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Generosity Ignites Mathematical Excellence at Purdue University

Barbara Kile

Barbara Kile, a distinguished Purdue alumna who has left an indelible mark on the field of mathematics, continues to shape the future of the discipline through her generous contributions. In recognition of her outstanding achievements and her deep gratitude for the mentorship she received at Purdue, Kile has established the Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics, aimed at celebrating exceptional assistant or associate professors within the Department of Mathematics.

The first recipient of this prestigious professorship is Isaac Harris, who assumed the title of the Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics on January 1, 2023. Irena Swanson, the head of the mathematics department, commends Harris for his significant theoretical contributions in the field of inverse problems, particularly in relation to transmission eigenvalue problems and direct sampling methods. At Purdue, he has displayed versatility as an educator, having taught a diverse range of courses spanning from introductory calculus for first-year undergraduates to advanced graduate-level classes.

Kile acknowledges the pivotal role played by Purdue professors in shaping her passion for mathematics and physics. Their mentorship and encouragement laid the foundation for her successful career, which culminated in her role as the Division Director of Strategic & Information Programs at the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense. In expressing her gratitude, Kile said, “Helping the Purdue math department retain an outstanding young faculty member through my sponsorship of a New Frontiers Professorship is a particularly good way to show my gratitude.”

To express her deep gratitude and contribute to the continued success of the mathematics department, she chose to sponsor the New Frontiers Professorship and associate it with her maiden name, Barbara A. Kunze. Kile explains her decision to create the endowment under this name by explaining that “that was the name I was known by at Purdue and because my father, Elmer G. Kunze, was a high school physics teacher and the single most important influence on my life.”

The Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics embodies the values and ideals that Kile holds dear. It aims to provide leadership in the realms of discovery, learning, and engagement within the mathematical sciences. The initial award spans three years, with the option for an additional two years of support, further empowering the chosen professor to make impactful contributions to their field.

Purdue University’s distinguished and named professorships celebrate exceptional faculty members whose accomplishments in research, teaching, and engagement have garnered international recognition. Through the establishment of the Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Barbara Kile continues to shape the landscape of mathematics education and ensure that future generations of students benefit from the same level of mentorship and support that propelled her to greatness.

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