Newsletter Volume 18 Spring 2012
This has been an unusual year in Minnesota. Winter forgot
us, depositing but a single snowfall of any note, followed by
an early and gradual spring (unlike our usual seasonal step
function). Let’s hope it does not presage an unseasonably
hot summer. Life in the department has also continued to
heat up, with an ever expanding range of activities and
initiatives, spearheaded by both younger faculty and
veterans. I am truly proud to be a member of such a high
profile, innovative, and active mathematics program.
The past two years included unprecedentedly active hiring
seasons, during which we landed 8 new regular faculty. In
2010-11, besides the 3 tenure track assistant professors
mentioned in last years’ newsletter, Jasmine Foo, Haoi-
Minh Nguyen, and Kai Wen Lan (who will start this coming
fall), we also hired a new tenured associate professor,
Svitlana Mayboroda, who works in partial differential
equations and applications. This year we hired two tenure
track assistant professors: Arnab Sen, a probabilist currently
at Cambridge University, UK, and Craig Westerland, a
topologist currently at the University of Adelaide, Australia,
as well as two tenured associate professors: Benjamin
Brubaker, in number theory and combinatorics, currently at
MIT, and Dmitriy Bilyk, in analysis and applications, at the
University of South Carolina and visiting here the past year.
All are outstanding hires, and most welcome additions to
our faculty. Regrettably, Marta Lewicka, who joined the
department in 2005, left us last summer for the University
of Pittsburgh; we all wish her well. Also, sadly, Emeritus
Professor David Storvick, a long-time and valued member
of our faculty, passed away last fall; he will be sorely missed.
In summary, while we have made significant progress
towards rebuilding the department to its accustomed
size, ever-increasing student demand, particularly at
the advanced undergraduate level, means that we
In other hiring news, Mike Weimerskirch will be joining
the Department as our Lower Division Math Coordinator
— a new position that reports to the Director of
Undergraduate Studies, and involves advising
mathematics majors during the first part of their studies,
streamlining the placement process, coordinating lower
level mathematics courses, etc. Mike is a 2007
Minnesota Ph.D. in probability, having obtained his
degree under Bert Fristedt. This year, we also hired 8
new postdocs, whose interests include financial math,
dynamical systems, combinatorics, and applications.
Our faculty continues to rack up an impressive variety
of recognitions and awards, underscoring the
Department’s overall strength in all three of its
missions: research, teaching and service. These
include: Adrian Diaconu and Gilad Lerman, who were
both promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with
tenure. Anar Akhmedov was awarded a Sloan Research
Fellowship, the only award in the entire University of
Minnesota this year. Andrew Odlyzko was elected both
to a three year term as Vice-President of the American
Mathematical Society and as a Fellow of the
International Association for Cryptologic Research.
Sergey Bobkov and Alexander Voronov, who will both
be on sabbatical, were named Simons Fellows in
Mathematics. Dennis Stanton was honored by a
special issue of the journal Advances in Applied
Mathematics for his contributions to combinatorics,
special functions, and orthogonal polynomials. Chester
Miracle and Bryan Mosher each received Outstanding
Professor Awards from the College of Science and
Engineering, while Paul Garrett received an Outstanding
Faculty Award from the University of Minnesota Council
of Graduate Students.
Another indication of the faculty’s impact is the steady
increase in the number and size of grants awarded to
faculty the School of Mathematics (not counting the
IMA) from a variety of sources, the total amount of
which exceeds $10M. Meanwhile, the Department
continues to receive worldwide recognition for its
stature and achievements. For example, the UK Times
Higher Education magazine ranked the School of
Mathematics fourth in the world by citation impact,
while the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities
rated us #11 in the world overall and #3 among public
Concurrently, our students are being honored for their
achievements and promise. Current graduate students
John Goes, Ryan Goh, and Derek Olson have each
been awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships. As a result,
there will be 5 NSF fellowships held by our graduate
students next year, a five-fold increase over any previous
time! Another grad student, Jered Bright, received an
Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from the College of
Science and Engineering. Our undergraduates are also
excelling: Honorees include Grant Remmen, a senior in the
University Honors Program, who was awarded both a Hertz
Fellowship and an NSF Graduate Fellowship, and Xavier
Eduardo Garcia, a junior, who received the Trjitzinsky
Scholarship Award from the American Mathematical Society.
And, among our many highly successful graduates, Irene
Fonseca, who received her Ph.D. here in 1985 under David
Kinderlehrer, and is now at Carnegie Mellon University, has
been elected president of the Society for Industrial and
Applied Mathematics. (Our own Doug Arnold previously
served as SIAM president from 2009-10.) Another noteworthy
former Minnesota student (of whom I am particularly proud)
of is my son, Sheehan Olver, who is the subject of an article
within this Newsletter.
Despite my many administrative duties as Department
Head, I am still able to find time to remain active in research,
with the vital assistance of students, postdocs, visitors, and
other collaborators. I am particularly enthusiastic about a
recent paper coauthored with one of my undergraduate REU
students, Daniel Hoff, now in the Ph.D. program at the
University of California at San Diego, in which we apply
moving frames and differential geometry to design a new
algorithm for the automatic assembly of jigsaw puzzles. As
I write, I am looking forward to the arrival of my family along
with many friends, colleagues, students, collaborators, and
other researchers from around the world for a conference
on May 17-20 in honor of my 60-th birthday. I confess that I
have not completely reconciled myself to having already
reached this milestone, and certainly don’t feel that old. In
particular, I must thank Willard Miller, former Head of
Department, now emeritus professor, (and one of the main
reasons why I am here in Minnesota), as well as the
organizing committee and staff for all their hard work putting
together what promises to be a lively and highly successful
It goes without saying that none of this would be possible
without the outstanding service and support provided by our
department administrators. Dick McGehee, as Director of
Graduate Studies, and Bryan Mosher, as Director of
Undergraduate Studies, continue to do yeoman service
raising the quality and sweep of their respective programs.
