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Mathematics: Humboldt Professorship for Bielefeld University

Published on 26. Oktober 2015, 12:25 h
Germany’s most highly endowed international research award

The mathematician Professor Dr. William Crawley-Boevey has been awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship – the first prize of this kind for Bielefeld University. The Briton will be leaving the University of Leeds for Bielefeld in the coming year. This is all thanks to a Humboldt Professorship worth 3.5 million Euros over five years – the most highly endowed international research award in Germany.

William Crawley-Boevey, expert on the theory of representations of algebras will be moving to Bielefeld University in 2016. Photo: Robert J. Marsh
William Crawley-Boevey, expert on the theory of representations of algebras will be moving to Bielefeld University in 2016. Photo: Robert J. Marsh
Professor Dr. Martin Egelhaaf, the Vice-rector for research at the university comments: ‘Research in mathematics at Bielefeld has an excellent international reputation. I am particularly pleased to see this being honoured by the Humboldt Foundation with our first Humboldt Professorship being awarded in precisely this field.’ Some facts about mathematics at Bielefeld: in the German Research Foundation‘s (DFG) 2015 Funding Atlas, Bielefeld takes third place among mathematics researchers in Germany. In the 2014 Humboldt Ranking of the popularity of universities for international researchers, mathematics at Bielefeld holds second place.

William Crawley-Boevey specializes in the theory of representations of algebras. This uses linear models to represent symmetries and phenomena in nature. Bielefeld University is working particularly on the representations of so-called quivers. These are directed graphs – an area of algebra in which Crawley-Boevey is one of the leading experts in the world.
The theory of representations of algebras has a special place in Bielefeld: it was established here in the 1970s by Professor Dr. Claus Michael Ringel. ‘Appointing William Crawley-Boevey further strengthens this tradition,’ says Professor Dr. Henning Krause who succeeded Claus Michael Ringel in 2010. He describes his colleague’s research work as ‘World class; it will be a wonderful addition to mathematics in Bielefeld.’ His expertise in all aspects of the theory of representations of algebras offers a unique chance to open up connections to other research fields in Bielefeld, ranging from algebraic and differential geometry to arithmetic and topology.

What was important for the nomination, Krause emphasizes, was not only the way in which William Crawley-Boevey’s specializations fit in so well with research at the Faculty of Mathematics but also how he built up contacts during his time in Bielefeld as a postdoc and maintained these ties since then. ‘Crawley-Boevey appreciates our tradition here. The Alexander von Humboldt Professorship offers him an opportunity to further develop his work,’ emphasizes Henning Krause. In addition, there has always been a lively and also personal exchange between Bielefeld and Crawley-Boevey’s current research location at the University of Leeds. ‘That also characterizes academia.’ The plan is for several doctoral students and postdocs to come to Bielefeld together with Crawley-Boevey. Krause sees this award as an investment in the Faculty of Mathematics so that it can continue to be an international leader in the future. ‘The best thing to invest in is good people.’

William Crawley-Boevey, born in London in 1960, is currently teaching pure mathematics at the University of Leeds (Great Britain). He studied at the University of Cambridge where he gained his doctorate in 1985. This was followed by postdoc work in Liverpool, Bielefeld, Oxford, and Leeds. He is a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society and was awarded the Berwick Prize of the London Mathematical Society.

The Alexander von Humboldt Professorship was set up in 2008. At 3.5 million Euros, it is the most highly endowed international research award in Germany. It is given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The idea behind the Humboldt Professorship is to enable German universities to enhance their own internationally competitive profiles. It gives universities the chance to offer competitive conditions that will attract top international academics.  The award is accompanied by the obligation to grant new Humboldt professors a long-term perspective for carrying out their research in Germany.

Further information is available online at:


Professor Dr. Henning Krause, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Mathematics
Telephone: 0521 106-5020/5021
Email: hkrause@math.uni-bielefeld.de
Posted by UPrange in General

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