Faculty News Briefs

May 2013

Professor George Avrunin received the College Outstanding Service/Outreach Award, which honors faculty and staff members who have made important contributions to their discipline, department, college, and university.

Catherine Benincasa, a Senior Lecturer in our department, has been awarded the prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award. The award is usually given each year to only four teachers on the entire Amherst campus. The department gathered to celebrate her award at the University Club on April 19, 2013.

Professor Panos Kevrekidis received the College Outstanding Teaching Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize excellence in teaching and to honor individual faculty members for their teaching accomplishments.

On April 17, 2013 Professor Michael Lavine presented at the joint UMass/UConn statistics symposium in Storrs, CT.

On April 27, 2013 Professor Anna Liu and Professor Daeyong Kim, along with biostatisticians Rongheng Lin, Jing Qian, and Ed Stanek, gave invited talks at the New England Statistics Symposium in a session organized by Professor Krista Gile.

On April 26, 2013 graduating senior Adam Maidman presented his honors thesis at the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Professor Andrea Nahmod delivered a one-hour invited lecture at the 16th Riviere-Fabes Symposium on Analysis and PDE, which was held at the University of Minnesota during the period April 19-21, 2013. Her talk was titled "Randomization in Nonlinear PDE and the Supercritical Periodic Quintic NLS in 3D." Professor Nahmod has been invited to return to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University for their new Radcliffe Summer Program. She will spend the month of July 2013 conducting her research in residence there.

April 2013

Pierre Deligne of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton was awarded the Abel Prize for 2013. In the citation announcing the award, it was mentioned that Professor Deligne did seminal work with Professor Emeritus Eduardo Cattani and Professor Emeritus Aroldo Kaplan on an algebraicity theorem that provides strong evidence for the Hodge conjecture. The citation is available here. The Abel Prize, awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters since 2003, recognizes contributions of extraordinary depth and influence in the mathematical sciences. It carries a cash award of $1,000,000.

During March 2013 Professor Richard S. Ellis gave two talks at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. The first talk, delivered in the College of Public Health on March 18, was titled "Healing the Stress of Academic Life." A recording of this talk is available here. The second talk, delivered at a Joint Mathematics-Statistics Seminar on March 19, 2013, was titled "From Large Deviations to Statistical Mechanics: What Is the Most Likely Way for an Unlikely Event To Happen?"

John Gambino, a lecturer in our department, is a recipient of the Residential First-Year Experience Student Choice Award. John was nominated by a first-year student for his positive contributions to the student's experience at UMass Amherst. First-year students were given the opportunity to nominate a professor or instructor who had a profound influence on them during their first semester. Nominations were made for a variety of reasons, including inspiring students to learn, hosting interesting and motivating lectures, going above and beyond to support first-year students, helping students adjust to college, challenging students to reach their full potential, and much more. Along with the other recipients of a Student Choice Award, John was honored at the Academic Engagement Awards Banquet, held on April 21, 2013.

On March 8, 2013 Professor Michael Lavine attended an event, sponsored by the Computational Social Science Initiative, at which social scientists were introduced to quantitative scientists for the purpose of eventual collaboration. On March 20 he attended the Harvard Forest Research Symposium, an annual meeting showcasing the ecological research at Harvard Forest. Michael also reports that the following six undergraduate math majors were elected to Phi Beta Kappa:BS-MATH: Emma Kate Dowling, Dong Won Han, Melanie Paige Muller, Jared Michael Post, Nicolas Zac Reyes, and Jennifer Kathleen Sidebottom.

Visiting Assistant Professor Pengfei Zhang gave a talk at the Spring Sectional Meeting of the American Mathematical Society held at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS during the period March 1-3, 2013.The title of his talk was "A New Family of Convex Billiard Tables with Ergodicity." Additional information is available here.

