Mathematics Department - Spring 2000 Newsletter

Spring 2000 Newsletter

Message from the Department Chair (Richard Falk)
Felix Browder to receive the nation's highest research honor
Joel Lebowitz to receive a Henri Poincaré prize
Jean Taylor, President of the Association of Women in Mathematics
Amy Cohen to receive Douglass Medal
Conference held in honor of Martin Kruskal's 75th birthday
Hector Sussmann's paper chosen one of Twenty-Five Seminal Papers in Control
The NSF VIGRE grant
Retirements: A. Kosinski, J. Barros-Neto, W. Sweeney
Y. Meyer and S. Hildebrandt to deliver Lewis and D'Atri lectures
Undergraduate Program News (Amy Cohen, Undergraduate Vice-Chair)
Graduate Program News (Peter Landweber, Graduate Director)
Pizza Seminar News (David Galvin, Curator)
Alumni News


Our Department is so large and active that many of us may be unaware of some news and activities of interest to us. For this reason I thought that it would be helpful to expand the coverage of Charlie Sims's undergraduate newsletter to all the Department's programs and activities. The Chair, the Undergraduate Vice-Chair, the Graduate Director, representatives of the graduate students, undergraduate majors, and alumni will thus have opportunities to bring items of interest to the attention of the extended Department.

In this issue, I want to announce some honors, awards, donations, and retirements, as well as the lecturers and topics of our memorial lecture series. A broad spectrum of information about the Department, both current and from past years is available on the Mathematics Department web site. In particular, honors awarded to faculty in previous years may be found on the faculty honors page and honors received by undergraduate and graduate students in previous years may be found on the Mathematics Department prizes and awards page.




Felix Browder, current president of The American Mathematical Society, will receive the National Medal of Science from President Clinton at the White House on March 14th. In announcing the award to Felix and eleven others (two of whom are Nobel Laureates), President Clinton stated that their innovations had "sustained US leadership across the frontiers of scientific and technical knowledge thereby enhancing our ability to shape and improve our nations future." Felix joins Martin Kruskal as the second member of the Mathematics Department to win the National Medal of Science, the highest research honor the United States grants to its citizens. (More details can be found here).



At this coming summer's meeting of the International Association of Mathematical Physics, Joel Lebowitz will be one of three to be awarded a Henri Poincaré prize. His citation will read as follows:

For his important contributions to various aspects of equilibrium and nonequilibrium statistical physics: stability of matter, correlation inequalities, phase transitions, and approach to equilibrium, to mention a few. In addition to this he has set his deep knowledge of science and tireless energy to the service of our community by running the semi-annual statistical mechanics meetings and the Journal of Statistical Physics. For many decades, Joel Lebowitz has been the soul of statistical mechanics.

Joel has also been recognized for his efforts to improve human rights and scientific freedom. In 1996, he received the Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award of the New York Academy of Sciences and in 1999 received the AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.




This is only one of several honors and awards Jean has recently received. Last year she was elected a Fellow of the Association for Women in Science and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the Rutgers Class of l962 Presidential Public Service Award.



Amy, who currently serves as the Undergraduate Vice-Chair and the treasurer of the Association of Women in Mathematics, will receive this medal in June for outstanding service to the Douglass community, especially in the area of math and science education for Douglass students. Last year, Amy was named Outstanding College or University Teacher of the Year by the Mathematical Association of America's NJ Section.




KRUSKAL 2000, a Conference on Integrable Systems in celebration of Martin Kruskal's 75th birthday was held at the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia in January. In addition, this summer Martin will be awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Heriot-Watt University.



Hector Sussmann's paper (with V. Jurdjevic) "Controllability of Nonlinear Systems" was selected to appear in the IEEE volume Twenty-Five Seminal Papers in Control, which contains annotated reprints of twenty-five papers in control theory published in the 20th century that have had a major impact on the field.



The Mathematics Department is in the first year of a five year grant of almost two and one-half million dollars through the National Science Foundation's VIGRE (Vertical InteGration of Research and Education) program. The Rutgers project, "Extending and Renewing the Education of Mathematicians", is changing the way that postdoctoral fellows and graduate students interact with faculty, undergraduates, and each other. The goal is to bring new research areas to the graduate and undergraduate curriculum, better prepare beginning mathematicians for the variety of career paths available to them, and increase access of students to mathematical research at the highest level. Five research groups - discrete mathematics, number theory, control theory, non-linear partial differential equations and mathematical physics - have particular involvement in the program. The Principal Investigators for the grant are Michael Beals, Amy Cohen, Gerald Goldin, Stephen Greenfield and Peter Landweber. See our VIGRE home page for more information. (Reported by Michael Beals.)



