# Department News, Fall 2017

Message From the Chair

Department Spotlights

Department Announcements

Faculty Kudos

Current Students

Department Events

Alumni Updates/Class Notes

**Message from the Chair**

Greetings from the GW Mathematics Department:

We would love to hear from you! Contact us at [email protected] and tell us what you have been doing! Visit us on the 7th floor of Phillips Hall any time and see old friends, attend a seminar or colloquium or join us at our Friday coffee hour during 2-3 p.m. During your visit, we hope you will meet some of our faculty, current undergraduate and graduate students and tell them about life after GW.

**Murli M. Gupta**

Chair, GW Mathematics Department

## Department Spotlight

#### New Faculty Colleague

We had a successful conclusion to our faculty search this year and we welcomed Professor **Joel Lewis** as the new faculty colleague. Professor Lewis earned his PhD from MIT in 2012 and was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Minnesota before he moved to our area. His interests are in algebraic and enumerative combinatorics, in particular the combinatorics of permutations and their generalizations and q-analogues.

#### Pi Mu Epsilon

In 2016, the GW Chapter (DC Gamma) of the Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society was reactivated. This was accomplished by the joint effort of students and faculty. The chapter’s faculty advisor is Professor **Joseph Bonin** and its permanent faculty correspondent is Professor **Alexander Shumakovitch**. An induction ceremony took place on November 3, 2017, at which our alumna, **Elizabeth Drellich**, ESIA BA ’09 (Swarthmore College), spoke about “Cars, Cartoons, and Cohomology."

*Pi Mu Epsilon induction, November 2017*

*Professor Elizabeth Drellich, Swarthmore College*

#### SIAM Chapter at GW

The GW Chapter of SIAM hosted a regional conference on applied mathematics. Graduate students Chong Wang, Debdeep Bhattacharya, Eric Shehadi and Professor Yanxiang Zhao organized this conference. This was written up in SIAM News.

## Department Announcements

#### Putnam Competition

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, the world's pre-eminent collegiate math competition, has for the past 40 years had its headquarters at Santa Clara University in California. Starting this year, it has moved to GW, under the direction of Professor Dan Ullman.

Roughly 600 institutions have signed up 8000 participants for the December 2, 2017, competition. Students participate by sitting for two three-hour sessions at their local institution, tackling six challenging problems during each session. The solutions will be sent to GW's Department of Mathematics, where they will be graded.

The Putnam awards more than $100,000 in prize money, some to the top individual scorers but even more to the institutions that have the highest scoring teams. The Putnam Competition began in 1938. It was suspended briefly during the Second World War, but resumed as an annual competition thereafter. This year we are hosting the 78th competition. The top five participants each year are designated Putnam Fellows. The list of Putnam Fellows over the years includes a great many notable names, including Nobel Prize winners and Fields Medalists. In the first year, 1938, George Mackey and Irving Kaplansky were Putnam Fellows. In 1939, there was Richard Feynman, later a physics Nobel laureate. And in 1940, there was Andy Gleason from Yale and Robert Maughan Snow from GW.

#### Welcome New Chair Frank Baginski

Professor **Frank Baginski **will be taking over the position of the Mathematics Department chair beginning January 2018.

## Faculty Kudos

Professor **Valentina Harizanov** was invited to lecture (on joint work with alumnus Rumen Dimitrov, PhD ’02) in the research program Aspects of Computation: Computable Structures and Reverse Mathematics, at the National University of Singapore, September 2017.

Professor **Yanxiang Zhao** and **Kai Yang **visited Beijing Computational Science Research Center in July 2017. The visit helped them facilitate the potential collaborations on Numerical methods for Nonlinear Schrodinger equations.

Professors Sarah Day (CWM), Maria Emelianenko (GMU), **Maria Gualdani** (GWU), **Yongwu Rong **(GWU) and Junping Shi (CWM) organized the second EXTREME-QED Undergraduate Conference at College of William and Mary on April 8, 2017. The conference featured talks by undergraduate students in the three institutions as well as a plenary talk and a career panel by industrial representatives. This conference is part of our National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded program Data-Driven Mathematics and Statistics Training, Education, and Research (Data MASTER) which aims at enhancing data-driven computational skills of our undergraduate students (PI: **Yongwu Rong**, co-PI: **Maria Gualdani, Murli Gupta, Yinglei Lai **and **Rahul Simha**).

Emeritus Professor **John Conway**’s new book A First Course in Analysis was published by Cambridge University Press in July 2017. Read more about it on his Facebook page.

Logic Across Disciplines (organizer: **Professor Valentina Harizanov**; graduate student assistants:** Iva Bilanovic** and **Trang Ha**) has been selected and funded as a University Seminar for 2017–18.

