Notes from the Department Chair - 2013

Prepared by Wei-Min Huang, Chair

It is my pleasure to take this opportunity to report to you again and bring you up to date on the many activities and accomplishments of students and faculty in the Mathematics Department since our last annual report in 2012. Even with conservative financial policies, it has been another exciting year for the Department of Mathematics at Lehigh. Rather than simply maintain the status quo, the Mathematics Department continues to find ways to enhance both undergraduate and graduate programs. As you can see from this report faculty of the department continue to live up to the role of scholars-teachers that is characteristic of our department and Lehigh at large. I would like to thank the dedicated faculty and staff of the department for working with me closely and creating a better environment to learn mathematical sciences on campus.  We have been fortunate to have had the resources and flexibility to put many good ideas into practice. During the coming year, we are committed to establish an even better academic environment for our students and faculty.

Here are some highlights of the year.

  • Promotion and Reappointment. The Provost in his letter dated May 9, 2013 has formally announced that he will be recommending to the Board of Trustees of Lehigh University, in its May 17, 2013 meeting, that Ping-Shi Wu be promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure in the department of mathematics. Also the Provost announced that Daniel Conus has been reappointed as an assistant professor for his second 2-year term in the department.
  • Associate Dean and Associate Chair. Professor Garth Issak was appointed as the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in CAS; Professor David Johnson was appointed as the Associate Chair of the Mathematics Department.
  • Co-Director of Analytical Finance Program. Professor Vladimir Dobric was formally appointed as one of the three co-directors of the Analytical Finance Program. This is a three-year appointment retroactive from September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2015. This formal appointment was issued by the deans of the three colleges involved in the program.
  • Hillman Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising. Professor Garth Isaak was recognized during the Annual Faculty/Staff Appreciation Dinner and awarded the Hillman Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising.
  • Faculty Recognition. Professor Donald Davis was named inaugural AMS Fellow. Don joined a select group of mathematical scientists from around the world with his recent election as a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society for 2013. With an inaugural class of 1,119, the Fellows program recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics. Among the goals of the program are to create an enlarged class of mathematicians recognized by their peers as distinguished for their contributions to the profession and to honor excellence research. Don was also recognized in the spring 2013 issue of Acumen.
  • Mathematics Awards & Prizes.  Students who received 2012-2013 mathematics awards:
    • Mathematics Faculty Award: Gongkai Li
    • Elisha P. Wilbur Mathematics Prize: Akshay K. Damany, Chaim Kohen, Onoriode N. Ogidi-Ekoko, Marshall R. Nill, and Marc R. Wiener
    • C.-C. Hsiung Award: Logan McNamara and William G. Dearden
    • Thornburg Mathematics Prize: William G. Dearden
    • Goldwater Scholarship. One of our majors, Matt Kilgore, won Goldwater Scholarship. Matt has been doing mathematics research closely with both Professor Don Davis and Professor Mark Skandera.
  • Summer Research Fellowship Awards. For 2013 summer, three of our Ph.D. students received the university Strohl Summer Research Fellowship: Xin Cui, Jamie Long, and YingYing Zhang. Also Sam Clearman received a college Summer Research Fellowship. The Strohl Summer Fellowship is funded by a generous gift from Dale S. Srohl (’58), these funds support students in summer research projects that enable them to acquire new research skills and experiences under the guidance of a faculty member. The CAS Summer Research Fellowship is awarded upon the recommendation of the department and the acknowledgement of an excellent academic record.
  • Students Receiving Ph.D. Degree. Three students (Breeanne Baker, Qiang Chen and Brittany Shelton) are receiving their Ph.D. degrees in May 2013. Patricia Garmirian and Kathleen Ryan have received teaching job offers and both of them are finishing their dissertations. This is significant accomplishment in their life. All these students have served as teaching assistants in the department and have greatly contributed to our academic mission.  Qiang Chen received a 3-year research position, Dunham Jackson Assistant Professor, at University of Minnesota (starting August, 2013). Patricia Garmirian received a 3-year research position, Norbert Wiener Assistant Professorship, at Tufts University (starting September, 2013). Breeanne Baker, Kathleen Ryan, and Brittany Shelton will be teaching, respectively, at the Citadel - the Military College of South Carolina, DeSales University in Center Valley, PA, and Albright College in Reading, PA.
  • Master and Bachelor Degrees.  Five students (Alex Borselli, Samuel Clearman, Aydin Gerek, Brian Klatt, and Xin Zhou) are receiving a master’s degree and twenty-one will receive bachelor degrees in May 2013.
