Professor Michelle Chu selected for McKnight Land-Grant Professorship award

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (2/22/2024) – Assistant Professor Michelle Chu has been awarded the 2024-26 McKnight Land-Grant Professorship. The award aims to boost the careers of highly-promising junior faculty members who have the potential to make significant contributions to their departments and to their fields of study. 

Chu’s mathematical research interests include hyperbolic geometry, low-dimensional topology, geometric group theory, and arithmetic groups. Her work explores the relationship between algebraic properties of groups and geometric and topological properties of spaces on which these groups act. A particular focus of her research is understanding hyperbolic manifolds and their finite covers by studying the subgroup structure of their fundamental groups. 

Before joining the School of Mathematics faculty in 2022, Chu completed her PhD in Mathematics at UT Austin, as well as an NSF postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since arriving at UMN, Chu has participated in community mentorship by leading a group project for the 2023 Algebra and Combinatorics REU, co-mentoring a group of graduate students at the 2023 Women in Groups, Geometry, and Dynamics research retreat (WiGGD), and teaching a mini-course on 3-manifold groups at the Centre International de Rencontres Mathématiques. She is currently advising her first PhD student. 

Head of the department Benjamin Brubaker writes: "It is wonderful that the university has recognized Michelle with this early career honor. The professorship speaks to her bright future and extraordinary potential as a leader in our mathematical community."

The McKnight Land-Grant Professorship award amount of $50,000 over two years will support Chu’s ongoing research; she will hold the title for two years. Chu is the first School of Mathematics recipient of this professorship in more than 10 years.