Arnd Scheel has easily adapted to his new role as Associate
Head. Our centers continue to go from strength to strength,
thanks to their superb Directors: Rina Ashkenazi and Laurie
Derechin at MCFAM, Dan Spirn at MCIM, and Jon Rogness
at MathCEP. Their reports later in the newsletter contain
full descriptions of all their activities. And last, but most
definitely not least, I rely every day on our exceptionally
dedicated and professional office staff for keeping everything,
including me, on track. Thanks to everyone for their role in
making this such a well running department.
Thanks as always for your continued interest in and support
of the School of Mathematics. If you have any comments,
questions, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to stop
by, call, or send me email.
Welcome to New Faculty
Jasmine Foo is joining us this year in the School of
Mathematics as an assistant professor. She is an applied
mathematician focused on modeling and analysis of
biological systems. Her work includes using stochastic
processes and population genetics to answer fundamental
questions about the evolution of cancer cell populations,
diversity in exponentially
growing populations, the
impact of treatment on drug
resistance, and escape from
Jasmine and her family
(parents and a brother)
moved to the United States
from Malaysia when she was
four. The family moved
around a lot within the U.S.
during her childhood. She
was often tested to figure out her grade and ended up
skipping a few. She started high school at age 12 and
graduated three years later.
At 15 she matriculated at Brown with the initial aim of
studying history or anthropology. She eventually switched
her major to physics and math after taking two particularly
inspiring courses in her sophomore year: a physics course
(special relativity and quantum mechanics) and a math
course (abstract algebra). As an undergraduate she also
had some formative research experiences working for two
years in an experimental cosmology lab studying cosmic
microwave background radiation, under the direction of
In the summer before her senior year at Brown she
participated in a physics REU program at the Fermi Institute
of the University of Chicago, studying instabilities under
conditions found in Type Ia supernovae with Robert Rosner
as her advisor. On Rosner’s advice she investigated the
Brown applied math program when she returned in the fall.
There she met George Karniadakis who became her advisor
on a senior independent study project in numerical analysis.
She enjoyed this project a lot and Karniadakis encouraged
her to go to graduate school in applied math.
She entered the applied math program at Brown in 2002 to
study numerical PDEs with Karniadakis. During her thesis
she worked mainly on the development and analysis of
stochastic spectral methods, a class of numerical methods
for treating PDEs with stochastic parameters. She also
worked in applications to computational solid and fluid
mechanics, studying fluid-structure interactions and vortex-
induced vibrations in particular.
As part of her graduate DOE fellowship, she would attend
yearly meetings in Washington, DC at which 10-15 fellows
would give talks to present their work. There, from her peers
working in computational biology, she learned about intriguing
if not very “well-nailed down” problems in mathematical biology
to which her stochastic numerical methods were potentially
applicable. This became so interesting to her that she began
shifting her focus to biology in her last year of PhD work.
Upon getting her degree in 2008, she jumped professionally
into mathematical biology. She took a postdoctoral position at
Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York, where she was able to
learn a lot of biology in an immersive environment. There she
worked on the development of mathematical models of cancer
evolution, and towards the application of these models to
improve clinical outcomes. In addition to her advisor, Franziska
Michor, she collaborated with Rick Durrett (Duke), William Pao
(a thoracic oncologist at Vanderbilt), and several other excellent
researchers. Sloan Kettering was an exciting place to work and
collaborate with clinicians and experimental biologists, but it
had the downside of lacking direct access to math journals. To
keep herself supplied with math references she relied on JStor
and a network of good friends at various math departments she
could bug for papers. In 2010 her advisor’s group moved to
Harvard, where Jasmine had a joint appointment at the Dana-
Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard biostatistics department.
Jasmine arrived in Minnesota in Fall 2011. She is enjoying the
camaraderie on her hallway and the stimulating atmosphere in
the math department. She lives in St Paul halfway between the
downtowns with two cats and her husband, Kevin Leder who is
also a professor at the U. of M., in the ISYE program.
Svitlana Mayboroda joined the faculty of the School of
Mathematics this fall. She works in the area of partial differential
Svitlana was born in Kharkov, Ukraine
and grew up there. She was a child when
the Soviet Union broke down. Her
parents, both trained as physicists in the
Soviet era, took up other careers after
She started school in the second grade
(skipping the first), went to high school
at age 14, entered college at age 16 and
graduated at age 19 with two degrees at
roughly master’s level, one in applied mathematics from Kharkov
University and the other an MBA with finance emphasis from
the Kharkov Institute of Social Progress.
All during her high school and college years she held down
various jobs, some nearly full time. In particular, she worked in a
publishing house and co-authored six educational books,
solution manuals and so forth.
Svitlana’s mathematical interests developed in a direction
influenced by the strongest areas of mathematics in Kharkov,
and the mathematical traditions handed down from the Soviet
era: analysis, functional analysis, partial differential equations,
singular integrals and mathematical physics. She also
cultivated an interest in physics.
She was 20 years old when she first arrived in the U.S., to
begin PhD studies at the University of Missouri. Her advisor
was Marius Mitrea. In her thesis she studied the Poisson
problem on Lipschitz domains and the mapping properties
of Green’s potentials on such domains. She was awarded
the PhD in 2005. Collaboration with Steve Hoffman of
University of Missouri began during her student days and
continues to the present.
