Dafermos elected to National Academy of Sciences

Applied mathematics professor earns high honor for decades of pioneering work in conservation laws and continuum physics.

Constantine Dafermos
Constantine Dafermos

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Constantine M. Dafermos, the Alumni-Alumnae University Professor of Applied Mathematics at Brown, has been elected to the 2016 class of National Academy of Sciences members.

Dafermos is one of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected in this year’s class. Members and associates are chosen for what is regarded as one of the highest honors a scientist can receive based on their “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”

Since joining the Brown faculty in 1971, Dafermos has established himself as one of the world’s top experts in the theory of conservation laws. These fundamental laws express in mathematical terms the fact that, within an isolated physical system, certain quantities do not change when time passes or when the position of the system is changed. Examples include conservation of energy and of momentum.

Dafermos has also made seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear conservation laws, introducing innovative and powerful new methods and applying the theory to such areas as continuum mechanics, gas dynamics and nonlinear elasticity.

He is widely known for his book “Hyperbolic Conservation Laws in Continuum Physics” (Springer Verlag, third edition, 2010), which is considered to be the authoritative guide to the subject.

“I am delighted that Constantine Dafermos has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences,” said Björn Sandstede, chair of the Division of Applied Mathematics. “It is a great recognition of Constantine’s terrific and foundational work on hyperbolic conservation laws and continuum physics.”

Dafermos joins fellow applied mathematics professor Stuart Geman as a member of the National Academy. Three emeritus faculty in the division, Wendell Fleming, Ulf Grenander and David Mumford, are also members.