The Art and Science of Giving

Paul So, Ph.D. ’95, Physics, recognizes the importance of mentoring and philanthropy. An associate professor in the Department of Physics at George Mason University, So has spent countless hours teaching and mentoring young people in the field of non-linear dynamics.


L-R: Ed Ott, Paul So, and Keeyeol Nam at the CMNS Alumni Networking Reception in New York. Click image to download hi-res version.

So, who holds both an undergraduate and graduate degree in physics, has combined the study of art with science. He took courses in art for many years and is an accomplished artist, who now is fostering the careers of up and coming artists. A long-time philanthropist, So helped found
a non-profit contemporary art gallery in Northwest Washington, D.C., called The Hamiltonian Artists. The gallery provides space and fellowships to budding contemporary artists, a number of whom are alumni of or students in the university’s Master of Fine Arts program.

When it comes to philanthropy, So gives generously to causes that are closest to him: physics, education and art. He follows a sterling example set by his parents. They created a scholarship to support international students and non-citizens living in the United States who attend Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., where So and his brother received their undergraduate degrees. It was perfectly natural that So extend his generosity to his graduate alma mater. In March, he established The Yuen Sang and Yu Yuen Kit So Endowed Professorship in non-linear dynamics as a tribute to his parents and in honor of his Ph.D. advisor Distinguished University Professor Ed Ott. The Department of Physics appointed Ott as the first holder of the professorship and, at the request of So, Ott’s name will be added to the endowment when he retires to recognize his mentorship in non-linear dynamics.

So and other alumni from the Department of Physics recently celebrated the establishment of the new endowment at the first College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences Alumni Networking Reception in New York City, which was hosted by Ali Hirsa, M.S. ’93, Civil Engineering and Ph.D. ’98, Applied Mathematics. So is encouraging other alumni to join him in honoring Ott and reaching a $1 million endowment in the next five years.

For more information on the endowment, please contact the CMNS Office of Development at 301.405.9624.

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and six interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.