Mathematics Department - 2010 Newsletter

2010 Newsletter

Israel Gelfand's photo not available
Israel Gelfand
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Michael Saks

The past academic year (2009-10) had its share of noteworthy events. I will touch upon but a few of these.

On a sad note the year saw the passing of Israel Gelfand, one of the most original and broadest mathematicians of our time. A memorial was held in the Department on December 6th that presented a wonderful rememberance and celebration of his life, his mathematics, and his nearly 20 year long association with our department.

On a more joyous note, we saw the promotion, to Associate Professor with tenure, of two of our very accomplished Assistant Professors, Jian Song (Geometry) and Roderich Tumulka (Mathematical Physics).

Jerrold Tunnell's photo not available
Jerrold Tunnell
Zheng-Chao Han's photo not available
Zheng-Chao Han

It will come as no surprise that this in general has been an economically difficult year, brought on by a precipitous drop in state support for Rutgers. Manifestations of this have been a significant reduction in the departmental operating budget, and the recently announced salary freeze for 2010/11.

Fortunately the University did still allocate resources for recruitment, and for the Mathematics Department this resulted in the hiring of two tenure track Assistant Professors and three Postdocs (the so-called Hills/Triennials) as described below. With the addition of two NSF sponsored Postdocs and the delayed arrival of two additional Hill Assistant Professors, this means the arrival of 9 new faculty at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.

     These new arrivals are counter-balanced by 4 retirements from our permanent Faculty and the departure of 4 of our past Hills/Triennials.
     The retirements effective July 1, 2010 are of long time Faculty Members Richard Bumby, Michael O'Nan, Ted Petrie, and Wolmer Vasconcelos. Richard Bumby (Number Theory) is the "seniority president" among these, having arrived at Rutgers in 1962, directly after his Ph.D. from Princeton. Wolmer Vasconcelos (Commutative Algebra) arrived in 1967 having received his Ph.D. at Chicago in 1966. Michael O'Nan (Finite Groups, Ph.D. Princeton 1969) and Ted Petrie (Algebraic Topology, Ph.D. Princeton 1964) both arrived in 1970, Ted after a stint at the Institute for Defense Analysis, where he did early, fundamental work on Hidden Markov Processes. There will be a "retirement luncheon" in the Department in the early fall. Please watch the Department web-site for a more detailed announcement.
     It is my sincere hope that we will be able to hire at about the same pace during the coming academic year, both for the sake of the mathematical health and vitality of the department, and for the sake of the excellent young mathematicians who are continuing to "come on the market".
     This was the first year of The New Jersey Partnership for Excellence in Middle School Mathematics, a partnership between Rutgers University and seven school districts in the state of New Jersey. The partnership is developing the expertise of teachers in Mathematics. In addition to the PI, Amy Cohen, faculty involved with this effort include Michael Beals, Rick Falk, Richard Lyons and Robert Wilson.
Abbas Bahri's photo not available
Abbas Bahri
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Yanyan Li
This was the year when the "torch" was passed from Abbas Bahri to Yanyan Li as far as the Directorship of our Center for Nonlinear Analysis is concerned. I want to take this opportunity to thank Abbas for long and dedicated service to the Center and to welcome Yanyan in his new capacity. The annual D'Atri Lectures (sponsored by the Center) were given by Carlos Kenig of the University of Chicago, and the Lewis Lectures by Andrei Zelevinsky of Northeastern University.
     This marks the end of the first year of service as Undergraduate Vice-Chair and Chair for Jerry Tunnell and me, respectively. I feel at least Jerry has done a wonderful job, and I would like to thank him for his effort. I would also like to thank Michael Saks, who has just stepped down after 4 years of exemplary service as Graduate Vice Chair. This finally gives me the opportunity to welcome Zheng-Chao Han who has graciously agreed to serve as Graduate Vice Chair for the coming three year term.
Jian Song's photo not available
Jian Song
Roderich Tumulka's photo not available
Roderich Tumulka
The Department extends congratulations to JIAN SONG and RODERICH TUMULKA, who have both been awarded Rutgers Board of Trustees Research Fellowships in recognition of the scholarly excellence that led to their recent promotions to Associate Professor.
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Michael Vogelius
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Robert Wilson
MICHAEL VOGELIUS, our Department Chair, has been honored with election as a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab).

