Math professors named Simons Fellows


Two professors in the Department of Mathematics—Jonathan Chaika and Karl Schwede—have received Simons Fellows Awards in Mathematics from the Simons Foundation. The program provides funds to extend a researcher’s sabbatical leave from one term to a full year.

Jon Chaika

Jonathan Chaika, associate professor

“It’s such an honor to receive this,” said Chaika, “particularly because much of the work of mathematics is a relatively solo endeavor. We do this work for and as part of a community, so it’s invigorating to be recognized because it shows the support of our math community.”

Chaika became engrossed in math after taking a linear algebra class his first semester at the University of Iowa. He obtained a doctorate in mathematics in 2010 from Rice University and joined the U in 2013.

One of the families of systems Chaika studies is billiards polygons. In these systems, a billiard travels in a straight line inside a polygon until it hits one of the sides. Once it hits a side, it obeys the law of elastic collision.

In his free time, Chaika enjoys hiking, bicycling and playing trivia.

Karl Schwede, professor

Karl Schwede

“I’m thrilled to receive the award, and it’s humbling to be recognized in this way,” said Schwede. “At a more practical level, the award means I’ll be able to spend the time needed to finish some long-term projects, specifically a book. It will also allow me to visit co-authors and, hopefully, finish some other projects.”

Schwede does basic research in mathematics, studying algebra, geometry and particularly singularities. Much of his work is in the setting of modular arithmetic, also known as clock arithmetic.

He joined the U’s math department in 2014 as an associate professor and became a professor in 2018. When he isn’t teaching or doing research, he and his wife are busy with three young children, ages 4, 7 and 12.

Learn more about these two mathematicians here.