View from the Chair - Judy Walker

AMS Fellows

Judy Walker

It’s been another terrific year for the Department of Mathematics, with wonderful things happening in all aspects of our mission.

Our faculty have been exceptionally active this year, and many congratulations are in order: Srikanth Iyengar and John Meakin were named Fellows of the AMS; Stephen Hartke and Meakin were awarded Fulbright Fellowships; Iyengar won the Outstanding Research and Creativity Award for the Sciences from the UNL College of Arts and Sciences; and Daniel Toundykov received the Harold and Esther Edgerton Junior Faculty Award. The Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics was recognized by the AMS with its Programs that Make a Difference Award.

The department continues to provide an outstanding education for its students. In addition to the above awards, I wish to congratulate Professor Brian Harbourne on receiving the Hazel R. McClymont Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award from the UNL College of Arts and Sciences. Those of you who have had the privilege of taking a course from Brian will be surprised neither by his receipt of this award nor by the fact that he donated a portion of the prize to establish an award for graduate students in memory of Steven Haataja.

Our graduate program continues to thrive, with 13 students earning Ph.D.s in 2013 and a class of 20 strong first-year graduate students. The incoming class includes two National Science Foundation Graduate Fellows, Jessica De Silva and Jessie Jamieson. Jessie wrote us in April, as she accepted our offer of admission, saying “The entire week following the Sunday I received word of the NSF Fellowship was chock-full of phone calls from universities and math departments from the east coast to the west coast asking me if I had made any commitments to any universities yet. When I told them I had, or that I was planning on accepting one from UNL, each and every one of them gave the department great accolades. The department representatives also said that they were working to try to make their departments more like UNL’s, and repeated that it was a great, impressive department, and that I had made a great choice.”

Our initiatives at the undergraduate level are beginning to pay off. Despite losing long-time Chief Undergraduate Advisor Gordon Woodward to retirement, we are up to 192 mathematics majors, and a jaw-dropping 516 students are currently pursuing minors in mathematics. I am currently teaching several of our majors in our honors section of differential equations, and they’re a great bunch. I was especially pleased to learn that one, a sophomore double-majoring in math and meteorology from San Jose, Calif., was first introduced to UNL when she participated in All Girls/All Math as a high school student.

We have continued to make important contributions to the mathematical education of teachers, granting 13 MAT degrees and offering 45 graduate-level mathematics courses for 400 in-service teachers during the summer. Jim Lewis has continued to be a national leader in this field, and the CBMS publication “The Mathematical Education of Teachers II,” for which Jim chaired the writing team, came out this year. We are pleased to welcome Yvonne Lai to our department as a tenure-track assistant professor with expertise in the mathematical knowledge needed for teaching.

We could not do this work without your support. We sincerely thank our friends and donors. Just in the past year, your donations have gone to support scholarships for undergraduates, travel funding and awards for graduate students and undergraduates, student activities, research conferences, research visitors, named professorships and postdoctoral fellows, our work with the mathematical education of teachers, and many aspects of our extensive educational outreach program. Any contributions you are able to make, large or small, will have an impact on what we are able to accomplish.