March 9, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Congratulations go to 8 of our colleagues, who will be promoted this year as follows:

Tenure and promotion to Associate Professor:
Zaher Hani
Jennifer Hom
Joseph Rabinoff
Martin Short
Kirsten Wickelgren
Promotion to Full Professor:
Plamen Iliev
Anton Leykin
Zhiwu Lin


Promotion to Associate Professor

Dr. Jennifer Hom
Dr.  Hom has been on the faculty of GT for two years.  She has published 17 papers and has earned a Sloan Fellowship in 2015 and an NSF CAREER Award in 2016. Her research is in low-dimensional topology, and in particular​ she​ is a leading expert in the powerful machinery of Heegaard-Floer homology. Low-dimensional topology studies manifolds, which are spaces that locally resemble Euclidean space but ​globally may have more interesting structure, much like the space we live in. Manifolds arise throughout science and engineering in such diverse ways as confi​guration spaces of mechanical linkages, solution spaces to partial differential equations, and even models for the universe. Dr. Hom received her degree in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Prior to arriving at Georgia Tech, she was a Ritt Assistant Professor at Columbia and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study. She has mentored 20 undergraduates (17 at Columbia, 3 at Tech).
Dr. Zaher Hani
Dr. Hani has been at Georgia Tech for four years. He has published 16 papers (nine while at Georgia Tech) and one preprint. He has had two standard NSF research grants, one in 2013 while a postdoc and one in 2016 while at Georgia Tech. Additionally, he was awarded an NSF CAREER grant in 2017 and a Sloan Fellowship in 2016. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angles in 2011 under the supervision of Prof. Terence Tao. He has received several awards, most notably: The Alfred Sloan Research Fellowship in 2016, and The Simons Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2011. Dr. Hani’s research is in the area of nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs), particularly nonlinear dispersive and wave PDEs. These are equations that typically arise in physics and engineering to model various phenomena in ocean sciences, plasma physics, or general relativity, to mention only a few. His research attempts to answer open problems pertaining to the qualitative and quantitative behavior of such equations.
Dr. Joseph Rabinoff
Dr. Rabinoff joined Georgia Tech in 2013, after receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2009, and completing a postdoctoral appointment at Harvard University in 2009–2013. He has had research proposals funded by the NSF and the NSA. Dr. Rabinoff’s research is in the areas of algebraic and arithmetic geometry, with a focus on the interplay between number theory and algebraic geometry. Number theory, one of the oldest and most storied branches of mathematics, involves the study of integer or rational solutions to polynomial equations, and the complex solutions to such equations form geometric objects. He has published 14 papers and posted two more. . He won a Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the Derek Bok Center at Harvard University in 2012. He has supervised an undergraduate thesis project and an undergraduate research project. Recently, Dr. Rabinoff was also awarded CTL/BP Jr. Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.
Dr. Martin Short
Dr. Short has been Assistant Professor of Mathematics at GT for 4 years. He received his degree in 2006 from the University of Arizona, and was then a postdoc at UCLA until joining GT in 2013. He has received NSF and ARO grant funding both at GT and UCLA.  His research is in applied mathematics, specifically of social systems with emphasis on crime, where he has developed new models and algorithms for predicting crime patterns and defending against crime. This work has led to a company, PredPol Inc, that provides software to police departments to predict crime hotspots. He has published 14 peer-reviewed research papers while at GT, and 35 in total, with 3 additional papers under review. He was one of the inaugural recipients of the Lexis Nexis Dean's award at GT for excellence in teaching in 2014. He is advising one PhD student at GT and has mentored four undergraduates at GT and 26 undergraduates at UCLA.
Dr. Kirsten Wickelgren
Dr. Wickelgren has been at Georgia Tech for four years. At Georgia Tech, she has written 12 research articles, and has had two proposals funded, one three year NSF grant, and one five year NSF-CAREER grant. Her research is in algebraic topology, algebraic geometry and number theory. The gist of algebraic topology is that one can use algebra to answer questions about topological spaces. In addition to being a profound and beautiful subject on its own, algebraic topology has applications as diverse as analyzing large data sets, the coverage of sensor networks, and Equilibria in game theory/economic models. She did her undergraduate work at Harvard University (A.B.-A.M. 2003), and her Ph.D. is from Stanford University (2009). After completing her Ph.D., she was awarded an American Institute of Math (AIM) 5-year fellowship, and was subsequently an AIM 5-year fellow at Harvard University from 2009–13 before coming to Georgia Tech in 2013.

