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UWM researcher named a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow Georg Essl, a research professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at UWM, has been named among the 2019 Guggenheim Fellows in the category of computer science. Guggenheim Fellowships

are prestigious awards that recognize prior achievement and exceptional promise of scholars, artists and writers in the United States and Canada. Administered by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Fellowships include a grant to support award winners in their endeavors. “It was a surprise,” Essl said of his award. “You never know with these things, and it’s very competitive, so it’s a very nice thing to happen. For me, this represents a chance to focus more on my work and gain a bit of (financial) independence.” Essl’s Guggenheim project focuses on using topology – the way in which constituent parts are interrelated – in the creation of algorithms that produce sound, such as one might hear when they use electric keyboards. “You can still go into a store and buy a keyboard that makes artificial sounds, or even tries to emulate violins and pianos and so forth,” he explained. “I’m working on the algorithms that try to make synthesizer sounds even more crazy.”

He applied for the fellowship so that he could fund his work while traveling with his wife, UWM Associate Professor of history and Jewish studies Lisa Silverman, as she spends her sabbatical as a fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies in Austria. Essl was among 168 Fellows chosen from a field of nearly 3,000 applicants. Since its establishment, the Foundation has granted more than $360 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, National Book Award, and other significant, internationally recognized honors. “It’s exceptionally satisfying to name 168 new Guggenheim Fellows,” said Edward Hirsch, the president of the Foundation, in a prepared statement. “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.” Before coming to Milwaukee, Essl worked on the faculty of the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor where he led the Mobile Music and Interaction Lab and directed the Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble. Essl is a member of the IEEE, the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), the International Computer Music Association (ICMA), the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). By Sarah Vickery, College of Letters & Science

L&S alumni win New Venture Business Plan top prize A total of $16,000 in prize money was awarded to four top teams of UWM students and alumni in the recent 2019 New Venture Business Plan Competition, hosted by the Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The 12-year-old annual competition, which is open to students in any discipline, is made possible by support from La Macchia Enterprises, the parent company of Mark Travel and Trisept Solutions. The first prize and an award of $8,000 were presented to Usman La’Aro, a fashion boutique that sells African-inspired clothing and fabrics that are manufactured in Nigeria and tailored and sold in Milwaukee. Usman La’Aro is run by alumni Andrew Roznowski (Africology/Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latin@ Studies) and Simbiat La’Aro (Political Science/Economics). They were featured previously in In Focus at College of Letters & Science • UW–Milwaukee • 13 College of Letters & Science • UW–Milwaukee •13

Profile for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

In Focus Vol. 9, No. 5