Department News, November 2016

Greeting from the Chair
Faculty and Staff News
Mathematics and Art
Pi Mu Epsilon
Faculty Kudos
Current Students
Department Achievements
Department Events
Alumni Updates/Class Notes 

Greeting from the Chair

Welcome to the GW Mathematics Department Newsletter. We have had a great year here and hope you have had a great year too!

We would love to hear from you! Contact us at and tell us what you are 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 from 2-3 p.m. During your visit, we hope you will meet some of our current undergraduate and graduate students and tell them about life after GW.
Murli M. Gupta
Chair, GW Mathematics Department
Photo: Professor Murli M. Gupta

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Faculty and Staff News

Professor Murli M. Gupta is continuing in the position of the Mathematics Department chair. Professor Dan Ullman has returned to the Mathematics Department after four years as associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Columbian College. 

Photo: Mathematics faculty outside the Monroe Hall

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Mathematics and Art

In Spring 2016 Professor Robbie Robinson presented a Dean’s Seminar entitled Mathematics and Art to students at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. 

Photo: This picture is part of the final project of Jessica Lockoski in the Mathematics and Art Dean’s Seminar. It was inspired by artist M.C. Escher

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Phi Mu Epsilon

In Spring 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 was Professor Joseph Bonin. It’s permanent faculty correspondent was Professor Alexander Shumakovitch.

Photo: Pi Mu Epsilon induction

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The Department of Mathematics of the George Washington University invites applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of assistant professor. Our priorities are analysis, combinatorics and logic. The successful candidate will be expected to teach at all undergraduate and graduate levels, excel in research, interact with researchers in mathematics and other disciplines and become actively involved in the life of the department and the university. 

Basic Qualifications: Applicants must possess a PhD in mathematics, have an excellent research record as evidenced by publications, work in progress and research funding and excellent teaching credentials as demonstrated by letters from peers or supervisors. 
Application Procedure: Applications should be submitted on-line at and include cover letter, CV, research statement, teaching statement and four letters of recommendation including one addressing teaching ability. Only complete applications will be considered. Review of applications will begin December 1, 2016 and will continue until the position is filled. Employment offers are contingent on the satisfactory outcome of a standard background screening. 
The George Washington University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer that does not unlawfully discriminate in any of its programs or activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity expression or on any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

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Faculty Kudos

  • Our faculty are active in external grant activities: three of our faculty (Svetlana Roudenko, Maria Gualdani and Max Alekseyev) currently have NSF CAREER grants worth more than $400k each.
  • Five of our faculty (Robbie Robinson, Alex Shumakovitch, Jozef Przytycki, Valentina Harizanov and Yanxiang Zhao) currently have the Collaboration Grants for Mathematicians from Simons Foundation, worth $35,000 each. 
  • Professor Valentina Harizanov co-published with Ali Eskandarian (GW Physics Department) and Jennifer Chub, PhD ’09 (University of San Francisco), a book titled Logic and Algebraic Structures in Quantum Computing and Information, Cambridge University Press, 336 pages, March 2016. 
  • Professor Max Alekseyev won the John Riordan Prize from The OEIS Foundation.
  • Professor Daniel Ullman will be the director of the William Lowell Putnam Competition for 2017-2021. This position brings to GW the world's preeminent collegiate mathematics competition. 
  • Professor Ullman will also be the lead editor of the Problems Section of the American Mathematical Monthly for 2017-2021. This position is a repeat for him, as he did the same thing during 1997-2001 (four administrations ago). In this position, he interacts with approximately 400 problem submissions and 1,600 solution submissions per year. Over the past several years, 1,690 mathematicians contributed at least one submission to the section.
  • A new edition of the textbook A Mathematical Look at Politics (co-authored by Professors Daniel Ullman and Robbie Robinson) is at the printers. The new edition will be called, simply, Mathematics and Politics
  • On November 4, 2016, Professor Daniel Ullman gave a recital of Miscellaneous Works of Frederic Chopin at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design’s Hammer Auditorium. 

Photo: Professor Daniel Ullman at the piano

  • In June 2016, Professor Robbie Robinson visited the Lorentz Center at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands where he worked with former GW PhD student Professor Karma Dajani (University of Utrecht) and her husband Professor Cor Kraaikamp (TU Delft). 

Photo Caption: Professor Karma Dajani (University of Utrecht) and Professor Cor Kraaikamp (TU Delft)

  • Professor Svetlana Roudenko is currently hosting an academic visitor from Brazil (Luiz Gustavo Farah, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte) sponsored by the Brazilian government. He is doing joint research as well as helping train undergraduate and graduate students at GW.
  • Professors Alexander Shumakovitch, Valentina Harizanov, Jozef Przytycki, Yongwu Rong, Radmila Sazdanovic and Hao Wu organized the Knots in Washington XLI conference at GW in December 2015. This conference was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and CCAS and attracted considerable number of international participants.

Photo: Attendees at Knots in Washington XLII (Knots in the Triangle) conference, North Carolina State University

  • Professors Alexander Shumakovitch, Jozef Przytycki and Radmila Sazdanovic organized Knots in Washington XLII (Knots in the Triangle) conference at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) on April 29 -May 1, 2016. This conference was sponsored by NSF and NCSU and attracted a considerable number of international participants.
  • In March 2016, Professor Przytycki organized the Advances in Quantum and Low-Dimensional Topology conference at the University of Iowa.

Photo: Some attendees at Advances in Quantum and Low-Dimensional Topology conference, University of Iowa

  • In addition to receiving external grants and awards, many of our faculty have received internal recognition. At this moment, four colleagues (Professors Valentina Harizanov, Svetlana Roudenko, Maria Gualdani and Jozef Przytycki) have received Dean’s Research Chair Awards providing course releases and travel funds. This year, four of our faculty received CCCF awards and three have received CCAS Enhanced Travel Awards. 
  • Professor Valentina Harizanov received university-wide recognition and the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Faculty Prize for scholarship.

Photo: Professor Valentina Harizanov with President Knapp and Provost Maltzman

  • Professor Maria Gualdani received university-wide recognition and the Early Career Researcher Award from the Office of Vice President for Research.
  • Professor Robbie Robinson took a group of students to see “Man Ray: Shakespearean Equations” at Phillips Collection in May 2015 and published an art review of this exhibit that appeared in the November 2015 issue of Notices of American Mathematical Society (Volume 62, Number 10, pp. 1192-1198). In spring 2016, he taught a new course Mathematics & Art at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design.
  • Professor Yongwu Rong participated in and completed the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30, 2016.

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Current Students

  • Hakim Walker and Lara El Sherif received Mathematics Department Graduate Teaching Awards for 2015-16. 
  • Hakim Walker was also admitted to the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.

Photo: Hakim Walker with his poster at GW Research Days 2016.

  • Sergey Aganezov won the VSTC Graduate Fellowship for 2015-2016 academic year. He was also admitted to several competitive schools and workshops. 
  • Seung Yeop Yang won the First Prize in Mathematics at GW Research Days 2016. He presented several invited talks at AMS Sectional Meetings.
  • Anudeep Kumar was awarded the Clay Mathematics Institute  travel support for the IHES Summer School on Nonlinear Waves held in July 2016. He was also invited to join MSRI as a Program Associate in the New Challenges in PDE for fall 2015.
  • Sujoy Mukherjee and Xiao Wang were invited to give presentations at several conferences.
  • Professor Yanxiang Zhao encouraged the formation of a SIAM Chapter at GW and continues to serve as its chapter advisor.
  • Professor Maria Gualdani is a strong advocate of mentoring and supporting women and underrepresented groups in STEM careers. She helped establish the first Association for Women in Mathematics Student Chapter at GW, which serves to foster the advancement of women and under-represented groups in mathematical sciences. The chapter has organized biannual networking events aimed at connecting students with external professionals for career mentoring and charity activities in support of free tutoring initiatives in D.C. to help underprivileged students.
  • Professor Svetlana Roudenko organizes math clubs in the greater D.C. area (mostly in Reston, Va.) where she trains K-12 students on nonstandard math problems and, in particular, Olympiad-type problems. Several children received top awards in the Math Kangaroo competition (March 17, 2016). 
  • Professor Svetlana Roudenko taught Math Circles classes for grades 3-4 and 5-6 at the University of California-Berkeley in fall 2016. These are the outreach activity math classes geared towards kids training to participate in Olympiads, and in general, increase the knowledge of deeper mathematics.
  • Undergraduate senior Jacob Learned (faculty mentor: Valentina Harizanaov) won Second Prize at GW Research Day on March 29, 2016, in the category mathematics and physical sciences, for his poster “Quantum rectified linear unit for quantum neural networks.” He defended the Honors Program Enosinian Scholars thesis.

Photo: Undergraduate senior Jacob Learned at GW Research Days, March 2016

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Department Achievements

  • Recent graduates with PhD in mathematics: Carl Hammarsten (currently visiting assistant professor at Lafayette College); Leah Marshall (currently at the US Census Bureau); Tom Savitsky (postdoctoral position in bioinformatics & biostatistics at Texas A&M Health Science Center, Texas A&M University); David Shoup (currently assistant professor at Alvernia University); Jing Wang (currently assistant professor at Christian Brothers University).
  • We recently modified our qualifying exam structure for PhD students to make it transparent and easy to navigate. We dropped the credit hour requirements for master’s programs from 36 credit hours to 30 and eliminated the qualifying exam requirements. In 2016, we graduated four master’s and three PhD graduates. 
  • We recently reformed our advising system resulting in many improvements. This year, we have a large number (121) of declared math majors and 52 math minors; the number of math majors has doubled in five years. This year we had 33 graduates. We have worked with the NSF funded DATA master program and the Joint Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics Scholarships (JUMP) program. Four undergraduate seniors wrote and defended their senior theses this year.

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Department Events

  • Alumni! Please join us on Thursday, January 5, for the GW Mathematics Alumni Reception at the 2017 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta. Click here for more information and to register.
  • We had a major move from the 2nd floor of Monroe Hall to the 7th floor of Phillips Hall at the beginning of 2016. Despite concerns for the expected disruptions, the move went well and we are now well settled into our new, roomier spaces.
  • The big international conference in Greece (Knots in Hellas 2016) was reported in a Greek daily newspaper I Avgi (“The Dawn") published in Athens, Greece. The photograph shows conference participants including our students Sujoy Mukherjee, Xiao Wang, Seung Yeop Yang, with Professor Jozef Przytycki, Alexander Shumakovitch and our former PhD student Radmila Sazdanovic.

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Alumni Updates and Class Notes

McCarthy Anum-Addo, BS ’08, is currently a scientist with the U.S. Department of Navy. Anum-Addo recently started a nonprofit called The ADDUP Project INC. The ADDUP Project is an educational nonprofit to provide volunteer mentors to underserved and at-risk students.
Brian Bargh, MA ’13, is working as a data scientist at Recursion Pharmaceuticals. They are using math and machine learning to find treatments for rare genetic diseases.
Yosef Berman, MA ’12, is working for Google. Berman describes the best part so far was eating lunch with Professor Brian Kernighan.
Mary Margaret Butler, BS ’12, is currently working as a systems analyst at a financial planning company in St. Louis, Mo. Butler has earned a graduate certificate in geospatial intelligence from Penn State, and is currently studying for the Series 7 Exam (relating to financial regulations).
Jennifer Chubb, PhD ’09, is currently a tenure-line professor of mathematics at the University of San Francisco. She remains an active researcher in computable structure theory and loves the Bay Area.
Nicole Giletto, BS ’15, is currently working as an actuarial trainee at a reinsurance company in New Jersey. Giletto is pursuing an associateship followed by fellowship with the Casualty Actuary Society.
Stephanie Joshi, BA ’94, has worked in telecommunications for 20 years designing enterprise and federal, private and public networks with security. For personal growth, Joshi has moved to a cloud provider offering public and private cloud stacks. She loves learning continuously!
Aaron Knott, BS ’61, has retired. 
Jules Kouatchou, PhD ’98, works as a computational scientist at NASA GSFC. Kouatchou’s main task is to implement software components for chemistry transport models. She also organizes Python training for various groups (scientists, engineers, summer interns) at NASA.
Fat Lam, MA ’74, went on to obtain a PhD in math at the University of Montana. Lam retired in 2014 with 36 years of service as professor of math and computer science and served as chairman of the department at Gallaudet University.
Mike McDaniel, PhD ’97, had his book Geometry by Construction published in 2015. It reprints five of his undergraduate research results, including how to square the circle in hyperbolic and elliptic models.
Bruce Ollodart, BS ’81, took the examinations to become an actuary. Ollodart lives in Connecticut and currently work as an actuarial consultant in a private practice he started in 1997, after 16 years working in the industry.
Rustin Partow, BS ’11, is a third year PhD student studying economics at UCLA.
Alex Prengel, BA ’71, obtained a PhD in physics from Brandeis in 1975 in laser raman spectroscopy. Prengel taught in Algeria (1979-80), and then was on the computer science faculty at Brandeis (1982-91). He has been with the Information Systems and Technology Department at MIT since then.
Thomas Savitsky, PhD ’15, is currently a non-tenure track lecturer of mathematics at the University of Houston-Downtown.
Sonia Schmit, BS ’94, graduated from the Math Department in 1994 while working at The World Bank. Schmit went on to get an MS and doctor of science degrees from GW's School of Engineering and Applied Science while working in the defense sector. She received her MBA from Virginia Tech in 2006. Today she is a senior director at General Dynamics.
Christopher Shaw, BA ’01, has recently been promoted to associate professor of mathematics at the Columbia College Chicago.
Robyn Silber, BA ’15, will be completing a Master of Science in Computer Science from GW's School of Engineering and Applied Science, concentrating in software engineering & systems.
Konstantinos Smpokos, MA ’16, is in the PhD program at GW in the field of mathematics and is ready to start doing research.
Allison Stone, BA ’09, recently graduated from Santa Clara University with a master's degree in interdisciplinary education. Stone will start as a teaching assistant for a girls' after-school math course soon. Stone has also been doing TV background extra work for the past few months.
Richard Sullivan, BA ’77, taught junior and senior high math in Omak, Wash., from 1977 to 1978. From 1978 to 1997, Sullivan was an actuarial student at Milliman & Robertson in Seattle, Wash. Since then, Sullivan has primarily worked in accounting, currently living in Oregon.
Milica Taskovic, BS ’14, is currently a third-year math PhD student at UT Austin. Taskovic is in applied math, working with Professor Bjorn Engquist.
Kyle Whittaker, BS ’08, is currently the technical director and chief engineer for product development at his division of a large U.S. firm.
Whiting Wicker, BS ’72, MA ’75, received his PhD in mathematics education from American University in 2002. Wicker retired from the Department of Defense after 34 years as an operations research analyst. He is currently teaching high school math in Florida.

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