2011-12 Recap: Wahl delivers Sackler Distinguished Lectures in Mathematics

Professor Jonathan Wahl gave the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lectures in Mathematics at Tel Aviv University this past May, with lectures titled “Topology Versus Geometry of a Complex Singularity” and “Singular Points of Complex Surfaces – Geometry and Smoothing.”

The list of past Sackler lectures demonstrates their high standing and their wide-ranging nature throughout scientific fields. The list of celebrated mathematicians in the more complete history of the Sackler Distinguished Lectures in Mathematics further emphasizes the significant honor bestowed on Wahl in this invitation.

A hearty congratulations to Jon for this important international recognition.



2011-12 Recap: Fulbright Award to Ivan Cherednik

Ivan Cherednik, the Austin M. Carr Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, was awarded a Distinguished Chair from the Fulbright Scholar Program to spend the Spring 2012 semester at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

From the Fulbright Israel newsletter: Professor Ivan Cherednik, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mathematics of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, spoke on “Introduction to double affine Hecke algebras”, on May 9, 2012, under the auspices of his host institution, the Einstein Institute of Mathematics of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition to his path-breaking work on Hecke algebras, Professor Cherednik has made important contributions in a number of additional fields, among them number theory, soliton theory, theory of knots and harmonic analysis.

Congratulations to Ivan for this wonderful honor.

2011-12 Recap: New research grants awarded to Mathematics faculty

Following up on the good news in last week’s post about the NSF MRI award to the Fluids Lab, we are overdue to celebrate the variety of new federal research grants awarded to faculty in the Department of Mathematics over the past year.

This list represents only new awards led out of the Department in the one-year period ending June 30, 2012. Importantly, as many such awards are for multiple years, it does not include the many continuing research grants in the Department that were initially awarded in previous years. The list also likely misses some interdisciplinary activities in the Department that are in collaboration with faculty in other departments where the proposal was sent through the other department. Even without these caveats, it is an impressive list for the year.

Where available, hyperlinks to more information about the specific award are provided.

National Science Foundation:

Air Force Office of Scientific Research:

  • Greg Forest & Peter Mucha, Multiscale Mathematics of Nano-Particle-Endowed Active Membranes and Films

Army Research Office:

  • Jim Damon, Comparing Mathematical Models and Experimental Data for Intake Capacity Distributions for Plant Root Structures

National Institute of General Medical Sciences:

Office of Naval Research:

  • Roberto Camassa & Rich McLaughlin, A Desalinization Facility for Stratified Fluid Dynamics Research at the UNC Joint Fluids Laboratory
  • Chris Jones, Data Assimilation and Control in Oceanography

Congratulations to all involved!

Triangle Lectures in Combinatorics

The latest installment of the Triangle Lectures in Combinatorics Workshop meets this weekend at NC State. This NSF-supported biannual conference series was launched by Patricia Hersh of NC State in 2010 with the assistance of Scott Provan from the Department of Statistics and Operations Research at UNC and Ezra Miller of Duke University. These conferences, which have also been held at Carolina and Duke, facilitate interactions not only between combinatorialists from across North Carolina and national visitors, but also with other discrete mathematics interests in other departments. The Workshop was last held in Chapel Hill in Fall 2011, organized by Profs. Prakash Belkale, Robert Proctor, and Richard Rimanyi from the Department of Mathematics, and Profs. Gabor Pataki and Scott Provan from the Department of Statistics and Operations Research.


2011-12 Recap: Jane Hawkins testifies before House Appropriations Subcommittee

Prof. Jane Hawkins, as Treasurer of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on March 22, 2012 at a hearing regarding the fiscal year 2013 appropriations for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSF is the only federal agency that supports research and education across all fields of science, engineering and mathematics. Hawkins’ testimony included a small sample of the many ways in which NSF support positively impacts our research work in the Department of Mathematics and, through those research activities, the training of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral associates. But using just a few such examples, she demonstrates that trainees from one university are later involved in undergraduate and graduate education at other universities, in activities in federal agencies, and in entrepreneurial activities in the private sector.

Information about previous AMS testimony and a link to the full text of Hawkins’ testimony are available from the AMS.

2011-12 Recap: Celebrating Warren Wogen’s career

Prof. Warren Wogen retired at the end of the 2010-11 academic year. During his decades of service to the Department, it appears that he held almost every administrative post or task at one time or another, and served in every position with excellence. Now holding the title of Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, we belatedly gathered in Spring 2012 to celebrate his long career in the Department.

It isn’t necessarily that we’re quite that slow at planning things; rather, Warren caught us off guard by deciding to outright retire rather than take a “phased retirement”. The perhaps-too-true-not-to-tell joke is that he made this decision after we asked him to be a go-to mentor on all things regarding the Department Chair and Director of Graduate Studies positions for his phased retirement service duties. Only he truly knows whether that prospective headache drove him to simply jump into full retirement instead! Either way, his long commitment to the well being of the Department deserved special recognition.

In what will hopefully become a new Department tradition for all retirements, we chose to honor Warren with a special visitor of his choosing to speak in our Colloquium. On March 15, Prof. Stephan Garcia of Pomona College gave the special retirement colloquium on the subject of “Hidden Symmetries in Everyday Operators”. It was a wonderful presentation with broad appeal (the photograph below, taken in the dark, doesn’t do it justice), including pointers to Warren’s own research work.

We additionally gathered for a traditional retirement dinner honoring Warren. After an evening of good food, a number of excellent stories were shared by his colleagues about Warren across the years. We will miss seeing his good-natured dedication on display day-to-day; but we hope that he will enjoy his emeritus status and that we will see him frequently in the Department. Congratulations to Warren.

2011-12 Recap: Ergodic Theory Workshop

Prof. Idris Assani hosted the Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems workshop, March 22-25, 2012. This annually-held workshop in Chapel Hill was supported by the National Science Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Department of Mathematics.

The keynote speaker, kicking off the workshop, was Prof. Jean-Christophe Yoccoz from Le College de France. As has been our recent tradition, this kickoff keynote presentation was scheduled as part of our Department Colloquium series.

Thank you to Idris for repeatedly bringing such an interesting workshop to campus and for providing the above photograph of workshop participants on the steps of Phillips Hall (Assani and Yoccoz stand together in the front row).