In society different jobs tend to have different levels of recognition or acclaim. Those that are athletes tend to receive the most publicity and mainstream recognition. People like scientist and mathematicians are always regarded as the most impressive and most people would be proud to say that they are a doctor in a scientific or math-based field of study. One person who embodied what it is to be a mathematician despite these societal notions is Michael Lacey. His work will help develop our next phase and is important to the future.
Michael Thoraeu Lacey was born on September 26, 1959. He was always intelligent and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He studied faithfully and received a PhD in 1987. This was under the direction of Walter Philipp. It was apparent that even from this early age that Lacey was special at math as his thesis was on Banach spaces. This early worked solved an issue to do with the law of iterated logarithm of empirical characteristic functions. After this early breakthrough he did work in the mathematical fields of primarily harmonic analysis, probability, and ergodic theorem. He soon got his first job following his doctorates degree. This was as a professor at Louisiana state university and the university of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. While here he worked with Walter Phillippe and contributed to the almost solved central limit theorem helping close the book on it. He continued to work, study, discover, and teach for many years. During a tenure at Indiana State University he began a study on the Hilbert Transform which was the topic of much debate at the time. Michael Lacey along with Christoph Thiele solved it in 1996 to much acclaim and a Salem Prize. Lacey remained with Indiana University from 1989 to 1996 and received a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral fellowship membership for his work and studies.
Michael Lacey has contributed to mathematics a vast amount over the years. As recently as 2004 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for work with Xiachun Li and became a member of the American Mathematical Society in 2012. Lacey’s ability to balance life as a professor and mathematical problem solver is impressive and he has received many awards. Though he probably doesn’t care about mainstream popularity I hope one day he and many other scientist and mathematicians get mainstream coverage to match their prestigious awards.