The Department of Mathematics and Statistics is a community of scholars committed to excellence in research and instruction. We offer a comprehensive set of curricula in our disciplines, from introductory-level general education courses to doctoral dissertation direction and postdoctoral mentoring. Undergraduate majors enjoy a broad array of options through which they can earn the bachelor's degree, and can also apply to participate in summer research activities. The Department's Ph.D. program appears among the top public graduate programs in the recent National Research Council rankings. The M.S. programs in both Applied Mathematics and Statistics contribute to an important pipeline of professionally trained students who enter the high-technology industrial sector.

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## Department News

## Faculty News Briefs

### December 2018

During the weekend of 26-28 October, the *Knotted surfaces in 4-manifolds* conference was hosted at UMass Amherst with funding by the National Science Foundation. Organized by Professors R. Inanc Baykur, Weimin Chen, and Danny Ruberman (of Brandeis University), it drew a diverse crowd of over 50 researchers from across the country and around world who contributed to a productive weekend of lively presentations and discussions covering new advances and open questions in the world of smooth 4-manifold topology. Many presentations included applications of relatively new tools — for example, trisections, Gabai’s 4-dimensional light bulb theorem, and various flavors of Floer homology — illustrating their utility in helping understand fundamental questions about surfaces in 4-manifolds.

Visiting Assistant Professor Jeremiah Birrell spoke about "Uncertainty Quantification via Variational Principles and Functional Inequalities" during the *Functional Inequalities in Probability Workshop* at the University of Connecticut on 2 November. He also gave a talk titled "Langevin Equations in the Small-Mass Limit: Higher-Order Approximations, Phase-Space Homogenization, and Entropy Production" in the Northeast Probability Seminar at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences on 16 November.

Professor Emeritus John Buonaccorsi presented a talk on "The Use (or Misuse) of External Validation Data" as part of a workshop *Methodological Issues in Measurement Error* held at the National Cancer Institute on 5-6 November. The workshop, attended by approximately 60 people throughout NIH/NCI, brought together experts in the field to overview outstanding issues and future directions, especially as they pertain to many of the large national surveys concerned with health effects.

On 18 September, Associate Professor Erin Conlon gave the Yale University Department of Biostatistics seminar "Parallel Markov Chain Monte Carlo Methods for Bayesian Analysis of Big Data."

Marshall H. Stone Visiting Assistant Professor Taryn Flock gave a plenary talk titled "On the nonlinear Brascamp-Lieb inequality" at the *3rd Annual Northeastern Analysis Meeting* held at SUNY-New Paltz, 19-21 October.

This fall Professor Rob Kusner was re-elected to the Board of Trustees of AMIAS – the Association of Members of the Institute for Advanced Study – and he participated in the IAS workshop on *Mean Curvature in Geometric Analysis* the week of 5-9 November. He also lectured on "Willmore Stability, Area Index, and Conformal Rigidity of Minimal Surfaces in $S^n$" at Penn's Geometry and Topology seminar 13 November.

The week of 8-12 October, Professor Franz Pedit gave a plenary talk titled ``Commuting Hamiltonian flows on curves in real space forms" at the * International Conference on Discretization in Geometry and Dynamics* at Hotel Doellnsee-Schorfheide, Germany.

Marshall H. Stone Visiting Assistant Professor Luca Schaffler had the paper "Equations for point configurations to lie on a rational normal curve" (joint with A. Caminata, N. Giansiracusa, and H.-B. Moon) published by *Advances in Mathematics.* On 14 November he gave a talk about it in the Algebra Seminar at the University of Connecticut.

On 18 October, Professor Emeritus Floyd Williams was invited to speak at Western New England University on the occasion of celebration of 30 years of their Math.Center: a center for the mentoring and tutoring of students. Floyd spoke on "Cultivating mentorship in the unitary university: fruits from its garden." The event, which was programmed from noon to 6:30, was sponsored by the Math.Center, the Diversity Task Force, the Office of the Provost, and the College of Arts and Sciences. That gave Floyd the opportunity to chat with many of the students, faculty, staff, and deans.

We regret to report the passing of Professor Emeritus Samuel S. Holland, Jr. at his Eastham home on 13 October. Sam was a veteran of the Korean War, serving as part of Operation Teapot, the US Army's atmospheric nuclear test program. He received his BS degree from MIT, his Master's in Mathematics from the University of Chicago, and his PhD in Mathematics from Harvard. Before joining the Department in 1967, he worked as an industrial mathematician with Technical Operations and taught for six years at Boston College. While at UMassAmherst, Sam received the Distinguished Teaching Award and authored numerous scholarly journal articles and the groundbreaking book, *Applied Analysis by the Hilbert Space Method. * This reflected his passion for improving mathematics education: the book aimed to convey traditionally advanced mathematics concepts to undergraduate students. After Sam's retirement in 1997, this same passion led him to author an extensive NSF proposal on how to attract more PhD mathematicians into public high school teaching.