A&S Professor Elected to Board of World-Renowned Institute for Math, Physics

Ken Ono
Marvin Rosenblum Professor of Mathematics Ken Ono accepts three-year term with the Association of Members of the Institute for Advanced Study Board of Trustees.
Photo courtesy UVA College Foundation

The world’s preeminent institute for theoretical math and physics has elected Ken Ono, the University of Virginia’s Marvin Rosenblum Professor of Mathematics, to its board of trustees. Ono, who also serves as chair of the Department of Mathematics in UVA’s College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, will begin a three-year term on the Association of Members of the Institute for Advanced Study (AMIAS) Board of Trustees on Jan. 1.

Located in Princeton, New Jersey, the Institute for Advanced Study has been the academic home of Albert Einstein and a collection of the world’s most influential scholars in mathematics and physics since its founding in 1930. There have been more than 8,000 members affiliated with the IAS, including 34 Nobel Laureates and 42 Fields Medalists.

Ono’s own connections to the IAS date back to the distinguished research career of his father, Takashi Ono.

"I was essentially born at the Institute for Advanced Study, when my father was a member in the School of Mathematics. My postdoctoral years at IAS launched my career. IAS represents my heaven on earth,” Ono said. “It is my honor to use my experience to pay forward my good fortune in the service of future IAS members.”

Ono joined UVA’s faculty in 2019, after nine years at Emory University. In 2020, Academic Influence named him one of the world’s 15 most influential mathematicians. Ono also has won the Presidential CAREER Award and was named a Distinguished Teaching Scholar by the National Science Foundation.

In the classroom, Ono specializes in number theory and studies highly abstract problems involving patterns and properties of numbers that have perplexed mathematicians for centuries. His work has earned him coveted Sloan, Packard and Guggenheim fellowships, as well as leadership roles as vice president of the American Mathematical Society and as chair of the Mathematics Section in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

His work has been used by cryptographers and physicists studying black holes and quantum gravity. An avid swimmer and accomplished cyclist who competed three years as a Team USA member in the International Triathlon Union World Cross Triathlon Championship, Ono also applies his research to the realm of competitive swimming.

Ono has developed several tests that help understand how swimmers gain valuable time in the water. Using a variety of sensors and a series of underwater cameras, he now works with the UVA swimming team to capture information about how swimmers move in the water and how they execute turns at the wall and about factors that are much more difficult to see, like how their bodies create unwanted drag and resistance and how they’re expending energy unnecessarily. Among the UVA swimmers with Olympic aspirations who have worked with Ono are Kate Douglass, Paige Madden, and Alex Walsh, who all earned medals in the Tokyo Olympic games.