ROBERT WILSON has been given the 2010 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching by the New Jersey Section of the Mathematical Association of America.
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Haim Brezis
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Amy Cohen
HAIM BREZIS has been awarded an Honoris Causa degree by the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași (Romania).

AMY COHEN was presented with a Certificate of Meritorius Service to the Association and to the New Jersey Section by the Mathematical Association of America. She is also the program director for New Jersey Partnership for Excellence in Middle School Mathematics (NJ-PEMSM), a Rutgers University stationed program which helps teachers improve student engagement in the mathematical learning process. NJ-PEMSM has been awarded a five million dollar NSF grant, applicable over the next five years.
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Marta Lewicka
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Natasa Sesum

MARTA LEWICKA is coming to Rutgers from the University of Minnesota, where she was an associate Professor in the Mathematics Department. She was a recipient of the McKnight Land Grant Award in 2007 and an NSF Career Award in 2009. Her research interests include hyperbolic conservation laws, fluid dynamics and the calculus of variations.

NATASA SESUM is joining the Mathematics Department from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was an Assistant Professor. She has worked on problems involving Ricci flow, partial differential equations and complex geometry.

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Po Lam Yung
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Julien Roger

PO LAM YUNG will start a three year appointment as a Hill Assistant Professor in September, 2010. He is an analyst who has received his Ph.D. under the direction of Elias Stein at Princeton. His research interests include partial differential equations, harmonic analysis, several complex variables and differential geometry. He will be mentored by Sagun Chanillo and Dick Wheeden.

JULIEN ROGER will begin a three year appointment as a Hill Assistant Professor in September, 2010. Roger received his Ph.D. under the direction of Francis Bonahan at University of Southern California. He has research interests in topological quantum field theory, conformal field theory and low dimensional topology. He will be mentored by Feng Luo.

Jian V. Song's photo not available
Jian V. Song
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Marius Beceanu

JIAN V. SONG will start a Triennial Appointment in September, 2010. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Kansas, under the direction of Professor David Nualart. His research interests include stochastic partial differential equations, Malliavin calculus, fractional Brownian motion and mathematical finance. He will be mentored by Dan Ocone and Paul Feehan.

MARIUS BECEANU will start a two year term as a Hill Assistant Professor this fall, having just spent a year working with Henri Berestycki at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes des Sciences Sociales in Paris. Beceanu is an analyst and former student of Wilhelm Schlag at the University of Chicago. He will be mentored by Avy Soffer.

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Dmitry Gourevitch
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Amanda Redlich

DMITRY GOUREVITCH received his Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute of Science under the direction of Joseph Bernstein and Stephen Gelbart and subsequently earned a Rothschild Fellowship for 2009-2010. He spent the academic year 2009-2010 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He will join us for the Fall, 2010 semester as a Hill Assistant Professor but will then accept a position at the Weizmann Institute. He will be mentored by Siddhartha Sahi.

AMANDA REDLICH received her Ph.D. at M.I.T. under the direction of Peter Shor. Her research interests include probability, combinatorics, algorithms and their mutual interactions. She will be coming to Rutgers with a three year NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, and she will be mentored by Jeff Kahn.

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Abhik Ganguli

ABHIK GANGULI received his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, under the direction of Mark Kisin (who has since moved to Harvard). Ganguli is a number theorist with a special interest in Galois representations attached to automorphic forms. He will be joining us for one year with an NSF Mathematics and Science Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship. He will be mentored by Jerry Tunnell.

Jerrold Tunnell's photo not available
Jerrold Tunnell

Curriculum Innovations – The geometry course for future teachers (formerly Math 197) will subsequently be Math 109 and the Connections Seminar (formerly Math 495) will be listed as Math 468.

Careers and Ideas talks – This popular series continued with a lecture by Prof. Wolf:

    Fall 2009:
  • Calculus Against the Swine Flu: Modeling the Spread of Infectious Disease
    by Prof. Julia Wolf

The Budget situation – There is a strong possibility that class sizes may increase further, while the number of sections offered for some popular courses may decrease. We will try to preserve our ability to place our students in the courses they need, but this will necessarily reduce some of the flexibility students currently have in scheduling, if the anticipated cuts materialize.

