Baylor math prof earns coveted NSF early career award (and $430,000 grant)
Viewers of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind were introduced to the story of mathematician John Nash, who dramatically extended the field of game theory — the study of a set of agents, making decisions simultaneously, whose decisions impact one another.
Dr. Jameson Graber, an assistant professor of mathematics at Baylor, is among the many subsequent scholars to have followed Nash into the field. But while many are interested in the subject, Graber’s approach has risen to earn a coveted Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The award includes a grant of nearly $430,000 to support Graber’s research at the intersection of game theory, partial differential equations, and societal questions in politics and economics.
“The idea behind game theory is this — that you take somebody at random from a population and ask the question, ‘What would this person do strategically to maximize his utility?’ Then, you can actually figure out from there what the entire population will do,” Graber explains.
For his CAREER grant research, Graber will combine partial differential equations and game theory to study complex questions in economics and politics, such as economic growth, wealth distribution and more. He’ll do so with two fellow Baylor professors: Dr. Richard Jordan, an assistant professor of political science, and Dr. Wilson Law, an assistant professor of economics. Their collaboration was sparked when all three joined the Baylor faculty in 2016 and discussed similar interests at New Faculty Orientation.
“We’ve been friends since the beginning, and were talking about game theory on day one,” Graber says. “I knew that I wanted to collaborate with them. I’m a mathematician and like to solve problems, and I turned to them with their expertise in other disciplines to actually generate the problems and the questions that we should be asking.”
CAREER grants are highly competitive and coveted for early career faculty members, and Baylor has enjoyed success in earning them from the NSF. Last year, a school-record four BU professors were honored. Graber’s award also marks a milestone, as it’s the first CAREER grant won by a mathematics faculty member at Baylor.
Sic ’em, Dr. Graber!