Professor **Yongwu Rong **completed the Marine Corps Marathon and was placed top 15 percent among the 19,681 runners

**Jennifer Chubb**, associate professor at the University of San Francisco, and alumna (PhD, 2009, faculty mentor: Professor **Valentina Harizanov**) is spending her sabbatical year as a research scholar in mathematics at GW, 2017–18.

Professor **Valentina Harizanov** (co-PI) was awarded—with M. El-Banna (PI), L. Posey (co-PI) and C. Pintz (co-PI)—the Dorothy Otto Research Award from the National League of Nursing for the project “Mindset-Enchaned E-Learning to Improve Medication Calculation,” 2017.

The proposal “Coverage, Capacity and Resilience, Enhancement in Limited Public Safety Networks” was awarded from NIST for two years (03/03/2017-05/31/2019). The total amount is $700,000. Professor **Yanxiang Zhao** serves as a co-PI.

Professor** Xiaofeng Ren** was awarded the following NSF grant: DMS-1714371, Reconstruct morphological phases from nonlocal geometric systems, $261,133, August 15, 2017-July 31, 2020.

Professors **Valentina Harizanov** and **Jozef Przytycki**, and Louis Kauffman (University of Illinois at Chicago), with alumni **Meitek Dabkowski** (University of Texas at Dallas), **Radmila Sazdanovic** (North Carolina State University) and** Adam Sikora** (SUNY Buffalo), published Volume II of the proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Knot Theory and its Applications to Physics and Quantum Computing in a special issue of the *Journal of Knot Theory and Its Ramifications*, World Scientific, Singapore, 2017.

Professor **Valentina Harizanov** was a co-organizer of the American Mathematical Society Meeting Special Session "Computability in Algebra and Number Theory" at the College of Charleston, S.C., on March 10–12, 2017.

Professors **Valentina Harizanov** and **Jozef H. Przytycki **organized the Distinguished Speculative First of April Talk on March 31, 2017. The title was: Skein modules and Quantum Computing in 3-manifolds. The speaker was Uwe Kaiser from Boise State University.

Professors **Valentina Harizanov, Jozef H. Przytycki, Y. Rong, Alexander Shumakovitch **and **Hao Wu** co-organized (with alumna **Radmila Sazdanovic**) the Knots in Washington XLIV on April 28-30, 2017 at GW.

Professors **Valentina Harizanov, Jozef H. Przytycki, Y. Rong, Alexander Shumakovitch **and **Hao Wu** co-organized (with alumna **Radmila Sazdanovic**) Knots in Washington XLIII and we celebrated the 60th birthday of **J. Scott Carter **on December 9-11, 2016 at GW.

Professor **Jozef H. Przytycki** co-organized (with alumna **Radmila Sazdanovic**) the special session on Algebraic Structures Motivated by and Applied to Knot Theory at the AMS meeting at North Carolina State University at Raleigh, in Raleigh, N.C., on November 12-13, 2016.

Professor **Sudeshna Basu** gave talks at a number of conferences including Banach Space Theory and its Applications at Mickiewicz University, Poland, and Free University, Berlin. She was also invited to give a special talk at Cluster Innovation Center, University of Delhi.

Professor **Jozef H. Przytycki** gave talks at a number of conferences including Beijing Normal University, Kyungpook National University (KNU, Daegu, Korea), KIAS Research Station (Busan, Korea) and University of Gdansk (Poland).

## Current Students

PhD student** Hakim Walker** received the Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Award on April 25, 2017, which he shared with a computer science graduate student. Hakim Walker also defended his dissertation “Computable Isomorphisms of Directed Graphs and Trees” on May 1, 2017 (faculty mentor: **Valentina Harizanov**) and accepted a teaching position at Harvard University starting in fall 2017.

PhD student **Trang Ha **was awarded a GW Summer Dissertation Fellowship, 2017. Trang Ha gave an invited talk at the AMS sectional meeting.

PhD students **Trang Ha** and **Chong Wang** received Mathematics Graduate Teaching awards for 2017–18.

PhD students **Iva Bilanovic **and **Hakim Walker** organized the Graduate Student Seminar, 2017–18.

PhD student **Rhea Palak Bakshi **attended a conference in Chicago in October with Professor Joan Birman, a famous topologist who is now 90-years-old and was a PhD adviser to Professor Przytycki. Rhea and Sujoy also attended the Cornell Topology Festival in April 2017.

In spring and fall 2017, we welcomed 14 new members to the Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honor society. Congratulations to the new members: **Acacia Ackles, Madeline Alfieris, Brennan Day, Marie-Louise Decamps, Eliza Goren, Benjamin Marks, Henry Moore, Fangshu Qu, Will Raderman, Wei Tian, Zhigong Shang, Zihan Yu, Jiajing Zhang **and **Aaron Zorman.**

In May 2017, we graduated our largest class of math majors: over 40 graduated! Congratulations to all of our new graduates!