  • Department Summer Research Fellowship. The new comprehensive examination policy will encourage our graduate students to begin their research earlier. The department will start re-investing the incentive fund to support summer research of our graduate students.  This will function as a supplement to the university and college summer fellowship. We expect some of the first or second year best students will benefit from this research fellowship. As such, it is expected that any student receiving this fellowship will have passed the qualifying examinations by the start date of the fellowship.  We will be giving this summer research fellowship to Brian Klatt in summer 2013. This Summer Research Fellowship is specifically intended to enable the recipient to devote 100% effort to research in pursuit of dissertation completion.
  • President Alice P. Gast’s Visit to Mathematics Department. Alice Gast visited the department and met with mathematics faculty for about two hours on Monday, January 28th, 2013. In an e-mail to me she said “I would like to thank you and your colleagues for your welcome to the department and for the rich conversation we had.  I was impressed with the depth of thinking and the focus on important matters .... “ I was also invited to the March Trustees Board meeting with department chairs. I gave a brief presentation about the mathematics department to the Board.
  • Special Department Activities. (1) On April 10, 2013, during Graduate Student Appreciation Week (April 8th - April 12th), the mathematics department once again held a special in house dinner to celebrate the graduation of our majors and graduate students. Several students were also recognized and given department awards and prizes (the C.-C. Hsiung Mathematics Award and the Thornburg Mathematics Prize). Faculty, staff and students enjoyed the celebration very much. This event is funded by the mathematics department Gifts Fund. At this special gathering a special colloquium talk was also delivered by Jerry King. The title of Jerry's talk was "Mandelbrojt's Singular Point".  (2) We also revealed a newly designed math Ti-shirt during the Pi-Day celebration.
  • Everett Pitcher Lecture Series. Our distinguished lecture series, the Pitcher Lectures, was once again held this year. The Pitcher lectures are held in honor of Everett Pitcher, who served in Lehigh's Department of Mathematics from 1938 until 1978, when he retired as Distinguished Professor of Mathematics. He was secretary of the American Mathematical Society from 1967 until 1988. Nearly 30 years ago, Everett Pitcher and his wife made a significant financial contribution to the Lehigh mathematics department. As a result of their generosity we have the Everett Pitcher Professorship of Mathematics, the Everett Pitcher Mathematical Research Scholar Position, and the annual Pitcher Lectures, Lehigh's distinguished lecture series going back to 1983. This year’s Pitcher Lectures were given by Professor Gunnar Carlsson,
    Anne & Bill Swindells Professor, Department of Mathematics, Stanford University. The theme of his three lectures was on “The shape of data”: Measuring the shape of data - persistent homology; Measuring the shape of data II - examples and generalized persistence; Mapping big data.
  • Richard Tapia Special Visit to Lehigh. Mathematics Department was one of the co-sponsors among several departments and university offices to host Professor Richard Tapia at Lehigh this semester. Richard Tapia is a mathematician and professor (University Professor Maxfield-Oshman Professor in Engineering) in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University. Some of Richard Tapia's honors include: the 2011 National Medal of Science from President Obama, the National Academy of Engineering, the first recipient of the A. Nico Habermann Award from the Computing Research Association, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Clinton and much more. Among many other professional activities, Tapia was a member of SIAM Board of Trustees, 1989 - 1992, Strategic Planning Task Force of the American Mathematical Society, 1990 - 1991, National Science Board, 1996 -2002. One of his publications that I enjoyed the most is the book "Nonparametric Probability Density Estimation", the co-author is J. R. Thompson. This book was very popular during the time I was a graduate student. I believe it is still an excellent and popular reference. According to Tapia, one of his favorite mentors is David Sanchez, Lehigh's former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Mathematics Professor. Some of you may still remember that David Sanchez also had an office on the third floor in XS building during his tenure at Lehigh. Professor Tapia gave two talks during his visit to Lehigh: (1) Public Talk: "Crisis In Higher Education: The Need for New Leadership" and (2) Technical Talk: "The Isoperimetric Problem Revisited: Extracting a Short Proof of Sufficiency from Euler's 1744 Proof of Necessity".
  • Special Volume on Professor Billy Rhoades the Indian Journal of Mathematics. Indian Journal of Mathematics-Volume 56 (2014) Special Volume on Professor Billy Rhoades: The Indian Journal of Mathematics will be publishing a special volume containing three issues on Billy Rhoades, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington. He obtained his doctoral degree on Hausdorff Summability Methods from Lehigh University in 1958. He was Albert Tommy Wilansky's first student, and the 5th Ph.D awardee in mathematics from Lehigh. He has made numerous contributions to Summability Theory and Fixed Point Theory. He has published more than 378 papers. In addition he has served the mathematical community with a great sense of dedication and has a very large following throughout the world. Billy Rhoades was Albert Tommy Wilansky's first student, and the 5th Ph.D awardee in mathematics from Lehigh.
