Department News, Summer 2019

Message From the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Faculty Kudos 
Current Students
Department Achievements
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Department Chair Frank Baginski
Department Chair Frank Baginski

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 afternoon coffee hour. Please keep in touch.

The GW Math Department plans to host a special lecture and reception in October 2019 and hope alumni in the D.C. area can join us. Details will be available later this year.


Frank Baginski
Chair, GW Mathematics Department

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Congratulations to Misrak Negatu on her GWSB Master's!

Misrak Negatu in graduation cap and gown holding flowers in front of Funger Hall.
Misrak Negatu, Mathematics Operations Supervisor
Congratulations to Misrak Negatu, Mathematics Department operations supervisor, on receiving her Master of Science Degree in Project Management (MSPM) from the GW School of Business (GWSB) in Spring 2018!  Misrak joined the GW Mathematics Department in December 2006. She received a bachelor’s in business administration, majoring in finance, in spring 2014. Misrak states, “Education is fun! You learn many new things every day. Most of the courses that I took in business school helped me to be more productive in my role as department operations supervisor. I am so happy to be a part of Mathematics Department!” 










Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society 

2018 inductees of Pi Mu Epsilon honor society standing with Professor Mintchev in front of a purple and gold Pi Mu Epsilon banner.
2018 inductees of Pi Mu Epsilon honor society with Professor Mintchev
On April 6, 2018, math majors Zijing LeiYishu LiRunjie LyuAlexandra MaierZachary MartinSara Sokolinski and Pingyi Zhang were inducted into the Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honor society. For the induction, the department hosted our alumnus Dr. Stan Mintchev, BS ’02,  a former math and physics who is now an associate professor at Cooper Union). Dr. Mintchey gave a talk titled “A friendly introduction to slow-fast systems and their importance in mathematical neuroscience.”
2019 inductees of Pi Mu Epsilon honor society standing with Professor Gorkin while holding a purple and gold Pi Mu Epsilon banner.

2019 inductees of Pi Mu Epsilon honor society with Professor Gorkin
On April 5, 2019, math majors Cooper AtkinsDylan Clark-BoucherCaroline HammerEthan LewisRuibo WeiMargaret SteinerElla Wang and Yadi Xu were inducted into the Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honor society. For the induction, the department hosted a talk by Dr. Pamela Gorkin from Bucknell University and the National Science Foundation (NSF).














Computer Science for Social Good

Samsara Counts
Samsara Counts
Samsara Counts, a senior majoring in computer science and mathematics was featured in a GW Today article on how she used deep learning methods to develop tools that help patients with eating disorders avoid triggering images online.










Special Lecture and Reception

The GW Math Department plans to host a special lecture and reception in October 2019 and hope those in the D.C. area can join us. Details will be available later this year.

Department Picnic

The Mathematics Department hosted a picnic attended by faculty and graduate students at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Md., on Sunday, September 23, 2018.

Math students and faculty gathered at a picnic.
Math faculty and graduate students at Quiet Waters
Park in Annapolis, Md.
Math students and faculty gathered outside at a picnic.

Academic Commons

Jane Peabody, Academic Commons Program Coordinator Laura Arroyo, Margaret Steiner, Alexis Kolecki, Katheryn Hechtel
Left to right: Jane Peabody, Laura Arroyo (Program Coordinator, Academic Commons), Margaret Ball, Katheryn Hechtel
Since spring 2018, the Department of Mathematics has been working with Academic Commons (previously STEMworks) to recommend math majors to work as peer coaches and review leaders for Math 1007, 1009, 1051, 1252, 1220, 1221, 1231, 1232, 2233 and 2184. In spring 2019, the following math majors worked for GW Academic Commons: Jane Peabody (math and physics major, 2020), Cooper Atkins (math and statistics, 2020), Margaret Steiner (math, 2020), Kathryn Hechtel (math, 2019), Yadi Xu (math and economics, 2020), Alexis Kolecki (math, 2019), Kasra Eskandarian (math, 2021), Andreja Radevic (math, 2020) and Dounia Lazreq (math, 2021). The department thanks these students for their dedication and contributions to the success of Academic Commons.












