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Math Department Newsletter - Spring 2015

Notes from the Chair

The 2015 edition of the UGA Math Department newsletter is finally here!  I hope the pages that follow help to provide you with a sense of the exciting activities and events over the past year:  new hires, promotions, recognitions for achievements of students and faculty, as well as conferences, learning innovations, and outreach.   The articles here only touch the surface.  The day-to-day activities in the classroom, in seminars, or in hallway discussions are the heart of our teaching and research.  You can follow some of these activities on our website, but if you really want to learn more, I suggest you visit us.   Alumni, departmental friends, and generally the intellectually curious are always welcome to drop in.  We are proud of our work and we are happy to share it with our friends.

I would like you to consider making a gift to the mathematics department.   I hope that as you look back at your time with the UGA Mathematics Department, you find that those years have been dear and valuable to you.  Now it is your chance to keep that tradition going and help the department maintain its vibrant learning atmosphere.  You are among the small percentage of our population that really understands the importance of mathematics in our daily lives and in the future needs of our nation and the world.  UGA Math is providing exceptional education to our next generation of leaders and critical thinkers,supporting our secondary school system through teacher training and partnering in all areas of science to create innovation.  Please visit our giving section in this newsletter and make a donation to support your alma mater’s student, faculty, and programs today.

Before signing off, I should mention a couple of brief news items:  First, our new website is live.  Please have a look and give us feedback.  Second, I have started a group on LinkedIn called UGA Mathematics Department as a place for our alumni, faculty, and other friends to network.  If you are a LinkedIn member, we would love to have you join our group!


Malcolm Adams

Recent Graduates

We offer warm congratulations to our recent graduating students.  Best wishes for all of their future endeavors:

Bachelors Degrees:

Fall 2013: 

Brian Adam, Muneeb Ahmed, Yang Bai, Megan Edwards, Daniel Geiger, Ryan Gell, Stephen Green, Emily Herndon, Xieran Li, Mark Miller, Melissa Moore, Kristen Murri, Amanda Muteteke, William Purvis, Benjamin Roper, Charles Seward, Benjamin Shippey, Matthew Silverstein, Nguyen Vu, Thomas Watts

Spring 2014:

Scott Barnes, Alejandro Benitez, Reina Chau, Sabrina Collins, Sofie Cordani, Donald Davis, Claire Dever, Austin Garvin, Joseph Gussler, Christopher Helms, Alexander Hollums, Christopher Jagels, Anna Konieczny, Hannah Lawson, Ryan Linnane, Madeline Locus, Elyse Mahfoud, Nelson May, David Millard, Minh Pham, Konstantine Pryles, Heather Rigsby, Megan Scott, John Seymour, Wright Shamp, William Slaughter, Ashley Traylor, Valentina Udekigbo, John Walker, Benjamin Washington, Anna Zwanziger

Summer 2014: 

Faraad Armwood, Cole Bledsoe, Courtney Dolan, Jooeun Han, Allison Ingram, Nicholas Klepp, Eric Lee, Elizabeth Rogers, Yiqing Wu

We have also had several graduate students recently completing their degrees:

Michael Berglund received his Ph.D. under the advisement of Dr. Jason Cantarella. His dissertation was entitled, Bounding Expected Values on Random Polygons. Dr. Berglund is now an assistant professor at Piedmont College.

John Doyle received his Ph.D. under the advisement of Dr. Robert Rumely. His dissertation was entitled, Dynamics of quadratic polynominals over quadratic fields. Dr. Doyle is now working in a postdoctoral position at University of Rochester.

Sayonita Ghosh Hajra received her Ph.D. under the advisement of Dr. Gordana Matic. Her dissertation was entitled, Grid presentation for Heegaard Floer homology of a double branched cover.  Dr. Ghosh Hajra is now in a postdoctoral position at University of Utah.

Xiaoyan Hu received her Ph.D. under the advisement of Dr. Valery Alexeev. Her dissertation was entitled, The compactifications of moduli spaces of Burniat surfaces with 2≤K2≤5. Dr. Hu is now a visiting professor at University of West Georgia.

Joel Oakley received his Ph.D. under the advisement of Dr. Mike Usher. His dissertation was entitled, Lagrangian Submanifolds of Products of Spheres. Dr. Oakley is now an assistant professor at Shorter University.

Andrew Talian received his Ph.D. under the advisement of Dr. Dan Nakano. His dissertation was entitled, Endotrivial Modules for Classical Lie Superalgebras.  Dr. Talian is now a visiting assistant professor at Concordia College.

Joe Tenini received his Ph.D. under the advisement of Dr. Valery Alexeev. His dissertation was entitled, Results on an Extended Torelli Map and Singularities of Degenerate Abelian Varieties. Dr. Tenini is now a technical trainer at Epic.

Katherine Thompson received her Ph.D. under the advisement of Dr. Danny Krashen. Her dissertation was entitled, Explicit Representation Results of Quadratic Forms over Q and Q ([square root]5) by Analytic Methods. Dr. Thompson is now an assistant professor at Davidson College.

Emily Jennings received her M.A. under the advisement of Dr. Paul Pollack. Her dissertation was entitled, On the existence of certain distribution functions. Ms. Jennings is now employed with the Department of Defense.

The following students received M.A. degrees under the non-thesis option:  Richard Roop-Eckart and Joshua Wood.

Congratulations to students! 

It is a great pleasure to recognize the many achievements in teaching and scholarship of our students.  It is an honor to be surrounded by these bright, inquisitive, and hardworking young men and women.  I am sure we will hear more of their accomplishments in the future.

Departmental Undergraduate Awards:

Brian Oakley was awarded the Strahan Outstanding Junior Mathematics Major Award.   

The 2014 Hollingsworth Awards for outstanding achievement in sophomore/junior level mathematics classes went to:

Abigail Christman, Lauren Clapper, Gabriel Durham, Kaj Hansen, Kelly Hoyt, Benjamin Kovach, Madeline McCullers, Christopher Murphy, Tuan Nguyen, Xiao Ren, Yimeng Shi, Zachary Stokes, Sarah Tammen, Spencer Tolbert, Jessica Tracy, Daniel West, Harrison Wobeck, Yuchen Yuan

Graduate Student Awards:

The B.J. Ball Scholarship was awarded to Jun Zhang.  Jun is working on a doctorate under the direction of Michael Usher.

The William Armor Wills Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Jacob Hicks and Katherine Thomas. Jacob is working on his doctorate under the direction of Dr. Pete Clark and Kate completed her doctorate in 2014 under the direction of Dr. Danny Krashen.  Kate is now an assistant professor at Davidson College.

The second annual David Galewski Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award was awarded to Kenneth Jacobs and Maren Turbow.   

fred-hohman.jpgStudent Profile: Fred Hohman

This January, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, UGA Mathematics and Physics double major Fred Hohman, along with other undergraduate students from around the country, received the first place award for their entry in the JMM Undergraduate Poster Session for Computational Mathematics.  The students worked together last summer at Fairfield University in an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) studying a phenomenon called Oceanic Overflow, comparing numerical models and experimental data.


fred-hohman-2.jpgFred is also known around the department for his expertise in 3D printing. Working with Dr. David Gay, Fred has printed several fascinating models of geometric and topological objects.  His work has been featured on the MakerHome blog of Dr. Laura Taalman from the Museum of Math (MOMATH).  A nice article about his work can be found at this site. You can learn more about Fred at his website



Faculty News 

New Faculty

noah giansiracusa.jpg

Please join me in welcoming a new face to the department’s faculty:

Noah Giansiracusa began as a new assistant professor this fall. Dr. Giansiracusa received his Ph.D. in 2011 at Brown University.  After that he spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Zurich and two years as an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.  Dr. Giansiracusa joins our research group in algebraic geometry, with particular interests in invariant theory, tropical geometry, and moduli of curves.



Faculty Awards

michael-usher.jpgDr. Michael Usher:  Creative Research Medal

Creative Research Medals are awarded to outstanding UGA faculty for an exceptional research project or creative activity with a single theme completed within the last five years. Dr. Usher received this award in recognition of a series of papers in which he developed a new tool, called “boundary depth”, for understanding the intricacies of the group of Hamiltonian diffeomorphisms.  This work has led to new results and insights about the existence of periodic orbits in Hamiltonian dynamics.




sybilla beckmann.png

Professor Sybilla Beckmann: Mary P. Dolciani Award

Hot off the presses:  we have recently received word that Professor Sybilla Beckmann will be awarded the Mathematics Association of America’s Mary P. Dolciani Award next August at MathFest in Washington D.C. The award is given in recognition of Dr. Beckmann’s contributions to the mathematical education of K-16 students.




Faculty Promotions

jinzhi tie.jpgDr. Jinzhi Tie was promoted in July 2014 to the rank of professor.  Dr. Tie is a widely recognized expert on the harmonic analysis of nilpotent Lie groups.  He has an extensive body of work on the analysis of the sub-Laplacian on the Heisenberg group and other areas of Cauchy-Riemann geometry. Dr. Tie regularly teaches graduate courses in partial differential equations, complex analysis, and real analysis, as well as a broad spectrum of undergraduate courses.




miljenko zabcic.gif

Dr. Miljenko Zabcic was promoted in July 2014 to the rank of senior lecturer.

