David Savitt was one of 102 scholars nationwide to receive the award.

University of Arizona

An associate professor at the University of Arizona has been recognized by the White House as one of the nation’s most promising math geeks.

David Savitt, an expert in number theory, recently was honored with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

The award, founded nearly 20 years ago, is the federal government’s highest honor for up-and-comers in those fields.

It recognizes those who “show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the 21st century,” a federal website says.

Savitt’s win marks the third time the prize has gone to a UA faculty member. He’s one of 102 researchers nationwide to recently receive the honor.

The awards will be given at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this year.

Winning it was “pretty exciting,” said Savitt, a faculty member in UA’s mathematics department since 2005.

As a number theorist, he’s steeped in the study of whole-number solutions to equations, especially those that spring from geometry.

“There are some really incredible subtle patterns in whole numbers that you wouldn’t notice just at a glance,” he said.

“Those patterns have a lot of delicate symmetry. What I do is study the patterns and the symmetry.”

Community service is another component of the presidential award.

Savitt serves as the volunteer deputy director of Canada/USA Mathcamp, an international summer program for mathematically gifted high school students.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or 573-4138.