A proud supporter and distinguished member of the UCLA family, Christina Liggett has established a $500,000 endowment in honor of her late husband, Professor Emeritus Thomas M. Liggett, for his contributions in research, teaching, and service at UCLA. As a part of the Physical Sciences Matching Gift Fund program, the Dean of Physical Sciences will establish a matching fund of $250,000.

The Thomas and Christina Liggett Endowed Scholars Fund will allow the Department to institute a new series of teaching awards for postdocs (including CAM, PIC, and FAM) and teaching assistants. Every year, the Department will select 4–6 “Liggett Instructors” among postdocs and 4–6 “Liggett Teaching Fellows” among graduate students. The awards come with a cash prize of $1,000 for Liggett Instructors and $500 for Liggett Teaching Fellows.

Professor Liggett dedicated 51 years to the UCLA Department of Mathematics, after joining as an assistant professor in 1969. He contributed to numerous areas of probability theory and was best known for his pioneering work on interacting particle systems, including the contact process, the voter model, and the exclusion process. His two books in this field have been very influential. Professor Liggett was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012. He passed away in May, 2020.

The appointment for Executive Director of the Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE) has been accepted by Professor Deanna Needell, the Dunn Family Endowed Chair in Data Theory in the Department of Mathematics. IDRE is comprised of faculty and technologists working to advance the existing body of computing knowledge and expertise at UCLA. IDRE programs focus on four areas critical to advancing innovative research and scholarship: Computational Science, Data Science, Information Science, and Digital Scholarship and Creative Activities.

In an email announcement to the UCLA research community, Vice Provost of the Office of Advanced Research Computing Jim Davis shares his support for the promising future of IDRE under Deanna’s leadership.

“Deanna’s focus on data analysis, algorithms, statistics, and computational mathematics, coupled with a commitment to community partnerships and equity, aligns perfectly with the trajectory set for IDRE in the 2019 Strategic Planning report. Her research encompasses many aspects of data science with a focus on a broad range of societal challenges, from understanding disease and more effective treatments, to analyzing case files and helping free innocent persons convicted of crimes. Deanna also actively promotes opportunities for women and historically marginalized individuals in data science, mathematics, and technology. This commitment is evidenced by the value statement prominent on her UCLA faculty home page: ‘I strive for an inclusive workspace and world. You matter. You are valued.’

As data and computational research continue to escalate and expand on campus, we look to Deanna and the IDRE board to help develop systems, methods, processes, programs, and policies that address the myriad of opportunities and issues that surround innovative data-driven research. We look forward to IDRE further engaging with departments and divisions representing the breadth and diversity of disciplines across the campus to provide guidance on campus research practices, capability, and infrastructure, to better support digitally-enabled research and scholarship. Upcoming IDRE activities include a call for workshop proposals, campus-wide and community project matching, and the distribution of usage reports for the campus High Performance Compute cluster (Hoffman2). There is also the need to provide input on current challenges including the growing requirements to comply with the use and protection of restricted data. Under Deanna’s leadership, the IDRE board is already serving as a valuable point of connection between the academic community and campus administration and will also provide a critical faculty voice in our campus IT governance structure.”

To learn more about IDRE’s programs, visit their website.