Two Illinois professors are awardees of the Simons Foundation, an organization whose mission is to “support basic – or discovery-driven – scientific research, undertaken in pursuit of understanding the phenomena of our world without specific application in mind.”
Charles Gammie, a professor of physics, is a 2015 Simons Fellow awardee in theoretical physics. The fellowship supports a research leave, salary replacement of up to 50 percent and up to $25,000 for expenses related to the leave.
An astrophysicist, Gammie has made important contributions to understanding the structure and dynamics of accretion disks around black holes and newly formed stars, and he has helped formulate new approaches and algorithms to tackle long-standing, unsolved problems in astrophysics.
James O’Dwyer, professor of plant biology and affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, is a recipient of a Simons Foundation Investigator Award in the category mathematical modeling of living systems. Investigators receive research support of $100,000 per year. A quantitative ecologist, O’Dwyer has a doctorate in theoretical physics. His research is interdisciplinary, seeking to identify the broad processes that drive complex ecological systems, and addressing these questions with tools drawn from biology, bioinformatics, physics and mathematics.
“James O’Dwyer is known for his innovative work bringing new ideas from statistical physics to bear on the analysis of ecological problems,” the foundation wrote in an announcement of the award. “His very recent work on coevolution in microbial communities is recognized as opening a new direction for research.”