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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.

Faculty News Briefs

December 2017

On 7 December, the New York Times reported on a list of books banned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The list includes novels by Dave Barry, Alice Walker, and Carl Hiassen; a 1908 Sears, Roebuck catalogue; and a popup version of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The 10,000 banned titles, compiled by staff in prison mailrooms, also includes Merriam-Webster’s Guide to Everyday Math, written by Senior Lecturer Brian Burrell. Choices were made on the basis of "graphic sexual content" – not a problem in this instance – or "material that could help inmates make a weapon, plot an escape, or stir disorder." Surprisingly, no other math books have been banned. Nor were American Psycho or Mein Kampf on the list. Whether it is a greater honor to be on the banned list or on the approved list is not clear. Burrell is happy simply to have been included on either one.

On 16 November, Professor Erin Conlon gave the Department of Mathematics and Statistics seminar at the University of Maine; her lecture was titled "Parallel Markov Chain Monte Carlo Methods for Bayesian Analysis of Big Data."

Professor Paul Hacking has been invited to deliver a lecture at the 2018 International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) to be held on 1-9 August 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He will speak in the section on Algebraic and Complex Geometry, together with his collaborator Sean Keel from the University of Texas-Austin. The ICM has been held roughly every four years, starting in 1897; it is one of the premier forums for presenting and discussing significant new mathematical discoveries.

Professor Markos Katsoulakis was recently nominated to serve on the editorial board of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Journal of Uncertainty Quantification . While SIAM has an enviable reputation for producing high quality publications across the full range of applied mathematics, this journal holds a special place in the SIAM line-up. Established in 2013 as a joint venture with the American Statistical Association, the SIAM Journal of Uncertainty Quantification is well-positioned in an era when links between applied mathematics and statistics are of growing importance. Markos has also been an editor of the SIAM journal Math Analysis.

At Penn's Minimal Surfaces Seminar on 21 November, Professor Rob Kusner talked about the "Morse index and Willmore stability of minimal surfaces in spheres."

Professor Franz Pedit gave a talk titled "Conformal flows minimizing the elastic (Willmore) energy for curves and surfaces" at the Oberseminar of the Leibnitz University Hannover on 8 November.

News Briefs will resume in the spring semester. Have a wonderful winter solstice and a perfectly pleasant perihelion!