Susan Hermiller, Willa Cather Professor of Mathematics, has been named a fellow of the American Mathematical Society for her contributions to combinatorial and geometric group theory and for her service to the profession, particularly in support of underrepresented groups.
The American Mathematical Society fellow program recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics. Hermiller was nominated by Judy Walker, Aaron Douglas Professor of Mathematics and associate vice chancellor for faculty and academic affairs.
Hermiller’s research is in group theory, which is the study of symmetries of geometric objects, infinitely large objects in particular.
Her work focuses on the connections between algorithms and geometry, using geometry to determine whether a given mathematical problem can be solved by a computer, and if so, to obtain bounds on the complexity of those solutions.
“The connections between geometry and computation are fascinating and can be found everywhere,” she said.
Her research has two goals: find large classes of groups for which algorithmic problems have particularly tractable solutions and understand what algebraic, geometric, or topological properties of a group are implied by such algorithms.
Through this work, Hermiller has developed new research directions in group theory, including conjugacy geodesic growth and auto-stackability. Her research on rewriting systems for groups, a central area of computation in group theory, includes a study of the geometric and topological properties of these systems.
She is also known for her work developing algorithms using computers with a finite amount of memory, with applications to the study of three-manifolds (spaces that locally look like 3-D Euclidean space) and many other areas of mathematics and computer science.
Hermiller’s service to the profession includes serving on the American Mathematical Society Council and Science Policy Committee, and chairing the development committees for both the GRE subject test and the Major Field Test in mathematics.
Her work to improve the representation of women in mathematics includes service on the Joint Committee on Women in the Mathematical Sciences, coauthoring the university’s National Science Foundation ADVANCE best practices, and co-organizing the initial Nebraska Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics.
Hermiller is one of 65 mathematical scientists from around the world who was named this year. She will be honored at the AMS Joint Mathematics Meetings in January 2019.