Mathematics Alumni Newsletter
From Outgoing Department Chair Friedberg
When I became Chair in 2007 the math department offered only one undergraduate degree track, did not have a doctoral program, and played only a small role in BC’s drive to excel. How things have changed! At the undergraduate level, we are known on campus as offering excellent but demanding majors leading to either a B.A. or a B.S. degree. We have more students each year, and this spring we passed the milestone of 350 math majors. At the graduate level we are attracting top talent. In fact, our entering doctoral class this fall includes two students who turned down Yale in favor of our program. Our new Ph.D.s are doing very well in the job market, securing top postdoctoral positions and speaking at major conferences. Our faculty continue to reach new levels of prominence. And this has been our first full year in Maloney Hall, space with blackboards and areas for mathematical interactions throughout. Math has been everywhere, with conversations involving students, postdoctoral scholars, BC faculty and departmental visitors taking place daily.
It has been thrilling to be at the helm during these nine years of change. I am pleased to thank all my colleagues for the opportunity to serve as Chair and for their efforts, so often above and beyond the call of duty, which have been key to the department’s successes. With our new campus position established, it is the right time for a change of leadership. Accordingly, I stepped down as Chair this summer, and am pleased to report that Prof. Rob Meyerhoff, a highly regarded geometer, will serve as the next Chair of math. I am looking forward to Rob’s vision, energy and leadership, as well as to finding new ways to contribute in the years to come.
With my thanks to you, our alumni, for your support,
James P. McIntyre Professor of Mathematics
This year, 78 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in math: 56 BA’s and 22 BS’s. Recent math graduates have landed jobs with an impressive list of employers, including Goldman Sachs, Liberty Mutual, Citi, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and the Archdiocese of Boston, or gone on to graduate school in a variety of fields at institutions including Berkeley, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard and Northwestern.
Four students received PhD’s this year: Diana Hubbard, Beth Romano, Adam Saltz, and Andrew Yarmola. Once again, all of our new PhDs have academic positions, with Diana Hubbard receiving a postdoctoral position at the University of Michigan and Beth Romano receiving a postdoctoral position at the University of Cambridge.
The Boston College Mathematics Society continued to grow this year, thanks to the energy of its president, Emma West '16, vice-president Arnav Roy '17, webmaster Champ Davis '17, and treasurer Chris Ratigan '18. They began a weekly departmental tea, which has provided a regular forum for our undergraduate math majors to chat informally with their professors, TAs, and each other. Other highlights from the year include an Undergraduate Research Mini-Symposium organized by Prof. Maksym Fedorchuk, a public lecture by Prof. Colin Adams of Williams College entitled "What Knot to do When Sailing," and a career panel featuring a computational biologist from the Broad Institute, the Decision Analytics group leader at the MITRE corporation, and the founder and president of a local math enrichment program for girls.
Prof. Ben Howard’s 95-page paper “Heights of Kudla–Rapoport divisors and derivatives of L-functions” appeared in the elite journal Inventiones mathematicae.
The renowned researcher in dynamical systems Dr. Amie Wilkinson, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago, was the ninth annual Boston College Distinguished Lecturer in Mathematics. Prof. Wilkinson gave three lectures, one for a general audience on random and non-random processes and two on chaotic behavior in smooth dynamics, and met with Boston College students and faculty during her visit.
The third biannual BC-Northeastern Algebraic Geometry Conference took place at Boston College in April 2016.
Math grad student Siddhi Krishna is president of the new BC student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics.
Three faculty members were awarded new NSF grants in Spring 2016, Professors Ian Biringer, Martin Bridgeman, and Tao Li, and two faculty members began new grants from the NSA, Professors Maksym Fedorchuk and Brian Lehmann. This year, the math department has 16 faculty members with active NSF grants and two with active NSA grants.
Five new doctoral students will enter our program this fall, one each from Caltech, Michigan, the National University of Singapore, Olin, and Williams.
Prof. CK Cheung directed the BC Summer Math Experience for top high school students, entitled An Excursion into Advanced Mathematics.
Departmental Honors and External Honors:
Three BC students met the highly demanding requirements for departmental honors in math: Nicholas Denari, Andrew Ferdowsian, and Emma West. In addition, 16 students were inducted into Pi Mu Epsilon, the Mathematics honor society, including 6 juniors.
Paul J. Sally, Jr. Distinguished Alumnus Prize:
Emma West received the Sally Award, given annually to a graduating senior who has shown true academic distinction in a demanding program in Mathematics. Emma will begin a PhD program in biological and biomedical sciences at the Harvard Medical School this fall, after spending the summer doing research in topological data analytics at the University of Chicago.
Albert A. Bennett Award:
Bonnie Ma 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. Next year Bonnie will earn her M.Ed. in Moderate Special Needs through the LSOE’s Fifth Year Program, while working as an intern in an elementary school classroom in Newton.
Graduate student Scott Mullane was awarded a Sir Keith Murdock Fellowship and will use it to visit Harvard for the 2015-2016 academic year. Scott expects to complete his PhD in December 2016 under the supervision of Prof. Dawei Chen.
Graduate students Tom Crawford, Mia Fox, Christy Mullican and Cihan Soylu won Don White Graduate Teaching Awards.
Prof. Tao Li was one of 50 distinguished mathematicians worldwide elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, the third mathematics faculty member to receive this honor.
Prof. Eli Grigsby continued her string of striking successes by receiving a PECASE award, one of only two mathematicians selected. The award is one of the highest honors bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers towards the beginning of their careers. Eli and the other winners were recognized by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House. Eli was also awarded a Simons Fellowship from the Simons Foundation. She will use it to visit Oxford this coming spring.
Faculty members John Baldwin, Dawei Chen, Maksym Fedorchuk, and David Treumann were promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.
Prof. Jenny Baglivo served on the ASA/MAA Joint Committee on Statistics Education.
Prof. Sol Friedberg has been appointed Chair of the AMS/MAA Joint Committee on TAs and Part-Time Instructors.
BC was a sponsor of the conference Automorphic Forms on Metaplectic Groups and Related Topics that took place this summer at the Indian Institute for Science Education and Research in Pune, India. Prof. Sol Friedberg was a conference organizer, and Dr. Beth Romano (PhD 2016) and current BC graduate student Yuanqing Cai gave invited presentations.
With great sadness, we report that Emeritus Professor Margaret (Peg) Kenney passed away this summer. Peg was a leader in mathematics education whose career at Boston College spanned nearly six decades.
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