Summer 2014 faculty presentations

While the Department remains very busy with summer classes, summer is also a time for many faculty and students to focus on research and to travel to collaborate and present their work in nationally and internationally recognized venues.

Idris Assani co-directed a summer school on Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems in M’bour, Senegal, June 4-14.

Joe Cima gave an invited talk at the Seventh Conference on Function Spaces at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, May 20-24.

Ellen Eischen gave invited talks in the conference p-adic Variation in Number Theory at Boston University, June 2-6, and in the Caltech Number Theory Seminar. She has also been invited to participate in the Algebraische Zahlentheorie workshop at the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach, Germany, and the Connections for Women: New Geometric Methods in Number Theory and Automorphic Forms workshop at MSRI.

Jingfang Huang co-organized the workshop Mathematics in Action: Modeling and analysis in molecular biology and electrophysiology in Suzhou, China, June 2-5. Huang will also give an invited talk at the Beijing Computational Science Research Center (CSRC).

Shrawan Kumar is giving a invited series of four lectures at the University of Pisa, Italy on “The saturated tensor product problem,” June 24-27.

Jeremy Marzuola co-organized a week-long workshop in May on Dynamics in Geometric Dispersive Equations and the Effects of Trapping, Scattering and Weak Turbulence at the Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery. Marzuola was also an invited speaker at the Stability of Solitary Waves Workshop at the Centro di Ricerca Matematica Ennio De Giorgi in Pisa, Italy. He then visited the Hausdorff Research Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany to speak in a workshop and participate in their trimester on harmonic analysis and PDEs.

Jason Metcalfe spoke at the same Banff workshop in May on Dynamics in Geometric Dispersive Equations and the Effects of Trapping, Scattering and Weak Turbulence and gave a pair of invited seminar talks at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

Laura Miller and a number of her group members are off to Osaka, Japan for the Joint Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society for Mathematical Biology and the Society for Mathematical Biology, July 28 to August 1, where Miller will give one of the invited plenary talks.

Karl Petersen’s passport has been busy, between a conference on Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems in Torun, Poland, and talks that he gave in Tartu, Estonia and Rouen, France. Petersen will also give a mini-courses lecture series at the 4th Pingree Park Dynamics Workshop: Foundations and Frontiers in Symbolic Dynamics, July 14-17 in Colorado.

In similarly country-hopping travel style, Justin Sawon has given talks at the Lorentz Center in Leiden, Netherlands, and at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, and has others scheduled at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and as an invited speaker at the 9th Pacific Rim Conference on Complex Geometry, July 27 to August 1, in Gunsan, South Korea.

Sasha Varchenko will be one of the invited speakers at New Trends in Quantum Integrability, an International Conference on New Trends in Quantum Groups and Integrable Systems, August 18-22, at University of Surrey, UK.

Carolina Mathematics will also be well represented at the the 2014 SIAM Annual Meeting, held this year in Chicago. Greg Forest will speak in a session on Nonlinear Fluids. Jeremy Marzuola and Laura Miller are both speaking in a session organized by Miller on Plant and Protist Biomechanics. Sorin Mitran is presenting in a session on Mesoscale and Nonlocal Models of Materials with Microstructure. And new faculty arrival Katie Newhall is speaking on “Dynamics of Ferromagnets” in a session on Applications in Nonlinear Dynamics with Chaos, Stochasticity, and Multiple Scales.

Marzuola wins NSF CAREER award

CrystalcuspProfessor Jeremy Marzuola has been named a recipient of a Faculty Early Career Development “CAREER” award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

As the NSF describes, “The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

Titled Nonlinear PDE Models in Mathematical Physics and Experiment, Marzuola’s CAREER award provides him with $440,000 of research support over five years, allowing him to explore the mathematics of a variety of physical model systems, including but not limited to crystal surface evolution (as in the image here, from a recent paper by Marzuola and Jon Weare).

Marzuola is the fourth Carolina Mathematics faculty member to win a CAREER award while a member of the Department, joining Peter Mucha in 2007, Jason Metcalfe in 2011, and Laura Miller in 2012. Additionally, Rich McLaughlin won a CAREER award at Utah in 1997 and brought the grant with him when he moved to Carolina, making Marzuola our fifth overall recipient of this prestigious award affiliated with the Department.

Congratulations to Jeremy on this outstanding recognition.

Carolina Mathematics at the DFD meeting

Once again, the Department of Mathematics was well represented at the Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) meeting, held annually at the front of Thanksgiving week. Held this year in Pittsburgh, speakers from Carolina Mathematics (links click through to the abstracts of their talks) included faculty Roberto Camassa, Rich McLaughlin and Laura Miller; postdoctoral associate Shilpa Khatri; and graduate students Austin Baird, Nick Battistia, Alex HooverShannon Jones, Jeff Olander and Chung-Nan Tzou. An assortment of Department alumni also presented, including Shengqian Chen, Nick Moore, Reed Ogrosky, Arvind Santhanakrishnan, Ashwin Vaidya and Longhua Zhao.

One of the long-running traditions of the DFD meeting is the Gallery of Fluid Motion. This year’s entries in the Gallery included “Broad leaves in strong flow”, from Laura Miller and Arvind Santhanakrishnan (

Congratulations to all involved in this year’s meeting.

Summer School

Despite an apparent decrease in summer school enrollment across the University, the Department of Mathematics has enjoyed increased demand and expanded its offerings in 2013. With 30 sections enrolling nearly 600 students, the Department-organized summer classes continued to include a suite of popular offerings at the 100-, 200-, and 300-levels, in many cases involving multiple sections of students, as in previous summers. Additionally, in order to address an ongoing increase in our academic year enrollments, and to provide math and science students additional opportunities to take such courses, the Department expanded its advanced undergraduate 500-level course offerings this summer, adding MATH 528 Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences I (taught by Department Chair Richard McLaughlin) and MATH 566 Introduction to Numerical Analysis (taught by Professor Jingfang Huang) to the list of 500-level courses taught in previous summers, including 521, 533 and 547. As we profiled previously, Professor Laura Miller also taught the first math class for our inaugural cohort of Chancellor’s Science Scholars. And in addition to these Department-organized courses, Lecturers and graduate students from the Department are also involved in the Summer Bridge program.

Summer classes are notably different from their academic year counterparts in one important aspect: the compressed calendar of 5-week summer session terms. As noted by Dr. Miranda Thomas, one of the Lecturers in the Department, “Summer classes go fast, so students have to stay on top of the sections. The one thing I notice is more people form study groups compared to the academic year. They really utilize helping each other and learning and have a more survival mode: `I will pass’ instead of `let’s see what happens’.”

Elizabeth McLaughlin, another Lecturer in the Department, makes related observations about the schedule, noting that “Teaching summer school has helped me to become a better instructor. The demands on students following a fast-paced schedule require more focus and organization than during the regular semester. My job is to deliver concise, clear lectures as well as help the students lay out a study strategy for success under pressure.”

Summer classes also provide our best graduate student teachers in the Department an opportunity to teach more advanced topics than they are typically assigned in the academic year. Included among these students, Dr. Andrea Overbay, who completed her Ph.D. this Spring and was a recipient of the Department’s Linker Award for instruction by a graduate student, taught MATH 533 Elementary Theory of Numbers. As she notes, “Teaching any math class in compressed form is certainly a challenge, but this is especially true for an upper level class. Although it takes a lot of work, teaching a class over the summer is particularly rewarding. Due to the intense nature of teaching a class over five weeks, you really get the chance to get to know your students. You see them for several hours every weekday and get to struggle right alongside them. And once the five weeks is over, you and your students get to share in the sense of accomplishment of surviving!”

Miller teaches Chancellor’s Science Scholars

Graduate student Shannon Jones helps one of the Chancellor’s Science Scholars

With the arrival of the second session of summer school here at Carolina, we are particularly proud to participate in the new Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program. Modeled after the nationally-recognized Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC, the new Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program aims to provide a critical pathway to promote the success of exceptional students who aspire to become leading research scientists, with a commitment to increasing the representation of underrepresented minorities in the sciences. The Program opens with an accelerated six-week summer residential program including, among other activities, a special Mathematics course designed by our own Professor Laura Miller, who was selected for this important course because of her excellent reputation both as an instructor and as an interdisciplinary scientist.

Miller’s goals for this course, taught as a special section of MATH 295, include identifying and filling possible background deficits from pre-Calculus, and learning (or for some students, reviewing) material from first-semester Calculus, while exploring a variety of applications of Calculus to the natural sciences. Along the way, she also aims for her students to become proficient in the use of MATLAB for mathematical modeling. To accomplish this broad array of outcomes, Miller draws from her previous positive experiences with First Year Seminars as well as her background as a mathematical biologist. In this effort, Miller is assisted by graduate student Shannon Jones. In addition to regular in-class activities, Miller and Jones have some exciting evening educational activities lined up to complement the lectures, including experiments with the Joint Fluids Lab wave tank and wind tunnel.

