As Director of MSRI from 1997 to 2007, I had the satisfaction of supporting a huge amount of mathematics and related activity at the Institute. From 2003 to 2005 I was also President of the American Mathematical Society, an organization I came to admire a great deal. I was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.
Robert Bryant succeeded me as Director of MSRI in 2007, and from then until the fall of 2012 I divided my time between teaching at Berkeley and working as the first Director of Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Simons Foundation in New York, where I initiated the public programs in Mathematics, Theoretical Physics, and Theoretical Computer Science.
I returned to MSRI in the year 2012-13 as an organizer of the year-long program on Commutative Algebra, and became Director of MSRI again in August, 2013, in which role I served until August, 2022. I have now gone "back" to teaching as Professor in the department of mathematics at UC Berkeley.
When I applied to become the Director of MSRI I wrote to the hiring committee saying that, while the strength of MSRI's scientific program was already recognized around the world, I felt that MSRI badly needed two things: a physical facility worthy of such a world-class institution (and in particular a better auditorium); and an endowment that could enable long-term planning and protect the institution from possible future fluctuations in NSF support, which was essentially the only source of funding at the time.
Now, in my retirement from the directorship, I have the satisfaction of having helped bring about both of these changes: The renovation and extension of the building to approximately twice its original size was accomplished in 2006, near the end of my first two terms, and a centerpiece of the construction was the beautiful and airy Simons auditorium, where Roger Penrose gave the inaugural lecture in 2006
Jim Simons made the first substantial contribution to the Endowment, including the establishment of the "Eisenbud Professorship" at MSRI, at my retirement party in 2007. I undertook a major endowment campaign in my fourth term, and as I leave MSRI, its endowment stands at about $130 million; the extraordinary generosity of the lead gifts made by Jim and Marilyn Simons and matched by Henry and Marsha Laufer, led to the renaming of MSRI as the Simons Laufer Mathematical Sciences Institute, or SLMath for short.
I remain connected to the Simons Foundation as member, since 2012, of its Board of Directors; and I have been on the Board of Directors of Math for America since its inception in 2004.
I helped found the Journal of Algebra and Number Theory in 2006, and the Journal of Software for Algebra and Geometry in 2009, and I'm Chair of the Editorial Board of the former. I'm also an editor of Springer-Verlag's book series Graduate Texts in Mathematics and Algorithms and Computation in Mathematics
While President of the AMS I helped plan the Math Research Communities Program, and chaired its advisory board for several years.
My first paper was about permutation groups, and my thesis and subsequent few papers on non-commutative ring theory (my thesis advisors were Saunders MacLane and, unofficially, the English ring-theorist J.C. Robson.) I turned to commutative algebra, and subsequently to singularity theory, knot theory, and algebraic geometry. My papers also include one on a statistical application of algebraic geometry and one on juggling. Recently I've worked on the homological aspects of commutative algebra and algebraic geometry; and on computational tools for these fields:
Ever since the early 70s I've used computers to produce examples in algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, and I've developed algorithms to extend the power of computation in this area. In 2009 I joined Mike Stillman and Dan Grayson as Co-PI on the grant to (further) develop the Macaulay2 system for symbolic computation. Some of the papers I'm proudest of were partly inspired by computations with that system.
Here are some correction lists:
Two spinning turtles 5 2 14 from Zala Films on Vimeo.