Virginia Math Bulletin, June 2015

Virginia Math Bulletin, June 2015

Presenting the second issue of the Department newsletter: 2015 Virginia Math Bulletin.

View from the Chair

The Mathematics Department had an exciting 2014-15. Our new Institute of Mathematical Sciences began with series of talks by distinguished mathematicians Alex Lubotzky in the Fall and Vaughan Jones in the Spring. We welcomed Yen Do and Leonid Petrov to the the department this year as new Assistant Professors. We had an active season of hiring. Jennifer Morse will be joining us beginning in Fall 2016 as a Full Professor. Thomas Koberda was hired last year, and joins us in Fall 2015. We were fortunate to hire Paul Bourdon, who will become our new Director of Lower Division courses. He brings great experience, super teaching, new ideas and energy to our program. We also hired two postdocs: Aseel Farhat will be a new Whyburn Instructor, and Lloyd West joins us as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Fall 2015.

Not only was 2014-15 a time of transitions in the Mathematics Department, but across Grounds as well. Over last summer, the College of Arts and Sciences welcomed its new Dean, Ian Baucom. We are currently searching for a new Provost who will replace John Simon. John Hawley continues to be our Associate Dean overseeing science departments, including Mathematics.

We also had losses. Last summer Tom Kriete retired, and Mike Hill is leaving to take a professorship at UCLA. We will miss both of them greatly. Luckily, Tom is finishing a book and is in the department often. Sadly last Fall we had a devastating and unexpected loss of our friend and long-time staff administrator, Julie Riddleberger. Many of us from the department were able to attend her memorial service. Although her expertise and institutional memory was unmatched, we are very glad we hired Kimberly Lamal to replace her. We are also excited to welcome Damar Watts, who is in Connie Abell’s old position. The next few years will be a busy time for the department with many new hires and a restructuring of our undergraduate program. Christian Gromoll spearheaded a year-long review of our undergraduate programs, culminating in a long report which details many improvements we will be implementing over the next few years.

Kerchof Hall has been undergoing improvements over the last few years, with office and hallway renovations. This summer, the entire front entrance is undergoing a major facelift and improvement. You may not recognize the building when it is done. This work will close our front entrance for most of the summer.

In this newsletter, you will find articles about some of the research our undergraduates are doing, about the successes of our faculty, and other news of the department. Tai Melcher was promoted to Associate Professor since our last newsletter; Andrei Rapinchuk became the new McConnellBernard Professor of Mathematics and was elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society; and Andrew Obus won an All-University Teaching Award. Congratulations to all of them!

Mathematics and the sciences in general are threatened by large cuts of National Science Foundation funding in both number and size for individual principal investigators. These cuts affect the department, and we are all the more grateful for the gifts of people who contribute to our general gift fund and endowment to allow us to sustain and improve our many activities. Thank you for your generosity.

Craig Huneke

Marvin Rosenblum Professor of Mathematics

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Date published: Monday, June 1, 2015