Congratulations to all of the students selected in the first cohort of the Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program, and to Miller and Jones for their selection for this important educational task.

Prof. Laura Miller in her course for Chancellor’s Science Scholars

Faculty deliver invited lectures at conferences and summer schools

Summer for Carolina Mathematics includes a variety of courses taught in our summer sessions, many faculty busy working on their sponsored research, and an enhanced opportunity to travel to workshops and conferences to give lectures and meet with fellow mathematicians for collaborative activities.

Ivan Cherednik gave an invited lecture last month in the representation theory seminar at the Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu-Paris Rive Gauche. He is giving a similar lecture as one of four invited speakers on June 24th at the Institute Henri Poincaré.

Hans Christianson will speak later this month at the conference on “Quantum chaos, resonances and semi-classical measures” in Roscoff, France.

Jingfang Huang was a plenary speaker last week at The 1st Chongqing Workshop on Computational and Applied Mathematics.

Chris Jones gave one of the plenary lectures at the First Central Region Conference on Numerical Analysis and Dynamical Systems, held last month at the University of Kansas. He then gave a public lecture colloquium on ”Climate Change: the Science and the Math” at the University of Missouri and an invited lecture at a conference on “Topological Methods in Differential Equations and Nonautonomous Flows” in Florence, Italy. This week, he is one of the keynote speakers at the “Workshop on slow-fast dynamics: theory, numerics, application to life and earth sciences” in Barcelona.

Robert Lipshitz spoke last month at the “Low Dimensional Topology” workshop at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics.

Jeremy Marzuola is presently giving a topics course at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology on Nonlinear Waves this summer, with 8 lectures spread over 7 weeks on nonlinear bound states and their stability properties in the context of the Schrodinger equation. He will then speak later this month at the conference on “Quantum chaos, resonances and semi-classical measures” in Roscoff, France.

Laura Miller was an invited session plenary speaker at the symposium on “Microscale Interactions in Aquatic Environments” held at Les Houches Physics School in March. In recognition of her excellent interdisciplinary teaching, Miller has also been tapped to teach the mathematics “bridge” course this summer to the first cohort of incoming Chancellor’s Science Scholars.

Peter Mucha gave five lectures as one of the four keynote speakers at the Summer School on Network Science held last month at the Interdisciplinary Mathematics Institute at the University of South Carolina.

Karl Petersen gave an invited seminar talk last month at Ohio State. This week, he is attending the Automata Theory and Symbolic Dynamics Workshop at the University of British Columbia, where graduate student Kathleen Carroll will be talking about their joint work on symbolic dynamics (as part of her master’s project).

Lev Rozansky was an invited speaker at the conference on “Quantum Topology and Hyperbolic Geometry” held in Nha Trang, Vietnam last month.

Michael Taylor was an invited speaker at the “Analysis, Complex Geometry, and Mathematical Physics” conference at Columbia University last month.

Alexander Varchenko is one of the plenary speakers next week at the 21st International Conference on Integrable Systems and Quantum Symmetries in Prague. Later this month, he is also an invited speaker at the “Experimental and Theoretical Methods in Algebra, Geometry and Topology” conference in Romania.

Jon Wahl gave a mini-course series of 4 invited lectures at the conference “Geometry and Topology of Complex Singularities” in April 15-19, at CIRM, Luminy, near Marseille.

The above only covers the first half of this summer. We will come back to this topic again next month to discuss the faculty presentations scheduled for the second half of the summer. In the meantime, best wishes for pleasant travels to all involved.

Prospective graduate students visit Department

Today and tomorrow (March 22-23), the Department of Mathematics hosts its annual campus visit event for prospective students in our graduate program. Today’s activities focus primarily on the academic program in the Department, transitioning after dinner to an opportunity for the visiting prospective students to explore campus and Chapel Hill tonight and tomorrow. Over 30 students have been offered admission to our graduate program for Fall 2013, with a significant number of those students visiting the campus this weekend to help guide their decisions about where to continue their studies.

Professors Greg Forest and Laura Miller discuss research topics with interested prospective students.

Graduate student Justin Allman describes his work.

Professor Pat Eberlein discusses the graduate program with prospective students.

Special thank yous to all of the faculty, students and staff who helped put this event together.