University of Richmond Mathematics Professor Heather M. Russell Receives Funding from American Mathematical Society

Grant Support Includes Engaging UR Undergraduates in Research
August 23, 2023

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND ─ Heather M. Russell, associate professor of mathematics at the University of Richmond, has received funding from the American Mathematical Society to develop web bases for problems in algebraic geometry and combinatorial representation theory.

Russell has been named an inaugural recipient of the AMS-Simons Research Enhancement Grant for Primarily Undergraduate Institution Faculty. The three-year grant will support her research, which features a diagrammatic approach to problem-solving inspired by her training in the area of knot theory. This work takes objects and processes from the mathematical field of representation theory and converts them into a visual framework where they can be more easily studied and understood. 

“To put it simply,” Russell said, “I do math with pictures.”

Russell has an extensive research and publication record regarding web bases, but another key driver of her career has been engaging students in the creative process of making and understanding new mathematics. Her previous research with undergraduates has resulted in six peer-reviewed publications co-authored with students.

“I am honored to be among the first recipients of this AMS-Simons grant. We recently began developing a new framework for analyzing web bases, and this grant will support the continuation of that project,” said Russell. “I look forward to engaging in the research myself and involving a new team of UR students in the work starting this fall.”

“Webs are objects within a mathematical category called a spider category, so it’s fitting to be doing this work at UR, home of the Spiders,” Russell added.


The AMS-Simons Research Enhancement Grant will support at least 40 mathematicians each year and is eager to fund scholars with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Notably, AMS has begun allowing family care expenses in research grant budgets to create space for awardees to better focus on their funded work.