March 2013

Professor Andrea Nahmod has been awarded a Simons Fellowship in Mathematics by the Simons Foundation. The award provides an opportunity for Professor Nahmod to spend her 2013-2014 sabbatical year as a Visiting Professor at MIT pursuing ongoing research with G. Staffilani on nonlinear partial differential equations. Information about the Simons Fellowship in Mathematics can be found at https://simonsfoundation.org/funding/funding-opportunities/mathematics-physical-sciences/simons-fellow-program/simons-fellows-in-mathematics-program-description/.

During January and February 2013 the Department conducted searches to fill a position in topology, a position in analysis, and a Five-College postdoctoral position in statistics.

February 2013

On January 17, 2013 Professor Rob Kusner gave a talk at the Geometry-Topology Seminar at University of Pennsylvania. The title of the talk was "Chirality for Curves."

On January 20 and 11, 2013 Professor Michael Lavine hosted an undergraduate extern, Rachel Venaglia, from Lafayette College. The purpose of an externship is to show a student what it's like to work in a job such as ours.

On November 12 and 14, 2012 Professor Andrea Nahmod gave an advanced mini-course consisting of a survey talk and a research talk at the University of Texas at Austin at the 2012/13 Thematic Program on nonlinear Schrödinger equations and Bose gases from a multidisciplinary, integrative perspective. The program was organized by Thomas Chen and Natasa Pavlovic at UT Austin. The talks were titled "Almost Sure Well Posedness and Randomization in Nonlinear PDE, Parts I and II."

Professor Fernando Zalamea of Bogota, Columbia, a former Ph.D. student of Professor Emeritus Ernest Manes, published two books last year. He will also be a plenary speaker at the Peirce Centennial Congress at University of Massachusetts Lowell in July 2014.

On November 29, 2012 Professor Alexei Oblomkov gave a talk at the Geometry-Algebra-Singularities-Combinatorics Seminar at Northeastern University. During the period January 18-27, 2013 he attended the Winter School on Sheaves in Low Dimension and gave an invited talk.

During the period November 20-28, 2012 Professor Robin Young visited a colleague in Taiwan. He gave a talk at National Central University in Zhongli and a talk at National Chung Hsing University in Taichung. Both talks were titled "Some Exact Solutions of Hyperbolic Systems." During the winter break he also visited his long-time collaborator Blake Temple at University of California Davis.

On January 8, 2013 Visiting Assistant Professor Pengfei Zhang gave a talk at the Dynamical Systems Seminar at Northwestern University. The title of the talk was "Volume of the Set of Transitive Points of Partially Hyperbolic Diffeomorphisms."

January 2013

Professor Rob Kusner spoke about "Critical Links and Unlinks" at the Isaac Newton Institute on December 5, 2012. At TU Darmstadt on December 17, he gave an informal seminar about his discovery of the first example of an unlink which is a local (but not global) minimum for ropelength.

Rob Kusner's recent collaboration with experimental physicists at the University of Colorado and theoretical physicists at the University of Pennsylvania resulted in an article to be published in the 10 January 2013 issue of Nature (and online 23 December 2012: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11710.html). Their work explains the complex patterns observed in 3-dimensional liquid crystals and is expected to lead to new materials that can be actively controlled. A press release prepared by the news offices of the three universities involved describes the significance of their work: http://phys.org/news/2012-12-liquid-crystal-future-applications-advance.html.

On December 12, 2012 Professor Michael Lavine attended a speed-dating event at Amherst College designed to match biologists and mathematicians with similar research interests. The Department conducted five interviews for a position in Topology and had its holiday party.

The paper "Entropic fluctuations in statistical mechanics: I. Classical dynamical systems" by Vojkan Jaksic, Claude-Alain Pillet, and Professor Luc Rey-Bellet belongs to the "Highly Downloaded Collection 2011" from the journal Nonlinearity. See http://iopscience.iop.org/0951-7715/page/Highly%20Downloaded%20Collection%202011 for more details.

Luc Rey-Bellet has been invited to join the editorial board of the Journal of Statistical Physics for the period 2013-2015. The Journal of Statistical Physics publishes original papers, review papers, and book reviews in all areas of statistical physics as well as in related fields concerned with collective phenomena in physical systems. It was founded in 1969 and is the leading journal in the field of statistical mechanics.