Since 2016, the AMMSI-Phillip Griffiths Prize is awarded annually to an African mathematician, living in Africa, who has made outstanding contribution to mathematics, application of mathematics or promotion of mathematics, as evidenced by research and impact of the work. In 2017, the AMMSI-Phillip Griffiths Prize has been awarded to Professor Philibert Nang.
Professor Nang is an internationally recognized scholar based in Gabon, where he plays an important role for the local mathematical community. He is a specialist in Algebraic Analysis, a field incorporating several important branches of mathematics like Partial Differential Equations, Algebraic Geometry, Representation Theory and Singularity Theory. The continuing focus of his research, theory of D-modules, is a vast extension of the concept of flat connection in differential and algebraic geometry. D stands for the ring of differential operators on a smooth space and D-modules are essentially systems of solution sets of differential equations, focusing on their extensions across singularities of the system and of the underlying space.
Early in his career he undertook the study of D-modules invariant under the action of an algebraic group. Among his main scientific contributions are important classification results for these so-called equivariant D-modules in terms of explicit algebraic invariants. For that body of work, Professor Nang was awarded the 2011 Ramanujan Prize for young mathematicians from developing countries. In more recent publications, he continues to contribute fundamental results to the field. He masterfully uses highly sophisticated tools like perverse sheaves, derived category or representation theory. His work thus impacts a wide range of areas of mathematics.
Professor Nang has also made notable contributions to mathematical development in his home country of Gabon. He is full professor and Head of the Research Laboratory of Mathematics, École Normale Supérieure of Libreville, as well as serving as President of the Mathematical Society of Gabon.