Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award 2017
Nickolas Castro, a recent doctoral graduate in mathematics, distinguished himself by making a major breakthrough in mathematics in his thesis on decomposition of smooth 4-manifolds, a 4-dimensional space like the space-time universe we live in. His research has proved essential for the development of the theory of trisections of 4-manifolds—the idea that smooth 4-manifolds can be understood by cutting them into three pieces, each with simple topology. He provided an elegant and simple proof of a theorem, thereby opening up a new way of thinking about smooth 4-dimensional topology with many new wonderful questions. Castro has been recognized nationally and internationally. He is now working at the University of California, Davis, as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow.