Undergraduate students stay busy studying for their majors, but they do not always get a chance to work on research projects – tasks that will dominate their lives if they go to graduate school. So how important is it for undergraduates to get that early shot at research?
For Korynn Claiborne, doing undergraduate research is the difference between learning advanced mathematics concepts in a classroom and applying them in real life. “This helps so much because you actually see the math at work,” says Claiborne, a senior at Alabama State University.
Claiborne is part of the School of Mathematics’ 2017 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. She presented her work during a July 12 poster session with 19 other students. Claiborne says the eight weeks she spent researching her project in the Skiles Classroom Building confirmed her love of math.
That outcome serves as priceless validation of the program, says School of Mathematics Chair Rachel Kuske. “The undergrads get exposed to more open-ended problems and new areas of math,” Kuske says. “They also learn soft skills important in research. How do you talk about research? How do you work within a group? How is research different from classwork?”
REU is an eight-week summer program funded by the National Science Foundation to give undergraduates a taste of high-level, real-world research.
The 2015 and 2016 REU classes were funded in partnership with the school’s Interdisciplinary Mathematics Preparation and Career Training (IMPACT) program, a postdoctoral-training initiative. For the 2017 program, support from the College of Sciences boosted participation, resulting in the largest group of students in the school’s 16-year history of REUs. Students from Georgia Tech and other Georgia colleges, plus universities in Alabama, California, Virginia, Michigan, and Massachusetts took part.
Ian Katz had opportunities to work on research while an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, but didn’t take them. He found out about Tech’s program after an exchange of emails with School of Mathematics Professor Dan Margalit and was able to enroll at the last minute. Now Katz says he has a chance to fill the research gaps in his résumé and focus on starting graduate school at Tech.
“I didn’t even know what I wanted to do coming into grad school,” Katz says. He was interested in topology, the study of shapes and how they can be manipulated without breaking or tearing them. “REU gave me a really in-depth idea of what topology is about.”
Claiborne opted to work on the Lorenz system, equations used in atmospheric science prediction and weather modeling. “There’s a lot of computational mathematics, and that’s what I enjoy,” she says.
Two postdoctoral fellows, Michael Northington and Andre Souza, shared their expertise in research and presentation skills with Claiborne. “It gives the postdocs good experience in training and mentoring as well, so it helps everybody,” Kuske says.
Kuske adds that the program includes a lot of Atlanta-area students, which she is happy to see. She hopes to increase the local talent stream by seeking additional funding, along with more partnerships with local colleges.
“It’s more important these days, when students are applying to graduate school or a job, to be able to say they worked on a research team, or gave a presentation or poster session, or went to this or that conference,” Kuske says, “Students need a broad range of experiences to pursue whatever careers they choose.”
Congratulations go out to Samantha Petti, a second year Ph.D. student in the multidisciplinary Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization (ACO) program at Georgia Tech has been awarded a 2017-18 ARCS - Acheivement Rewards for Academic Scientists - Scholar Award.
The ARCS Foundation is a national organization dedicated to supporting the best and brightest U.S. graduate and undergraduate scholars by providing financial awards in science, engineering and medical research.
The ARCS Scholars Award recognizes outstanding doctoral students who have a record of past achievement and who show excelptional promise of making a significant contribution to teh worldwide advancement of science and technology.
Promotion to Full Professor:
Dr. Sung Ha Kang works in applied mathematics, specifically in variational approaches to image processing, with various applications such as image denoising, debarring, imaging through turbulence, curvature based models, image segmentation and optimization. Following a PhD in Applied Mathematics from UCLA, she held an Assistant Professorship at University of Kentucky. In 2008 she joined Georgia Tech, where her research has been supported through NSF, the Simons Foundation, and the CoS Cullen-Peck Award. She has supervised 16 undergraduates, 2 PhDs, and 3 postdocs, and has held leadership roles in the GT-Math and Applications Portal and the Computational Science and Engineering program.
Promotions to Associate Professor
Dr. Michael Damron’s research is in probability theory and mathematical statistical mechanics, specifically in the areas of percolation, random growth models, spin systems, and symbolic dynamics. Following his Ph.D. at the Courant Institute at NYU, he held postdoctoral and instructor appointments at Princeton, and was an Assistant Professor at Indiana University. In 2015, he joined Georgia Tech, where his research has been supported through NSF grants, including an NSF CAREER grant, and the LexisNexis Dean’s award of GT. He has supervised 8 undergrads, 2 Ph.D. students, and 2 postdocs.
