Faculty News Briefs

February 2014

On 6 January 2014, Visiting Assistant Professor Christopher Chong spoke on "Localization in Nonlinear Coupled Oscillators" at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland in a seminar within the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering.

A recent major DOE grant awarded to Professors Markos Katsoulakis and Luc Rey-Bellet has been highlighted by the University News Office.

The research, service and teaching of Professor Panos Kevrekidis were recognized with a number of honors.

Panos has been awarded the biennial J.D. Crawford prize from the Activity Group on Dynamical Systems of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He has also been honored with the Aristides F. Pallas award of the Academy of Athens, Greece for his work "Nonlinear Waves in Lattices: Past, Present, Future." As part of his service to the Dynamical Systems community, Panos has been selected as one of the two Co-Chairs for the major biennial conference in the field, scheduled to take place at Snowbird in May 2015.

Panos also received an IRSES grant from the European Union, jointly with the universities in Thessaloniki, Greece, and Oldenburg, Germany, allowing several researchers from Greece and Germany to visit our Department over the next 4 years. This grant is supporting the research of the first postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Stathis Charalampidis from Thessaloniki, from November 2013 until November 2014.

Finally, Panos recently garnered the Outstanding Teacher Award of the College of Natural Sciences.

Professor Michael Lavine gave an invited seminar 10 December 2013 at the University of Waterloo's Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science titled "On Rigorous Specification of ICAR Models."

On 16 December 2013, Professor Ivan Mirkovic gave a talk at the Moscow conference on "Representation Theory and applications to Combinatorics, Geometry and Quantum Physics" dedicated to the 60th Birthday of Boris Feigin. Earlier he lectured twice in Stony Brook: a colloquium on "Loop Grassmannians" (7 May 2013) and at the Simons Center "Quiver Varieties" workshop (15 October 2013).

Professor Alexei Oblomkov has just been awarded an Early Career Award by the NSF - congratulations Alex! He also visited Professor Motohico Mulase at the University of California Davis the last week in January. Alex delivered three lectures while there: "Plane curve singularities, knot homology and the Hilbert scheme of points in the plane" for their Topology Seminar; "Khovanov-Rozansky homology" for their Graduate Seminar; and "Plane curve singularities and the topological vertex" for their String Theory Seminar.

Each year Professor Jenia Tevelev supervises an REU in his research area, Algebraic Geometry. In 2013, he worked with Morgan Opie, who wrote a well-received paper "Extremal divisors on moduli spaces of rational curves with marked points" based on this REU project; she is now expanding it into an Honors thesis. Morgan presented a poster on this at the Young Mathematicians Conference at Ohio State University and at the Boston University AGNES (Algebraic Geometry Northeastern Series) Conference. She was also invited to give lectures at seminars and research conferences at the University of Massachusetts, University of Georgia, and University of Illinois at Chicago. For her achievements in academics and research, Opie has been recognized both on campus and nationally. She is the runner up for the 2014 Alice T. Schafer Prize, a national prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman, awarded at the January 2014 joint meeting of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. Opie is also one of four students selected to receive the 2013 UMass Amherst Rising Researcher award. Morgan has recently received a very prestigious Churchill scholarship which funds a year of postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge in England. Worth about $50,000, the scholarship covers a year of tuition, fees, living expenses and travel. Morgan was also admitted to top graduate schools in the United States (Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, Brown,...).

In Fall 2013, Professor Jenia Tevelev spent three weeks visiting a former UMass postdoc, Professor Giancarlo Urzua, at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile; Jenia delivered a colloquium talk there. Over the next three weeks he lectured twice at Ohio State University and visited another former UMass postdoc, Professor Ana-Maria Castravet. Jenia then spent two months at the University of Texas in Austin visiting Professor Sean Keel, Jenia's postdoctal mentor. Tevelev gave two talks there plus another at the University of Texas A&M, where he visited Professors JM Landsberg and Frank Sottile, a former UMass faculty member, who sends his regards.

In Austin, Jenia enjoyed conversations with UMass alum Nicky Reyes, who is now a graduate student at UT; Jenia supervised an REU with Nicky in Winter 2012. Tevelev and Castravet recently published a paper "Hypertrees, Projections, and Moduli of Stable Rational Curves" in Crelle's Journal which contains some results obtained by UMass alum Nate Harman when he was working on an REU project with Jenia in Summer 2011; Nate is now a graduate student at MIT.

Jenia Tevelev is also the recipient of NSF grant DMS-1303415 "Moduli Spaces of Curves and Surfaces."

On 14 January 2014, Visiting Assistant Professor Pengfei Zhang gave an invited talk titled Hyperbolicity of some generalized lemon billiards in the Northwestern University Dynamical Systems Seminar.

December 2013

Professor Erin Conlon gave an invited seminar at UMass Medical School in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences on December 3, 2013. The title of her talk was "Bayesian Meta-Analysis Models for Gene Expression Studies".

