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May 13, 2022

Srivatsav Kunnawalkam Elayavalli is this year’s Founder’s Medalist for the Graduate School

Srivatsav Kunnawalkam Elayavalli, from Chennai, India, is this year’s Founder’s Medalist for the Graduate School.

Founder’s Medal for First Honors is awarded for outstanding achievement in the graduating class. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s gifts to the university included endowment of this award, first given in 1877.

Sri is graduating with a doctor of philosophy in mathematics. Elayavalli earned a bachelor of arts in pure mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. In only four years, and having no research experience before coming to Vanderbilt, he completed eight quality research projects—six currently submitted and two already published in high-ranking mathematics journals—and gave 20 invited talks to research seminars and 10 invited talks to conferences and workshops. Elayavalli has become a regular fixture at conferences in operator algebras and has quickly established himself as an expert in the field. His research looks at intersections between von Neumann algebras, which give a mathematical foundation to quantum mechanics, and related areas of mathematics. He was inspired by S. Balachander, a master of the veena, a South Indian stringed instrument. He worked over the last four years to rediscover Balachander’s technique, considered by experts as nearly impossible to recreate. This intense experience greatly impacted Elayavalli’s mathematical work. Next year, he will begin a prestigious Simons Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles, followed by a three-year Stefan E. Warschawski Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, San Diego.