University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
We are proud to announce the promotions of Florin Boca to Associate Professor
with tenure and of Eugene Lerman and Randy McCarthy to Professor. The
promotions were approved by the Board of Trustees at their July meeting.
The faculty are back in the classroom, and we are looking forward to recruiting new faculty members during the forthcoming hiring season. The new recruits will help to replace Professors Dornhoff, Griffith, and Lotz, who have retired, as we announced in the previous issue, as well as Professors Binder, Sullivan, and Varolin, who resigned this summer to take positions at other universities. We wish Professors Binder, Sullivan, and Varolin success in their new positions.
I value your support and welcome your feedback. We all thank you for helping to sustain the excellence of the department and for helping to preserve its unique position in American and international mathematics.
In this issue:
Department hosts reception at Joint Mathematics Meetings
The Department of Mathematics of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is hosting a reception at the annual meeting of the AMS and MAA from 5:15-7:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 14, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. Everyone connected with the Department currently or in the past is encouraged to get together for conversation and to hear what's been happening on campus.
Math Department hosts ICTM contest
The Department of Mathematics is proud to have hosted the 25th annual Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics High School State Finals. This contest brought over 3000 high school students and their teachers to the UIUC campus on a sunny Saturday in April. More than 200 high schools were represented. The high school students tested their knowledge, speed and ingenuity with individual tests, team events, math “relays” and oral presentations. For the teams that were able to arrive the Friday before the contest, the department’s undergraduate organization, MATRIX, sponsored an evening of recreation and pizza and a chance to meet Mathematics students and faculty. This is now our fifth year hosting the contest and data shows that approximately one third of high school seniors who come to campus for the state finals subsequently enroll at UIUC as undergraduates. The contest couldn’t take place without the generous efforts of about 250 student, faculty and staff volunteers, many of whom are themselves contest “alums.”
Congratulations go to the following LAS Secondary Education students who were honored at the College of Education Student Recognition Brunch held October 15, 2005. The mathematics undergraduates who received a William Chandler Bagley Scholarship are: Lindsay Babich, Scott Ball, Melissa Johnson, Katie Muren, Morgan Polikoff, and Abbey Rechner. Janelle Marie Bledsoe received a Robert L. and Rena M. Williams Scholarship.
MATRIX: the math club on campus
Mathematical Advancement Through Research & Idea eXchange (MATRIX)
is an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of today’s math
students. MATRIX was started at the end of Spring 2004 semester in an
effort to foster better relationships between existing math faculty and
the students taking their courses. MATRIX events also enable students
enrolled in math courses to meet other students and form study groups
for their courses.
Online Giving now available
Today, more than ever, the Department of Mathematics relies on the financial
support of its alumni and friends. And now we've made giving even easier
with online giving! Visit the department's homepage at www.math.uiuc.edu
and click the "Give Online" icon. A complete list of available
funds with descriptions can be found there. There are many different ways
that you can support the department in its educational and research missions
through student fellowships and scholarships, prizes and awards for undergraduate
and graduate students, support for the library, or funds for maintaining
Altgeld Hall. Giving in support of these and other important missions
truly makes a difference by promoting excellence in the UIUC Department
|József Balogh, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2001, University of Memphis
Balogh completed his Ph.D. in Mathematics with advisor Béla Bollobás at the University of Memphis. He received his Diploma (M.Sc.) in Mathematics with honors (summa cum laude) from Szeged University, Hungary in 1995. His honors include the K. Renyi Prize, awarded by the J. Bolyai Mathematical Society for outstanding research by undergraduate students (1993); and 2-time silver prize winner on the International Mathematical Olympiade (1989, 1990). After receiving his Ph.D., he held a Shannon Postdoctoral Fellowship at AT&T Labs, Shannon Laboratory; was a Visitor at Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, in 2002; and most recently was a Zassenhaus Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University from 2002-2005. His research areas include Bootstrap percolation, interacting particle systems, extremal graph theory, graph theory, hypergraphs, combinatorics, and discrete computational geometry. Jozsef is married; he and his wife are expecting their first child in November. He is a big soccer fan and chess player.