Professor Franz Pedit visited Rice University the week of November 12-16, 2013, to work with Mike Wolf on superminimal surfaces, opers, representation varieties and Higgs bundles. While there, Franz delivered two lectures: a geometry seminar titled "Constrained Willmore surfaces: theory and experiments," and a colloquium on "Constant mean curvature surfaces: an integrable perspective."

Professor HongKun Zhang visited CIRM, Marseille, France, the week of December 1-7, 2013, where she was a keynote speaker at an international conference on Hyperbolicity and Dimension. She also gave a talk on "Lower bound for decay rates of correlations of nonuniformly hyperbolic billiards" while at the conference.

News Briefs will be on Winter Break till February 2014. In the meantime, have a wonderfully warm winter solstice and a perfectly pleasant perihelion!

November 2013

On October 16th, Visiting Assistant Professor Christopher Chong spoke on "Solitary Waves of Discrete Nonlinear Schrodinger Equations" at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Physics Colloquium.

Professors R. Inanc Baykur and Weimin Chen, together with Professor Daniel Ruberman from Brandeis University, organized a 2-day workshop "Group Actions on Smooth 4-Manifolds" at UMass Amherst, between October 25-26, 2013. The workshop brought together experts and active researchers in the field. Several graduate students from Brandeis and UMass participated in the event. The program neatly consisted of 2 talks by leading experts, 2 by young researchers, and 2 by recent PhDs, topped with 2 discussion sessions on open problems. For more details, please see the Group Actions workshop website.

On October 19, 2013, Professor HongKun Zhang, jointly with Renato Feres and Timothy Chumley, organized a Special Session on "Statistical Properties of Dynamical Systems" at the AMS sectional meeting at Washington University in St. Louis. HongKun also gave a talk "Optimal bound for decay of correlations of nonuniformly hyperbolic systems" at this meeting. She is the PI on a recently-submitted NSF-FRG proposal "Stochastic perspectives in dynamics: fundamental problems and novel applications" with a total budget of $1,095,229 and collaborators from 5 other institutions in the US. UMass is the lead institution, and visiting assistant professor Pengfei Zhang is serving as a Co-PI.

Our statistics group hosted the University of Connecticut statistics department on Wednesday October 16. Xiaojing Wang from UConn delivered a seminar on "Shape constrained functions and Gaussian processes."

October 2013

On 27 September 2013, Professor Franz Pedit gave a talk titled "Constrained Willmore surfaces: theory and experiments" at the Differential Geometry Workshop, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Emeritus Professor Floyd Williams was appointed to the 4-member Scientific Committee for the Third International Satellite Conference in Mathematical Methods in Physics, to be held in Londrina-PR, Brazil, 21-26 October 2013. This year's Satellite Conference will focus on spectral theory, group theory, differential and algebraic topology, with applications to topological field theory, quantum gravity, strings and cosmology, and will feature 11 international speakers. Although Professor Williams, an AMS Fellow, will not lecture at this conference, he has spoken several times at similar conferences in Brazil over the past 15 years.

September 2013

Professor John Buonaccorsi co-taught a week-long course on Measurement Error as part of the 2013 Second German Collaborative Summer School in Epidemiology held at the University of Greifswald. Founded in 1456, Greifswald is the second oldest university in northern Europe.

On May 20, 2013 Adena Calden, a Senior Lecturer in our department, was invited by OIT to be on a panel regarding "Flipping the Classroom." Along with four colleagues she spoke to other faculty regarding the challenges and rewards of this model. On June 12 Adena was awarded a $12,000 community grant from the Northampton Education Foundation to create an engineering program for Leeds Elementary and Bridge Street School in Northampton. During the summer she helped train 20 teachers on Lego Robotics.

Professor Weimin Chen had a very busy summer. He spent eight weeks as a visitor at the Institute of Mathematics and Interdisciplinary Sciences in Beijing, China, and was a co-organizer of an FRG conference: Workshop and Conference on the Topology and Invariants of Smooth 4-manifolds at the University of Minnesota during the period July 31 - August 10. In addition Weimin delivered invited talks or mini-courses for graduate students at the following venues:

1. MPIM-Bonn workshop: Geometry and Topology of Smooth 4-manifolds in Bonn, Germany.

2. Workshop on Algebraic Topology at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China.

3. International Conference on Algebraic and Geometric Topology at the Chern Institute in China.

4. Colloquium at the Institute of Mathematics, Academia Sinica in Beijing, China.

5. FRG Conference: Topology and Invariants of Smooth 4-Manifolds at the University of Minnesota; mini-course speaker: "Group Actions on 4-Manifolds."

6. Mini-course: Group Actions on 4-Manifolds at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China.

Finally, Weimin's first Ph.D. student, Daniel Herr, had a successful thesis defense in August. Dan will be a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wheaton College starting in the Fall of 2013.

