Virginia Math Bulletin, December 2018

Virginia Math Bulletin, December 2018

Presenting the fifth issue of the Department newsletter: 2018 Virginia Math Bulletin.

View from the Chairs

Greetings friends, old and new. I am writing this after completing my one year-term as the Interim Chair, happy to report that the Department is alive and well!

The stage set by Craig Huneke’s four-year term as the Chair was the one of a department in which the faculty and the students (graduate and undergraduate alike) were pursuing a variety of exciting avenues of the mathematical inquiry, a department committed to exploring new ways of how we teach mathematics (particularly Calculus) by adopting/ redesigning a variety of student-centered, active learning methodologies, as well as a department fully engaged in outreach across the University, the Commonwealth and beyond; hence, it should come as no surprise that the academic year 2017-2018 was a productive one. A glimpse of what transpired can be gained from the rest of the newsletter, in what follows, I will just touch on several highlights.

Our Calculus transformation efforts initiated by Craig and spearheaded by Paul Bourdon received a boost this year by hiring James Rolf who previously served as Director of Quantitative Learning at Yale.

A number of our faculty members received national honors and awards; in particular, Karen Parshall received The Albert Leon Whiteman Memorial Prize of the AMS, Julie Bergner received The Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize of the AWM, Nicholas Kuhn and Weiqiang Wang were inducted in the 2018 Class of the Fellows of AMS, and John Imbrie and Andrei Rapinchuk held their Simons Fellowships in Mathematics.

On the undergraduate side, Grace Dwyer, Kevin Lee and Luca Scerbo were inducted in Phi Beta Kappa and Sebastian Haney was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship. On the graduate side, Mariano Echeverria and Veronica Shalotenko were the recipients of All-University Graduate Teaching Awards and Mike Reeks received Class of 1985 Fellowship for Creative Teaching.

The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMS) experienced a flurry of activity, including two series of Virginia Mathematics Lectures,by Yair Minsky (Yale) in the Fall and Irene Fonseca (Carnegie Mellon) in the Spring, two IMS Special Lectures by Barry Simon (Caltech), an IMS Public Lecture (co-sponsored with Physics) by Jacob Sherson (Aarhus) on citizen science, as well as two workshops. In addition, the public lectures sponsored by theA&S Diversity and Inclusion Grant, awarded to Sara Maloni, sparked the interest of the broader University community; the lectures were given by Moon Duchin (Tufts), Abby Stewart (Michigan) and Henry Segerman (Oklahoma State), addressing the topics of mathematics of gerrymandering, changing departmental culture to be more inclusive, and artistic mathematics, respectively.

On a personal note, I am quite ready to go back to research and teaching as my favorite pastimes. The good news is that John Imbrie is here ready to take our department to the exciting new adventures.

Zoran Grujic

Professor of Mathematics, Interim Chair 2017-2018


I write this note as I begin a three-year term as chair. I am humbled by all that has been accomplished in the department during the five years since my interim chairmanship in 2012-3: four years under Craig Huneke’s guidance, and last year with Zoran Grujic at the helm. There have been quite a few new faculty added over this timespan, and with these additions comes a feeling of anticipation and activity with the new term just around the corner. I know that we are all dedicated to making the department the best it can possibly be, by working as hard as we can to find excellence in new hires and new admissions, and by fostering a nurturing environment for newcomers and veterans alike.

The upcoming year will be a busy one, with a faculty search in the works, several promotions to attend to (a welcome and natural consequence of the hiring we have been doing), and continued expansion of calculus reform (with new faculty member James Rolf joining Paul Bourdon in that effort).

Readers of this newsletter series will see over the last few issues all the momentous changes and accomplishments over these years. My heartfelt thanks goes to Zoran for accepting the chair position during the last year. During this time, I was able to pursue a year of research leave in Princeton, developing exciting ideas and new collaborations that will keep me busy during lulls in department business - assuming there are any! His dedication to the department’s well-being has been evident from the beginning. I realize that every challenge he faced and surmounted during the last year makes my work that much easier. I only hope I can serve the department as well as Craig and Zoran have. With the efforts of our dedicated faculty, staff, and students, and with the support of the Dean’s office and alumni, I have every expectation for another banner year in Kerchof Hall.

John Imbrie

Professor of Mathematics, Chair

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Date published: Wednesday, December 19, 2018