William W. Hager, Ph.D.

Professor of Mathematics

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

2008 Awardee

Through the power of math, William Hager has devised several ways to understand the power of lightning. In studying the transport of charge and the electric field surrounding bolts of lightning, Hager’s work could be used to quantify the force of storms.

According to former mathematics department Chair Krishnaswami Alladi, Hager’s work will “assess more precisely the severity of storms, taking into account the energy associated with lightning activity.” As Hager enters his 20th year at UF, he has been recognized as “the senior-most member of our top-class applied mathematics group,” “one of the most productive faculty members in the department,” and “a world authority in the area on computational optimization,” Alladi said.

In fact, Hager is the editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Computational Optimization and Applications and serves as the co-director of the Center for Applied Optimization. The center unifies faculty members from the math department, computer science department and engineering departments to create more efficient research collaborations. Through the center, Hager has attracted leading researchers to UF for several international conferences.

He is currently collaborating with the computer science department on a research grant from the National Science Foundation to continue his work in sparse matrix algorithms. The lightning research, also supported by NSF, is in collaboration with experimentalists at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

In addition to his own accomplishments, Hager has spent his years at UF inspiring graduate students to accomplish their goals. In 2006, Hager co-authored a paper with one of his students which received the best student paper award from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.