|Eduard-Wilhelm Kirr, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2002, University of Michigan
Kirr, a native of Romania, received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan while interning during summers for Bell Laboratories. Before coming to Urbana-Champaign he spent three years as a L. E. Dickson instructor at the University of Chicago. His main research concerns the theory and simulations of linear and nonlinear PDE's. Kirr is particularly interested in interactions between waves and finite dimensional dynamical systems and their applications in Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Physics, Optics and Fluid Dynamics. His hobbies include tennis and swimming. Kirr is married to Mirela Kirr; they have a seven year old son, Alex.
|Christopher Leininger, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2002, University of Texas at Austin
Leininger received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin under the supervision of Alan Reid in May 2002. His initial work was in the geometry and topology of surfaces in hyperbolic 3-manifolds. He went to Barnard College and Columbia University where he held an NSF postdoc fellowship in conjunction with adjunct assistant professorships. Since the time of writing his thesis, Leininger has taken an interest in mapping class groups and Teichmüller theory with an eye toward the various connections to hyperbolic geometry. He was married to Katie Leininger in May 1995. Their son Kaleb (March 2003) and daughter Emily (April 2005) keep them on their toes.
|Xiaochun Li, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2001, University of Missouri at Columbia
Li, a native of China, was a Hedrick Assistant Professor in 2001-2004 at UCLA and held a position in 2004-2005 at the Institute for Advanced Study before coming to Illinois. His research interests are mainly in harmonic analysis. He and his wife have a 5-month-old son. Li enjoys classical music and playing “Go”, a board game originated from China 4000 years ago.
|Christian Rosendal, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2003, University of Paris, Pierre et Marie Curie, France
Rosendal did his graduate work on applications of descriptive set theory to the isomorphism theory of Banach spaces under the direction of Alain Louveau at the University of Paris, Pierre et Marie Curie. In the period after obtaining his Ph. D. he has mostly been engaged in a broad study of Polish groups arising in model theory and dynamics in order to understand them both as topological groups and as purely abstract groups. One successful part of this study has been to develop a theory of automatic continuity of group homomorphisms and apply this to different problems in dynamics and the theory of topological groups. Before getting caught up in the mathematical world, Christian worked at becoming a philosopher, and now, when not doing mathematics, he can often be found hiking and mountaineering in French, Spanish and Norwegian mountain ranges.
|Zoi Rapti, J.L. Doob Research Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2004, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Rapti studied in Athens, Greece where she received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. She then attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she received her Ph.D. in Mathematics in 2004. After that she spent one year in Princeton, NJ at the Institute for Advanced Study. Her research interests are in applied mathematics. She has been studying the thermodynamics of nonlinear models for DNA denaturation using a transfer operator approach, and instabilities of the nonlinear Schrödinger equation using dynamical systems methods.
|William Hart, Visiting Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2004, Macquarie University
Hart obtained his Ph.D. at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. His supervisor was Alf van der Poorten and his thesis was in the area of explicit algebraic number theory and modular equations. Since then he has worked at the Mathematical Institute in Leiden, The Netherlands, with Peter Stevenhagen on various aspects of algebraic number theory, and he also studied some modern Iwasawa theory. His many (too many) hobbies currently include computer programming, "tricking" (its a kind of extreme sport), watching 80's movies and TV shows and writing expositions on various technical and also religious topics.
|Anca-Magdalena Mustata, Visiting Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2003, University of Utah
Anca Mustata, a native of Romania, received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah under the supervision of Herbert Clemens. During 2003-2005 she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Jim Bryan. She will be visiting MSRI during the Spring 2006 semester. Her interests are in the area of algebraic geometry inspired by physics, particularly Hilbert schemes of curves in special Calabi-Yau threefolds and moduli spaces of stable maps.
|Andrei Mustata, Visiting Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2003, University of Utah
Andrei Mustata, a native of Romania, received his Ph.D. from the University of Utah under the supervision of Aaron Bertram. During 2003-2005 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, working with Kai Behrend. He will be visiting MSRI during the Spring 2006 semester. His current interests are in the area of algebraic geometry inspired by physics, particularly moduli spaces of stable maps. Andrei and Anca are married and have a five year old daughter, Anna.
