14, the University held a grand professorship conferment ceremony to welcome Professor Efim Zelmanov.

Professor Zelmanov is a world-renowned algebraist. He is known for his work on combinatorial problems in Jordan algebra and group theory, including his solution of the restricted Burnside problem. With his disruptive work and outstanding contribution, he was awarded the Fields Medal in 1994.

In 2019, Professor Zelmanov joined SUSTech as a Distinguished Visiting Professor and the founding Director of the Shenzhen International Center for Mathematics.

With a dedication to spreading his love of mathematics to the younger generations around the world, including in China, the Shenzhen International Center for Mathematics was established in 2019, and has become one of the many efforts from Professor Zelmanov.

With the worldwide recognition and extensive influence of Prof. Zelmanov and his work, the ceremony garnered domestic and international attention both from higher education and academia.

The conferment ceremony at the SUSTech Convention Center was held in a hybrid format, and was attended by a host of leaders and officials at a municipal, provincial, and national level, and prestigious scholars and experts in the field of mathematics.

The event also drew the attention of leading scientists in the mathematical academic circle in China, including Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Weiping ZHANG, Anmin LI, Nanhua XI, Yongchuan CHEN, Jianshu LI, Fuquan FANG, Tao TANG, Xiangdong YE, and Jiping ZHANG, who attended the conferment ceremony in a combination of in-person and virtually.

Zhongli DING, Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, congratulated Professor Zelmanov and said, “SUSTech has attracted prestigious scholars, both domestically and from overseas, and the University has made steady progress in such a short period. Professor Zelmanov is a world-leading mathematician. I believe that he will greatly contribute to SUSTech’s math discipline development and mathematics studies in China.”

Representing the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), Yuzhuo ZHANG, Vice Chairman of CAST, welcomed Professor Zelmanov and pointed out, “As a world-renowned mathematician, he has made revolutionary contributions to the development of mathematics worldwide. As a foreign academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Professor Zelmanov has also played a unique and key role in promoting the international exchange and development of mathematics in China.”

Denghua ZHONG, Vice Minister of Education, said that Professor Zelmanov’s recruitment to SUSTech is an opportunity to make more advances towards its goal of becoming a first-class university. He also expected the University to create a good environment for talents and to play an important role in developing the Greater Bay Area as an international innovation and technology hub.

The Guangdong provincial government also sent congratulations to Professor Zelmanov. Vice Governor Xi WANG noted that the province welcomes and supports outstanding global scientists to come and work in the region.

Weizhong QIN, Mayor of Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, said that the appointment of Professor Zelmanov as a chair professor of SUSTech marks a new step in SUSTech’s construction of a first-class mathematics discipline.

“Shenzhen will support the innovative development of SUSTech, strengthen the construction of basic disciplines such as mathematics, accelerate the pace to build world-class research universities, and jointly build a high-level talent highland in the Greater Bay Area, so as to contribute to the development of the country.”

The “Double First-Class” initiative, is a major commitment made by the Chinese government to improve China’s higher education power and international competitiveness.

In February 2022, SUSTech was elected into the “Double First-Class” universities group, and its mathematics subject was listed as a priority discipline for development.

“Professor Zelmanov has been supporting the development of mathematics in China for a long time. His joining to SUSTech is of great significance in promoting academic exchanges and cooperation between China and the world. I hope that SUSTech will continue to create a professional yet liberal academic environment, to bring mathematics to the next level,” said Gang TIAN, Chairman of the Chinese Mathematical Society.

Professor Zelmanov has made revolutionary contributions to the development of mathematics, and solved the fundamental and most difficult group theory problems in the 20th century.

“Since its establishment, the Shenzhen International Center for Mathematics has made remarkable achievements in attracting top international mathematicians to Shenzhen for academic exchanges and scientific research as well as introducing outstanding young mathematicians to SUSTech,” stressed Song JIANG, Director of the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

“SUSTech has made great achievements in recent years in campus development, introducing talents, research, and talent cultivation. Especially in the discipline of mathematics, SUSTech has made rapid progress,” affirmed Yaxiang YUAN, President of the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM). He hoped that the mathematics discipline at SUSTech could contribute more to the overall development of mathematics in China.

As the key part of the ceremony, SUSTech President Qikun XUE issued a letter of appointment to Professor Zelmanov. On behalf of the University, he expressed his appreciation to him for his outstanding contributions to SUSTech’s talent cultivation and mathematics development.

“We feel privileged to have Professor Zelmanov in this joint venture at this critical point of

time. I am confident that with the prestige and expertise from Professor Zelmanov, we will grow more robust in our way forward, not only in the fields of mathematics, but more in an overall perspective.”

“With the worldwide recognition and extensive influence of Professor Zelmanov and his work, we will look to see ourselves grow beyond with a more enhanced global profile and increased visibility in the wider community, which will enable us to introduce more scholars of excellence and attract the best minds around the globe to study and work at SUSTech,” said President XUE.

The University will give full support to Professor Zelmanov and relevant scholars, and push the mathematics discipline of SUSTech into a new stage of development, thereby promoting the construction of a world-class university.

“I am deeply touched by this warm welcome and the impressive support at all levels of SUSTech, the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, and the Central Government of China,” said Professor Zelmanov.

He believes that the respect for mathematics and for all fundamental sciences is a part of the ancient Chinese tradition. “Shenzhen is a flagship of the informational revolution that is rooted in mathematics. I am looking forward to contributing to the development of mathematics in Shenzhen and becoming a part of SUSTech,” he added.

Prior to the ceremony, Fengliang LI, the University Chairperson, met with Professor Zelmanov and expressed his gratitude and respect for his contribution to SUSTech. He hoped that with the participation of the world-renowned scholars, including Professor Zelmanov, SUSTech would continue to stride on a journey towards the goal of becoming a hub of academic excellence in the Greater Bay Area and a leading university in the world

In the future, with strong and firm support from SUSTech and the Shenzhen Municipal Government, the Shenzhen International Center for Mathematics will stick to the goal of promoting basic research in mathematics and advancing interdisciplinary research in mathematics.

In addition to that, with the momentum given by the Center, SUSTech will move forward and introduce scholars of excellence and attract the best minds around the globe to study and work at SUSTech.