Irena Swanson

Irena Swanson is an American mathematician specializing in commutative algebra. She is a professor of mathematics at Reed College.

Education and career

Swanson is originally from the former Yugoslavia, in what is now Slovenia,[1][2] and was attracted to mathematics from a very young age. She came to the US as an exchange student in Tooele, Utah in her last year of high school.[2] There, she became interested in Reed College, the alma mater of her host mother,[1] and applied only to Reed for her undergraduate studies.[2] She is a 1987 graduate of Reed,[3] with an undergraduate thesis on functional analysis.[2]

She went to Purdue University for graduate study, completing her Ph.D. in mathematics in 1992. Her dissertation, Tight Closure, Joint Reductions, And Mixed Multiplicities, was supervised by Craig Huneke.[3][4] After postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan, she joined the faculty at New Mexico State University, and moved from there back to Reed in 2005.[3]


With her advisor, Craig Huneke, Swanson is the author of the book Integral Closure of Ideals, Rings, and Modules (Cambridge University Press, 2006).[5] She is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Commutative Algebra.

Swanson is also a creator of mathematical quilts,[1][6] and is the inventor of a quilting technique, "tube piecing", for making quilts more efficiently.[1]


Swanson was included in the 2019 class of fellows of the American Mathematical Society "for contributions to commutative algebra, exposition, service to the profession and mentoring".[7] In 2018 she was awarded a Fulbright-NAWI Graz Fellowship to work at the University of Graz in Austria.[8]


  1. Best, Katelyn (March 2016), "The Geometry of Quilting: Prof. Irena Swanson '87 adds a new twist to a mathematical art form", Reed Magazine, Reed College, vol. 95 no. 1, retrieved 2018-11-08
  2. "Irena Swanson", Women in Maths, June 1, 2016
  3. "Irena Swanson '87", Faculty Profiles, Reed College, retrieved 2018-11-08
  4. Irena Swanson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. Reviews of Integral Closure of Ideals, Rings, and Modules:
    • O'Carroll, Liam (2008), Mathematical Reviews, MR 2266432CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Nakamura, Yukio (2009), Sugaku (in Japanese), 61 (1), doi:10.11429/sugaku.0611097CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  6. Some of Irena Swanson's mathematics-related quilts, retrieved 2018-11-08. See also Swanson, Irena (2011), "Quilting Semiregular Tessellations", in belcastro, sarah-marie; Yackel, Carolyn (eds.), Crafting by Concepts: Fiber Arts and Mathematics, A K Peters / CRC Press, ISBN 9781568814353
  7. 2019 Class of the Fellows of the AMS, American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2018-11-08
  8. "Irena Swanson | Fulbright Scholar Program". Retrieved 2018-11-19.
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