|Krzysztof Krupinski, Visiting Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2004, Wroclaw University, Poland
Krupinski, a native of Poland, received his Ph.D. from the Wroclaw University under the supervision of Professor Ludomir Newelski. After graduating in 2004, he spent one year working for the Polish Academy of Sciences. His research area concerns model theory and its connections with algebra and topology. Professionally demanding, privately he is a loving husband for his wife Kasia. Being in Illinois, he has found special joy in playing Frisbee.
|News from the Graduate Office|
|Changes in the front office. Last summer
Phil Griffith, Director of Graduate Studies since 2000, retired and handed
over responsibility for the doctoral program to Steven Bradlow. At the same
time Margit Messmer moved to Leeds, UK and left the Masters programs in
the care of Karen Mortensen. Rick Gorvett remains the head of the Actuarial
Sciences Masters program, and most of the real work in running the Graduate
Program continues to be done expertly and efficiently by Lori Dick (Assistant
to the DGS) and Marci Blocher (Graduate Secretary).
New Ph.D.’s In the period between Fall 2004 and Summer 2005, a total of eighteen new mathematics Ph.D.’s were deposited in the Graduate College. Ten of these most recent graduates took postdoctoral or temporary positions in mathematics departments (nine in research active departments), five went on to permanent academic positions (one in economics, the rest in mathematics), and two accepted jobs in industry (one in investment banking, and one with Wolfram, Inc.). We have high hopes for all of them.
Incoming class. Forty-two new students joined our Department at the beginning of this semester, including 29 in the Ph.D. program, 9 in the Actuarial Sciences Masters program and 4 in our other Masters programs. The members of this incoming class hail from eleven countries on five continents; twenty-one are from the USA, seven from China, six from Korea and one each from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Kenya, India, Rumania, Spain, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Invited talks and conference presentations: In the
past year the following students in our graduate program gave invited
presentations on their research.
Papers published in the past year:
New Take-the-speaker-to-lunch program. One of the great advantages of a large active department such as ours is that it is host to a steady stream of noteworthy visitors. The chance to interact with such visitors is an opportunity that should be exploited to the fullest. Recognizing that one easy way for graduate students to do so is through social events such as lunches and dinners, the Graduate Office is now offering to pay for the meal. (Well not quite: we’ll subsidize up to $8’s worth). A handsome voucher designed with professional help from Tori Corkery is available from the Graduate Office and can be redeemed in the Business Office.
Fun facts: The first Ph.D. was awarded by this department
in 1903. Between that time and August 2005, there have been 1065 others.
The average number per year over the last ten years is twenty. This represents
approximately 10% of the total number per year produced by the top 48
research departments in the U.S. (i.e., by those classified as Group I
in AMS Annual Surveys).
Bradlow appointed Director of Graduate Studies
Steven Bradlow was appointed Director of Graduate Studies in July 2005. He received his PhD in 1988 from the University of Chicago. His thesis advisor was Karen Uhlenbeck. After a year at Stanford and a semester as an MSRI Postdoctoral Fellow, he spent two years as an S.E. Warschawski Assistant Professor in the UC San Diego mathematics department. In 1991 he was awarded an NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship to participate in a year-long program on Gauge Theory at the Mathematical Institute at Warwick University in the UK. He joined the UIUC Mathematics Department in 1992.
He has had two appointments at the UIUC Center for Advanced Study, one as a Beckman Fellow (in 1994) and one as an Associate (in 2002). In 2002 he went as a Clay Foundation Emissary to a workshop at the Schrödinger Institute in Vienna.
In his research Professor Bradlow studies vector bundles and moduli spaces. These play a central role in areas of mathematics such as algebraic geometry, complex differential geometry, symplectic geometry, and also in mathematical gauge theory, where they provide the setting for far-reaching generalizations of Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism. In his most recent work he and his collaborators have used moduli spaces of a special class of bundles called Higgs bundles to study questions in geometric group theory. Though he wishes he had a better understanding of it all, the problems he’s interested in are caught up in the cascade of ideas which string theory has sent swirling through geometry.
He has published 25 papers in peer-reviewed journals and co-edited the Proceeding of the 1st USA/Brazil Workshop on Geometry, Topology and Physics.