Math Professors Make Elections Add Up

Voting cubicle with an American flag and the word VOTE in blue letters on the side. Can mathematics save our election system? When it comes to examining the role math plays in our politics, Professors Daniel Ullman and E. Arthur Robinson wrote the book—literally. They are the authors of a seminal text on calculating electoral alternatives. CCAS Spotlight magazine asked them to forecast the pluses and minuses of how we count votes. Read More









Murli M. Gupta

Professor Murli M. Gupta attended the International Conference on Applied Analysis and Mathematical Modelling (ICAAMM2018) at Istanbul Gelisim University (Istanbul, Turkey) in June 2018 and presented an invited paper titled: “ψ-v computation of flow past a flat plate in uniform and accelerated flow.” On the way back, he was fortunate enough to have a two-day stopover in the beautiful country of Iceland. Professor Gupta attended the Taiwan-India Joint Conference—“Recent Progress on Flow Simulation and Stability Analysis—at National Taiwan University (March 2019) and presented two invited plenary lectures. The first, which opened the conference, was: “High Accuracy Solution of Differential Equations in Computational Sciences.” The second lecture was: “Recent Developments in the Solution Methods for Differential Equations in Computational Sciences." The accompanying photo is from the conference.


Group photo including Professor Murli M. Gupta at the 2018 International Conference on Applied Analysis and Mathematical Modeling


Dan Ullman

The Problems Section of the American Mathematical Monthly had another banner year in 2018, publishing its 12,000th problem since its inception in 1894. Professor Daniel Ullman is the lead editor of the section. He fielded 1,790 submissions to the section this year, publishing 70 problems and 79 solutions. The 79th William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition took place on December 1, 2018, under the directorship of Professor Ullman. Results were announced on February 25, 2019. The teams from Harvard and MIT came in first and second, respectively, which is no surprise, but notable among the top 10 teams are the inclusion of the less expected University of British Columbia and University of Maryland, College Park. Professor Ullman was also a plenary speaker at the 49th Southeastern International Conference on Combinatorics, Graph Theory, and Computing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla. He gave two hour-long talks, the first on his upcoming paper with Dan Velleman “Differences of Bijections,” and the second titled “Gems from the Monthly” about his favorite problems from the American Mathematical Monthly over the past 125 years.

John Conway

A photo of a student in Korea pointing to John Conway's book: Graduate Texts in Mathematics. Professor Emeritus John Conway gave an invited talk (Sequences of Matrices: Linear Algebra & Metric Spaces, March 6, 2019) at Indiana University. Emeritus Professor Conway was on the faculty at Indiana University for 25 years. The accompanying photo was taken in a Korean bookstore of a student of Professor Conway's son.









E. Arthur Robinson

In fall 2018, the GW Department of Mathematics hosted visiting graduate student Mathijs de Lepper. Mathijs is a student of Karma Dajani, PhD ’89, in Leiden, the Netherlands. Mathijs was working on a master’s thesis which involved constructing a normal number for the Gauss continued fraction map with respect to the invariant measure whose distribution is the Minkowski “question mark” function. In December 2018, Professor Robinson spoke at a conference titled 60 Years of Number Expansions, which was held at the Centro di Giorgi, in Pisa, Italy. The conference was in honor of  Karma Dajani and her husband Cor Kraaikamp.

Hugo Junghenn

Book Covers of "Financial Mathematics" and "Principles of Analysis" Professor of Mathematics Hugo Junghenn published two new books from CRC press: Principle of Analysis: Measure, Integration, Functional Analysis, and Applications and  An Introduction to Financial MathematicsOption Valuation (Second Edition).







Joel Lewis

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Joel Lewis has been enjoying his second year in the department very much. In spring 2019, he is overseeing a number of student projects and has given talks at George Mason University, the University of Delaware, DePaul University and the University of Minnesota. He organized a mini-conference in Berlin (on the c2 invariant and rook theory) in April 2018, and is on the organizing committee of the 2019 Formal Power Series and Algebraic Combinatorics conference, which will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in July 2019.