After getting her degree she got a postdoctoral position at
Ohio State. Vladimir Maz’ya was a mentor at Ohio State.
Collaboration with Maz’ya on a project concerning
properties of higher order elliptic operators began then and
continues to the present.
While officially at Ohio State, she took two leaves, half a
year to the Australian National University, to work with Alan
McIntosh, and half a year to Brown. Collaboration with Jill
Pipher of Brown on the properties of elliptic operators with
rough coefficients began at that time and continues to the
present. It is a joint project also involving Carlos Kenig
from the University of Chicago and Steve Hoffman.
In the last couple of years Svitlana has started to work with
physicists. Her project with Marcel Filoche from Ecole
Polytechnique is related to localization of vibrations in
irregular and disordered systems.
She spent one month at the beginning of 2012 in Paris on
a CNRS scholarship and probably will return to Paris for
another stint in the fall. In Paris she has been
collaborating with Guy David and Pascal Auscher at
Paris-Sud (Orsay) on several projects in harmonic
analysis and geometric measure theory, one of them
intimately connected to the work in physics with Marcel
Svitlana speaks Russian, Ukrainian, English and French,
along with some Spanish and some Italian, and uses these
skills on her frequent and wide travels. She loves to
travel: she has visited most countries of Western Europe
and many others.
She has been awarded a Sloan fellowship and an NSF career
She has had one PhD student who stayed at Purdue and
will graduate next year. At Purdue has she supervised two
undergraduates participating in an REU (Research
Experience for Undergraduates), and has agreed next year
to supervise a student taking part in UROP (Undergraduate
Research Opportunity Program). She is also working with a
Somehow Svitlana also found time for training in classical
ballet and she keeps practicing now although with so much
travel she cannot rehearse as much as she would like. She
also plays the piano.
Hoai Minh Nguyen
Our colleague Hoai-Minh Nguyen was born in 1979 in Vietnam.
His research is focused on partial differential equations, Sobolev
spaces, calculus of variations, material science, and numerical
He grew up and was
educated in Ho Chi Minh
City up to and including
degree. But all his
was obtained in France.
To get the opportunity to
study in France, he took
three exams administered
by professors from the
Ecole Polytechnique in French language, math and physics.
The exam was very competitive.
Hoai-Minh went to France in 2001. For the first two months he
stayed in Grenoble with a French family and had a crash course
in French. Then he studied for two years at E.P. to get a (second)
undergraduate-level degree in mathematics and applied
mathematics. For his undergraduate thesis, in applied
mathematics, he received an award in September 2003, an award
given to only two students in applied mathematics per year.
During 2003-2004 he studied to get his M.S. in numerical analysis
at Paris VI. He was supported by an “excellence fellowship”
from the French government, and graduated with highest honors.
In the years 2004-2007 he studied again at Paris VI to get his
PhD. His PhD advisor was Haim Brezis. Again he studied on a
fellowship from the French government and graduated with
highest honors. His thesis concerned new estimates for the
topological degree and new characterizations of Sobolev spaces.
He was married in 2005 while studying for the PhD.
After getting his PhD he went to Rutgers 2007-2008, continuing
to work with Brezis. He worked also with Michael Vogelius and
Bert Peletier. With Peletier he studied math for medical
pharmacodynamics which, roughly speaking, studies the best
dose of a drug, which is interesting because both too large and
too small doses can have no or bad effects.
He went to the Institute for Advanced Study for academic year
2008-2009 to take part in the geometric PDE program. He and his
wife had their daughter that July in Princeton.
He then spent the period 2009-2011 in New York as an instructor
at the Courant Institute. Among his advisors and collaborators
at Courant were Fang-Hua Lin, Bob Kohn, Jalal Shatah and
While at Courant he took a class in calculus of variations taught
by several distinguished instructors (Kohn, Lin, Shatah and
also Lai-Sang Young). There Hoai-Minh has started a new line
of research in calculus of variations and negative index materials.
Hoai-Minh joined the department last September. He enjoys
very much the academic environment. He keeps working on his
Dunham Jackson was a distinguished member of the faculty
of the University of Minnesota from 1919 to 1946. The
postdoctoral research assistant professorships in the
School of Mathematics are named after Jackson.
This article is a gloss on a biography
of Jackson prepared for the National
Academy of Sciences by William L.
Hart, a former chair of our department.
Remarks in quotes below are taken
directly from the biography by Hart.
The whole biography (from which we
also took the photograph) can be
found at this site.
Dunham Jackson was born July 24, 1888 in Bridgewater,
Massachusetts. He descended from Mayflower stock on
both sides and was raised a Congregationalist. His
upbringing was both enlightened and strict.
“To get around the Puritan prohibition of study on Sunday,
he once developed the bright idea of utilizing his father’s
collection of Bibles in foreign languages and read the
gospels in Greek as a legally religious and also intellectually
advantageous Sabbath diversion.”
He entered Harvard at 16, and was distinguished not only
in math but also astronomy, chemistry, physics, and
languages, both ancient and modern. He wrote his first
paper at that time - in algebra - under the tutelage of Maxime
After obtaining both the B.A. and M.A. in mathematics at
Harvard, Jackson traveled to Germany in 1909 to study for
his Ph.D. at the University of Goettingen. It was then a
golden age at Goettingen: David Hilbert, Felix Klein,
Edmund Landau and Ernst Zermelo were all active there in
teaching and research. Edmund Landau became Jackson’s
Ph.D. advisor. Jackson’s thesis concerned trigonometric
polynomial approximations to functions under various
smoothness hypotheses. Topics related to his thesis were
the main focus of his research for the rest of his life.
