Fields Medal and MacArthur Fellowship go to June Huh

By Liz Fuller-Wright

June Huh
June Huh, professor of mathematics. PHOTO BY DENISE APPLEWHITE

June Huh, professor of mathematics, was awarded the 2022 Fields Medal, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics,” in recognition of his work in combinatorics. He was awarded a 2022 MacArthur Fellowship for “discovering underlying connections between disparate areas of mathematics and proving long-standing mathematical conjectures.”

Huh’s research focuses on geometry, topology, and the combinatorics of algebraic varieties. He is known for proving long-standing mathematical conjectures by building bridges between different branches of math, especially combinatorics and algebraic geometry.

Algebraic geometry involves the properties of geometric structures — like curves or surfaces — that are described using polynomial equations. Combinatorics concerns counting, arranging and combining sets of elements within a discrete system. Most mathematicians consider algebraic geometry and combinatorics distinct, almost unrelated branches of mathematics, but Huh saw how these widely different fields could answer each other’s long-standing questions.