Xiaofeng Ren

Professor of Mathematics Xiaofeng Ren was awarded CCAS Dean’s Research Chair from 2018-2021. He presented his researching findings in the following invited lectures:

  • “Primary and secondary structures of inhibitory geometric variational problems,” AMS Fall Eastern Sectional Meeting, special session on recent analytic and numeric results on nonlinear evolution equations, Newark, Delaware, September 29, 2018, and at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, June 27, 2018.
  • “Bubbles and droplets in a singular limit of the FitzHugh-Nagumo system,” Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics, at Chinese Academy of Sciences, May 30, 2018.

The Dean’s Research Chair also supported the following publications.

  • C.-N. Chen, Y.-S. Choi, Y. Hu and X. Ren, “Higher dimensional bubble profiles in a sharp interface limit of the FitzHugh-Nagumo system,” SIAM Journal on Mathematical Analysis, Vol. 50, No. 5 (2018) 5072-5095.
  • C.-N. Chen, Y.-S. Choi and X. Ren, “Bubbles and droplets in a singular limit of the FitzHugh-Nagumo system, “Interfaces and Free Boundaries, Vol. 20, Issue 2 (2018) 165-211.

Valentina Harizanov

Professor of Mathematics Valentina Harizanov gave a talk at the Workshop on Computability Theory, U. of Waterloo, Canada, and at Computability in Europe meeting in Kiel, Germany, both in summer 2018. In spring 2018, she gave a talk at the SouthEastern Logic Symposium, U. of Florida, and at a special session of the AMS meeting, Portland, Oregon. In spring 2019, Harizanov gave talks in two special sessions at the Joint Math MeetingsBaltimore; and at AMS meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii. Harizanov published a paper, with a former student Trang Ha, in the Journal of Knot Theory, and two papers with international collaborators: in Annals of Pure and Applied Logic and in Journal of Logic and Computation. A chapter—“Computability and definability”—Harizanov co-authored with former PhD students Trang HaLeah Marshall and Hakim Walker will be published in the book Computability, Forcing and Descriptive Set Theory. As part of holding a CCAS Dean’s Research Chair for 2015-18, Harizanov taught a Dean’s Seminar for freshmen in fall 2018: Math 1000 Language and Logic. The course received  very good feedback from its 14 students. Harizanov chaired the program committee for the Association for Symbolic Logic Winter Meeting in 2019. She is a co-organizer of the American Institute of Mathematics research workshop Definability and Decidability Problems in Number Theory, San Jose, Calif, May 6-10, 2019. Harizanov, along with several professors from the United States and the United Kingdom, will be running a semester-long scientific program on Decidability, definability and computability in number theory in fall 2020, selected for support by the MSRI in Berkeley.

Alex Shumakovitch

Assistant Professor Alex Shumakovitch gave a talk at the SwissMAP Conference on Patchworking of Geometry and Topology in Belalp, Switzerland, in June 2018. After the conference, he spent one week in Zurich working with his long-standing collaborator Krzysztof Putyra from the University of Zurich.

Jozef Przytycki

Professor of Mathematics Jozef H. Przytycki was a plenary speaker at the Southern California Topology Conference in honor of the retirement of Jim Hoste, April 2018, and at the 2018 Knots in Gdansk II conference. He was invited to speak in special sessions at the AMS meeting in Honolulu, in March 2019; at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in November 2018; at Portland State University in April 2018; and at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, in March 2018. He also delivered a colloquium at the University of Texas at Dallas, October, 2018. He published an article with his former student Adam Sikora in the Transaction of the American Mathematical Society. He also published a paper in Experimental Mathematic with his former students S. Mukherjee,  M. SilveroX.A. Wang and S.Y. Yang, and a paper in the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics with his former student visitor and postdoc Marithania Silvero. Przytycki also published a paper in Topology and its Applications with his former PhD student M.K. Dabkowski. The accompanying photo is from the AMS meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, March 2019.

