Mohamed Omar, associate professor of mathematics and holder of the Joseph B. Platt Chair in Effective Teaching at Harvey Mudd College, is a member of the EDGE Foundation’s 2020 inaugural class of Karen EDGE Fellows.
The foundation selects mid-career mathematicians who are from underrepresented minority groups as fellows based on their research programs and their plans to use funding from the fellowship to enhance their programs through collaboration and travel.
Omar employs sophisticated mathematical techniques to study foundational questions at the interface of algebra, geometry and counting problems. Recently, he has been particularly interested in fundamental questions about shapes arising in neuroscience motivated by Nobel Prize-winning work.
His mathematical goal with the EDGE Fellowship is to contribute to the understanding of intersection patterns of convex sets—how oval-like shapes can overlap and what restrictions there are in the ways they can overlap.
“The fellowship will allow me to support research visitors to collaborate at Harvey Mudd and to travel to visit other collaborators,” says Omar, a leading expert on creativity in mathematics and the recipient of the Mathematical Association of America’s 2018 Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College Mathematics Faculty Member. “It also gives me a one-week visit per year to the Institute for Advanced Study, one of the world’s foremost centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry.”
Omar looks forward to opportunities to mentor and connect with undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early career faculty from underrepresented groups.
The EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) Foundation fosters increased diversity in the mathematics community to help strengthen U.S. competitiveness in mathematics and science and allow people from all backgrounds and cultures to thrive, advance, and contribute to the profession. The Karen EDGE Fellowship Program was established with a gift from 2019 Abel Prize winner Karen Uhlenbeck, who helped pioneer the field of geometric analysis and develop techniques now commonly used by many mathematicians. Fellows receive funding of $8,000 per year for three years, including funding for an annual trip to the Institute for Advanced Study where they are able to meet with Uhlenbeck and other scholars.