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Farhad Jafari Receives UW Humphrey Award

April 20, 2015
man writing mathmatical symbols on a chalkboard
Farhad Jafari, UW Department of Mathematics chair and professor, is the recipient of the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award. (UW Photo)

University of Wyoming Department of Mathematics colleagues were asked to nominate one of their own for the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award, which recognizes a faculty member “who, in addition to acclaim as a teacher, has achieved distinction as a scholar in research or other creative activity, and who has given distinguished service to the university.”

That certainly describes Professor Farhad Jafari, the department head since 2009.

Named for UW's 13th president, who served from 1945 to 1964, the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award recognizes teaching effectiveness, distinction in scholarly work and distinguished service to the university and state.

“Farhad clearly meets this standard,” says Professor Myron Allen, a nominator from within the department. “As the leader of one of UW’s largest and most complex departments, he has guided many young faculty members in launching their careers as teachers and scholars.”

Another colleague, Professor Eric Moorhouse, says Jafari has elevated the research culture in the department, resulting in several exceptional recent hires and enhanced levels of grant activity.

“Even under the yoke of administrative duties, his personal research program continues unabated, as is evident from his prodigious publication record, numerous graduate students, collaboration in other disciplines, and professional service as editor of leading mathematical journals,” Moorhouse adds.

Since coming to UW in 1989, Jafari has earned the highest respect of his colleagues, students and outside observers through his “phenomenal performance” in all aspects of his career.

Among some of the achievements that he has led in the department are reaching a six-fold increase in external funding since 2009; overseeing an initiative to revamp the undergraduate mathematics major, after “30 years of near stasis” in that segment of the curriculum; and fostering continued interaction between UW mathematicians and other scientists in areas of distinction identified in the institution’s strategic plans, including energy science and technology, the life sciences, computational science and water resources.

“One need not travel far to find public universities whose departments of mathematics have historically isolated themselves from other STEM disciplines,” Allen says. “Farhad has helped maintain a scholarly culture in which the mathematics faculty recognize and reward their colleagues’ involvement in interdisciplinary research and in which the undergraduate and graduate curricula serve students from many fields.”

But it is not just his colleagues who praise Jafari for his work within the department, but those who take his classes -- both undergraduate and graduate students.

“Dr. Jafari is a wonderful instructor and is great at guiding students in solving difficult problems. He is flexible, but definitely pushes us to our full potential,” one student writes.

Another student adds, “Dr. Farhad Jafari is an excellent professor. His mastery of the subject shines through his well-motivated lectures. I would definitely take other classes with him and I would definitely recommend him to other students. Thank you Farhad for a delightful class!”

Jafari received his Ph.D. (1989) and M.A. (1986) in mathematics; his Ph.D. (1983) and M.S. (1980) in medical physics; and his B.S. (1978) in chemistry and physics, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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