He helped organize a workshop on Geometry, Topology and Physics in 1996 in Campinas, Brazil, a workshop on Higgs Bundles at MSRI in 2002, and was on the organizing committee for the joint meeting of the AMS, the London Math Society and the South African Math Society in Pretoria, South Africa in 1997. He has also organized three special sessions at AMS meetings, one on Geometry and Physics, one on Extremal Metrics and Moduli Spaces, and one on Holomorphic Bundles and Complex Geometry. Together with John D’Angelo and Robert Leigh (Physics) he helped organize a 1999 Workshop on ‘Mathematics from Physics - Recent Trends and New Development’ which was held on this campus. He is on the Scientific Committee of the European Vector Bundles on Algebraic Curves (VBAC) group.
Professor Bradlow is a co-developer of EggMath [chickscope.beckman.uiuc.edu/explore/eggmath/],
a popular website which has a collection of web-based modules covering
topics in mathematics related to eggs. This was developed as part of the
Beckman Institute’s ChickScope project in which K-12 classes studied
chicken embryo development using a remotely controlled magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) instrument.
Service awards presented to staff
Department of Mathematics staff members, Kay Daly, Cherri Davison, and Sara Nelson, recently received service awards from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
Kay Daly, who received her 15 year service award, has been with the Department of Mathematics for the entire 15 years of service. She started as a Secretary II receptionist in the main office in July 1990. After a few years, she moved from the main office to work for the undergraduate director, Elliot Weinberg, and with the freshman advisor, Dianna Armstrong. She has been in the Undergraduate Math office ever since, working with Dianna and two other directors, Graham Evans and now Randy McCarthy. She enjoys the lively pace of the undergraduate office and finds dealing with the students a rewarding experience.
Cherri Davison received her 20 year service award. She was hired by the Department of Mathematics in October 1984 as a Clerk Typist II and started in the main office doing various duties, including technical typing and assisting Joann Hower with the faculty search. In 1989, she moved to the mathematics office in Illini Hall, where she worked with Peter Braunfeld for 3 years helping organize the summer camps for high school students and the math teacher workshops. Later she worked with Tony Peressini with the Distance Education Program, the Math Teacher Link Program and the Calculus & Mathematica Program. She also helped organize the Allerton Conference held at Allerton Park in 1993. During the next three years she worked with Karen Mortensen organizing the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) State Math Contest Finals for over 2000 high school students from around the state. In 2003, Cherri completed the circle and returned to the main office where she performs a number of duties, one being receptionist for the department.
Sara Nelson received her 15 year service award. Sara,
a native of Danville, graduated from Danville Area Junior College in 1969,
moved to Champaign, and in August 1969 took a position as a Secretary
III in the Conferences and Institutes section of the University of Illinois
which was housed in Illini Hall at that time. She held that position for
8 years. The job was interesting—travels to Chicago, Rock Island,
and New Orleans, to name a few, and almost weekly trips to Allerton House.
She left the University in 1977 when she landed a series of typesetting
jobs in industry. Sara returned to the University in 1997 with a position
as a Secretary III in the Department of Mathematics where she continues
to work in the main department office. Her skill in typing technical math
papers continues to be a valuable resource to the faculty.
John E. Wetzel
Math: News from alumni
Dr. Nelson is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology and
received his Ph.D. in 1965 from the University of Illinois. Formerly with
General Electric Research & Development for 25 years, he now privately
consults and gives courses for companies, professional societies, and
universities. For his technical contributions, he was elected a Fellow
of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American
Society for Quality, and the American Statistical Association. He recently
spent four months in Argentina on a Fulbright Award doing research and
lecturing on analysis of product reliability data.
|Altgeld Hall restoration
By Joyce Roberts
Altgeld Hall was designed by Nathan C. Ricker
and James M. White, and construction was completed in 1897. There were
several additions to the building, the last being added in 1956. In the
early 1900s the second floor was the location for university administration,
including the president and trustees, and the rest of the building housed
the School of Library Science. In the 1920s the building housed the School
of Law, and in the 1950s the building became home to the Department of
Mathematics and the Mathematics Library, and remains so today.
