Mathematics Alumni Newsletter

summer 2013

From Department Chair Solomon Friedberg

Photo of Solomon Friedberg

It’s been six years. I began as Chair of the Math Department in June 2007. George W. Bush was President, Apple was about to release the first iPhone, the Red Sox were on their way to a sweep of the World Series.

The past six years have been a period of great change, locally as well as globally. In math, we now have a doctoral program attracting applicants from around the globe, we offer a B.S. degree to complement our B.A., our undergraduates have more opportunities for summer research, our faculty are winning major awards, we offer a Distinguished Lecturer series, we partner with MIT on a Number Theory Seminar, our faculty lecture from Harvard to Hsinchu. BC students have picked up on the excitement of math as never before, with the number of majors close to doubling during this period.

It’s been a wonderful six years, working with remarkable and dedicated colleagues in the department and across campus. Next year I will be on sabbatical, based in Boston but making trips to discuss research, give lectures, and attend conferences. I’m looking forward to a year of focused effort and scientific accomplishment before returning to continue as Chair. And I am deeply honored to have recently been appointed as the James P. McIntyre Professor of Mathematics.

Prof. Rob Meyerhoff will serve as Acting Chair for the coming year. A distinguished topologist, I am certain that he will be an outstanding department leader. And thank you, respected alumni, for your support of BC over these past six years. Ever to excel!

Solomon Friedberg
James P. McIntyre Professor and Chair, Mathematics


Overview 2012-2013

This year, 56 seniors graduated with a Mathematics major, and 12 more LSOE students graduated in Math/CS. The total number of math majors at BC also hit a new high.  Undergraduate enrollment in math classes topped even last year.

Lisa Piccirillo ’13 won an NSF Graduate Fellowship in math. As an Undergraduate Research Fellow, Lisa worked on a computational problem in knot theory with Prof. Eli Grigsby.  She then did a senior thesis under the supervision of Prof. Josh Greene, and took more graduate courses in mathematics than any other of this year’s graduates. Lisa will attend the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Texas starting in the Fall of 2013.

The number of doctoral students in BC’s new math PhD program increased to 15, and the number of applications for admission to the program continued to climb.

David Hansen received BC’s first PhD in Mathematics.  His thesis, written under the direction of Prof. Avner Ash, is titled Overconvergent cohomology: theory and applications. David will go to Paris next year on a postdoctoral fellowship.

The Math Department and the Boston College Mathematics Society sponsored a career night for math majors, an information session on undergraduate research opportunities, a lecture on Cybersecurity, and of course special Pi Day events.  This last even found its way to the April Fools Day issue of the Heights, whose front page story was headlined “Math dept sanctioned for Pi party.”

In 2012-2013, BC math faculty gave lectures internationally in Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and Taiwan.

The Eastern Sectional Meeting of the American Mathematical Society took place at Boston College on April 6-7, 2013, featuring lectures on everything from low dimensional topology to financial mathematics. Registration fee for students was $5. Well over 300 mathematicians attended, along with one nutritional scientist---Provost Cutberto Garza, who welcomed the participants on behalf of Boston College.

Boston College math majors are in high demand.  The BC Career Center reports that a remarkable 98% of the applications from math students for an on-campus job interview resulted in an employer invitation to interview in 2012-2013.

Boston College co-sponsored the 8th William Rowan Hamilton Geometry and Topology Conference at Trinity College, Dublin, titled ‘Measure and asymptotics in group theory and low-dimensional geometry.’ Profs. Martin Brideman and Rob Meyerhoff were co-organizers and Prof. Tao Li gave an invited address.

The renowned algebraic geometer Bernd Sturmfels, Professor of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at the University of California, was the 2013 BC Distinguished Lecturer in Mathematics.  Prof. Sturmfels gave 3 lectures on tropical and algebraic geometry, and met with Boston College undergraduate and graduate students.

BC's Math Department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mathematical Sciences Center and Department of Mathematical Sciences at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, to encourage cooperation and the exchange of scholars.  We were one of a small group invited to do so.  Among the other 8 US institutions: Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, and Stanford.  Prof. David Treumann represented BC at the signing ceremony.


Student Honors

Departmental Honors:
Three students earned departmental honors in math: Octavio Freitas, Amy Nesky and Lisa Piccirillo. In addition, 18 students were inducted into the BC Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national Mathematics honor society.

Paul J. Sally, Jr. Distinguished Alumnus Prize:
Amy Nesky 
and Lisa Piccirillo received the Sally Award, given annually to one or more graduating seniors who have shown true academic distinction in a demanding program in Mathematics.  Both took several graduate courses from the PhD program, and both completed outstanding senior theses.

Albert A. Bennett Award:
Eric C. Gordon 
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. Eric is joining the Urban Catholic Teaching Corps, a two year commitment, during which he will earn his master’s in education from BC and teach at Cristo Rey High School in Boston.


Department News

Prof. Tao Li was promoted to Full Professor, in recognition of his outstanding teaching and scholarship in topology.  Prof. Li was also invited to speak at the 2014 International Congress of Mathematicians, one of mathematic's highest honors.

Profs. Joshua Greene and David Treumann received Sloan Research Fellowships, two of only 20 such awards in all of the mathematical sciences. Prof. Greene studies low-dimensional topology using Heegard-Floer homology and combinatorics.  Prof. Treumann studies algebraic geometry and related problems in topology, symplectic geometry and representation theory.

Prof. Avner Ash was elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

Prof. Martin Bridgeman was awarded a prestigious Simons Fellowship, which will provide funding for a semester-long research leave.

Prof. Solomon Friedberg was one of the organizers for a special semester at the NSF-funded Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics in Spring 2013.  Prof. Friedberg also gave the May 2013 commencement address to Boston College Arts & Sciences Masters and PhD recipients.

Prof. Rob Meyerhoff gave a prestigious invited address at the Journée Georges de Rham 2013 held at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

Prof. Nancy Rallis is retiring from the department. We salute her for her years of dedication to BC students and to Mathematics.

Sadly, retired lecturer Don Weiner passed away in February 2013.

The Math Department’s relocation to Maloney Hall has been delayed.  We are currently the last department still located in Carney Hall.


Contact Information

Mathematics Department
Boston College

Boston College
140 Commonwealth Ave
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467