Teaching Awards 2007
Mathematics' Martin Lorenz is honored with the 2006-2007 Faculty Research Award
|In addition to being an algebraist trying to describe the qualitative nature of solutions to systems of equations, Martin Lorenz, recipient of the 2006-2007 Faculty Research Award, is also a cyclist who races in the Masters Division for a local team based in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey region. Lorenz began cycling as a teenager in his native Germany.
|(Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg / Temple University)
Growing up in Germany during the 1960s, Martin Lorenz attended a high school that offered a very traditional curriculum.
“The first language that I studied was Latin, my second was Greek and the third French,” said Lorenz, a professor of mathematics. “So I learned a good deal about classical languages, but very little mathematics.”
When it was taught, however, he did have excellent math teachers.
“High school teachers in Germany at the time enjoyed a very high social status; it was a profession that attracted quality people, so I had first-rate math teachers,” said Lorenz, who has been named recipient of the 2006-2007 Temple University Faculty Research Award. “We didn’t have a lot of math lessons, but what we did cover had real meat to it.”
One of Lorenz’ high school mathematics teachers had been a student of noted mathematician David Hilbert. “For us mathematicians, Hilbert is a towering figure,” he said. “Our teacher always had firsthand Hilbert stories to tell, so that made math even more interesting for me.”
At the same time, Germany had also begun a nationwide Math Olympiad, modeled after a similar program in Russia to spur interest in mathematics and the sciences. Lorenz’ appetite for math grew as he competed and succeeded in regional competitions.
“For a while, as a kid, I had a little book of Math Olympiad geometry problems from Russia. While my friends were playing soccer or doing other things, I was solving the problems in the book for fun,” he said.
This passion for mathematics led him to pursue a career as an algebraist who has been described as “a prolific mathematician who has made, and continues to make, a deep impact on algebraic subfields of mathematics.”
A member of Temple’s mathematics faculty since 1989, Lorenz has been recognized and respected by his peers during a long and distinguished research career.
“Algebra is a branch of pure mathematics,” he pointed out. “While my work certainly does have applications, they are not a major concern of mine.”
Lorenz describes one of the principal objectives of his work as trying to describe the qualitative nature of solutions to systems of equations, which are at the heart of algebra. “Algebra originally, and still to some degree, is concerned with solving equations or describing the solutions to equations,” he noted.
His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency since he permanently moved to the United States from Germany in 1987. For the past 10 years, Lorenz has focused in particular on the investigation of “multiplicative invariants.” His work has lifted this theory to a new level and led to his being invited to author the monograph Multiplicative Invariant Theory, published in 2005 as part of the prestigious Encyclopaedia of Mathematical Sciences series.
A member of the American Mathematical Society and Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, Lorenz has published 64 articles in highly respected mathematical journals, and he has been an invited speaker at more than 50 national and international conferences and symposia.
Lorenz, whose wife, Maria, also teaches mathematics at Temple, serves on the editorial board of Algebra Montpellier Announcements, and serves as coordinating editor for algebra, number theory, combinatorics and logic for the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, a position that department Chair Omar Hijab describes as “influential in the future direction of a large portion of mathematics research.”
His achievements and contributions have been so respected and valued by his Temple mathematics colleagues, that last year the department selected Lorenz as its distinguished scholar for the 2006-2007 academic year, an honor given to a colleague whose research and creative work are judged to be most outstanding.
And now, it is recognition from the universitywide community.
“It is a great honor and I take this as an encouragement to try and continue producing cutting-edge algebraic research,” Lorenz says. “To me, the Faculty Research Award is a much-appreciated reward for past achievements and a strong impetus future research endeavors.”
— Preston M. Moretz