  • 2012-2013 Research Visitors. In consideration of our need for teaching strength and our desire to hire someone who would contribute to our research mission as well, we hired Dr. Matthew Hyatt in 2012 as research visitor. The title of his position is the C.-C. Hsiung Mathematical Research Scholar, a two-year position and supported by the C.-C. Hsiung Fund for Advancement of Mathematics. This is Dr. Hyatt’s first year in the department and he held a post-doc position at UC-San Diego. Matthew received his doctoral degree from the University of Miami. Matthew’s research interests are in Quasisymmetric Functions and Permutation Statistics for Coxeter Groups and Wreath Product Groups. This year we have two visiting scholars from China: Dr. Haihong Liu (Yunnan Normal University) and Dr. Daguang Chen (Tsinghua University). Haihong was collaborating with Linghai Zhang. Daguang has collaborated work with Huai-Dong; Daguang is curenly visiting Rutgers University since Haui-Ding is taking a leave in China this semester. Both Haihong and Daguang are supported by scholarship funds from the Chinese Government. We also had several short-term research visitors mostly supported by faculty research grants and department funds. This year short-term visitors are:  Professor Pierre Calka, Universite de Rouen, France visited Joe Yukich in January and May 2013), Professor Arup Bose (Statistics and Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, INDIA) visited Souir in August.  Professor Ionel Popescu (Georgia Tech and the Institute of Mathematics of the Romanian Academy) visited Rob Neel in September 2012.
  • Eckardt Scholars Program & Award. Three math majors (Logan McNamara, William G. Dearden, and David Tench) were presented their senior theses on Sunday, April 28th, during the special celebration. Many parents attended this presentation and celebration. Logan McNamara and David Tench recognized and received the annual Eckardt Scholars Award.
  • American Regions Math League.  The American Regions Math League is a national high school mathematics team contest that has been taking place each year since 1976. Professor Donald Davis continues his outstanding work with the high school students.  Every year for the past 17 years he has coached a Lehigh Valley team in the American Regions Math League (ARML) competition for high school students. The team has an amazing record: National champions in 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2011; Second in 2007; Third in 2006. In the contest held June 4, 2011, there were 133 teams, including five Lehigh Valley teams, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Thunder, and Storm. The Fire team came in first place, winning the national championship for the third year in a row, and fourth time in seven years. The Ice team finished 22nd, their best finish ever, and the Lightning team finished fourth in Division B, which means that they will be moved to Division A (which consists of the elite teams) for the next three years. This year Don’s team finished 2nd in ARML and won Princeton contest. This is a truly remarkable achievement on his part.
  • Journal of Differential Geometry.  One of the crown jewels of the department is the Journal of Differential Geometry (JDG), founded by Professor C.-C. Hsiung and published by Lehigh ever since.  JDG is one of the premier mathematics research journals.  Its visibility and reputation significantly contribute to the visibility and reputation of the Lehigh math department.  After Professor C.-C. Hsiung passed away, Professor S.-T. Yau of Harvard University became the only Editors-in-chief of JDG.  Professor Cao serves as Managing Editor of JDG, and the journal is running very smoothly.  JDG is printed and distributed by International Press (IP) under contract with Lehigh.
  • Geometry/Topology Conference.  JDG will again sponsor the annual Geometry/Topology conference; NSF will co-sponsor this year conference.  On May 24-26, 2013, the 26th annual Geometry/Topology conference will be held at Lehigh. Of the previous 25 conferences, 17 have been held at Lehigh, with 8 at Harvard (during 1992 the conference was not held due to a regional AMS meeting being held at Lehigh). This year the speakers include: Mark Behrens (MIT), Hugh Bray (Duke University), Natasa Sesum (Rutgers University), Mu-Tao Wang (Columbia University), Ben Weinkove (Northwestern University), Detang Zhou (UFF of Brazil, visiting MIT). The annual conference has been supported by NSF grants. Professors Cao, Davis, Johnson, and Szczepanski have been involved in obtaining the NSF conference grants. During 2006-2012 the conference was supported by NSF grant. Each of these conferences provided opportunities for both formal and informal sharing and discussion of current results in mathematics. A special effort was made to encourage attendance by graduate students and recent Ph.D.’s interested in geometry and topology. In May 2013 NSF awarded a new grant for support of the project entitled "Lehigh-Harvard Geometry and Topology Conference," and will be under the direction of Huai-Dong Cao, Donald Davis, and David Johnson. This award is effective May 1, 2013 and expires April 30, 2016. The annual Lehigh University Geometry and Topology Conference has been sponsored by NSF since 2006 and it is jointly supported by the Journal of Differential Geometry Fund at Lehigh.