Department Newsletters

2003 Spring

Message from the Department Chair
Faculty Prizes and Honors
New Faculty this Year
Faculty Promotions
New Faculty for Fall 2003
Lewis and D'Atri lectures
Undergraduate Program News
Graduate Program News
Pizza Seminar News
Alumni News
Contributions to the Department


Although budget cuts had an impact on the Department, there were still substantial accomplishments by our faculty and students. In its most recent ratings, US News and World Report ranked the Rutgers Mathematics Department 16th overall and 6th among state universities. Several noteworthy events took place in the Department this year. A Conference in honor of Jean Taylor was held January 30-31, 2003. Joel Lebowitz hosted the 88th and 89th Statistical Mechanics Conferences. In early May, A. Soffer and J. Etnyre (U. Penn) organized a conference at Rutgers on Frontiers of PDEs and Dynamical Systems. Also, in early May, the Department held a lunch to honor Adrienne and Maurice Weill for their generous support of undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships. There were nine undergraduate scholarship winners (listed below in the section Undergraduate Program News) and eleven graduate student award recipients (listed below in the section Graduate Program News ). Most of the students were able to participate in the event and demonstrated the very high quality undergraduate and graduate students the Department is attracting. As in past years, the Department hosted a large number of seminars and colloquia and many distinguished visitors. This spring, at the suggestion of Simon Gindikin, the Department began a faculty colloquium series, in which Department faculty give colloquium style talks suitable for colleagues and graduate students who are not experts in the field of the speaker. These talks provide an excellent opportunity to find out what our colleagues are doing and to learn about developments in other fields of mathematics.  Simon Thomas was the first speaker in this series, followed by Eduardo Sontag.

The Department undertook several major initiatives. The first was to develop a plan for hiring priorities in the short (1-3 year) and medium (3-5 year) term. We took into account enrollment trends in undergraduate and graduate courses and the subject areas in which doctoral students are choosing to work. Also considered were the impact of hiring on funding opportunities, collaborations with other departments, and the diversity and age distribution of the faculty. There was extensive discussion of the Department's desires to insure excellent teaching on all levels, to work with other units of the University in both research and service, and, most important, to maintain and increase the scholarly excellence of our faculty. The second initiative, led by Mike Saks, has begun to examine the undergraduate mathematics major, looking for ways to improve it, and hopefully to attract new strong mathematics students. Finally, led by Jerry Tunnell, the Department is in the process of examining its first year graduate courses to ensure that they are providing the proper foundation and breadth of knowledge crucial for beginning graduate students.

This year, we were able to enhance the support of our computer operation, hiring Austin Murphy as the Technical Support Specialist and Eric Luhrs as the Helpdesk Manager. We were also able to provide additional staff for our business office with the hiring of a new Adminstrative Assistant III, Isabelle Amarhanow. Because of their outstanding work and increased job responsibilities, Lynn Braun, Diane Apadula, and Jacqueline Drayton were upgraded to Administrative Assistant I, Administrative Assistant II, and Accounting Administrator, respectively. Carla Ortiz received a promotion and moved from her position in the undergraduate office to the Graduate Secretary position in the newly combined Graduate/Undergraduate Office.

Gene Speer began his term as Undergraduate Vice-Chair, taking over from Dan Ocone and Chuck Weibel began a three-year term as Graduate Director, taking over from Steve Greenfield. These are demanding positions and the Department expresses its thanks to Dan and Steve for their terrific work and is again fortunate to have two excellent faculty in these key positions.

BioMaPS, the new interdisciplinary Ph.D. granting graduate program at the interface between the Biological, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences, began its first year of operation. The Department of Mathematics is one of several departments involved in this program and also in the new BioMaPS Institute. The Department's efforts in this initiative are being led by Professors Eduardo Sontag and Fred Roberts, who serve as members of the BioMaPS Steering Committee.

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 may be found on the  Mathematics Department Undergraduate Awards and Prizes page and the Mathematics Department Graduate Awards and Prizes page, respectively.





Dr. Haim Brezis was one of 18 foreign associates from 11 countries elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Dr. Brezis is a Professor at Universit&eacute Pierre et Marie Curie and has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rutgers since 1988. He holds honorary doctorates at 7 universities and is a member of the French Academy of Sciences (and of 6 other Academies).





Dr. Stephen Greenfield was the 2003 recipient of the MAA-NJ Section Distinguished Teaching Award. He was cited as "an inspired classroom teacher whose accomplishments go well beyond the classroom. He has served as mentor to many students by rehearsing job talks, advising students on job applications, helping graduate students teaching their own course for the first time, and discussing students' lives and mathematical careers. His activities also include course innovation leading to sustained change, successful applications for funding of educational activities, outreach to other programs, and educational administration. He has been meticulous about documenting his instructional activities on the web and his pages are considered regularly and extensively by people at Rutgers and elsewhere. All these activities have been of enormous help to the Rutgers Mathematics Department and have been greatly appreciated by his students."




Dr. Natasha Komarova, who will be joining the Mathematics Department in Fall, 2003, received the Prize for Promise. The Prize for Promise is an award given to young women demonstrating exceptional ability, leadership, and vision in their respective endeavors. Natasha was selected for her "extraordinary potential and contribution to her field, her expertise in other science disciplines, and her collaboration with colleagues on numerous continents. Only 30 years old, Komarova already is considered a leader in the field of mathematical biology, currently focusing her study on the modeling of cancer and virus dynamics. She will receive $90,000 of the overall award."





Dr. Stephen D. Miller was one of 117 outstanding young scientists and economists (only 20 in mathematics) selected to receive Sloan Research Fellowships. Sloan Research Fellows are selected from "among hundreds of highly qualified scientists in the early stages of their careers on the basis of exceptional promise to contribute to the advancement of knowledge."






Professor Eduardo Sontag was awarded the Henrik W. Bode Lecture Prize: To a distinguished contributor to control systems science or engineering. The recipient gives a plenary lecture at the Conference on Decision and Control in the year of the award.






Dr. Jean E. Taylor was elected to a five-year term as a Trustee of the American Mathematical Society. She also gave the Association of Women in Mathematics' Emmy Noether Lecture: Five little crystals and how they grew.






Dr. François Trèves was one of only six scientists in all fields elected as a new Foreign Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.







Dr. Wolmer Vasconcelos was one of twenty new members and the only one from the Mathematical Sciences elected a Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.




In addition to the above, YanYan Li and Xiaochun Rong gave invited talks at the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Beiing, China in August, 2002.

Past Faculty Honors



Simon Thomas was promoted to the rank of Professor II.

We congratulate our colleague for his outstanding achievements that led to this promotion.



Assistant Professor

Natasha Komarova will join the Department as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, coming to Rutgers from the Institute for Advanced Study, where she has been a member of the Program in Theoretical Biology. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1998 and has interests in mathematical biology, mathematical modeling of learning and evolution of language, nonlinear waves, and integrable systems.

Assistant Professor

Drew Sills will join the Department as a Hill Assistant Professor, coming to Rutgers from Penn State University, where he has been a Visiting Assistant Professor for the past year, after obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 2002. His research interests include q-series identities, partitions, and symbolic computation.

NSF post-doc

Geoffrey Buhl will join the Department as a National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellow. He will receive his Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in June, 2003 and his research interests include vertex operator algebras, conformal field theory, and infinite-dimensional Lie algebras.



taylor Jean Taylor was a Rutgers faculty member for twenty-nine years, coming to Rutgers as an Assistant Professor in 1972, following a year as an Instructor at MIT. She received her BA from Mount Holyoke College in 1966, an MS (in Physical Chemistry) from Berkeley in 1968, an MS (in Mathemtics) from the University of Warick, England in 1971 and her Ph.D. from Princeton in 1973. Jean received many honors, including election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1999), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Rutgers Presidential Public Service Award (1999), and an Honorary Doctorate from Mount Holyoke College (2001). Jean also had a distinguished record of service to the mathematics profession, which included serving as President of the Association for Women in Mathematics (1999-01) membership on the Executive Committee of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (2000-02), and Vice-President of the American Mathematical Society (1994-97). While undertaking all these activities, Jean had a highly productive research career, with over 100 publications in mathematics and materials science. Jean retired as of June 30, 2002 and a conference in her honor was held in the Department on January 30, 31, 2003.



