Two faculty members from the Penn State Eberly College of Science who have made distinguished contributions to the fields of physics and mathematics have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The 269 new members elected in 2023 come from academia, the arts, industry, policy, research and science. They join the more than 13,500 members elected since the academy was founded by John Adams, John Hancock and 60 other founders of the United States in 1780.
Eberly College of Science faculty elected to the 2023 class of members are Zoltan Fodor, professor of physics, and Yakov Pesin, distinguished professor of mathematics. Also elected from Penn State this year is Joan Richtsmeier, distinguished professor of anthropology.
“On behalf of the University, I’m pleased to congratulate Drs. Fodor, Pesin and Richtsmeier on their well-deserved recognition by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research. “Their accomplishments emphasize the importance that Penn State places on attracting and retaining leading researchers from the arts to the sciences to provide our students with a world-class education and support innovative research with global impacts.”
With more than $1 billion in annual research expenditures, Penn State ranks among the top 30 U.S. research universities and is one of only three institutions in the nation accorded land-grant, sea-grant, sun-grant and space-grant status. This year’s members represent the Eberly College of Science and the College of the Liberal Arts.
Fodor’s research focuses on better understanding lattice quantum chromodynamics — the theory of the strong nuclear force that binds together quarks and gluons, which are fundamental particles that form the protons and neutrons that make up all matter in the universe. He has conducted research at leading laboratories around the world, including CERN in Geneva, Switzerland; the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, Germany; and the Japanese High-Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba, Japan.
Prior to joining Penn State in 2020, Fodor was a professor at Lorand Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary, and the University of Wuppertal, Germany. He has been the spokesperson for the Budapest-Marseille-Wuppertal collaboration, an international group of particle physicists, since 2005. He is a fellow of the European Physical Society and honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He received his doctorate in physics from Eotvos Lorand University.
Pesin’s research focuses on the theory of dynamical systems, or mathematical functions that describe the time dependence of a point in space, such as a swinging clock pendulum. His theory of non-uniform hyperbolicity, commonly called Pesin Theory, established the mathematical foundation for “deterministic chaos” — the appearance of highly irregular chaotic motions in otherwise deterministic dynamical systems.
Prior to joining Penn State, Pesin worked at a research institute in Moscow, Russia, and was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. He is a fellow of the American Mathematical Society and a foreign member of the European Academy. Pesin currently directs the Anatole Katok Center for Dynamical Systems and Geometry at Penn State. He received his doctorate in mathematics from Gorky State University (now called Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod) in Russia.