Halfway during his stay in Europe he had polio, which
caused a permanent lameness in one foot. He nonetheless
managed to get around gamely for the rest of his life.
He kept a diary in Goettingen full of philosophical
reflections and the occasional quip of his professors.
“. . . Hurwitz’s pun last night: ‘What is the shape of a kiss?
- It’s ellip-tical.’ “
But the diary did not contain any personal revelations, in
keeping with Jackson’s general reticence about personal
After the award of his Ph.D. from Goettingen, Jackson
returned in 1911 to Harvard to take up an instructorship.
There he remained until the United States entered World War I
in 1917, at which time he was commissioned as a captain in the
ordnance department of the Army. There he and several of his
Harvard colleagues served the war effort by computing tables
for aiming big guns. (A copy of a pamphlet on numerical
integration produced by Jackson for the Army along with a
copy of his thesis - written in German - are in the University of
Minnesota’s library.) In 1919 he resigned his commission in the
army and returned to Harvard.
In the spring of 1919 Jackson was offered an appointment as
Professor of Mathematics in the College of Science, Literature
and Arts at the University of Minnesota. The ‘’hard sell’’ was
applied both by President Marion Leroy Burton and chairman
William H. Bussey of the mathematics department. Even though
Jackson’s future at Harvard seemed bright, he decided to make
the move, having been offered, besides a large increase in rank,
an unparalleled opportunity to develop advanced mathematics
at the University more or less from scratch, as well as freedom
from routine administrative chores.
Around this time Jackson married. He and his wife raised two
daughters in Minnesota. Jackson viewed Minnesota as an
excellent place to raise a family and became a naturalized
Jackson’s reticence about personal matters was not combined
with stiffness or formality.
“At the University of Minnesota he transmitted this habit [of
using first names] to members of his department, so that it
became noted for its exceptionally friendly atmosphere, among
both students and teachers.”
Jackson felt it was a mathematician’s duty to transmit as much
knowledge as possible starting from minimal prerequisites and
followed this principle in almost all his course offerings. He
was a gifted and popular teacher at all levels. He enjoyed
teaching elementary calculus very much and would have taught
the course every year had he not been persuaded by his friend
Hart to teach it only every third year.
He was active and took a leadership role in many professional
societies, in particular the AMS (American Mathematical
Society) and MAA (Mathematical Association of America). Of
the latter he was in fact a charter member. He was elected a
member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1935 and around
the same time won the Chauvenet prize of the MAA for
At age 52, seemingly in robust good health, Jackson suffered a
severe heart attack. For a couple years afterwards he could
maintain a more or less normal life but thereafter was in steep
decline. He nonetheless continued to supervise PhD students
and graduated several during that period. (He had 21 in total.)
He died November 6, 1946 at age 58.
The Dunham Jackson assistant professorships are a fitting
memorial to one who contributed very much to his department,
his profession and to the lives of his many students at all levels
of mathematical attainment.
MathSciNet lists two books by Jackson: (i) Fourier series and
orthogonal polynomials, reprint of 1941 original, Dover, 2004
and (ii) The theory of approximation, reprint of the 1930 original,
Our colleague Arnd Scheel was born in the town of Wissen,
in the Federal Republic of Germany. Eventually, Arnd’s family
(mother, father and brother) moved not far from Wissen, to
Koblenz, in the Rhine valley, where his father worked at a
school administrative center and his mother was an
elementary school teacher. The
Mosel and Rhine flow together
at Koblenz. The famous Lorelei
rock is nearby, as is the
Marksburg, the only castle along
that part of the Rhine that was
never conquered or destroyed.
Arnd’s parents, originally both
teachers, were roughly from this
same area of Germany. They came
from very poor families and grew
up in the much-straitened
circumstances of postwar Germany. Arnd says he doesn’t
know anyone in his parents’ families who ever went to
college, except for his parents, who both had two-year
Arnd played chess as a youngster, in a school club, but
says he was never really good at it. It was very annoying
playing tournaments: the main weapon was to blow smoke
right in your face. Chess matches took up whole Saturday
afternoons. They were not so rewarding. One of the smoke-
blowers was a high school friend of Arnd’s who later went
into computer science.
Arnd was an undergraduate at the University of Heidelberg
(Karl Ruprecht University). Klaus Gerhardt was one of his
first teachers at the university and a good one. (Gerhardt
has had several excellent Ph.D. students, among them
Gerhard Huisken and Klaus Ecker.) As is typical for entry-
level math courses in Germany, almost everything in
Gerhardt’s class was done with proof - the only thing Arnd
recalls NOT being proved was the Hahn-Banach theorem.
One of the earliest homework problems in Gerhardt’s class
was to find the closest point on a closed convex set in
Hilbert space, which is easy only if you know (or can
rediscover) the parallelogram identity.
According to Arnd, the German system in which he came
up was elitist without being extremely selective about
admissions. Weaker students would just get lost because
the system required a very high level without providing
feedback or assistance. The routine for beginning students
was simply to hand in homework for four semesters and
then to take three oral exams; after that the only further
exams would be in the fifth year for the master’s degree. The
attrition under this system was enormous: Arnd’s entering
class of roughly 200 was by the third semester cut down to
Arnd passed his first battery of exams after three semesters
and started a master’s thesis with an advisor in Heidelberg.
