The Institute is proud to announce the creation of the Gopal Prasad Professorship in recognition of prolific mathematician and six-time Member of IAS, Gopal Prasad. The professorship, endowed with a gift from the Prasad family, ensures that future generations of scholars, from all regions of the world, have the opportunity to benefit from the unique environment of discovery at IAS.
Peter Sarnak, current Professor in the School of Mathematics, has been selected as the inaugural Gopal Prasad Professor. The professorship is to be held by Faculty in the Schools of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
“For half a century the Prasad family has been intimately associated with the work of the IAS,” stated David Nirenberg, IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor. “It is therefore a special joy to see the Prasad name permanently associated with the Institute and its enduring mission. It feels especially fitting for this professorship to be shared by the Schools of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, given that close collaborations between these Schools have produced so many fundamental insights and discoveries.”
Gopal Prasad, considered a leading expert on Lie groups and algebraic groups, is currently the Raoul Bott Collegiate Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Michigan. He joined IAS as a Member for the first time in 1973, returning every decade through 2013. Over the years—not only those spent at IAS—he enjoyed fruitful collaborations and discussions with Faculty including Harish-Chandra, Armand Borel, Robert Langlands, Pierre Deligne, and Peter Sarnak.
“Like so many scholars around the world, my father is a direct beneficiary of the creative and collaborative environment at IAS, which richly informed his research and academic partnerships,” explained Anoop Prasad. “In establishing this professorship, my family is investing in the ongoing IAS legacy as an enabler and diffuser of scientific knowledge globally.”
As a child, Anoop came to IAS with his parents in 1973 and spent a year at Crossroads Nursery School. During Gopal’s subsequent visits to IAS, Anoop attended Johnson Park Elementary School and Princeton High School. After earning a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Caltech in 1997, Anoop joined D. E. Shaw where he is now a Managing Director and Head of the Equities Group. He joined the Friends of IAS in 2012 and has served on the Friends Executive Committee since 2018.
Ila Fiete, Gopal’s daughter, also enjoyed her stays on the IAS campus and attended Princeton schools in her childhood. She is now a physicist and computational neuroscientist, currently serving as Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences within the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The family’s connection to IAS and intellectual progress also extends to Gopal’s brothers: Pawan Kumar, Visiting Professor (1996–2002) in the School of Natural Sciences; Shrawan Kumar, Member (1988–89) in the School of Mathematics; and Dipendra Prasad, Member (2006–07 & 1992–93) in the School of Mathematics.
“I am very honored to be the inaugural Gopal Prasad Professor,” remarked Sarnak. “Gopal’s foundational works in Group theory and in the related areas of Geometry, Representation Theory, and Number Theory enjoy a broad and far-reaching impact. I, and many others, are regular users of his many theorems, as well as his masterful and insightful presentations thereof. His long association with the Institute, and with my colleagues, makes this Professorship special for me.”
Peter Sarnak has made major contributions to number theory and to questions in analysis motivated by number theory. His research in mathematics is wide-ranging, focusing on the theory of zeta functions and automorphic forms with applications to number theory, combinatorics, and mathematical physics.
Gopal Prasad received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Bombay, India, in 1976. In 1975, he began an appointment at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and was named a Professor in 1984. He moved to the United States in 1991, was appointed a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan in 1992, and in 2008, he was named the Raoul Bott Collegiate Professor of Mathematics. His numerous visiting appointments have included stays at Yale University and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Berkeley.
“My visits to the Institute were very inspiring and fruitful,” recalled Gopal Prasad. “I found the atmosphere there to be extremely conducive to research and collaboration, unencumbered by any responsibilities and I learnt much from discussions with the Faculty and Members.”
To celebrate the establishment of the Gopal Prasad Professorship, a special event will be held on the Institute campus on May 26, 2022.