Dr. Zabcic has been a lecturer with our department since 1997.  He teaches a variety of classes from pre-calculus to math major courses, such as modern algebra and complex geometry, impacting hundreds of students each year.  He is famous among our students for the clarity of his lectures, his infectious enthusiasm, and his high standards.  Data collected for his promotion dossier showed that students who take courses from Dr. Zabcic are far more likely to succeed in their next mathematics course than their peers.  Certainly this is an impressive testimony to the effectiveness of his teaching.



Alumni Updates

Join the LinkedIn UGA Mathematics Department group to see more (and share your own news)!

Greg Harrell (B.S 1984, M.A. 1991) is head of the Mathematics Department at Valdosta State University.

John Foreman (B.S. 2006), chief data scientist at MailChimp and author of the best selling book, Data Smart, regularly posts to his blog interesting articles about analytics, data, and technology.

Roger Hunter (B.S. 1978), associate director at NASA Ames Research Center gave the Fall Semester Commencement speech at UGA’s Stegeman Coliseum on Dec. 19, 2014.  He also spoke at the Science Café at Cine in Athens on November 16.  After several years leading NASA Ames’s Kepler Project, Roger now leads the center’s Small-Satellite Integrated Product Team (developing small-satellite and cube-satellite technologies, standardizing processes across the center for small-satellites, and developing small-satellite missions for future deployment).  

Tyler Kelly (B.S., M.A. 2009) finished his Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania and is now an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge.

David Millard (B.S. 2014) is now living in Seattle and working as a software engineer for Microsoft.

Kris Rousey (B.S. 2005) is a senior software engineer at Google focusing on datacenter and backbone networks.

Shoji Yokura (Ph.D. 1984) is dean of the Faculty of Science of Kagoshima University. 

In Memoriam 

I am very sad to report the passing of three of our former faculty members this past year.

Kenneth Johnson was member of our department from 1977 until his retirement in 2006.  His research in representation theory was deep, creative, and highly regarded.  He was a wonderful colleague, serving a term as graduate coordinator and a term as associate department head over the years.  His devotion as a teacher was highly appreciated by his students and his sense of humor was legendary.  I can’t help but mention that Ken also shared a passion of mine in running.  For many years he was a regular participant in the local racing scene.  He continued running right up to the very late stages of his illness.

Ray Kunze was a member of our department from 1983 to 1996. He was hired as department head and held that position until 1989.   In many ways he shaped the department for years to come by hiring several of the faculty that are still at UGA. When he left UGA in 1996 he became department head at UC Irvine.  Ray maintained a strong research program in representation theory.  He was also well known for the linear algebra text book that he wrote with Kenneth Hoffman.

David Penney was a member of our department from 1966 until his retirement in 2000.  David was best known for his calculus and differential equations textbooks co-authored with C. Henry Edwards.  He was a devoted teacher, winning several teaching awards over his career at UGA.

Upcoming Events

21st Annual Cantrell Lectures, April 7-9 2015, will feature Benedict Gross from Harvard University. Visit our event page for further information.

The 2015 Georgia Topology Conference will be held June 10-14, 2015. This year's conference focuses on various aspects of symplectic topology and dynamics.

Elementary, analytic, and algorithmic number theory: Research inspired by the mathematics of Carl Pomerance will occur on June 9-11, 2015.  See the event page for more information. 

Giving to Mathematics at UGA

Help students today!  Gifts to the Mathematics Department begin working immediately to provide enhanced opportunities for our students.  Funds are utilized for conference support, Math Club gatherings, visiting speakers, graduate student recruitment, and other essential networking events fostering a vibrant community for students, faculty, and alumni.  Please consider making a gift to the Math Fund today by visiting our website, and select “Show Your Support.”

A special opportunity is available to honor Professor Ted Shifrin, a 34 year veteran faculty member of the Mathematics Department, who announced his retirement at the end of this academic year.  Professor Shifrin has made a difference in the lives of many!  Special gifts in his honor will benefit activities of the Math Club.  In order to make a gift, click here or contact Johnie Tucker at for more information.

Thank you!! 

Keep in Touch

We always like to hear from our alumni and friends. We like to know how you're doing, what career you've chosen, and how, in retrospect, your mathematics experience at UGA measures up.  Visits, letters, phone calls and emails are always welcome.  This past fall we started a Linked In group called UGA Mathematics.  If you are a LinkedIn member, just send me a request and I will put you in the group.  I am hoping this will become a great forum for our alumni to maintain old contacts and develop new ones.

Support us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.