(That advisor was Bernold Fiedler who a few years later
would become Arnd’s Ph.D. advisor in Berlin.) But Arnd
was struck with the wanderlust, and being still pretty close
to home in Heidelberg, wanted to move. His advisor suggested
France and had some connections there. In terms of money it
was a simple solution (if he avoided Paris). Arnd already spoke
French fluently because he had grown up in a part of Germany
where most students learn French in high school. And since
Arnd was already into rock-climbing at that age, the lure of
beaches, mountains and cliffs was strong. So Arnd never
finished at Heidelberg. Instead, he entered the fifth year
program at the University of Nice, earning a master’s degree at
the Institut Nonlineaire de Nice (INLN) under the direction of
After Arnd got his degree in Nice he decided to return to
Germany for his Ph.D. His advisor Fiedler in the meantime had
moved to Stuttgart, so Arnd followed, and wrote down a sketch
of his future Ph.D. thesis. Then his advisor got a different job
in Berlin, and happy to get out of the hated Stuttgart, Arnd
followed again, ultimately getting his Ph.D. in Berlin at the Free
University. His dissertation concerned differential equations
and dynamical systems. (Arnd’s research today continues in
the same area.) After getting his degree, Arnd stuck around in
Berlin, and got his “habilitation,” a kind of super-Ph.D.
In 2001 Arnd took the job in Minnesota after applying around
the world. On arrival the then-head of the department handed
him a copy of Boyce-diPrima and sent him straight to the
classroom, saying “here’s the book, go do it.’’ He took the
initial shock in stride. Besides teaching he has ventured into
administration. Currently the associate head of the department,
he has previously served for three years as associate director
of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA).
Arnd mentioned that the one written exam he took in his whole
college life was in Nice, on spectral methods in fluid mechanics
numerics. For that he said he memorized some recursions for
Chebychev polynomials, passed the exam, and quickly forgot
all that stuff - the effort got him nothing. He is wary of putting
students through similar cycles of memorization and
regurgitation. He thinks that while students in the U.S. need to
study a lot more mathematics, what they really ought to be
learning often is NOT the stuff we are teaching. For instance,
Arnd points to the emphasis on series solutions in the course
on applied differential equations as an example where we teach
easily testable algebraic manipulations rather than an
understanding of the solutions of differential equations. The
way he put it was that a student who knows her series solutions
will still be ill prepared to judge the effect of killing cormorants
on the fish population in Lake Minnetonka.
Outside the mathematics department, raising a small child and
playing the piano are among Arnd’s main activities. In younger
life he was much into mountaineering and rock-climbing but
parenthood and a flat landscape largely rule that out now. He
nonetheless continues to enjoy outdoor activities, principally
canoeing and hiking with family in the Boundary Waters, on
the St. Croix, around Hayward, etc. Canoeing and also ice-
skating are hobbies that he has cultivated since arriving in
Minnesota, these being better suited to prairie life. Among
piano composers, Arnd lists Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, and
Schubert as favorites and then jumping forward to the 20th
century lists Bartok and Shostakovitch as well.
School of Mathematics Center for Educational Purposes (MathCEP)
UMTYMP continues to be a very popular program, with
the largest number of students in years registered to take
our qualifying exam this spring. In recent years we have
dealt with record enrollments in both the high school levecourses, such as algebra, and the college level calculucourses. The larger student population creates both
administrative and instructional challenges, but this is a
good problem to have and it is gratifying to know the program
is highly valued by the community. Our teacher professionadevelopment and enrichment programs are also healthy. Oulargest enrichment program is still Girls Excel in Math (GEM)which serves nearly 300 girls in grades 4-6 from 18 urban
and suburban schools throughout the Twin Cities metro
Three students (Matthew Brown, Alex Fisher and Lauren
Sawallisch) began the center’s MS in Mathematics with an
Emphasis in Math Education degree this fall. Three other
students are in the second (and final) year of the program.
Jim Kolles finished his Master’s degree in December; Jered
Bright and Patrick Fingerson will complete their degrees at
the end of this year.
MathCEP’s postdoctoral staff is in a state of transition.
Last spring Rebecca Schmitz finished her appointment and
accepted a job at Michigan Tech, where she has already
won a teaching award. Our current postdoc, Justin
Sukiennik, has accepted a position beginning Fall 2012 at
Colby College in Maine - his alma mater! To fill their shoes,
we hired two new postdocs who will begin this fall. Jane
Butterfield is finishing her degree in graph theory at the
University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). David Clark is
joining us from Michigan Tech, where he studied coding
theory and finite geometries. We look forward to the
enthusiasm and fresh ideas they will bring to our program.
Five years ago the Mathematical Association of America
began a fundraising campaign in which donors sponsor an
inscribed brick in the “Paul Halmos Commemorative Walk”
outside of the MAA’s Carriage House in Washington, DC.
In a much appreciated gesture, Emeritus Professor Alfred
Aeppli donated a brick in honor of UMTYMP before passing
away in 2008. Last year
attended a meeting at
the MAA headquarters
and was able to see the
brick in person for the
The 14th Rivière-Fabe symposium took place April 15-17, 2012.
The two hour speakers were Hitoshi Ishii (Waseda University,
Japan) and Michael Taylor (University of North Carolina).
The one hour speakers were Xiaochun Li (University of Illinois),
Yvan Martel (University of Versailles), Robert McCann
(University of Toronto) and Susanna Terracini (University of
The Organizing Committee consisted of Markus Keel, Nicolai
Krylov, Marta Lewicka, Peter Poláèik, Fernando Reitich, Mikhail
Safonov (chair), Daniel Spirn, and Vladimir Šverák.
The Symposium was sponsored by the NSF, the Rivière-Fabes
Fund at the University of Minnesota, and the IMA through
their Participating Institution Conference Program.
For more detailed information, see the website:
Minnesota Center for Financial & Actuarial Mathematics (MCFAM)
Since MCFAM was launched 20 months ago, the program has
grown to 280 students: 90 in the Master of Financial Mathematics
(MFM) program and 190 in the undergraduate Actuarial program.