Three of our colleagues have retired, or will be retiring, after many years of valuable contributions to the Department. Antoni joined the Department in 1966, as a member of our group in topology and was Department Chair from 1993 until 1999. José, a member of the Department since 1968, works in analysis, and was Graduate Director from 1991 until 1996. Bill came to the Department in 1971, also joining our analysis group, and served as Graduate Director from 1979 until 1986 and as Head Undergraduate Advisor from 1994-1999. The Department is fortunate to retain much of this expertise, since both Antoni and José remain affiliated with the Department in half-time positions for several more years.



The Department's two distinguished lecture series, offered in memory of two of our colleagues, will be offered as usual this Spring. The Lewis lectures, covering image processing, the role of cancellations in non-linear problems, and the Navier-Stokes equations will be given by Professor Yves Meyer of École Normale Supéríeure de Cachan. The D'Atri lectures, covering two-dimensional parametric variational problems and uniqueness results for minimal surfaces with free boundaries will be give by by Professor Stefan Hildebrandt of the Mathematisches Institut der Universität Bonn. Times and locations of the lectures may be found at the following web sites: D'Atri lectures and Lewis lectures.


(Amy Cohen, Undergraduate Vice-Chair)

The undergraduate enrollment in mathematics totaled 10,500 this past Fall 1999. Handling the administration of this massive enrollment would not have been possible without the splendid assistance of Deputy Vice-Chair for Undergraduate Affairs Enriqueta R. Carrington and staff members Diane Apadula, Carla Ortiz, David Irvine, and Ellie Creeden.

Encouraging the early development of the talent of our undergraduates is an important activity of the Department. We have two programs devoted to such development in place; The REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) for development of research ability, and the Senior Peer Mentoring Program for development of teaching ability.

The REU program, which is supported both by DIMACS and VIGRE, offers students the opportunity to work on a research project with the guidance of faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students, in small teams. János Komlós is serving as coordinator of this activity.

The Department currently employs sixty undergraduates, not necessarily majors in math, as peer mentors in calculus workshops. About a half dozen of these, seniors with very high grades and strong performances as peer mentors in previous semesters, have been selected as Senior Mentors, who teach their own recitation section of precalculus. These young teachers are gaining very valuable experience and it has been gratifying to see the increase in the number of academically strong students who are going into secondary school teaching. More details can be found on the Peer Mentor homepage.

Several new developments have taken place in our undergraduate courses. Roe Goodman has designed a version of Math 250, Intro to Linear Algebra, incorporating the use of computing using MATLAB. Two sections of MATLAB 250 are offered this spring, one by Roe and the other by Yasmine Sanderson. Michael Weingart, a first-year VIGRE graduate student, is assisting in the Math 250 MATLAB experiment, helping to develop the computer projects and also giving a weekly problem session (outside scheduled class time). This course is part of the Department's continuing effort to upgrade offerings for our math, science and engineering students and was developed in consultation with colleagues in engineering. The MATLAB software is available to students in all public computer labs and in the DSV Lab of the School of Engineering. More details may be found on the Math 250 web page.

Beginning in the Fall 1998 semester, Math 252 -- the Differential Equations course for math majors -- was changed to emphasize modeling and qualitative methods. Practice working with these topics is in the form of projects requiring two or three weeks of effort on the part of the students. This effort has been led by Richard Bumby and Eduardo Sontag. Details, including descriptions of some of the projects, can be found on the Math 252 web page.

The two undergraduate math courses which have shown the greatest growth in the last 5 years, both absolutely and relatively, are Math 250 and Math 103. The latter is "Mathematics for the Liberal Arts", and teaching an interesting course to students who would generally like to avoid mathematics is difficult. Steve Greenfield recently received support from the NSF to devise a course on the mathematics of communication, one of a group of four courses in four science disciplines designed to help individuals work and participate in an increasingly technological society. The course was first offered in the Fall 1999 semester, with students not only learning about cryptography and its mathematical foundations, but also writing and discussing the public policy questions associated with this field. Steve is trying it again this semester.


