Lisa Piccirillo obtained her PhD in 2018 from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was advised by John Luecke. She held an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brandeis University before moving to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as a Moore Instructor then Assistant Professor.
Piccirillo is renowned for her work in low-dimensional topology. Most famously, she proved that the Conway knot is not slice, i.e., there is no 2-disc smoothly embedded in the 4-ball that intersects the bounding 3-sphere in the Conway knot. The sliceness of the Conway knot had been an open problem for over 50 years, gaining iconic status as a test problem. Many sophisticated tools were developed in the area to tackle problems of this type, drawing on diverse parts of mathematics, including gauge theory, representation theory and symplectic topology. Piccirillo’s proof involves an ingenious fusion of these tools with inspired, direct topological constructions. In recognition of this achievement, she was awarded the inaugural Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize in 2020. She continues to demonstrate the power of her techniques by solving longstanding problems in low dimensional topology.
Lisa Piccirillo has been appointed as a Clay Research Fellow for a term of three years beginning 1 July 2021. She will be based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.