Altgeld Hall is considered one of the finest examples of Richardsonian
Romanesque architecture in Illinois, and was named after Illinois Governor
John P. Altgeld. He was instrumental in the appropriation for and selection
of the building’s design and location. In 1970, Altgeld Hall was
placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the administrative offices for the Department of Mathematics has moved to the space where the president’s office complex was located, and there are plans underway to restore this area to its original beauty. In addition, there is a plan to remove a wall that was erected in the mid-1900’s to provide additional office and classroom space, but divided the room where the trustees originally met.
Both of these rooms house fireplaces that are beautiful and ornate, and have been hidden away from the public eye for years. Each hearth and front is decorated with glazed ceramic tile laid in a brick pattern. The fireplace inserts and grates are done in ornate wrought iron. The carved wood surrounds are most impressive, and include a double mantel, pillars on each side, and detailed scrollwork. The original beauty of the fireplaces has been very well preserved.
If you would like to become part of the restoration efforts with a monetary
donation, you can donate on-line at http://www.math.uiuc.edu/gifts/onlinegifts.html.
in 313 Altgeld Hall. The Undergraduate office recently relocated their offices
to 313 Altgeld where visitors can enjoy the woodwork and view to the north
from the tower windows.
||Wall border uncovered during preservation research of Altgeld Hall.|
Merit Workshop Program
Established in 1987, the Merit Workshop Program in the Department of Mathematics was designed to address the issue of underrepresentation in mathematics and science-based majors. Merit sections are offered in the three semesters of the Calculus sequence. The program targets students with high potential who are members of groups such as ethnic minorities, women, and students from small/rural high schools. Students in these groups have traditionally been at high risk for failure in calculus.
Due to the initial success of the Math Merit Program, the Chemistry Department began their own Merit Program in 1990 and the Biological Sciences Merit Workshop Programs just began in 2004. Each summer a select group of students who have been accepted into the University are invited into the Merit Programs. Selection is based on a variety of information, including the student’s major, class rank, and ACT Math subscores. All the Merit Workshop Programs work together in this recruitment process. The programs also collaborated recently to submit a grant proposal to the NSF and hope to continue such collaborations in the future.
Merit students attend 2-hour workshops in place of the usual hour-long discussion sections. The Merit TA creates a worksheet of problems that relate to the topics being covered in lecture, and the students work in small groups on those problems. While the problems are based on the material covered in lecture, they are intended to stretch each student’s abilities to the fullest extent. The TA circulates around the classroom providing feedback to students as they work, but they provide few direct answers. Instead, students are encouraged to “talk mathematics” by thinking aloud and interacting with other students. Often, different groups of students are encouraged to compare answers and strategies.
This focus on student-student interactions helps in reaching one of the main goals of the Merit Program: to develop a community of scholars among the students. Merit students develop friendships based on common academic interests and often form lasting study groups that extend to other courses beyond calculus. Thus, the Merit program not only combats the high-risk these students face for failure in calculus, but also provides them with an academic and social support system.
Due to this active participation with the material and the community of scholars that develops through the Merit program, Merit students often perform better in their calculus courses than students in traditional settings. In 7 of the 9 Fall semesters of Calculus I from 1994 to 2002, the students in the Merit sections earned a higher calculus grade point average than the non-Merit students. More specifically, the Merit African-American students earned a higher calculus GPA than the non-Merit African American students all 9 semesters; two of those semesters the Merit African-American students GPA was more than an entire point higher than their non-Merit peers. The female Merit students earned a higher calculus GPA than the non-Merit females 8 out of the 9 semesters. Results like these, as well as other quantitative and qualitative data, indicate the success of the Merit Workshop Program over the past 10 years. We hope these results continue and look forward to exploring ways to expand and improve the program even more.
Meet the director
She has been involved with the Merit Program in one way or another since
Fall 2000—first as a TA, then as unofficial director since Fall
2002, and now as official Director. In addition to working with the Merit
Program, she has taught Math 125 (2001-2002), Math 114 (2002-2003), and
Math 012 (2003 to present). On a more personal note, Jennifer is a "townie"
who has lived in Champaign her entire life. She married her high school
sweetheart in 1999 and they have two sons.