(Peter Landweber, Graduate Director)

The VIGRE program is starting to have a major impact on the graduate program. There are six first year students engaged in VIGRE rotations. The rotations are coordinated by Steve Greenfield. Students work closely with faculty members with various goals: they may learn topics rarely covered in standard introductory graduate courses, they may read research papers, or they may assist in innovative instructional activities. All of this has been done. Each VIGRE trainee will have rotations with at least three different faculty members during this year. The VIGRE seminar, run by Amy Cohen, meets on Fridays at 3 PM. Its topics will run the gamut from mathematics and its communication (the ideas and the methods, when teaching, in print, and on the web), to discussions of educational issues, and career opportunities. We hope some recent graduates will return and tell the students and us about jobs and how getting a doctorate in mathematics has affected what they do. We invite correspondence and suggestions! An additional six VIGRE trainees are expected to be recruited to the program for Fall 2000.

Three of our graduate students have received honors:

Xin Guo, who received her Ph.D. in 1999 under the direction of Larry Shepp, was awarded the 1999-2000 Goldstine Fellowship in Mathematical Sciences. She gave the Herman H. Goldstine Fellowship Inaugural Lecture in November 1999 at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights NY. Xin received her Ph.D. in October 1999. Her thesis, a development of a new model for stock transactions, has attracted wide attention from both academia and industry.

Daniel Kling, who received his Ph.D. under the supervision of Feng Luo in l997, has been awarded a Third Place Innovation Grant by Merrill Lynch, based on the innovative applications of the work of his dissertation "Doubly-periodic Flat Surfaces in Three-Space". This award will result in a $5,000 contribution to the Mathematics Department as well as $10,000 for Dan's own use.

Michael Malisoff, a student of Hector Sussmann who received his Ph.D. in January 2000, was the recipient of the 1999 CDC Student Best Paper Award for a paper he gave at the 38th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control in December 1999 (over 1000 papers were accepted for presentation at the conference and publication in the Proceedings).

The Department is in the process of setting up a Summer Internship program for our graduate students. The objectives are (a) to expose them to industry and government career alternatives, and (b) to familiarize those students opting for traditional academic careers with "real life" applications of mathematics. Researchers from several NJ industrial labs, including Lucent, AT&T, NEC, RW Johnson Pharmaceuticals, Telecordia, Mitre, Merck, and others, as well as from national labs such as Sandia, NIST, and Los Alamos, expressed great interest in considering our graduate students as interns, and offered descriptions of specific projects and basic prerequisites. This information is regularly provided to graduate students in e-mailed newsletters. We invite those readers of this newsletter who may be willing to host interns at their institutions, or who have information leading to possible internship opportunities, to contact our internship coordinator, Eduardo Sontag (


PIZZA SEMINAR NEWS (David Galvin, Curator)

The Pizza Seminar is a weekly talk given by a graduate student to an audience of graduate students. The talks are informal and give students the opportunity to practice the important art of communicating mathematical ideas before a nonjudgemental audience.

A wide variety of topics are covered. Last semester, two of the speakers introduced us to their research and outlined their recent results; three more provided overviews of the basic ideas in their areas of interest, while the remaining three speakers chose to present items of recreational interest that would not normally be seen in classes.

The weekly seminar is occasionally replaced by a Faculty Research Glimpse: a meeting during which three or four faculty members speak about their current research interests. The Faculty Research Glimpses provide graduate students with an opportunity to hear first-hand what problems are currently being thought about here at Rutgers. Two of these "Faculty Research Glimpses" were given this Fall and three more are scheduled for the Spring. The Pizza Seminar home page, listing previous and forthcoming talks, is at



The Mathematics Department is very interested in hearing from its alumni/alumnae from either the undergraduate or graduate program, about where they are and what they are doing. One aim is to set up a Department website that would facilitate contacts among former graduates and serve as a source of contacts for our current graduates. We would be especially interested to know if you are employed in a company that hires mathematics graduates at any level, since we are seeking summer internship opportunities for our students and also occasionally look for individuals willing to come to campus to speak about job opportunities in industry for mathematics majors. Please let us know if you would be willing to participate in such activities.

If possible, responses should be sent by email to:

Current Address:
Job Title and Company:
Home Phone:
Business Phone:
Email address:
Web page url:
News item:

If you do not have access to email, please FAX the information to 732-445-5530 (attention: Alumni Committee) or mail the information to:

Alumni Committee
Department of Mathematics - Hill Center
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
110 Frelinghuysen Rd
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8019

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