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John Franks Named Noyes Professor In Mathematics

September 9, 2008 | by Megan Fellman
EVANSTON, Ill. --- John M. Franks, professor and chair of the department of mathematics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, has been named the Henry S. Noyes Professor in Mathematics.

Franks is an internationally recognized expert in dynamical systems, examining how mathematical systems evolve over time. He has also done important work in topology, the study of phenomena that remain unchanged under continuous deformations, and in the analysis of manifolds, mathematical objects that look locally like Euclidean space.

Supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Franks' research has covered a broad range, including problems in differentiable dynamics, symbolic dynamics and knot theory. A consistent theme has been the relationship between the kinds of dynamical behavior a system possesses and the invariants of algebraic topology that it exhibits. For example, his work showed the existence of infinitely many different types of knotted trajectories in any chaotic three-dimensional flow. His most recent work lies at the intersection of topology and dynamics, focusing on group actions on surfaces.

He joined the Northwestern faculty in 1970 after a postdoctoral position at MIT. During his career at Northwestern he has held visiting positions at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (Bures-sur-Yvette, France), the Instituto de Matematica Pura e Aplicada (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (Berkeley, California) and the University of Paris 13.

Franks has served as executive editor of the journal Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems. He is a past member of the executive committee of the American Mathematical Society and since 1999 has been treasurer and trustee of that organization. He has served as a reviewer on the National Science Foundation's Mathematical Sciences Panel and as chair of the International Congress of Mathematicians panel to select speakers for the dynamics section.
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