Undergraduate enrollment this year is 35% greater than last year.
We have expanded the actuarial curriculum in several ways. One
credit was added to Math 4065 to include Derivatives Markets.
Preparatory workshops for the first two Actuarial exams, P and
FM, were offered in the current academic year. A new Writing
Intensive course (Math 4067W - Actuarial Mathematics in
Practice) was developed and launched in Spring 2012. This
course engages students in real world actuarial projects and is
led by practicing actuaries from local companies (Travelers,
Allianz, United Health Group / Mercer).
Over the past year there were new MFM initiatives. Seventeen
students were involved in projects with 3 local quantitative
finance firms. The MFM Advisory Board and Faculty are working
on curriculum enhancements and a new MCFAM Post Doc,
Elisabeth Kemajou from Southern Illinois University,
Carbondale, was hired.
The MCFAM Distinguished Lecture Series was launched
in 2011 with lectures by acclaimed academicians from the
fields of Actuarial Science and Financial Mathematics. Prof.
Mary Hardy, the CIBC Chair in Financial Risk Management
at the University of Waterloo gave a lecture on
Communicating Applied Research in Actuarial Science. On
March 30th Prof. Marco Avellaneda from Courant Institute
of Mathematical Sciences gave a lecture on “Quantitative
Hedge-Funds and Strategies: Myths and Realities”.
Substantial attention has been paid to career development
and student placements. The Fall MCFAM Financial and
Actuarial Mathematics Career Fair at TCF Stadium was a
highlight event. About 200 students, 26 employers and 50
employer representatives participated. In addition, we held
4 major events to connect our students with industry
of the MFM
were looking for
jobs during the
past 20 months
placed; and 65%
of the non-
held internships. Another 40% of our 2012 Actuarial
undergraduate seniors already have Actuarial jobs and
The next time you are on campus, please plan to drop by
IMA’s new quarters. The IMA’s main offices are now located
on the third floor of Lind Hall. The new space, which houses
staff and visitors, will be the new “front office” of the IMA.
One of the more interesting features in the remodeled space
is the “Math Wall”, a wall of about 30 feet in length that is
filled with mathematical equations submitted by IMA friends.
We are presently wrapping up the IMA Annual Thematic
year on “Mathematics of Information” wherein the focus
has been on analysis of big data. The IMA was a hub of
activity in this important area attracting visitors from
mathematics, computer science, statistics, and engineering.
The annual program for 2012-2013 is on “Infinite Dimensional
and Stochastic Dynamical Systems and their Applications”.
The theory of infinite dimensional dynamical systems is a
vibrant field that has become central to the study of complex
physical, biological, and societal processes. In parallel there
has been an explosion of activity in stochastic or random
dynamics, with new results on invariant manifolds, global
attractors, and invariant measures for such systems. Taking
stochastic effects into account is of central importance for
the modeling complex phenomena with inherent uncertainty. The
IMA will be buzzing with activities around these two inter-related
topics. As in previous years, there will be a large community of
long-term visitors at the IMA during the year.
The Second Abel Conference, this one
in honor of John Milnor, took place in
February 2012. This series of
conferences is a collaboration between
the IMA and the Norwegian Academy
of Science and Letters, and features
the work of the Abel Laureate. Milnor,
who received the Abel Prize in 2011,
was cited for his “pioneering
discoveries in topology, geometry and
algebra,” by the prize committee.
Starting this summer the IMA is an REU (Research Experience
for Undergraduates) site. In this collaboration with Macalester
College, the IMA selects 12 Math students to work in teams of 4
on interdisciplinary projects. In its first year, the unique program
attracted more than 120 applications.
Visitors to the IMA home page probably noticed the new look
that we implemented this year. We hope that the new web page
makes it easier to
find out all the
activities offered by
the IMA, and also to
get to resources
such as the videos
and slides of
at the IMA. We
Remembering Former Colleagues
Edward T. Cline
Edward T. Cline died peacefully in Norman, Oklahoma, on March
23, 2012. He started his career in Minnesota when he came to
the School of Mathematics as an Assistant Professor in 1966,
having just obtained his Ph.D. from Caltech under Marshall
Hall Jr. He left Minnesota in 1972 to go to the University of
Virginia, after which he went to Clark University in 1975.
Subsequently he moved to the University of Oklahoma in 1989
where he was a member of the faculty until his retirement in
During his time at Minnesota, Ed’s research work was on finite
groups and their representations, extending the direction that
his thesis had taken. In 1972 this direction changed slightly
when he started a collaboration with Brian Parshall and Len
Scott which was to last 40 years. The three authors, collectively
known as CPS, produced 28 papers that were to have a very
substantial impact on representation theory, notably of algebraic
groups and of abstract algebras. Their work was
distinguished not just by its depth, but also by its broad
and innovative perspective, with many of their techniques
and concepts becoming standard. It was quite possibly the
longest three-author collaboration there has ever been in
the history of mathematics.
During the last 11 years of his life Ed battled against dementia
and Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his wife, children
Emeritus Professor of Mathematics David A. Storvick passed
away in Minneapolis on November 5, 2011. David was a
distinguished member of the
School of Mathematics, and a
recognized researcher in the fields
of complex analysis and
mathematical physics. He
received a Ph.D. degree in
mathematics from the University
of Michigan in 1956 as a student
of Arthur Lohwater. After two
years at Iowa State University, David joined the CLA
Mathematics Department in 1957 as an assistant professor.
He spent the rest of his career at Minnesota, being promoted
to associate professor in 1961 and to full professor in 1966.
