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2005 Distinguished Alumnus: Robert Bryant

Dr. Robert L. Bryant is a native of Kipling, located in Harnett County . He received his BS in mathematics from NC State in 1974 and his PhD in mathematics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1979.

“Tonight’s recipient is not only a distinguished alumnus of our College, but one of the most distinguished figures in his profession,” said Dean Dan Solomon at the PAMS Awards Dinner, held May 4, 2006. “While we are proud of all of our alumni who do well after they leave the university, Robert Bryant is one of those rare few who reach the pinnacle of their field. His record represents the highest quality in education, professional service and citizenship.”

He began his academic career at Rice University as an assistant professor in 1979 and was later named the Noah Harding Professor of Mathematics. In 1988, he came to Duke University as the J.M. Kreps Professor of Mathematics. His research focuses on nonlinear partial differential equations and differential geometry.

Robert has excelled in every area in which academic achievement can be measured. He was one of the youngest people to achieve the level of professor at Rice University and was named a Presidential Young Investigator. He has organized five regional, national and international conferences. He has presented almost 60 talks, and published almost 50 papers and six books. And he has directed 16 doctoral theses and held visiting faculty positions at 20 institutions across the U.S. and Europe.

Robert has served his profession in numerous ways. He is a member of the American Mathematical Society and served on several of its committees, including its executive committee. He has worked as editor or an editorial board member for several professional journals, including the prestigious Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, and has refereed a large number of papers and journals.

His impressive career is highlighted by his service as chair of the board of trustees of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California.

He has also served Duke University through participation in various campus committees, and his community as director of the Chamber Arts Society of Durham and on the board of the Vietnam Education Foundation. He is also a member of the Mathematical Association of America and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Robert is a member of the Chancellor’s Circle, and has provided educational support for mathematics students for many years through the John W. Cell Scholarship and the Excellence Fund. Because he was the recipient of a scholarship, Robert notes the importance of continuing such support for future students. He spoke about his experiences at the 2005 Realizing Possibilities Dinner.