Promotion to Full Professor

Dr. Plamen Iliev
Dr. Iliev is an Associate Professor in the School of Mathematics. He has MS from Sofia University, DEA from the University of Paris VI, and Ph.D. in 1999 from the University of Louvain. Subsequently, he was a Morrey Assistant Professor in UC Berkeley before moving to Georgia Tech in 2003. His research stands at the crossroads of several different areas of mathematics and physics related to integrable systems and orthogonal polynomials. His recent results include: the derivation of spectral equations for hypergeometric functions, which play an important role in combinatorics, probability, and mathematical physics; criteria for Fejer-Riesz factorizations of bivariate polynomials, which are related to the famous 17th problem of Hilbert. He has published 36 papers and has been supported by NSF and the Simons Foundation. He has received 14 "Thank a teacher" certificates at Georgia Tech, and was a Hesburgh Award Teaching Fellow in 2010.
Dr. Anton Leykin
Dr. Leykin has been at Georgia Tech for eight years. In his research he studies computational aspects of algebraic geometry in application to solving of system of polynomial equations. His recent results include new theorems, algorithms, and software for numerical algebraic geometry and asymptotic algebra. He is a recipient of an NSF CAREER award and a 2017 College of Sciences Cullen-Peck Scholar Award. He has been an invited speaker at national and international conferences. He has organized many workshops, conferences, and summer schools. Dr. Leykin has developed several special courses and has been experimenting with new technology in the classroom. He obtained a Diploma in mathematics from Kharkov State Uni-
versity in 1997 and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 2003.
Dr. Zhiwu Lin
Before moving to Georgia Tech in 2008, Dr. Lin was a Courant Instructor at New York University (2003-2006) and an assistant professor at the University of Missouri (2006-2008).  From 2005 to the present, his research has been supported by four NSF grants (as PI) including one recommended this year. He was awarded a Simons Fellowship for 2013-2014. Dr. Lin’s research is focused on the dynamical behaviors of PDE models in fluid mechanics, plasmas, and nonlinear waves. He had developed new methods to study stability and instability of coherent states, invariant manifolds near unstable states, and the role of these invariant structures in the longtime dynamics. These have important applications on the design of fusion devices, the transition to turbulence, and the understanding of large scale motion in atmosphere and oceans etc. Lin got his Bachelor degree from Peking University (1995), Masters degree from Tokyo University (1999) and Ph.D. from Brown University (2003). 


These promotions are a result of the careful consideration of the Jr and Sr promotion committees, ACF, DOTE, RPT mentors, Faculty Affairs Administrative Specialist, and others who made invaluable contributions to our RPT processes.

March 10, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

The School of Mathematics hosted the 2018 Georgia Tech High School Math Competition in the Clough building on March 10, 2018. Over 250 students from 37 schools registered for the day-long event. The competition's four exams covered numerous topics in such subjects as algebra, geometry, combinatorics, and number theory.  Around 35 volunteers from among the Georgia Tech faculty, staff, and students took charge of the day's organization, ranging from registration to proctoring and grading.  Volunteers provided the participants with breakfast and lunch, as well as a t-shirt designed by Georgia Tech Math PhD student Stephen McKean.
Each school could send up to five teams of five students each to the event.  A team's score was obtained by taking three times the four best free response scores, then adding the four best ciphering scores.  The free response exam consisted of 20 multiple choice questions given over 90 minutes, while the ciphering exam had 10 individually-timed questions of three minutes each.
The top 54 students from the free response exam were invited to take part in a proofs exam during the afternoon in order to determine the individual winners, while the remaining students took a group test for fun.
One of the easier questions:  Consider 3 raised to the 100th power.  What is the last digit in its base-7 expansion?
A harder question:  Find all functions f from the natural numbers to themselves, for which the equality f(f(m+n))=f(m)+f(n) holds for all natural numbers m and n.
The winning teams were:
1.     Northview High School Team A, with 239 points.
2.     Fulton Science Academy Team A, with 223 points.
3.     GSMST Team A, with 219 points.
4.     Daniel High School Team A, with 201 points.
5.     Kennesaw Mountain High School Team A and Walton High School Team A (tie), with 200 points.
This year's individual winners were, in order:
1.     Shawn Im, from Peachtree Ridge High School, with 36 proof points.
2.     Holden Watson, from Fulton Science Academy, with 21 proof points.
3.     Daniel Chu, from Kennesaw Mountain High School, with 16 proof points.
Competitors and volunteers alike had a great time, and we hope to see all schools and returning graduate students again next year for the 2019 event!

