Math + Political Science collaboration questions ‘Democratic Peace’

Using a new technique to analyze 52 years of international conflict, an interdisciplinary collaborative team between Political Science and Mathematics suggests that there may be no such thing as a “democratic peace.” The study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authored by Ohio State Political Science professor Skyler Cranmer, University of Iowa Political Science professor Elizabeth Menninga (who recently earned her Political Science Ph.D. from UNC–Chapel Hill), and Peter Mucha from Carolina Mathematics.

Read more here…

Take me out to the ballgame

In what is quickly becoming an annual start-of-year tradition, a group of Carolina Mathematics faculty, students and staff took in a Durham Bulls game together last night. Thanks to Laurie Straube for being the ringleader for this outing and for taking pictures of everyone having a great time.

Durham Bulls 5 Durham Bulls 3 Durham Bulls 1 Durham Bulls 2

And, in case you were wondering, the Bulls won.

Carolina undergraduates attend Budapest Semesters in Mathematics

With the start of the Fall semester upon us, we take a moment to congratulate three Carolina undergraduates—Emma Blackwell, Daniel Peters, and Nico Rojina—who will not attend classes here in Chapel Hill this Fall because they will instead attend the acclaimed Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program.

When asked what drew her to the program, Emma replied, “it was the excitement of traveling as well as the prospect of learning math through the Hungarian method, which I had heard was quite different from our own approach. What I’m hoping to get out of the program is the chance to take math classes not offered at UNC and to meet mathematicians from all over the world. I’m also hoping to travel a lot in my spare time.”

“What really drew me to study abroad was the opportunity to engage with a culture for an extended period of time while being able to indulge in some deep mathematics under the guidance of some of the best mathematicians in the world,” Daniel said. “I’m hoping to return from the study abroad with a broader world view and maturity from living on my own in a foreign country.” Indeed, it sounds like Daniel has already set up multiple trips with the students he’s met there so far.

Congratulations to all three students!

Alexander Varchenko named Simons Fellow

Prof. Alexander (Sasha) Varchenko has been honored in the 2015 class of Simons Fellows in Mathematics, which provides “funds to faculty for up to a semester long research leave” with selection “based on the applicant’s scientific accomplishments in the five-year period preceding the application and on the potential scientific impact of the work to be done during the leave period.”

Sasha will use the leave provided by the Simons Fellows Program to spend the 2015-16 academic year working at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany, where he plans to work on research projects in quantum integrable models, representation theory, special functions and combinatorics.

Sasha is the third Carolina Mathematics faculty member named to this honor, joining Jim Damon (2012) and Ivan Cherednik (2013).

Congratulations to Sasha for this wonderful and well-deserved honor.

Summer faculty research travel

For many of our faculty, summer is a time of international travel to attend workshops and conduct research in other locations. As just a couple examples., we check in on the travels of our department chair, Rich McLaughlin.

IMG_1608In June, Rich traveled to Shanghai Jiao-Tong University as an organizer and invited lecturer at NYU Shanghai’s International Conference on Mathematics of Nonlinearity in Neural and Physical Science. Other invited speakers from Carolina included Roberto Camassa and co-organizer Greg Forest. Also attending the conference from Carolina, Katie Newhall is pictured here with our former Carolina colleague David Cai.

IMG_2006Later, Roberto and Rich traveled together to Tibet, where they met with four math professors from Tibet University, including one who works on understanding the geophysical processes associated with Nantso Lake, situated at over 15,000 feet above sea level. As a large, stratified, salt water lake, this site is of particular interest to Rich and Roberto’s research.

These two trips of course represent only a sample of the many far-ranging research travels of our faculty this summer.

Carolina Mathematics faculty Roberto Camassa and Rich McLaughlin at 17,600 feet above sea level in Tibet

Carolina Mathematics faculty Roberto Camassa and Rich McLaughlin at 17,600 feet above sea level in Tibet

Carolina Mathematics involved in first round of NIH BD2K awards

Congratulations to Prof. Greg Forest for his successful proposal to co-direct (with Michael Kosorok, Biostatistics) a new, multidisciplinary training Big Data to Knowledge training program funded by the National Institutes of Health. This award is one of only three awards in the inaugural set of BD2K institutional training grant awards, supporting “the overarching BD2K goal of training the biomedical workforce to fully utilize biomedical Big Data.” Kosorok and Forest have organized a program uniting 48 faculty members across 11 departments on campus, including multiple faculty involved from Mathematics, in order to provide trainees with six-week training modules that integrate informatics, statistics, and biomedical sciences, with a focus on big data.

Goodman recognized by top scholar-athlete

Carolina Mathematics Professor Sue Goodman appeared as an invited guest at the Scholar-Athlete Awards Luncheon held this week. Each of the Top 10 Scholar-Athletes—the five senior men and five senior women with the highest cumulative grade point averages—introduced a professor as a guest. Among the award winners, Alex Bales used his invitation to recognize Professor Goodman.

This recognition is just the latest in Sue’s career of accomplishments here at Carolina. With her retirement at the end of this academic year, we will clearly miss her as a colleague, and this latest award is just another piece of evidence about how much the students will miss her. Congratulations to Sue for this latest recognition.