tierney Myles Tierney was a Rutgers faculty member for thirty-four years, coming to Rutgers as an Associate Professor in 1968 following positions at Rice University (1965-6) and at the ETH-Forshungsinstitut fur Mathematics, Zurich (1966-68). He received his B.A. from Brown University in 1959 and his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1965. Myles began his career as an algebraic topologist, moved toward category theory and was responsible (together with F.W. Lawrence) for the introduction of an new field within category theory: elementary topoi. He had six Ph.D. students: Ira Wolf (1971), Carol Ann Keller (1983), Norman Adams (1984), Terence Lindgren (1984), Todd Trimble (1994), and Luca Mauri (1998). Myles retired as of January 1, 2003 and was honored by the Department at a retirement party on December 10, 2002.





The D'Atri lectures, given by Richard Hamilton of Columbia University on April 3-4, 2003, were entitled "On the Ricci Flow."

The next  Lewis lectures will be given by Jean-Michel Coron of the Département de Mathématiques d'Orsay. These talks will be given during the week of October 6 -- October 10, 2003. The title and exact dates will be announced.


Eugene R. Speer, Undergraduate Vice-Chair)

Developments in the Undergraduate Curriculum.

-- The Mathematics Department is instituting a new option within the major, called the honors track. The primary goal of the honors track will be to provide qualified students with an experience of mathematics that is richer, more rigorous, and more personal than is provided by the standard major. We expect that many honors track students will go on to graduate school, and the program will provide a firm foundation for this. Approval by the faculty committee overseeing the option will be required for participation; we expect the approval process to be quite selective, so that only a small fraction of math majors will be in this option at any time.

Each student in the honors option will be assigned a faculty advisor and, together with the advisor, will formulate a proposed course plan, subject to the approval of the mathematics honors committee. This course of study will normally include (among others) the honors classes in calculus already offered by the Department, our year-long rigorous courses Mathematical Analysis (411-412) and Abstract Algebra (451-452), and two semesters of one-credit honors seminar, at least one at the junior/senior level.

-- Professors Janos Komlos and Enriqueta Carrington offered the Freshman Seminar, described in the previous issue of this newsletter, in both Fall 2002 and Spring 2003. This seminar has been incorporated into the honors track discussed above, and indeed one of its purposes is to identify promising first year students who are candidates for the honors track.

-- This spring Professor Komlos offered a special honors section of Math 300, Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning. The goal was to prepare strong students, primarily sophomores, to take one or both of the the rigorous advanced courses Mathematical Analysis (411-412) and Abstract Algebra (451-452) in their junior year. We hope that some of the students who took this section will join the new honors track discussed above.

-- For several years the Math Department has offered, on an experimental basis and under a special topics number, a class in the mathematics of cryptography. Most recently the course has been taught by Professor Charles Weibel. The course has been quite successful, and has now been given its own number and title: Math 348, Cryptography. We expect to offer this course each spring. Topics covered will include the Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Public Key/Private Key Cryptography, and Digital Signatures, as well as various topics from Number Theory needed to understand these applications.

-- This spring Professors Lara Alcock and Amy Cohen taught a one-credit seminar, intended for students interested in teaching mathematics at the secondary school level and designed to highlight the most important connections between Advanced Calculus (Math 311) and the mathematics of junior high school and high school curricula. This is one of the projects of the Rutgers Committee on the Mathematical Education of Teachers (CoMET) discussed in last year's newsletter. Professors Alcock and Cohen will offer a similar seminar in Fall 2003, exploring the relation of Math 351, Introduction to Abstract Algebra, to the secondary school curriculum.

During the summer of 2002, three Rutgers undergraduates (Michael Lesnick, Rahul Malhotra, and John McClain) participated along with three undergraduates from other universities in the Department's VIGRE Research Experience for Undergraduates. Most projects had a faculty and/or post-doc mentor along with a graduate student co-mentor. The projects areas were:

  • Matrix Analysis, Mentor: Peter Landweber, Co-mentor: Brian Lins
  • Partial Differential Equations, Mentor: Avy Soffer, Co-mentor: Pieter Blue
  • Representation Theory, Mentors: Shawn Robinson and Friedrich Knop, Co-mentors: Bill Cuckler and Vince Vatter
  • Symplectic Geometry, Mentor: Matthew Leingang, Co-mentor: Alex Zarechnak
  • Statistical Mechanics, Mentor: Carlo Lancellotti

Undergraduate Prizes

We are pleased to announce this years winners of undergraduate prizes and scholarships.