Exit survey – Our on-line Exit Survey is at We ask graduating seniors in Math or Biomath to give us feedback and supply an email address for future contact.

Honors and Prizes
  • Graduation with Honors
    • Highest honors: Joseph Shao (B.S.)
    • High honors: Daniel Leven (B.S.), Wei Chen (B.S.)
    • Honors: Alexander Crowell, Joshua Feldman, Michael Ratner, Peter Ward, Matthew Palazzoto

  • Weill Scholarships, a gift from Adrienne and Maurice Weill, for full time students majoring in mathematics, based on academic merit
  • Wei Chen Itai Feigenbaum Matt Leone-Zwillinger Daniel Leven Asya Pritsker Emily Sergel Joseph Shao Jonathan Sloane

  • The Henry G. Sanders 1925 Memorial Scholarship in Mathematics: Darlayne Addabbo and Kristen Lew, This prize is customarily awarded to a student entering the third year, with preference to students majoring in mathematics or intending to pursue a professional career in mathematics, especially teaching

  • The Kenneth and Rosalind Wolfson Annual Award: Joseph Shao, for Academic Excellence in Mathematics

  • The John Bogart Prize: Maria Taranov, for outstanding overall achievement as a mathematics major

  • The Joseph P. Bradley Memorial Prize: Wei Chen, for best overall performance on a prize exam

  • The Lawrence Corwin Memorial Math Prize: Joshua Feldman, for a non-traditional Graduating Senior mathematics major with outstanding performance in upper level mathematics courses

  • The Lawrence Corwin Prize in Mathematics: Christopher Mischaikow , for superior performance on a prize examination

  • The Richard Morris Award: Julia Fendler , for a Douglass College Graduating Senior mathematics major with an outstanding performance in upper level mathematics courses

  • The Tilla Weinstein Award: Richard Romanowski , for exceptional achievement in mathematics

  • The David Martin Weiss Memorial Award: Diana Oliff , awarded to a first-year student from a New Brunswick College other than Douglass College who has done exceptional work in mathematics

  • Putnam Competition Results

    In recent years several Rutgers students have performed well in this U.S.-Canadian competition held every December. Past Results.

Zheng-Chao Han's photo not available
Zheng-Chao Han
Comings and Goings

Congratulations to the January and May 2010 recipients of Ph.D.'s! They, and several students on track to receive their degree in October, are shown below, with their advisors' names and their next position. Sixteen students will enter our Ph.D. program in Fall 2010, eleven from the U.S. and five from abroad. Sources of financial support include Teaching Assistantships; Research Assistantships from external faculty grants; the Weill Fellowships, endowed by Adrienne and Maurice Weill; and competitive fellowships such as Rutgers University Excellence Fellowships, Rutgers University Torrey Fellowships, U.S. Department of Education GAANN Fellowships, Department of Homeland Security DyDAn Fellowships, a Fullbright Fellowship, and a Portuguese Science and Technology Fellowship.

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Paul Ellis
Jan., 2010
Advisor: Simon Thomas
Position: Assistant Professor of Mathematics, University of Connecticut
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Jawon Koo
Jan., 2010
Advisor: Paul Feehan
Position: Academic Position in South Korea
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Ming Shi
Jan., 2010
Advisor: Paul Feehan
Position: Senior Quantitative Advisor, Ernst & Young
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Sara Blight
May, 2010
Advisor: Henryk Iwaniec
Position: National Security Agency at Fort Meade
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Goran Djankovic
May, 2010
Advisor: Henryk Iwaniec
Position: Researcher, Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia.
Liviu Ilinca's photo not available
Liviu Ilinca
May, 2010
Advisor: Jeffry Kahn
Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Indiana University
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Hoi Nguyen
May, 2010
Advisor: Van Vu
Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
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Wesley Pegden
May, 2010
Advisor: Jozsef Beck
Position: NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, NYU (Courant Institute)
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Daniel Staley
May, 2010
Advisor: Steve Ferry
Position: Quantitative Researcher, Yodle, Inc.
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Nan Li
Oct., 2010
Advisor: Xiaochun Rong
Position: Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame
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Jin Wang
Oct., 2010
Advisor: Paul Feehan
Position: Senior Financial Advisor, Ernst & Young
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Yuan Yuan
Oct., 2010
Advisor: Xiaojun Huang
Position: Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Pizza Seminar Talks 2009-10

