Bjorn Poonen

Bjorn Poonen

Distinguished Professor in Science

Professor of Mathematics

On Leave Spring semester

Phone: (617) 258-8164

Office: 2-243


Arithmetic Geometry, Algebraic Number Theory, Rational Points on Varieties, Undecidability


Bjorn Poonen received an A.B. in Mathematics and Physics from Harvard in 1989, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics under Kenneth A. Ribet at U. C. Berkeley in 1994. After postdoctoral positions at MSRI and Princeton University, he served on the faculty at U. C. Berkeley before moving to MIT to 2008. Poonen's research focuses on number theory and algebraic geometry; in particular, he is interested in developing methods for determining the rational number solutions to multivariable polynomial equations, but also interested in proving that certain problems are undecidable. He was the founding managing editor of Algebra & Number Theory and serves on the editorial board of several other journals. Prior to coming to MIT, Poonen received the Guggenheim, Packard, Rosenbaum, Simons, and Sloan fellowships, as well as a Miller Professorship. He is also a four-time Putnam Competition winner. In 2011, Poonen received the Chauvenet Prize for his article, "Undecidability in number theory," Notices AMS 55 (2008). In 2014, he received the MIT School of Science Prize in Undergraduate Teaching. In 2015 Poonen received a Simons Fellowship in Mathematics, and in 2016 he was awarded a Simons Investigatorship. Since 2017, with Andrew V. Sutherland he has been leading the MIT node of the Simons Collaboration Grant on Arithmetic Geometry, Number Theory, and Computation. In 2016 Poonen was elected to the AMS Nominating Committee, on which he served a 3-year term. In 2018, he gave an invited address at the ICM in Rio de Janeiro. In 2019, Professor Poonen was selected by the School of Science to the inaugural holder of the Distinguished Professor in Science. In 2023, Poonen was awarded the AMS Doob Prize, a prize awarded once every three years for a research-level mathematics book, for his book Rational Points on Varieties. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2012) and of the American Mathematical Society (2012).