The EDGE Foundation is delighted to announce the 2023 Karen EDGE Fellow!

The Karen EDGE Fellowship Program was established with a generous gift from Karen Uhlenbeck on the occasion of her 2019 Abel Prize. The Fellowship is designed to support and enhance the research programs and collaborations of mid-career mathematicians who are members of an underrepresented minority group. The 2023 Fellow was selected on the basis of his excellent contributions to research on geometric optics and optimal transport problems, and his commitment to utilizing research as a tool to increase students’ success.

Henok Mawi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Howard University. After completing his undergraduate studies in his country of origin, Ethiopia, he obtained a post graduate diploma from the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. He received his Ph.D. from Temple University, Philadelphia, in 2010 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Spring 2011. He was a plenary speaker for the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) Claytor-Woodard Lecture during Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM 2019) and was a recipient of the NAM Award of Appreciation for contributions to scholarly activity. 

Mawi’s research interests lie in the study of mathematical models that are described as partial differential equations or as optimization problems. Mainly, he studies mathematical problems which stem from geometric optics in relation to design of freeform optical surfaces (lenses with no particular symmetry) that are used to control illumination distribution on a target. He approaches these interdisciplinary problems analytically, by applying Minkowski type geometric arguments to the inherent geometric properties of the problems and methods from optimal transport theory and numerically, by developing convergent algorithms to approximate their solutions.

Mawi highly values his unique role as a faculty member at Howard University, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and sees his academic endeavors as having a wider influence beyond research as they serve to enhance diversity within the mathematics community. He believes that The Karen EDGE fellowship will strengthen this role by furnishing him and his mentees with the means to attend mathematical conferences, cultivate and sustain collaborations, and advance research related undertakings.