March 11, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Mathematics in Motion is an Atlanta Science Festival performance in which mathematicians team up with dancers to give an artistic interpretation to the public of some mathematicians and some mathematical concepts.  This year's show will have an emphasis on graph theory.  There will be two performances at Drew Charter School in East Atlanta.  For tickets go to or .

March 19, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

A recent study conducted by researchers from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology found that an infectious passenger with influenza or other droplet-transmitted respiratory infection will most likely not transmit infection to passengers seated farther away than two seats laterally and one row in front or back on an aircraft. The study was designed to assess rates and routes of possible infectious disease transmission during flights.
Co-researchers Vicki Hertzberg, Ph.D., professor at Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Howard Weiss, Ph.D., professor in the School of Mathematics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, led tracking efforts in their FlyHealthy(TM) study, developing a model that combines estimated infectivity and patterns of contact among aircraft passengers and crew members to determine likelihood of infection.  
FlyHealthyTM team members were assigned to monitor specific areas of the passenger cabin, and made five round trips from the East to West Coast recording movements of passengers and crew. In addition, they collected air samples and obtained surface samples from areas most likely to harbor microbes. They leveraged the movement data to create thousands of simulated flight scenarios and possibilities for direct exposure to droplet-transmitted respiratory diseases. 
“Respiratory diseases are often spread within populations through close contact,” explained Hertzberg. “We wanted to determine the number and duration of social contacts between passengers and crew, but we could not use our regular tracking technology on an aircraft. With our trained observers, we were able to observe where and when contacts occurred on flights. This allows us to model how direct transmission might occur.”
“We now know a lot about how passengers move around on flights. For instance, around 40 percent of passengers never leave their seats, another 40 percent get up once during the flight, and 20 percent get up two or more times. Proximity to the aisle was also associated with movement. About 80 percent of passengers in aisle seats got up during flights, in comparison to 60 percent of passengers in middle seats and 40 percent in window seats. Passengers who leave their seats are up for an average of five minutes.”
Researchers also noted fomite transmission – exposure to viruses that remain on certain surfaces such as tray tables, seat belts and lavatory handles – as additional likely contributors to disease transmission. They provide public health recommendations to help prevent the spread of infectious disease.
“We found that direct disease transmission outside of the one-meter area of an infected passenger is unlikely,” explained Weiss. Respiratory infections can also be transmitted indirectly through contact with an infected surface. This could happen if a sick passenger coughs into their hand, and later touches a lavatory surface or overhead bin handle. “Passengers and flight crews can eliminate this risk of indirect transmission by exercising hand hygiene and keeping their hands away from their nose and eyes.”
The study, which was funded in partnership with aerospace leader Boeing, evaluated only the potential spread of infectious agents on an aircraft. Transmission could also occur at other points in a passenger’s journey, underscoring the need to maintain healthy habits, he added.
Complete findings of the study are available in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

External News: this article was featured in many national news stories, including


CITATION: Vicki Stover Hertzberg and Howard Weiss (co-first authors), Lisa Elon, Wenpei Si, Sharon L. Norris, and The FlyHealthy Research Team, “Behaviors, movements, and transmission of droplet-mediated respiratory diseases during transcontinental airline flights,” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018).

Research News
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Media Relations Contacts: Georgia Tech: John Toon ( (404-894-6986) or Emory University: Melva Robertson: ( (404-416-0822) or Allison Caughey ( (404-727-1225).

Note: This post originally appeared as a Georgia Tech News Center story by John Toon on Mar 19, 2018.

March 20, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Lew Lefton of the SoM is producing an improv show for the Atlanta Science Festival next Wednesday.  I'll be at Whole World Theater (near 14th and Spring) with some GT colleagues and local comedians doing improv comedy with a science and math twist!

Wed. 3/21 Science Improv - 7:30 PM - $5 students, $10 adults

March 26, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
March 26, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
March 26, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
March 30, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Prof Larry Rolen has a new book, titled Harmonic Maass Forms and Mock Modular Forms: Theory and Applications which is available at the AMS bookstore. Prof Rolen is also teaching a special topics course on Modular Forms this Spring 2018.

Larry Rolen is a Visiting Assistant Professor in SoM here at Tech, whose research interests lie in number theory and more specifically modular forms, harmonic Maass forms, and quantum modular forms.


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