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Mathematician Vinzant Receives NSF CAREER Award

NC State Mathematician Cynthia Vinzant stands near a whiteboard

Cynthia Vinzant, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at NC State, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, also known as the NSF CAREER award, is one of the highest awards the foundation bestows upon young faculty in the sciences.

The five-year award will support Vinzant’s research project entitled “Determinantal, hyperbolic, and log-concave polynomials in theory and applications.” The project aims to use real algebraic and discrete geometry to further develop the understanding of log-concave polynomials that are prevalent within the mathematical sciences.  

Determinants are fundamental objects in mathematics. Some real polynomials share many useful properties of determinants and also appear ubiquitous in the mathematical sciences. Several recent breakthroughs in combinatorics and operator theory have relied heavily on such structures. Vinzant’s project will further develop the theory behind these classes of polynomials, with a view towards applications in approximation algorithms, combinatorics, convex optimization, and operator theory. This award will also support workshops for undergraduate and graduate students, providing them with a background in active mathematical research as well as exposure to its applications in other fields.

Vinzant received two undergraduate degrees from Oberlin College, in mathematics and neuroscience, in 2007, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011. She joined the NC State faculty in 2015.

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