Group photo from the AMS meeting in a classroom in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Chong Wang defended her PhD dissertation “Analysis and Modeling of Self-organized Systems with Long Range Interaction in April 21, 2018. Starting September 2018, she has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McMaster University. In Spring 2018, Chong Wang was awarded the Green Prize. She was invited to give presentations at the following conferences and universities: SIAM Conference on Nonlinear Waves and Coherent Structures in June 2018; Recent Trends in Nonlinear PDEs in December 2018; a seminar at Peking University in December 2018; a seminar at Renmin University of China in December 2018; a seminar at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in December 2018; and a seminar at University of Arizona in February 2019. She also presented a poster at the Workshop on Mathematical Models for Pattern Formation at Carnegie Mellon University in March 2019.

Dario Verta, a first year PhD student, has been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for 2019-22 in mathematical sciences (logic/foundations of mathematics).

Seung Yeop Yang, Rhea Palak Bakshi, Jozef Przytycki, Alex Shumakovitch, and Sujoy Mukherjee gathered around a table.
Left to right: Seung Yeop Yang, Rhea Palak Bakshi, Jozef Przytycki, Alex Shumakovitch and Sujoy Mukherjee

Current PhD student Sujoy Mukherjee was awarded the CCAS Dean’s Dissertation Completion Fellowship for the spring semester of 2019. He was also selected for the departmental Taylor Prize (spring 2018) and Green Prize (spring 2019). In the academic year 2018-19, three of his papers were published.

Among his invited talks were presentations at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, 2019, and a seminar at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali. On February 21, 2019, he defended his dissertation “On Skein Modules and Homology Theories Related to Knot Theory.” Sujoy won the 2nd prize in physical and mathematical sciences for his poster the GW Research Day, April 9, 2019. The accompanying photo is from the fall Southeastern AMS sectional meeting at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.











Iva Bilanovic won 1st prize in physical and mathematical sciences for her poster at GW Research Day on April 10, 2018. She co-authored a journal paper and was invited to give a talk at the New England Recursion and Definability Seminar (NERDS) in Springfield, Mass., in November 2018. Iva won departmental Taylor Prize in 2019.

Group photo including Trang Ha and the committee membres, students and alumni who heard her dissertation defense.

Trang Ha gave an invited talk at a special session of the AMS meeting in Portland, Ore., in April 2018. Trang Ha defended her dissertation On Algorithmic Properties of Computable Magmas” in May 2018, and published a journal paper. The accompanying photo is of lunch with committee members, students and alumni after the defense.









Speculative First of April Talk

Cameron Gordon, professor and Richardson Foundation Regents Chair, University of Texas-Austin, delivered the Distinguished Speculative First of April Talk 2019 on “The multiple personalities of knots and 3-manifolds.” This event co-organized by J. Przytycki, Y. Rong and V. Harizanov was funded by GW Institute for Mathematical Sciences. Below are pictures from Gordon’s lecture and lunch with faculty and students.

Cameron Gordon delivering the Distinguished Speculative First of April Talk
Cameron Gordon's post-lecture lunch with faculty and students all gathered around a table with food.

Math Colloquium

Valentina Harizanov and Jozef Przytycki organized a math colloquium, which featured several distinguished speakers including: Denis Hirschfeldt (University of Chicago), Joanna Kania-Bartoszynska (NSF), Masahico Saito (University of South Florida)and Norbert Linke (University of Maryland and Joint Quantum Institute). Pictured below are Hirschfeldt (left) and Linke (right).

Denis Hirschfeldt Norbert Linke

University Seminar

The University Seminar on Logic Across Disciplines is in its second year and has had a number of distinguished speakers and departmental visitors, including Andrey Morozov (Sobolev Institute of Mathematics, Russia), Alexandra Soskova (Sofia University, Bulgaria) and Sergey Goncharov, (Russian Academy of Sciences). 


Knots in Washington Meetings XLVI and XLVII

Every semester, Jozef Przytycki, Yongwu Rong, Alex Shumakovitch, Valentina Harizanov and Hao Wu, and our alumna Radmila Sazdanovic, organize a conference Knots in Washington. The last two were held May 4–6, 2018 and January 20–21, 2019.

