Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

A prolific mathematician with nearly 40 published papers

Dr. Lee Mosher, a member of the Rutgers-Newark faculty since 1987, manifested an advanced proficiency and love of mathematics at a very early age. His passion for solving math problems led him to study the discipline at Michigan State University where he received his bachelor’s degree and Princeton University where he earned his doctoral degree.

Mosher’s areas of expertise are geometry and topology. Classical geometry is the study of the size, shape and position of two-dimensional forms and three-dimensional figures. Topology, a modern version of geometry, is the study of all sorts of spaces including what Mosher calls “floppy motions” (i.e., geometric properties and spatial relations that are not affected by the continuous change of shape or size of figures).

A great deal of Mosher’s time is consumed by his research, leaving precious few hours for anything else other than an occasional online computer game. Simply put, Mosher’s research involves solving mathematical problems – first identifying what needs to be solved, next deciding whether to invest the time in devising a solution, and then actually dedicating the time and effort to eventually solving the problem. Mosher credits a visiting appointment during the 1994-95 academic year at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, as an impetus for greatly expanding his research endeavors.

Mosher is a prolific mathematician as evidenced by his nearly 40 published papers. Each of his publications correlates directly to the number of math problems he has solved, jointly or singly. Of particular note are “Mapping Class Groups Are Automatic,” Annals of Math (Vol. 142, 1995) and “The Free Splitting Complex of a Free Group I: Hyperbolicity,” arXiv:1111.1994v2 (May 2012).

Mosher’s credentials also include a few significant lemmas. A lemma is a proven statement or proposition used as a stepping-stone toward the proof of a larger result. Mosher’s lemmas have been used by Mosher and others to solve several mathematical problems.

While Mosher takes tremendous pride in the individual theorems he has proved, the success of his students is also a source of immense satisfaction. Mosher experiences one of his greatest joys as a professor when a graduate student discovers an unexpected “jewel” – a solution to a mathematical problem that takes Mosher by complete surprise.