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New chair in the Department of Mathematics

Tommaso de Fernex

Tommaso de Fernex is the new chair of the Department of Mathematics following professor Davar Khoshnevisan’s notable six-year term.

“It is with great anticipation that I step into the seat of chairman of the Department of Mathematics,” said de Fernex, who began the role on July 1. “I am honored for this appointment and humbled by the faith the College of Science has in me. Under the strong leadership of Davar Khoshnevisan, the department has been on a great upward trajectory, reaching new heights with exemplary faculty recruitment and record recognition, grants and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. Davar and I have collaborated for some time about the outlook of the department and I see a bright future. I am fortunate to belong to such a community, with a first-class faculty, fantastic staff, impressive students and postdoctoral fellows. I am looking forward to serving the department in the coming years.”

“Tommaso is the perfect person to lead the Department of Mathematics,” said Peter Trapa, dean of the College of Science. “His towering international reputation and previous leadership experience will serve him well as he takes the department to new heights.” Trapa also took a moment to thank Khoshnevisan. “I am grateful for the six years that Davar served in this role. He skillfully navigated the upheaval of the pandemic, hired an exceptional cohort of new junior faculty and significantly advanced the research and educational missions of the department.”

De Fernex is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Grant from 2020-2023 and has contributed to nearly 50 publications, with more than 50 invitations to conference talks.

Former associate department chair from 2017 to 2019, De Fernex works in algebraic geometry. The main focus of his research has been on the study of singularities and birational geometry of algebraic varieties and the structure of arc spaces and other valuation spaces. He started his studies in Italy, obtaining his Laurea in Mathematics (summa cum laude) at the University of Milano in 1996 (roughly the equivalent of a B.S.) and completing a Dottorato di Ricerca in Mathematics (the equivalent of a Ph.D.) at the University of Genova in 2001. During these studies, de Fernex spent one semester visiting the University of Hong Kong in 1999 and then moved to the U.S. where he obtained a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2002.

From 2002-2005, de Fernex was a Hildebrandt Research Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan and spent the academic year of 2005-2006 as a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies before joining the faculty at the University of Utah.

As incoming chair, de Fernex will continue his passion for algebraic geometry with focus on the study of singularities and birational geometry of algebraic varieties such as log canonical thresholds, multiplier ideals, questions of rationality and the structure of arc spaces and other valuation spaces. In fact, he’s scheduled to speak in December of this year in Pipa, Brazil at a conference on “Algebraic Geometry and Related Topics.”