Department News, Summer 2020
Message From The Chair
Greetings from the GW Mathematics Department!
The 2019-2020 academic year was a busy one for the Department of Mathematics. We kicked off the fall semester with a department picnic at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Md. Through the SIAM Visiting Lecture Program, the department hosted “Mathematics: The Foundation of Impactful and Exciting Careers” by Lois Curfman McInnes, senior computational scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. In late October, GW alumni James Shelton, MBA '02, and Amy Nagahashi, BS '01, were the featured speakers at Careers in Math at the NSA, organized by the GW Math Club. The department conducted three successful searches this past year, which you can read more about in this newsletter.
Just as the department was looking forward to catching its breath over Spring Break 2020, the COVID-19 virus changed everything. An initial plan to temporarily resort to online instruction, turned into a permanent change for the remainder of the spring semester. Online instruction will continue through summer 2020. The decision to switch to all online instruction allowed us about a week to prepare. In a remarkable demonstration of teamwork and good will, GW faculty, students and staff worked together to complete the semester with minimal disruption. Other activities, such as the Pi Mu Epsilon induction ceremony, thesis defenses, and the department’s first virtual graduation celebration on Saturday May 16, were also conducted online. As soon as social distancing policies allow, the GW Math Department will host an on-campus picnic in 2020–21 and hope alumni in the D.C. area can join us. Details will be available later this year.
We would love to hear from you! Contact us at [email protected] and tell us what you have been doing! Once we are back on campus, 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.
Be safe and keep in touch,
Meet Maggie Steiner, Distinguished Scholar and 2020 Celebration Speaker
Maggie Steiner, BS ’19, had the honor of being named a Distinguished Scholar and 2020 Celebration Speaker at the 2020 Columbian College Graduation Celebration. She graduated summa cum laude with a BS in mathematics, concentrating in applied mathematics with minors in biology and bioinformatics.
Throughout her time at GW, Ms. Steiner was an undergraduate research assistant at the GW Computational Biology Institute, where she studied the genomics and epidemiology of retroviruses using bioinformatics approaches. She has presented her work at several regional and national conferences and has co-authored multiple scientific papers. In 2019, Ms. Steiner was named a Goldwater Scholar in recognition of her research accomplishments.
As a first-year student at GW, Ms. Steiner founded the Undergraduate Review, GW’s first and only university-wide, peer-reviewed undergraduate research publication. She served as editor-in-chief of the publication’s first two volumes and worked with the Office of the Vice President for Research to promote support for undergraduate research on campus. Ms. Steiner additionally held leadership positions in the GW chapters of the Association of Women in Mathematics and Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honors society. She is an alumna of the Elizabeth J. Somers Women’s Leadership Program and the University Honors Program.
This fall, Ms. Steiner will continue her studies as a doctoral student in human genetics at the University of Chicago.
Welcome New Faculty
We are pleased to welcome three new faculty members to the Mathematics Department: Dr. Lien-Yung Kao, Dr. Robert Won and Dr. Jay Daigle.
Dr. Lien-Yung Kao will join the Mathematics Department as an assistant professor in the fall of 2020. Dr. Kao received his PhD from the University of Notre Dame in 2017. He has been a National Science Foundation sponsored postdoctoral member and Dickson instructor at the University of Chicago. He works on dynamical systems and geometry, and uses techniques from thermodynamic formalism to investigate the geometry in a variety of contexts: manifolds, groups and graphs.
Dr. Robert Won was recently hired as an assistant professor. His research is in algebra, specifically noncommutative ring theory and noncommutative algebraic geometry. Dr. Won received his BS in mathematics from Duke University in 2011 and his PhD in 2016 from the University of California, San Diego, under the guidance of Daniel Rogalski. After graduate school, he spent two years as Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow at Wake Forest University and two years as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington. Dr. Won will finish his third year at UW before joining GW in the fall of 2021.
Dr. Gerald (Jay) Joseph Daigle joined the department as a teaching assistant professor of mathematics. Dr. Daigle was an assistant professor at Occidental College. He received his PhD in mathematics at the California Institute of Technology in June 2014. Prior to that, Dr. Daigle received his Master of Advanced Study in Mathematics at Cambridge University in June 2009 and a BA in mathematics from Pomona College in May 2008. His primary research interests are in number theory and arithmetic geometry. He comes to GW with a reputation as an exceptional teacher, and will play a special role in working closely with our undergraduate students to enhance their learning of mathematics.
