Mathematics Professor receives 2016 Research Achievement Award

Author: Brandi Klingerman

At the annual Notre Dame Service Recognition Dinner on Wednesday, May 18th, the 2016 Research Achievement Award (RAA) was awarded to Michael Detlefsen, McMahon-Hank Professor of Philosophy, for his contributions to research in the philosophy of mathematics. The RAA honors distinguished faculty members who have made significant contributions to scholarship in their discipline and to the research and graduate education goals of the University.

Detlefsen is a leading English-language commentator on the influential mathematician, David Hilbert, and his contributions to research on logic and the foundations of mathematics. When speaking about his award, Detlefsen said, “I am grateful to the Provost’s Office and Notre Dame Research for this recognition of my work.” He continued, “I’m grateful too for the University’s continued support of my research and that of my students, and for the opportunities they have provided for the incorporation of this research into my teaching.  Through the University’s continuing support, Notre Dame has become an international center for logic and the foundations of mathematics. This has benefitted not only the students and faculty engaged in research in these areas, but the Department of Philosophy and the College of Arts and Letters as a whole.”

Detlefsen was recognized for the RAA in part for his most recent research project on the ‘Ideals of Proof’, which has been supported by six institutions and universities, in addition to the University of Notre Dame. His research is concerned with ideals as defined in two ways: in regards to the aims and virtues of proof considered as justificative norms for mathematical practice and in regards to the use of “ideal” elements or methods as a means for pursuing the aims of proof. Additionally, his annual PhilMath Intersem research seminar continues to attract important philosophy in mathematics scholars from around the world.

Beyond his research and studies, Detlefsen conceived and implemented the Logistics and Foundations of Mathematics Doctorate Program – produced jointly between the Departments of Mathematics and Philosophy. The doctorate program is distinctive for its interdisciplinary curriculum and caliber of graduate students. Further, Detlefsen has a proven international standing, as evidenced by the Chaire d’excellence that he received from the French government, an honor that also carries a $1.1 million research grant, and his subsequent appointment as the Distinguished Guest Professor at the University of Paris Diderot.

When discussing this year’s RAA recipient, Robert J. Bernhard, Vice President for Research said, “Mic Detlefsen is an outstanding international scholar and active mentor, a true leader of his discipline. He has made noteworthy contributions to his field and brought significant recognition to Notre Dame. He is an outstanding member of our faculty and a very worthy recipient of the Research Achievement Award.”

To learn more about Michael Detlefsen and his research, please visit


Brandi R. Klingerman / Communications Specialist

Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.8183 /@UNDResearch

About Notre Dame Research

The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see or @UNDResearch.