2024 Kovalevsky Lecture

Sunčica Čanić, University of California at Berkeley


Citation. Professor Sunčica Čanić is a highly influential applied mathematician working in modeling, analysis, and computations of partial differential equations. She has made profound contributions across a wide spectrum of mathematics, ranging from mathematical analysis of complex physical phenomena, designing new numerical methods, proving their convergence, testing them in rigorous environments, and then applying these workhorse tools to highly practical problems of breakthrough practical importance.

Biographical Sketch. Sunčica Čanić (Sunny) earned her Ph.D. in 1992 in the area of nonlinear hyperbolic conservation laws from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at SUNY Stony Brook. Upon her move to the University of Houston in 1999, she began collaborating with several medical specialists at the Texas Medical Center in Houston on problems related to cardiovascular treatment and diagnosis. She was honored for her research by the National Science Foundation as Distinguished Mathematics and Physical Sciences Lecturer in 2007. Čanić received the US Congressional Recognition for Top Women in Technology in 2006; and later received the most prestigious award at the University of Houston, the Esther Farfel Award in 2018. She was the only woman to hold a prestigious Cullen Distinguished Professorship position at the University of Houston. 

Her research received local and national media attention, and was featured in several publications by NSF, NIH, and AMS. Čanić was also invited to present a Congressional Briefing on Applied Mathematics, on Capitol Hill on December 6th, 2011. She served on the Board of Governors of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications in Minneapolis, and was the Program Director of the SIAM Activity Group on Partial Differential Equations. In 2014 she was elected Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Čanić moved to UC Berkeley’s Mathematics Department in the Fall of 2018, and is currently serving as Full Professor there. In 2020 she was elected Miller Research Fellow by the Miller Research Institute at Berkeley, and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Her research on deterministic and stochastic partial differential equations/fluid-structure interaction and numerical methods development influenced the design of a stent for a bioartificial aortic valve placement, produced by a private consortium in Houston, as well as the design of a bioartificial pancreas investigated at the University of California, San Francisco’s Biodesign Laboratory.

Response from Čanić. It is a great honor to be named the 2024 Kovalevsky Lecturer. I am grateful to AWM and SIAM for keeping increased awareness of contributions by women to mathematics, and for honoring Sonia Kovalevsky’s short but impactful mathematics career and her pioneering work on advancing higher education for women in the 19th century.