On June 11, 2013 Professor Matthew Dobson gave a talk at SIAM MS13 in Philadelphia on "Long-Time Simulation of Steady Nonequilibrium Flow." In July he gave two talks at USNCCM in Raleigh on "Long-Time Simulation of Steady Non-Equilibrium Flow" and on "There Is No Pointwise Consistent Quasicontinuum Scheme." On August 19 at the CEMRACS workshop in Marseille, France he gave a talk on "Algorithms for Long-Time Simulation of Nonequilibrium Molecular Dynamics." Finally Matthew's paper "Derivation of Langevin Dynamics in a Nonzero Background Flow Field," co-authored with Frederic Legoll, Tony Lelievre, and Gabriel Stoltz, was published in M2AN and chosen as a highlight article.

On August 22, 2013 Professor Richard S. Ellis gave a talk in the Center for Nonlinear Analysis Seminar, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. The talk was titled "From Large Deviations to Statistical Mechanics: What Is the Most Likely Way for an Unlikely Event To Happen?" His mindfulness approach to chronic pain, which is the subject of his book Blinding Pain, Simple Truth: Changing Your Life Through Buddhist Meditation, was discussed on page 10 of the article "Tapping the Power of Mindfulness" by Maureen Salamon in H2U-Health to You magazine, Summer 2013, pages 8-10.

Professors Markos Katsoulakis and Luc Rey-Bellet were awarded a multi-institution grant by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with the title "Mathematical Foundations for Uncertainty Quantification in Materials Design." The total amount for the three participating institutions (University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Delaware, and Brown University) is $2.3 million. The PIs are Markos Katsoulakis and Luc Rey-Bellet (UMass), Petr Plechac and Dion Vlachos (UDel), and Paul Dupuis (Brown). The grant was awarded by the DOE Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, which is the mathematical sciences division of DOE, and focuses on developing and deploying novel mathematical, statistical, and high performance computational methods for the rational design of materials for energy research. The grant is funded through a DOE 2013 call for "Uncertainty Quantification Methodologies for Enabling Extreme-Scale Science." Out of approximately 100 submissions, 6 were funded with 4 going to DOE National Laboratories and 2 to university-based consortia.

Professor Panos Kevrekidis was recently awarded the prestigious J. D. Crawford Prize from SIAM. See http://www.siam.org/prizes/sponsored/crawford.php for more details on the prize and the list of distinguished past recipients. As explained on this webpage, the J.D. Crawford Prize "is awarded to one individual for recent outstanding work on a topic in nonlinear science, as evidenced by a publication in English in a peer-reviewed journal within the four calendar years preceding the SIAG/DS meeting at which the prize is awarded."

During much of the summer of 2013 Professor Rob Kusner was working in Europe. Between May 30 and June 16, he was a visitor at Cambridge University's Churchill College and a member of the Isaac Newton Institute program on the Mathematics of Liquid Crystals. On June 12 he lectured on "CMC Surfaces in Riemannian Fibrations" at the University of Leicester's Workshop on Advances in Surface Theory during his visit to England. During the week of June 17-22, he participated in the conference on Variational Problems and Geometric PDEs at the new mathematics institute in Granada, Spain. And during the following month, he was a visiting research professor at the Centre de Recerca Matematica in Bellaterra, Barcelona, Catalunya, where on July 3 he lectured on "Necksizes for Soap Bubbles and Yamabe Metrics" and on "Conjugate Surface Constructions in Homogeneous 3-Manifolds." Rob detoured back to the ICMAT in Madrid, Spain, where on July 9 he lectured on "Nondegeneracy of Minimal and CMC Surfaces." Rob then visited his colleague Franz Pedit and his former students Nick Schmitt and Dugan Hammock at the Universitat Tubingen in Germany, July 19-21. After this visit he hiked a few kilometers southwest to the Mathematisches Forschingsinstitut Oberwolfach to participate in the mini-workshop on The Willmore Functional and the Willmore Conjecture during the week of July 22-27; there he delivered the opening lecture of the workshop on "Scherk's Surface and the Large-Genus Limit of the Willmore Problem." From July 27 to August 7 Rob worked in Brandenstein, a village just outside Berlin, with his long-time CMC-surfaces collaborators Karsten Grosse-Brauckmann and John Sullivan. Finally Rob visited physics colleagues at Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne in Switzerland, where on August 9 he lectured on "Chirality Invariants for Curves."

On May 30, 2013 Professor John Staudenmayer made a presentation titled "Advancing Objective Assessment of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior" at an invited symposium at the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis, IN. In June 2013 John was invited to be a standing member of the NIH Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity, and Diabetes grant review study section.

During June and July 2013 Professor HongKun Zhang gave the following invited talks:

(1) A talk titled "Optimal Bound for Decay of Correlation for Nonuniformly Hyperbolic Systems" at the workshop Aspects Discrets des Systemes Dynamiques, held June 19-21 in Porquerolles, France.

(2) A talk titled "Diffusive Billiards" at the Conference on Random Dynamical Systems, held July 15-18 at the S-S Chern Institute in China.

(3) On July 13 a talk at the Workshop on Dynamical Systems at Beijing University in China.