Dr. Josephine Yu's research is in combinatorics and computational algebraic geometry. In particular she studies how discrete properties of a system of polynomial equations determine geometric or topological properties of the solution set. Her recent work has applications in economics and causality. Following a PhD in mathematics from UC Berkeley, Dr. Yu held a Clay Math Institute Liftoff Fellowship and an NSF postdoctoral research fellowship and an instructorship at MIT. In 2010 she joined Georgia Tech, where her research has been continuously funded by NSF. She has supervised eleven undergrads and two PhD students at Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech’s School of Mathematics is set to play an important role in the rapidly expanding field of data science, thanks to a National Science Foundation initiative that will fund foundational research and educational training on campus.
The new institute, the Transdisciplinary Research Institute for Advancing Data Science (TRIAD), is one of 12 national data science projects to receive $17.7 million in NSF funds, the agency recently announced. The School of Mathematics is one of six Tech schools taking part in TRIAD, which will receive $1.5 million of the NSF funding.
“The successful funding of the TRIAD partnership between the Colleges of Science, Computing, and Engineering recognizes Georgia Tech as a leader in the foundations of data science,” says School of Mathematics Professor and Chair Rachel Kuske. “We welcome the opportunities and challenges that come with this recognition. TRIAD will be an important base as our leadership in the mathematical and quantitative sciences continues to expand, addressing both fundamental and applied questions.”
Other schools participating in TRIAD are the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering, the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, the School of Biological Sciences, the School of Computational Science and Engineering, and the School of Computer Science.
The rise of technology in everyday life has come with an increase in raw data generated by an ever-expanding number of connected devices. Media outlets are calling this information explosion “big data.” Companies, organizations, and governments are now on the hunt to find better ways of analyzing and modeling big data, with potential benefits for business, science, education, and law enforcement.
The NSF initiative Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science (TRIPODS) hopes to leverage academic expertise in mathematics, statistics, and theoretical computer science. In Phase I of TRIPODS, the NSF put out a call to support the development of small collaborative institutes. Georgia Tech responded with TRIAD, which will be operate alongside the recently launched Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS). Xiaoming Huo, professor in the School of Industrial & Systems Engineering, will be TRIAD’S executive director; Prasad Tetali, professor in the School of Mathematics with a joint appointment in the School of Computer Science, will serve as co-principal investigator.
“The emphasis on theoretical foundations of data science offers a great opportunity for mathematicians to actively engage with other scientists and help make breakthroughs in this fast-growing interdisciplinary field,” says Tetali. “Our team also recognizes the importance of being the only team, out of the dozen winners of Phase I, to have been selected from the Southeast,” he added.
Faculty from the College of Sciences with expertise in algebraic and convex geometry, applied dynamics, computational and numerical methods, discrete mathematics, quantitative and computational biology, high-dimensional probability, and statistical inference will provide research for TRIAD. Faculty members include School of Biological Sciences Professor Joshua Weitz and School of Mathematics professors Leonid Bunimovich, Sung Ha Kang, Vladimir Koltchinskii, Rachel Kuske, Anton Leykin, Galyna Livshyts, Ionel Popescu and Mayya Zhilova.
Congratulations go to Vladimir Koltchinskii, who is an invidted speaker in Probability and Statistics for the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2018.
As the ICM is one of the world's premier forums for presenting and discussing new discoveries in mathematics, an invitation to speak at the ICM is a major honor.
Since 1897, the ICM has helped to shape the directions and history of mathematics. For more information and the complete list of speakers, please see: http://www.icm2018.org/portal/en/icm-speakers
All students interested in graduate studies in the School of Math are invited to attend our Prospective Student Day which will be held on Friday, September 22, 2017 from 2pm to 5pm in Skiles 006. Students from underrepresented groups and from the Atlanta area or Georgia are particularly encouraged to attend.
Ryan Hynd is this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Faculty professor, hosted by Professor Tobias Colding at the MIT. Ryan completed his MSc in mathematics at Georgia Tech in 2004, and recieved his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2010, studying under Lawrence Evans.
Ryan is currently an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was appointed an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the Courant Mathematics Institute, NYU, from 2010 to 2012, and jointed the U-Penn faculty in 2012.
Ryan is an analyst whose borad research program includes the study of PDE methods in control theory, finance, and fluid mechanics. At MIT, he is working on three projects: existence of solutions of the multidimensional sticky particle system, partial regularity of doubly nonlinear parabolic systems, and the asymptotic behavior of Trudinger's equation.
Ryan has served at MIT on the department's Diversity Committee during the year. Given his experience on diversity issues at U-Penn, he has advised them on their outreach mentoring practices for URM and women students, pertaining to MIT majors and prospective majors.