Knots in Washington Meeting XLIX
In February, the Mathematics Department held the 49th meeting of Knots in Washington. This meeting was dedicated to the memory of Mark Kidwell, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and a frequent research collaborator with GW faculty and former students. Columbian College’s Associate Dean of Research Evie Downie made the welcoming remarks. The conference began with a talk “In Praise of Diagrams” by Heather Russell from the University of Richmond
Professor Murli Gupta published an invited paper “High-accuracy compact difference schemes for differential equations in mathematical sciences” in Annals of Mathematical Sciences and Application, Vol. 5 (no. 1), pp. 101–138 (2020). This paper was published in a special issue titled “Mathematical sciences related to theoretical physics, engineering, biology and economics,” edited by Guest Editor Tony Wen-Hann Sheu, National Taiwan University.
Professor Valentina Harizanov received the George Washington Award for 2020 for faculty, conferred for exceptional contributions to the university. Professor Harizanov was invited to participate in a panel discussion regarding the status and future of quantum computing at the Italian Embassy in June 2019. The panel discussion was moderated by Politico technology reporter Alexandra Levine and was featured in the Washington Diplomat.
Assistant Professor Joel Lewis had his research supported by two grants, from the Simons Foundation and from ORAU. He spoke throughout the country and internationally at many conferences. Professor Lewis continues to mentor undergraduate research projects; consisting this year of three GW undergraduates, Gaurav Gawankar, Dounia Lazreq and Mehr Rai, as well as SWW high schooler Seth Sabar, who completed a paper on complex reflection groups, building on work of alumnus Zach Peterson, BS '18
Professor Jozef H. Przytycki was a plenary speaker at the Knots in Gdansk III conference. He was also a colloquium speaker at University of South Florida at Tampa, University of Texas at Dallas and the Pusan National University, Busan, Korea. Professor Przytycki has worked hard throughout this year publishing various articles and papers, collaborating with his students, former students and postdocs on them.
Inspired by his research into tilings and fractals, and his math and art classes, Professor Robbie Robinson spent his fall 2019 sabbatical at the Flagg building, Corcoran School of the Arts & Design, learning how to use laser cutting and 3D printing to make physical models of mathematical objects. Some of Professor Robinson’s projects included large cardboard Archimedean and Kepler-Poinsot polyhedra, and reproductions of 19th century German models of surfaces, later popularized in the photographs and paintings of Man Ray and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
Professor Daniel Ullman published a paper with Daniel Velleman in the American Mathematical Monthly titled “Differences of Bijections.” The authors received the 2020 Paul R. Halmos – Lester R. Ford Prize for this paper. Professor Ullman continues to direct the Putnam Competition and edit the “Problems” section of the American Mathematical Monthly.
Visiting Assistant Professor Xiang Wan received his PhD from the University of Virginia in 2017 and was a postdoc at Wayne State University for two years before joining GW in fall 2019. In September 2019, Professor Wan was invited to present at several research events, including the National Laboratory of Scientific Computing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
PhD student Pavel Avdeyev published a paper in Bioinformatics.
PhD student Rhea Palak Bakshi presented invited papers at the Joint Math Meetings and at the AMS meetings in Binghamton and Riverside.
PhD student Dario Verta was awarded a prestigious 3-year NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and was featured in CCAS Spotlight.
This spring, PhD students Konstantinos Smpokos, Debdeep Bhattacharya and Iva Bilanovic successfully defended their dissertations.
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Rumen Dimitrov, PhD ’02 is currently a professor at Western Illinois University. He spent part of his recent sabbatical at GW where he collaborated on research with Valentina Harizanov and her visitors. Dimitrov published, together with Harizanov and Andrei Morozov of the Sobolev Institute of Mathematics, a paper in Algebra and Logic in May 2020.
Paul Kainen, BA ’66, is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and gave an invited lecture at the Knots in Washington conference.
Kerry Luse, PhD ’08, is a professor at Trinity Washington University and gave an invited lecture at the Knots in Washington conference.
Sujoy Mukherjee, PhD ’19, joined The Ohio State University as the Arnold Ross Assistant Professor. His picture appeared in the January 2020 issue of the Notices of the AMS.
Amir Pirnazar, PhD ’00 recently wrote a book titled Cocktail Party Mathematics (Station Square Media, 2019), a comical read that provides down-to-earth examples, which help people break through mathematical brain-blocks.
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The Mathematics Department would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the program from January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019.
Mathematics Department Donor List
June 2020 Newsletter
+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend
Alexander Baquie, BA ’00
Carrie Meffert Baquie, BS ’97
Dr. John B. Conway +
Atticus Francken, BS ’16
Isaac Freilich Jones, attended GW ’06
Annika Miller, PhD ’95
Konstantinos Nakis, BS ’15, MS ’16
Sita Ramamurti, PhD ’95
Maxim Sokolov, PhD ’00
Jude Andrew Tungul, BS ’16
Robert Wohlford, BA ’66, MA ’71