Group photo of the Knots in Washington meeting in January of 2019
January 2019 Knots in Washington meeting

Conference of Nonlinear Phenomena

GW Math hosted a Conference of Nonlinear Phenomena in Washington, D.C., in April 24, 2018. The conference focused on recent advances on nonlinear analysis, PDE and applications. It was sponsored by NSF, SIAM and the Simons Foundation, and was organized by Maria Gualdani, Svetlana Roudenko and Yanxiang Zhao.

Spring 2019 Conference on Applied Mathematics

GW Chapter of SIAM hosted the Spring 2019 Conference on Applied Mathematics on May 4, 2019. The conference was organized by Yangxiang Zhou and GW mathematics graduate students Jingjing Xu, Debdeep Bhattacharya and Hyun Jung Choi.

Special Issue of Journal of Knot Theory

M. Dabkowski, V. Harizanov, L. Kauffman, J. Przytycki, R. Sazdanovic and A. Sikora, co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Knot Theory and Its Ramifications dedicated to the 60th birthday of Jozef Przytycki: Volume III, Journal of Knot Theory and Its Ramifications, vol. 27, no. 3, World Scientific, Singapore, March 2018. 


Alumni Tim McNicholl, Valentina Harizanov, and Jennifer Chubb standing together.
Left to right: Tim McNicholl, Valentina Harizanov and Jennifer Chubb
Jennifer Chubb, PhD ’09, an associate professor at University of San Francisco, spent her sabbatical year at GW. She and Tim McNicholl, PhD ’95, a professor at Iowa State University, organized an American Mathematical Society special session on recent advances and trends in computable structure theory (in honor of J. Remmel) at the Joint Math Meetings in Baltimore in January 2019.











Virginia (Ginger) Patron, BA ’84, taught middle and high school mathematics for nine years in the Baltimore City and County Public Schools. She is currently in her 25th year as a school counselor with the Baltimore County Public Schools.

Richard "Dick" Reynolds, BA ’66, is fully retired and living in Colorado Springs, Colo. He plays competitive bridge twice weekly and is ranked a bronze life master by the American Contract Bridge League.

Marcy Taylor, BS ’09, completed her MS in data analytics from UMUC in 2018.

Jiayuan Wang, BS ’15, is pursuing a doctoral degree in mathematics at GW.


The Mathematics Department would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from January 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018. 

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend

Dr. John B. Conway + 
Isaac N. Freilich Jones, BS ’06
Annika K. Miller, Ph.D., PhD ’95
Konstantinos Nakis, BS ’15, MS ’16 
Dr. Miroslav Radevic #
Tatjana Radevic #
Greta R. Simons, BS ’17
Maxim V. Sokolov, Ph.D., PhD ’00
Gregory W. Steiner #
Karen D. Steiner #
Wei Tian, BS ’18
Jude Andrew B. Tungul, BS ’16


Gifts to the Department of Mathematics allow us to provide support for faculty and student research and travel, graduate student fellowships, and academic enrichment activities including guest speakers, visiting faculty, and symposia. Each gift, no matter how large or small, makes a positive impact on our educational mission and furthers our standing as one of the nation's preeminent liberal arts colleges at one of the world's preeminent universities.

You can make your gift to the Department in a number of ways:

  • Securely online.
  • By mailing your check, made out to The George Washington University and with the name of the department in the memo line, to:
The George Washington University
PO Box 98131
Washington, DC 20077-9756
  • By phone by calling the GW Division of Development and Alumni Relations at 1-800-789-2611


Join GW's Industry Networks!

 Colonials Weekend 2019

Check Out GW Career Connect
Alumni Industry Networks graphic with three students. Graphic for GW Colonials Weekend 2019 from September 20-22 with Kogan Plaza gate silhouette. Buff, blue, and white Join GW Career Connect graphic.

Join one (or more!) of GW’s Alumni Industry Networks. Connect with fellow alumni professionals in-person and virtually and expand your network. Learn more and join.  

Enjoy a weekend of fun activities for the entire GW community, including the Colonials Weekend Kickoff Party, a GW food festival, live music, tours of campus, and opportunities to make new friends and great memories. Class-specific reunion celebrations will also be held. Learn more.

Connect with current students and fellow alumni through our new online networking platform, the Industry Career Network on GW Career Connect, centered around 14 industry areas of interest.