Priyam Patel and Kellen Meyers coordinated the Graduate Pizza Seminar in 2009-10. The Pizza Seminar is an intoxicating blend of free pizza and expository lectures by mathematics graduate students, for mathematics graduate students. The varied and interesting abstracts of the weekly talks are on line. We list below a few sample titles from Spring, 2010.

  • Ed Chien: Introduction to Special Relativity
  • Thom Tyrell: The Geometry behind Luroth's Theorem
  • Marina Skyers: An Unsolved question in Algebra Solved by Algebraic Toplogy
  • Brian Thompson: Let'Em Eat Cake: Fair, Envy-Free and Equitable Division
  • Michael DeFreitas: The Irrational Number that Cost a Man His Life
  • Moulik Balasubramanian: Distinct Zeros of Analytic Functions
  • Edinah Gnang: Graph Isomorphism: A Problem at the Junction of Linear Algebra and Group Theory
  • Ved Datar: Fourier Transform and Some Applications
  • James Dibble: Cartography: The Drawing of Charts or Maps
  • Janet Flores: Existence of (at least one) Non Unknot
Awards and Prizes

Wesley Pegden won an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, which he will use to study at NYU.

Within the Mathematics Department, Gabriel Bouch and Daniel Staley received the Spring, 2009 TA Teaching Excellence Awards; Wesley Pegden and Humberto Montalvan-Gamez received the Fall, 2009 TA Excellence Awards; and David Duncan and Beth Kupin received the Spring, 2010 TA Excellence Awards. Daniel Staley also received the Fall, 2009 Pizza Seminar Award; and Brian Thompson won the Spring, 2010 Pizza Seminar Award.

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Paul Feehan

Admissions – The number of applications for Fall 2010 admission increased by about 30% relative to last year, with a total of about 345 applications for admission. As of June 24, 2010, we expect an incoming class of 50, with 10 domestic students. Competition for the best qualified students was heightened by the addition of the new quantitative finance master's degree program offered by MIT. Our Admissions Committee comprised Professors Zheng-chao Han, Daniel Ocone, Shadi Tahvildar-Zadeh, and Paul Feehan. The quality of applications was high, with many applicants comfortably exceeding our required background in mathematics and programming which is already more stringent than that of all other leading programs.

Staff – We are pleased to announce that we are close to appointing a new full-time Associate Director for Career Placement and Employer Relations, following a search for a replacement for Renee Williams, who resigned in March to take up a position as Assistant Dean for Scholastic Standing in the School of Arts and Sciences. We are very grateful to Heidi Benzinger, who stepped in at short notice to take over the position in a temporary capacity. Heidi also has a long career on Wall Street, most recently with positions in credit risk management at HypoVereinsbank and Radian Asset Management, where she was a Vice President. We are very grateful to Renee Williams for her previous leadership in this role for nearly two years and wish her continued success in her career at Rutgers.

Heartfelt thanks are also due to Jesús Rodríguez, who is leaving Rutgers. The Mathematical Finance Program is very grateful to him for his wonderful organization of mathematical finance seminars and for his many contributions to MSMF and the department.

The student services component of our program continues to be expertly led by Ana Mastrogiovanni as Program Administrator, who joined in April 2008. Ana guides our students from the time of initial application through graduation. The program is directed by Professor Paul Feehan.

Placement – Since our program's inception in Fall 2006, 94 students have earned their Master of Science degree with Option in Mathematical Finance, with 51 graduating in January and May 2010. Despite the challenging economic climate, our graduates have fared well in the quantitative finance job marketplace: 100% of 2007 and 2008 graduates have been placed and of our 2009 graduates, all but two graduates have received and accepted employment offers. For 2010, 80% and 60% of our January and May graduates, respectively, have been placed to date. Firms hiring our students include Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, R.G. Niederhoffer Capital Management, ING, Fidelity Investments, State Street Associates, Bank of New York Mellon, Blue Spruce Global Advisors and Deutsche Bank, just to name a few.