  • Lawrence Goldman was awarded the Bogart Prize for his outstanding overall achievement as a mathematics major.
  • Jared Smollik won the Bradley Memorial Prize for best overall performance on the prize exam.
  • Gregory Muller won the Lawrence Corwin Prize in Mathematics.
  • David Biddulph won the Lawrence Corwin Memorial Math Prize awarded to a University College graduating senior mathematics major with a distinguished record in mathematics courses at Rutgers.
  • Prudence Heck won the Hannah Hoyt Senior Prize, awarded to a Douglass senior who has excelled in mathematics.
  • Eva Stein won the Richard Morris Award as the Douglass College senior majoring in mathematics with the highest average grade in mathematics courses.
  • Siwei Zhu received the David Martin Weiss Award for notable achievement in mathematics by a first-year student.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Stephen Curran, Philip Engel, and Christopher Ross.

The Weill scholarship winners, most shown below with Maurice Weill, his son, James Weill, and Chair, Richard Falk, are Jonathan Chipko, Carmen Costin, Inessa Epstein, Steven Jaslar, Rahul Malhotra, John F. McClain III, Craig Phillips, Jared Smollik, and Minh Tri Vo.

weill ug

Mathematics and Mathematics Education

The Departmental newsletter for 2002 discussed the increased interaction of the Department with the Graduate School of Education, and in particular various projects of the Rutgers Committee on the Mathematical Education of Teachers (CoMET). One of these was the seminar for prospective high school teachers discussed above. A second, the proposed revision of the GSE course "Modern High School Mathematics," has been completed, and the revised course was taught for the first time in the fall of 2002. A third project was the creation of a course for prospective elementary school teachers which would satisfy college general education requirements and also provide the fundamental understanding of arithmetic, geometry, and probability that teachers need to meet diverse classroom challenges with confidence and flexibility. This course has been designed and will be given for the first time in the fall of 2003, by Professor Michael Beals.


Chuck Weibel, Graduate Director)

New PhDs

Eight Rutgers students will earn their Ph.D. in Mathematics this year. They are (with advisors and their fall 2003 Employment parenthesized):

  • Madalena Chaves (Eduardo Sontag, Visiting Researcher at Aventis Pharmaceuticals)
  • Jooyoun Hong (Wolmer Vasconcelos, Purdue University)
  • Carlo Mazza (Charles Weibel, University of Paris)
  • David Radnell (Yi-Zhi Huang, University of Michigan)
  • Waldeck Schutzer (Siddhartha Sahi, Universidad Sao Paolo, Brazil)
  • Yuka Umemoto Taylor (Chris Woodward, George Washington University)
  • James Taylor (Sheldon Goldstein, Iowa State University)
  • Liangyi Zhao (Henryk Iwaniec, West Point Academy)

Incoming students

Replacing these departing students next fall will be a bumper crop of 16 incoming graduate students. Eleven of these are US citizens, and five of these are women; the number of US women in our program will more than double. Much of the credit for this recruiting goes to the current graduate students, who gave prospective students the idea that life as a mathematics graduate student was pretty good at Rutgers. (Of course, it helps to have a world-class faculty...)

Next fall, there will be 57 continuing full-time graduate students. Thus the overall number of full-time students will increase slightly, from 65 to 73. Have you heard the jokes about where we will find our new office space?

The number of applications for admission and support was again over 300 this year. This probably reflects the continued economic slump in technical employment. Draconian budget cuts, also an effect of the economy, continue to put a limit on how many students we can support. Fortunately, our program's ability to attract grant support means that (hopefully) we will have "no student left behind" in terms of support.

The generous gift of Maurice M. Weill and Adrienne R. Weill has allowed the graduate program to admit stronger students. This was done by supplementing the support level for first-year students, making us more competitive with comparable programs elsewhere. Students in the program beyond the first year can usually get summer support from teaching or research, but first-year students generally do not have this opportunity. With support from the Weill Endowment, these students will be in residence during much of the summer, studying and preparing for their written exams. The Weill support recipients, most pictured below with Maurice Weill, his daughter Wendy Weill Friedrich, and the Chair, Richard Falk, are: ShiTing Bao, Ben Bunting, Paul Ellis, Sarah Genoway, Qinian Jin, Sikimeti Mau, Thomas Robinson, David Smith, Chris Stucchioi, Thotsaporn Thanatipanonda, and Sujith Vijay.

weill grad

In other news ...