He enjoyed three sabbaticals, during which he visited the
University of Wisconsin, Imperial College, London, and the
University of York. During his career, he published 39 papers
in top level research journals, many of them written with
another former colleague, Robert Cameron. David’s research
accomplishments led to many invitations to speak at
conferences throughout the world.
David was particularly active in service to the Departmenand University. He served as Associate Head of the Schooof Mathematics from 1964-70. He served as Associate Dean
of the Institute of Technology from 1979-83 and then again
from 1993-94. He served as Acting Director of the Gray Fresh
Water Biological Institute from 1989-90. He also served
several terms in the Faculty Senate and on University Senate
committees. After many years of dedicated teachingresearch, and service, David retired in 2004.
He will be missed by his colleagues and friends here in
Awards and Recognition
Graduate Students Awarded NSF
Current graduate students John Goes, Ryan Goh, and Derek
Olson have all been awarded NSF Graduate Research
Fellowships. The Fellowships provide tuition and a
generous stipend for three years of support. Another NSF
grad fellowship went to Grant Remmen, an undergraduate
honors student majoring in astrophysics, physics, and
Professor Andrew Odlyzko has been elected a Fellow of the
IACR, the worldwide society for crypto research, which has
fewer than 5% of its membership as fellows. IACR's selection of
fellows is based on "technical contributions and distinguished
service to the cryptologic community". Prof. Odlyzko's research
interests include computational complexity, cryptography,
number theory, combinatorics, coding theory, analysis,
probability theory, ecommerce, and economics of data networks.
Prof. Andrew Odlyzko was elected to be Vice-President of the
American Mathematical Society, beginning in 2012 for a three
kun Zheng, Stochastic Fluctuations in Signaling, Gene
Control and Pattern Formation, Hans Othmer, advisor; Visiting
Assistant Professor, University of California-Irvine, Department
of Mathematics, Irvina, CA.
year term. The American Mathematical Society, founded in 1888
to further the interests of mathematical research and scholarship,
has over 30,000 individuals and 570 institutional members in the
U.S. and around the world.
Remmen Awarded Hertz Fellowship
Grant Remmen, a senior in the University Honors Program, has
been awarded a prestigious Hertz Fellowship to support his
future graduate studies. Considered to be the nation’s most
prestigious and generous support for graduate education in
applied sciences and engineering, the Hertz Fellowship is valued
at more than $250,000 per student, with support lasting up to
five years. Grant will graduate summa cum laude from the College
of Science and Engineering this spring with majors in
astrophysics, physics, and mathematics. More details about Mr.
Remmen's award are on the CSE website.
Assistant Professor Anar Akhmedov, has been awarded a
prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for 2012-2014. The Sloan
award is "... to stimulate fundamental research by early-career
scientists and scholars of outstanding promise." Anar's research
specialty is low dimensional topology and symplectic topology.
Prof. Irene Fonseca, the Mellon College of Science Professor of
Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, has been elected
president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
(SIAM). Prof. Fonseca obtained her Ph.D. degree in Mathematics
at the University of Minnesota in 1985 under the direction of
Prof. David Kinderlehrer, now also at Carnegie Mellon University.
SIAM is the leading professional organization for applied and
industrial mathematics, with over 13,000 individual members and
almost 500 institutional members worldwide.
Sergey Bobkov and Alexander Voronox
Professors Sergey Bobkov and Alexander Voronov were both
named Simons Fellows in Mathematics for 2012-13 by the SimonFoundation.
Prof. Bobkov's project is on "High Dimensional Phenomena and
Information Theory", and will be undertaken at Yale University,
University Paris 6, University of Bielefeld, and Tel Aviv University.
Prof. Voronov's project is on "Categorical Foundations of
Topological Quantum Field Theory", and will be pursued at the
Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the
University of Tokyo, where he has the position of Visiting Senior
Scientist, and IHES, France..
Garcia Receives Scholarship from AMS
Xavier Eduardo Garcia received the Trjitzinsky Scholarship
Award from the American Mathematical Society (AMS).
Xavier moved to the U.S. from Colombia when he was twelve
years old. He is a mathematics major in the University
Honors Program, serves as a tutor in the Multicultural
Center for Academic Excellence on campus, and intends to
pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics.
Volume 46 of the journal Advances in Applied Mathematics
is a Special Issue in honor of Dennis Stanton, in recognition
of his fundamental research in combinatorics, special
functions, and orthogonal polynomials. The volume
includes a tribute to Dennis, a summary of his career,
testimonials, and a list of his publications. The Guest Editors
are Mourad Ismail, Eric Koelink, and Victor Reiner.
Minnesota Center for Industrial Mathematics (MCIM)
The aim of the Minnesota Center for Industrial Mathematics
(MCIM) is to develop and maintain the department’s ties to
mathematicians and researchers working in industry and at
The centerpiece of the MCIM is the joint IMA/MCIM Industrial
Problems Seminar. This seminar series is designed to give
students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty members contact with
the types of mathematical challenges that arise at companies
and labs. This year the seminar hosted a wide range of speakers
including Diane Lambert (Google Research), Bonnie Ray (IBM’s
Watson Research Center), Linda Ness (Telcordia), Brian
Stankiewicz (3M), Brian Donahue (National Institute for
Standards and Technology), Aria Abubakar (Schlumberger Doll
Research), and Ajaykumar Rajasekharan (Seagate Technology).
