Mathematics Alumni Newsletter

Summer 2015

Message from the Chair
Overview 2014-2015
Student Honors
Department News
Contact Information

From Department Chair Solomon Friedberg

Solomon Friedberg

The first piece of big news is that we’ve moved. After a planning and design process that spanned several years, in June 2015 the math department relocated from its long-time home in Carney to its new site in Maloney Hall. Our new home is a place for doing and talking about math. The department walls are lined with blackboards, there are nooks and crannies for small groups of students and faculty to talk, and even our kitchen is a place for writing math on the board as we eat. These spaces are already full of students sharing ideas about a hard problem, and of faculty needing a place to concentrate as they seek that next mathematical breakthrough.

The second piece of big news is one of success after success. By every measure, we have arrived. Our faculty members are winning awards, making breakthroughs, and being invited everywhere. Our graduate students are thriving. And we have more majors and more students taking math classes than ever. Yes, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal mathematics is one of the top majors for lifetime earnings, but that’s only part of it. I am constantly impressed by my colleagues - by their energy, and by how much they care about their discipline and their students.  No wonder enrollments are up.

One thing I love about mathematics is its international flavor. People from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures share a passion for math, make new math, and pay attention to developments in math. I’ve lectured in international conferences in France and Brazil this summer, talking with people from dozens of countries. It has been striking to me how many of these scholars have heard about our department, and about its recent achievements.

Solomon Friedberg
James P. McIntyre Professor and Chair, Mathematics

Overview 2014-2015

This year, 75 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in math: 48 BA’s and 27 BS’s.  This is a remarkable increase over 2013-2014’s 40 students (33 BA, 7 BS).  There were also 52 math minors.

Three students received PhD’s this year:  Robert HarawayAndrew Phillips, and Nick Vlamis. All of our new PhDs have positions, with Nick Vlamis receiving a postdoctoral position at the University of Michigan, a top-10 PhD program. In addition, two graduate students received Masters degrees: Garen Chiloyan and Steve Thakur.

Math faculty won a number of national awards in 2014-2015. John Baldwin and Joshua Greene each received NSF CAREER grants, described by the NSF as their “most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”  They join prior CAREER winners Eli Grigsby and Dawei ChenDavid Geraghty became the fourth BC math faculty member to win a Sloan Fellowship in the last 3 years.  This puts us second in the country, behind MIT and tied with Princeton, for Sloan Fellowships in math over this period.  And Tao Li won a Simons Foundation Fellowship.

The Boston College Mathematics Society organized activities full steam, including a Careers in Math panel (panelists included BC alumni Matthew St. HillaireAlan Pisano, and Steve Rattendi), a Pi Day event featuring a Jeopardy-style math "smackdown," fall and spring advising parties, and an end-of-year Senior Thesis party and presentations. The BC Math Society is now on Facebook and Twitter.

Six faculty members were awarded new NSF grants in Spring 2015: John BaldwinMartin BridgemanSol FriedbergJoshua GreeneBen Howard, and David Treumann.  The math department now has 17 faculty members with active NSF grants, a remarkable number at a time when grants are becoming tougher than ever to get.

The renowned number theorist and author Jordan Ellenberg, John D. MacArthur Professor of Mathematics and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, was the eighth annual Boston College Distinguished Lecturer in Mathematics.  Prof. Ellenberg gave three lectures, one for a general audience and two on the rapidly emerging field of algebraic statistics, and met with Boston College students (both undergraduate and graduate) and faculty during his visit.

Jenny Baglivo served on the ASA/MAA Joint Committee on Statistics Education.

Sol Friedberg has been appointed to the National Academy of Science's U.S National Commission on Mathematics Instruction.  Friedberg also penned an op-ed about math education in USA Today that garnered almost 40,000 reposts on Facebook and Twitter.

AGNES, the Algebraic Geometry Northeast Section conference, took place at BC in Spring 2015.  Organizers included BC faculty members Dawei ChenMaksym Fedorchuk and Brian Lehmann. The conference attracted 145 participants and included a series of special lectures for graduate students.

Journal editorships: Ben Howard was appointed an editor of the journal Manuscripta MathematicaMark Reeder is an editor for Representation Theory, and Sol Friedberg was appointed an editor for Research in Number Theory.

Student Honors

Departmental Honors and External Honors:
Ten BC students met the highly demanding requirements for departmental honors in math: Brandon Bavier, Raymond Bellis, Angelena Bohman, Ryan Burns, Christopher S. Coscia, Mary Rose Fissinger, Robert P. Laudone, Jr., Katherine Pilewski, Katherine Wilkinson, and Rachel Zahigian. In addition, 18 students were inducted into Pi Mu Epsilon, the Mathematics honor society, including 6 juniors.

Graduate Student Diana Hubbard has been awarded an America Dissertation Fellowship by the American Association of University Women, as she completes her PhD under the supervision of Eli Grigsby.  She has also been appointed a BC Dean's Teaching Fellow.

Paul J. Sally, Jr. Distinguished Alumnus Prize:
Robert Laudone received the Sally Award, given annually to a graduating senior who has shown true academic distinction in a demanding program in Mathematics.  Bobby will be entering the University of Wisconsin’s Ph.D. program in Mathematics.

Albert A. Bennett Award:
Kristen DiTroia 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. Kristen will continue her study of mathematics education in a Master’s Degree program at the Lynch School of Education.

Department News

This fall we welcome two new faculty to the department: Qile Chen, an algebraic geometer, as Assistant Professor, and Juliana Belding, a specialist in mathematics education, as Assistant Professor of the Practice. Dr. Chen comes to us from Columbia University and Dr. Belding from Harvard University. In addition, Ariel Shnidman, who has just received his PhD in number theory from the University of Michigan, will join us for a 3-year postdoctoral position.

Ellen Goldstein began her appointment as Assistant Professor of the Practice in Spring 2015. She is also the principal architect of a new Calculus sequence to support students who want to major in STEM areas but lack a strong foundation in pre-Calculus.

Joshua Greene and Rennie Mirollo were promoted to Full Professor.

Six new doctoral students will matriculate to our program this fall:  3 from Columbia University, 1 from Johns Hopkins, 1 from Princeton, and 1 from Wesleyan.  We are excited by the quality of our entering class.

Martin Bridgeman, Joshua Greene and Tao Li are among the organizers for the 11hWilliam Rowan Hamilton Geometry and Topology Workshop to be held in September 2015 at Trinity College Dublin. BC and BC-Ireland are again conference sponsors, with principal support from the National Science Foundation and the Science Foundation of Ireland.

Contact Information

Mathematics Department
Boston College

Boston College
140 Commonwealth Ave
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467