New Courses – In addition to our four required courses covering mathematical finance (Math 621-622) and numerical analysis (Math 573-574), our program now offers five elective courses for the MSMF curriculum:

  • Math 623 – Computational Finance
  • Math 624 – Credit Risk Modeling
  • Math 625 – Portfolio Theory and Applications
  • Math 628:01 – High-frequency finance and Stochastic Control
  • Math 628:02 – Interest Rate Derivative Modeling
Each course concludes with a final project rather than a final exam; the final project provides a practical training experience similar to that provided by a summer internship project at a top financial firm. Our instructors for the 2010-11 elective courses include: Dr. Anatoly Morosov for Math 624 (Executive Director at JP Morgan, PhD in Physics from Rutgers University), Dr. Arthur Robb for Math 625 (Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, PhD in Mathematics from Columbia University and BA in Mathematics from Rutgers University), Dr. Matt Cushman for Math 628:01 (Knight Equity Trading), and Dr. Viorel Costeanu for Math 628:02 (Associate at JP Morgan, with PhD in Mathematics from MIT), and Professor Paul Feehan for Math 623.

A student's final course project serves as the basis for the required master's degree essay. We regularly update our required and elective courses in order to provide our students with a comprehensive choice and take into account the changing nature of the financial industry. Students continue to take courses offered by the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Statistics, as well as Computer Science, Economics, Operations Research, Systems Engineering, and Finance in Rutgers Business School.

Top Ten Ranking – The Mathematical Finance program at Rutgers University gained recognition in a widely syndicated article appearing in July 2008 in Advanced Trading magazine. Our program was named among the Top 10 programs of this type in the United States; the other programs in this elite group are offered by Berkeley, Carnegie-Mellon, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Michigan, NYU, Princeton, and Stanford.

Conference on Mathematical Finance and Partial Differential Equations – Our first conference on this theme was held on December 4, 2009, at the Heldrich Hotel, New Brunswick, and featured 12 speakers and 110 registered attendees, including industry practitioners and university faculty and students. The conference was co-organized by Professors Daniel Ocone and Paul Feehan (Rutgers) and sponsored by the master's degree program. A similar conference is planned for December 10, 2010, at the same venue.

Ph.D. Students – While our department does not offer a Ph.D. program in mathematical finance, two current Ph.D. students are pursuing mathematical finance as their research speciality and three have graduated, all under the direction of Professor Paul Feehan. One student is entering her fourth year while the other student is working full-time at Bloomberg. Two of three graduates have positions in a financial engineering group at Ernst & Young, while the third has returned to pursue an academic career in South Korea.

Please see our website for more information.

As always, 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. Our Mathematics Alumni website is a place to 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

The Mathematics Department would like to thank its alumni and friends for their past generous support of the Department. Gifts to the Department enhance our ability to compete for the most outstanding undergraduates and graduate students, to bring outstanding mathematics faculty as visitors to the Department, and to support seminars and colloquia. If you would like to help us by making a general contribution to the department, you can do so online at the Rutgers Foundation website. In order to select 'Mathematics' on that page, be sure to click on :

Or choose an academic department:

If you would like to discuss more specific purposes for a possible gift to the Department, please call the Department Chair, Michael Vogelius, at 732-445-2390 Ext. 2393.

A special focus for Department fundraising is an effort to find a source of permanent support for our very successful summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) program. This is an eight-week program that gives undergraduates the opportunity to get a taste of what it is like to do research in mathematics. The program includes both individual research and group activities. Each student is assisted by a faculty adviser and some also by a graduate-student adviser. Participating undergraduates receive free on-campus housing and a stipend, so that the total cost to the Department is approximately $5000 per student. Typically, about eight students participate each summer (nine in 2009). Although some support is provided by the National Science Foundation through the grants of participating faculty mentors, not all faculty mentors have such support. A permanent endowment would ensure that this program will continue to enrich the educational experiences of our best undergraduates.

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