Mathematical Journey That Began at Young Age Inspires Professor
Apr. 25, 2013
From the age of 9 or 10, Dr. Vladimir Dragovic knew he wanted to be a mathematician. His early commitment to his career goes hand in hand with his dedication to encouraging young people who are interested in science and math.
Dr. Vladimir Dragovic
Dragovic, who joined the UT Dallas faculty recently as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, graduated from, and was later principal of, the prestigious Mathematical Gymnasium (high school) Belgrade, a special school for gifted and talented students of mathematics, physics and informatics located in his native Serbia. In its 40-year history, students from the school have won more than 400 medals at international science competitions, making it one of the top-ranked schools in the world for science and math education.
“My experience running a school such as this, with recognized excellence, is something that I believe will contribute to the quality of education at UT Dallas,” Dragovic said.
Dragovic also was head of the committee for mathematical competitions for high school students in Serbia and leader of the Yugoslav national team that participated in the Balkan Mathematical Olympiads. He also wrote a mathematics textbook for elementary school children.
“I’m very interested in popularizing math and science to a general audience,” Dragovic said. He demonstrated his outreach skills on campus recently by leading a workshop on the geometry and mathematics of billiards at the Sally Ride Science Festival for middle-school girls.
Dragovic earned his bachelor’s degree and his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Belgrade. He has held research faculty positions at the Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Belgrade, the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, and Kyoto University in Japan. Before joining the UT Dallas faculty, he was a research scientist at the University of Lisbon.
Dragovic’s research focuses on mathematical physics and in particular integrable dynamical systems.
“In this field, we are trying to find equations that describe systems or processes that change over time, and to solve these equations explicitly,” he said. “These equations have a broad variety of applications, from describing processes in physics and biology, to engineering, control theory and robotics.”
Dragovic said UT Dallas’s historical strength in the field of mathematical physics is recognized outside the U.S., and was one of the factors that brought him to campus.
“I knew about UT Dallas as the place that had Professors [Ivor] Robinson and [Istvan] Ozsvath, who are very well known in mathematical physics,” Dragovic said. Retired faculty members Robinson and Ozsvath were among the original faculty of the Division of Mathematics and Mathematical Physics at the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, the precursor institution to UT Dallas.
“Once I arrived on campus, I recognized immediately that my work will lend itself to potential collaborations with engineering and other areas. Also, UT Dallas is one of those rare institutions these days that is undergoing intensive development, and that was a main motivation for me coming here, to be a part of this process.”
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