Ryan taught an alaysis undergraduate seminar subject last fall, and just completed co-instructing a Projects Lab subject in the spring.
The College of Sciences feted new colleagues joining in the 2017-18 academic year at a summer dinner on Sept. 6. Dean and Sutherland Chair Paul M. Goldbart and Jenny Singleton, associate chair and professor in the School of Psychology, hosted the celebration, which also recognized recipients of 2017 College of Sciences awards.
“It is invigorating to start the school year by warmly welcoming new colleagues into our scholarly community and celebrating our outstanding teachers, researchers, and mentors,” Goldbart said.
One program director, one professor of practice, eight assistant professors, two associate professors, and three professors joined the college in the 2017-18 academic year. Three of them – Felix Herrmann, Gregory Sawicki, and Carlos Silva – have joint appointments in other Georgia Tech units.
The Schools of Biological Sciences and of Chemistry and Biochemistry welcomed the most number of new colleagues in the 2017-18 academic year – four each.
The Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) recruited Casey Bethel, Georgia’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, to coordinate campus communications.
The following individuals joined the college in the 2017-18 academic year:
- Vinayak Agarwal, assistant professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Casey Bethel, program director, CEISMC
- Thackery Brown, assistant professor, School of Psychology
- Stephen Diggle, associate professor, School of Biological Sciences
- Albert Fathi, professor of practice, School of Mathematics
- Neha Garg, assistant professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Zachary Handlos, academic professional, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
- Felix Herrmann, professor, joint appointment, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and School of Computational Science and Engineering.
- Wenjing Liao, assistant professor, School of Mathematics
- Jesse McDaniel, assistant professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
- D. Zeb Rocklin, assistant professor, School of Physics
- Gregory Sawicki, associate professor, joint appointment, School of Mechanical Engineering and School of Biological Sciences
- Carlos Silva, professor, joint appointment, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and School of Physics
- Alberto Stolfi, assistant professor, School of Biological Sciences
- Marvin Whiteley, professor and Bennie H. & Nelson D. Abell Chair and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Molecular and Cellular Biology, School of Biological Sciences
Also celebrated as new colleagues were Rachel Kuske and Jenny McGuire. Kuske is a professor in and the chair of the School of Mathematics. She joined the College of Sciences on Jan. 3, 2017. McGuire previously held the position of Research Scientist II in the School of Biological Sciences. She is now assistant professor, tenure track, with joint appointment in the Schools of Biological Sciences and of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
Also at the 2017 summer dinner, nine faculty members were named recipients of 2017 faculty awards.
School of Mathematics Professors John Etnyre and Ronghua Pan, with School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Associate Professor Raquel Lieberman, received the 2017 College of Sciences Faculty Mentor Awards. They were recognized for sharing their experience, providing advice and encouragement, and helping the next generation of faculty succeed.
The college selected School of Physics Professor and Chair Pablo Laguna for the 2017 Ralph and Jewel Gretzinger Moving Forward School Award. The award praises leadership of a school chair or senior faculty member who has played a pivotal role in diversifying faculty, creating a family-friendly work environment, or providing a supportive environment for junior faculty. Laguna was commended for driving equity and inclusion and for mentoring of groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The award is supported by an endowment fund from School of Mathematics alumnus Ralph Gretzinger.
School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Assistant Professors Chris Reinhard and Britney Schmidt received the 2017 Eric R. Immel Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award salutes exemplary teaching of a foundational class by junior faculty. In particular, Reinhard and Schmidt were commended for “their imaginative and effective redevelopment” of EAS 1601, How to Build a Habitable Planet. Their work has inspired teaching assistants, excited students, and raised enrolment. The award is supported by an endowment fund from School of Mathematics alumnus Charles Crawford.
School of Physics Assistant Professor James “JC” Gumbart, School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Brian Hammer, and School of Mathematics Associate Professor Anton Leykin were recognized with 2017 Cullen-Peck Fellowship Awards. The awards recognize innovative research led by faculty who are at the associate professor or advanced assistant professor level. They are made possible by a gift from School of Mathematics and School of Industrial and Systems Engineering alumni Frank Cullen and Libby Peck. The awards applaud outstanding research in computational biophysics (Gumbart), in the biology of competition and cooperation in bacterial systems (Hammer), and in applied and computational algebraic geometry (Leykin).
“We are proud to have so many exceptional faculty members,” Goldbart said. “I am especially grateful for the generosity of our thoughtful alumni, whose gifts enable our colleagues to achieve the highest level of success in their teaching, research, and service.”
Congratulations to Prasad for this very well-deserved honor!