Gumel dedicated the lecture in memory of Professor Lee Lorch (1915–2014), who, in addition to being a brilliant mathematician, was an icon of human rights, equity, justice and equal educational opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities. His decadeslong struggle for civil rights and educational opportunities cost him four academic appointments in the U.S. and other personal costs, necessitating his self-exile to Canada. 

Gumel’s own academic adviser was a former student of Lorch. While doing postdoctoral work at the Fields Institute in Toronto, Gumel was often introduced by Lorch as his "academic grandchild."

“He was a major influence in my life,” Gumel said. “We were very close, both professionally and personally. It was an immense honor to have known such a giant icon of civil rights and empowerment of women and people of color.”

Gumel received his PhD in mathematics from Brunel University, England, in 1994, and was professor of mathematics at the University of Manitoba, Canada, from 1999 to 2014. He is a fellow of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute for Biosocial Complex Systems, African Academy of Science and Nigerian Academy of Science.

The first Einstein Lecture was delivered in fall 2005 by Sir Michael Atiyah, winner of both a Fields Medal and an Abel Prize. The lecture was aimed at the general public and was extremely successful. That tradition of very broad appeal has continued and a history of previous lectures, as well as Gumel’s 2021 lecture, can be found on the AMS website.

Rhonda Olson

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