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College of Arts and Sciences

Mathematics Alumni Newsletter

summer 2012

Message from the Chair

Photo of Solomon Friedberg

The economy is once again on everyone’s mind. Domestic and overseas events threaten the economic recovery and jobs are hard to come by. For our students, the good news is that Math majors are still in demand.

Those who put in the hard work in math leave Boston College with strong quantitative and reasoning skills, which are of great use in the workforce. However, for each math major, identifying the best job opportunities requires considering diverse possibilities. And that is where you, our BC Math Alumni, can make a difference. 

This year we’ve started the BC Math Alumni Network, acting on an excellent idea from alumnus Dr. Paul Garvey. Through the network, current BC students may connect to our volunteer mentors, an impressive group with strikingly diverse careers, ranging from jobs in the business world to education and from medicine to archeology. Current BC Math majors can foresee career possibilities because they see what you, our alumni, have already done. They can also contact our alumni mentors directly. The mentors may offer career ideas or information or suggest areas for post-graduate studies.

More than 60 alumni have volunteered. Please consider joining the alumni network at If you have already done so, thank you for helping.

Boston College asks its students to make a difference in the world. I am confident that our current math majors, like you alumni before them, will be among those who make the most difference. I can’t wait to see the many ways that they will find to do so.

Solomon Friedberg
Chair, Mathematics


This year, 52 seniors graduated with a Mathematics major. Nine are going on to graduate school in the mathematical sciences, pursuing advanced degrees at Brown, Columbia, Colorado (one in Pure Math, one in Applied Math), Cornell, Florida State, NYU, Ohio State, and University College London.

Six Mathematics majors are involved in summer research and training programs in 2012, including programs at Brown, Cornell, Notre Dame, and Princeton. In winter 2012, three Boston College students attended the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics.

BC’s Putnam Examination team, consisting of Tair Akhmejanov, Siwei Tu, and Alex Walker, placed 54th out of 460 teams from the U.S. and Canada in this undergraduate mathematics competition.

The Math Department and the Boston College Mathematics Society sponsored undergraduate lectures on math modeling, math and government service, the science of big data, and statistics in baseball, featuring distinguished alumni and other experts from both industry and the academy. 

We admitted our third class of doctoral students, sticking to our plan to keep the numbers small and the quality high. Three of our new students hail from Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and Williams, and one is from Koç University in Turkey. Meanwhile, our first two classes of doctoral students are making excellent progress towards their Ph.D. degrees.

Boston College welcomed scholars from around the globe with seminar series in Algebraic Geometry & Number Theory and in Geometry & Topology. We continued our collaboration with MIT in the support of a joint BC-MIT Number Theory Seminar, while the Mathematics Department and the Department of Teacher Education in the Lynch School were once again co-organizers of a seminar series in Mathematics Education.

Departmental Honors:

Five students earned departmental honors in math: Tair Akhmejanov, Jacobson Blomquist, Anna Broido, Joseph Falkso and Alexander Walker. In addition, 19 students were inducted into the BC Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national Mathematics honor society.

Paul J. Sally, Jr. Distinguished Alumnus Prize:

Alexander Walker received the Sally Award, given annually to a graduating senior who has shown true academic distinction in a demanding program in Mathematics. Alex, who took 13 graduate courses in math while a BC undergraduate, is entering Brown University’s Ph.D. program in Mathematics.

Albert A. Bennett Award:

Kimberly Ralph received the Bennett Award, given annually to a graduating Mathematics major who has shown a high level of achievement and a desire to teach mathematics. Kimberly looks forward to continuing her study of mathematics education at the Lynch School as she works for her Masters degree.

Department News

This year we hired four tenure-track faculty members. They are outstanding scholars and teachers who currently hold postdoctoral positions at Columbia, Northwestern, Princeton, and Yale. Profs.Ian Biringer (Geometry), Maksym Fedochuk (Algebraic Geometry), and David Treumann(Representation Theory) begin their appointments next fall, while Prof. David Geraghty (Number Theory) will begin his appointment in fall 2013.

Prof. Benjamin Howard was promoted to Full Professor, in recognition of his outstanding teaching and scholarship in number theory.

Prof. Elisenda Grigsby received an NSF Career Award, the National Science Foundation’s most important prize for junior faculty, in support of her work in low-dimensional topology.

Prof. Margaret J. Kenney received an honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree from Rhode Island College in May 2012.

Prof. G. Robert Meyerhoff was awarded a prestigious Simons Fellowship, which will provide funding for a semester-long research leave.

Prof. Solomon Friedberg was appointed to the Board of Directors of Math for America Boston, a non-profit organization concerned with improving K-12 math education in the greater Boston area.

The Redbud Topology Conference in March focused on Prof. Tao Li's recent examples of hyperbolic 3-manifolds whose Heegaard genera are strictly greater than the rank of their fundamental groups.

Profs. Solomon Friedberg and Benjamin Howard each published research-level books, Prof. Friedberg in the series Annals of Mathematics Studies (Princeton University Press) and Prof. Howard in the series Lecture Notes in Mathematics (Springer). 

Profs. Avner Ash and Rob Gross published Elliptic Tales: Curves, Counting, and Number Theory, an introduction to part of modern number theory intended for a wide audience (Princeton University Press).

Prof. Joshua Greene was a principal lecturer at a program for advanced undergraduates,Introduction to Topological Invariants in Low Dimensions, at the University of Notre Dame.

Prof. Martin Bridgeman served as Professeur Invité at the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris in spring 2012.

Profs. Margaret Kenney and Ned Rosen are retiring from the department. These two colleagues have contributed 74 years of service to Boston College between them. Prof. Rosen has served as Assistant Chair and Prof. Kenney as Assistant Director of the BC Math Institute. We salute them for their years of dedication to BC students, to Mathematics, and to Mathematics Education.

Sadly, retired Professor Rick Faber passed away in August 2011.

This is the Mathematics Department’s last year in Carney Hall. We expect to leave Carney Hall in June 2013 and relocate to Maloney Hall. We are excited by this new central location.

Contact Information

Please keep us updated with your current contact information.

Mathematics Department
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA  02467-3806

Telephone: 617-552-1201
Fax: 617-552-3789