Among the many themes arising in the lecture series was the
need for robust mathematical techniques to handle large data
sets, the role of mathematics in the design of sophisticated
devices, and the use of mathematics to better predict complex
Along with bring leading researchers working industry, MCIM
aims to match graduate students with summer internships at
leading companies. This year several graduate students applied
for opportunities, and as of this point two of our graduate
students have been selected for internships at Schlumberger
Doll Research and Boston Scientific Corporation.
Math Library News
The mathematics community is actively debating important
publishing issues, especially the relationship between
researchers’ values and publishers. Many University of
Minnesota mathematicians have pledged to refrain from
publishing, refereeing, and editorial work for Elsevier journals,
to protest its pricing policies and other restrictions. Professor
Doug Arnold and Henry Cohn present the case for the boycott
in “Mathematicians Take a Stand,” utilizing background and
budget information provided by University Librarian Wendy
Lougee; their article, currently available at http://arxiv.org/abs/
1204.1351, will appear shortly in the AMS Notices. Even before
this movement started, the Mathematics Library, in consultation
with the department’s topologists, canceled its subscription to
“Topology” after the editorial board resigned for similar reasons.
Graduate student Jonas Karlsson praised the arXiv as a more
effective dissemination mechanism, during the Library’s Open
Access Week 2011 panel discussion on the future of scholarship.
In the March 2012 Notices, Mathematics Librarian Kristine Fowler
discussed how authors can retain more rights in traditional
publishing venues. Her survey results on mathematicians’
publishing views are available at http://purl.umn.edu/109309.
A major Mathematics Library purchase this year was the full set
of SIAM e-books, nearly 400 titles. The print copies have been
heavily used over the years, so the new online access will be a
significant convenience. Another library tool to make a
researcher’s workflow easier is the “Reload via U of M
Libs” web browser button that streamlines access to
subscribed journals when faculty members are off campus.
New services for students included the Professional Skills
Portfolio Program, designed to help College of Science &
Engineering students develop and showcase their non-
technical skills such as writing and presenting. Kris Fowler
introduced the Math Club and the MFM Career Workshop
to the program, and also worked with Math 4067 Actuarial
Mathematics in Practice on the professional skills of
teamwork and use of information sources.
From the Director of Undergraduate Studies
Studying undergraduate mathematics at Minnesota is more
popular than ever. We teach and advise approximately 560
math majors, pursuing BS degrees through the College of
Science and Engineering and BA degrees through the
College of Liberal Arts.
Some of our undergraduates have been honored with
national awards, which are announced elsewhere in the
newsletter. Also, we provided partial financial support to
31 of our returning undergraduates, through the Dalaker,
Hart, and Thorp funds.
We have developed new courses on actuarial mathematics
and on calculus with biological applications, and we are
developing a formal specialization within the major in
We are enlarging our advising staff in response to the
increase in number of majors, in particular Mike
Weimerskirch, who will join us in the fall as lower-division
coordinator, as Peter Olver mentioned in his note.
Graduate Student Fellowship Awards
Richard McGehee, Director of Graduate Studies in Mathematics and The Graduate School congratulates the following graduate students who received fellowships.
John Goes, 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship, Dihua Jiang, advisor.
Ryan Goh, 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship, Arnd Scheel, advisor.
Xingjie Li, Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, The Development of Analysis of Atomistic-to-Continuum Coupling Methods, Mitchell Luskin, advisor.
Derek Olson, 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship and 2012 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG), Mitchell Luskin, advisor.
Ph.D. Graduating Students
Richard McGehee, Director of Graduate Studies in Mathematics and The Graduate School congratulate our recent graduating Ph.D. students (February, 2011 to February, 2012).
Fanbin Bu, Integral equation methods for the simulation of viscoelastic ultrasound vibro-acoustography, Fernando Reitich, advisor; Software Engineer, KLA-Tencor, Milpita, CA.
Amy DeCelles, Automorphic partial differential equations and spectral theory with applications to number theory, Paul Garrett, advisor; Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, Goshen College, Goshen, IN.
Ming Fang, Studies in One Dimensional Branching Random Walks, Ofer Zeitouni, advisor; Postdoctoral Fellow, Mathematical Sciences Resarch Institute, Berkeley, CA.
Chung-I Ho, Topological methods in symplectic geometry, Tian-Jun Li, advisor; Postdoc, NCTS Math Division, National Tsing Hua Universtiy, Hsinchu, Tiawan.
Hsin-Yuan Huang, Variational Methods and the Orbits with Collisions in the N-body Problem, Richard Moeckel, advisor; Visiting Assistant Professor, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
King Yeung Lam, A Semilinear Equation with Large Advection in Population Dynamics, Wei-Ming Ni, advisor; Zassenhaus, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
Li Lu, Two problems in parabolic PDEs, Vladimir Sverak, advisor; Postdoc, Mathematics Department, Universtiy of British Columbia, Kelowan, B.C., Canada.
Ya-Lun Tsai, Real Root Counting for Parametric Polynomial Systems and Applications, Richard Moeckel, advisor; Taichu, Taiwan.
Lei Zhang, Automorphic Forms on Certain Affine Symmetric Spaces, Dihua Jiang, advisor; Postdoc, Boston College, Boston, MA.
Teng Zhang, Modeling Data by Multiple Subspaces: Theory and Algorithms, Gilad Lerman, advisor; Postdoc, University of Minnesota, Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), Minneapolis, MN.
Likun Zheng, Stochastic Fluctuations in Signaling, Gene Control and Pattern Formation, Hans Othmer, advisor; Visiting Assistant Professor, University of California-Irvine, Department of Mathematics, Irvina, CA.
The Newsletter Committee is composed of Greg Anderson (Chair),
John Baxter, Bonny Fleming, Peter Olver, Pavlo Pylyavskyy, Harry Singh and Peter Webb.