Francisco González Acuña appointed Emeritus Researcher

On Wednesday, 12 February 2020, the University Council of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México appointed Francisco González Acuña "Fico" as an Emeritus Researcher. Several mathematicians wrote in support of Fico's appointment and some extracts are given in "Francisco González Acuña designado Investigador Emérito de la UNAM, Instituto de Matemáticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (12 February 2020)." We give an English translation of some extracts.

1. From: Cameron Gordon, University of Austin, Texas, USA.

Fico's mathematics has its own distinctive style, combining an unusually wide range of knowledge, in various areas of mathematics, with an emphasis on the theoretical study of knots and combinatorial theory of groups. Fico's works all have a house signature, all of them with deep mathematical ideas; his works and conjectures have motivated the work of many top-level mathematicians, in Mexico and abroad, and that is why he is recognised as a world authority, and why the School he has formed in Mexico is internationally recognised in the subject of low-dimensional topology.

2. From: John Luecke, University of Austin, Texas, USA.

Fico is an accomplished mathematician, whose work is internationally recognised. He is generous with his time and mastery, both with colleagues and students. I think of him as the leading figure in the strong group of low-dimensional topologists that are now all over Mexico.

3. From: José María Montesinos, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.

As Professor Cameron Gordon points out in his letter, there is a seal that Fico's articles bear. This stamp is a requirement of absolute mathematical rigour; of a strict purpose of obtaining the maximum level of generalisation possible; of a need in him, moved by his demanding sense of justice, to give fair credit to those who deserve it. ... The value of these virtues has had consequences: a whole generation of young topologists, of which the UNAM is proud, has become built under his wings (and myself included). We have learned that unique way of doing and writing mathematics. The moral and scientific value of that is impossible to determine.

4. From: Michel Charles Boileau, Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III France.

Professor Francisco Xavier González Acuña is a spectacular mathematician, whose works represent fundamental contributions to Low-Dimensional Topology. This can be seen in his impressive list of publications in top-level journals, in the number of invitations he has had as keynote speaker at international conferences, and in the tremendous influence he has had on topology in Mexico.

5. From: Hamish Short, University of Aix-Marseille, France.

Fico's years of strong work and his many contributions to the field, in Mexico and abroad, more than deserve the status of "Emeritus" at UNAM. In this country, France, there would not be any delay or much discussion about it, and Fico would receive that degree immediately.

6. From: Akio Kawauchi, Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan.

Professor González Acuña contributed to creating the foundations of the prosperity we have today in low-dimensional topology, with a deep understanding of this area, producing many excellent and beautiful works, through which I have found a lot of inspiration from knot theory.

7. From: Abigail A Thompson, University of California, Davis, USA.

I am honoured to write this letter in support of Fico's nomination. He has impacted my career directly and indirectly. Directly, he has been the inspiration for many of the most interesting problems in my field. He was one of the first mathematicians to ask what varieties can be obtained by surgery in a knot, and in particular whether one can obtain a homotopic 3-sphere. (Note: this is closely linked to the Poincaré conjecture, now a theorem.) He asked himself this in 1970 and answered it in many cases. The general solution required many years and many other mathematicians, and is an example of how a simple and elegant question can generate a wealth of interesting and deep mathematics. Fico has made the Mexican School of low-dimensional topology a major force in the field. That is where some of the best mathematicians in the world are being trained in this area, and Fico is at the heart of it all.

Last Updated June 2023