This year Klay Kruczek was a Graduate Fellow in the Science and Mathematics Educational Partnerships program, and taught in the Crossroads Middle School in South Brunswick one day a week.

One of our graduate students, Matt Young, was awarded a Bevier dissertation fellowship. Each year, Rutgers University awards 12 of these fellowships to its top graduate students (4 each in Humanities, Science and Social Science).

We were fortunate to be able to hire a new Graduate Secretary, Carla Ortiz () this May. She has been working in the Undergraduate Office for the last four years, so some of you may remember her in that capacity. Ms. Ortiz replaces Ms. Janet Mindur, who had been acting GS for 12 months, and who did an exceptional job. Thanks, Janet!


PIZZA SEMINAR NEWS (Jason Tedor, Curator)

The Pizza Seminar is a seminar for graduate students and interrupting faculty members. The coordinator coerces graduate students to become members of a coalition of individuals able and willing to give informal talks to their peers. The talks are a fantastic opportunity for graduate students to perfect their skill in orally communicating mathematics.

In the 2002--2003 academic year, the Pizza Seminar started in the summer and ran until the end of classes in May. During this time, we watched the text on the pizza boxes go from "We Will Never Forget" to "Pizza From Your Favorite Pizza Shop" and then to "Support Our Troops." Everyone is eagerly waiting to know which presidential candidate will be endorsed by Gerlanda's (our supplier) in 2004. Some boring statistics follow and a list of the talks is below. In the summer, ten talks occurred. Average attendance was twenty-one. In the fall, thirteen talks took place and the average attendance was twenty-six; three faculty members also spoke about their research. In the spring, there were also thirteen talks and the average attendance was twenty-nine; no faculty were invited to speak because the department instituted a new Faculty Research Colloquium. Also in the spring, the first-ever jointly continuous talk was given.

The following is a list of the seminar speakers for the academic year 2002-2003.


    • Michael Weingart: The Fundamental Principle of Algebra
    • Nick Weininger: Negative Dependence
    • Matt Young: L-functions, Modular Forms and Fermat's Last Theorem, Oh My!
    • David Radnell: Complex Analytic Theory of Riemann Surfaces and Their Moduli Spaces
    • Bill Cuckler: The Unit Distance Problem
    • Jason Tedor: Complex Complex ... Complex Analysis
    • Aaron Lauve: ``The Coolest Math Fact I Know''
    • Alfredo Rios: All This Useless Beauty
    • Lee Zhao: Are (Some of) the Stars Well Spaced in the Heavens?
    • Eva Curry: The Poisson Summation Formula
    • Jason Tedor: Erdos and Primes
    • Paul Ellis: Friendship
    • Brian Lins: The Many Faces of Coxeter Groups
    • Michael Weingart: An Introduction to Cohomology, or, a Second Look at Calc III
    • Chris Long: Genetic Coalescence, Mutation Rates, and Genetic Drift
    • Kia Dalili: This Mess Is Called the Algebraic Closure of Z/pZ
    • German Enciso: The Banach-Tarski Paradox
    • Aaron Lauve: Down With Determinants?
    • Laura Ciobanu: LLL = Lovasz, Lenstra, Latte
    • Matt Young: Odds `n' Ends
    • Jason Tedo:r Evens `n' Ends
    • Alex Zarechnak: What Do You Care What Bohm Thinks?
    • Ben Kennedy: The Likelihood Function
    • Faculty Research Glimpse: Charles Weibel, Richard Wheeden, Doron Zeilberger
    • Jason Tedor: The Power of Two
    • Raju Chelluri: Sharkovsky's Theorem
    • Alex Zarechnak: More on Bohmian Mechanics
    • Aaron Lauve: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Polynomials
    • Matt Young: The Golden Theorem
    • Michael Weingart: Harmonic and Symmetric Polynomials
    • Lee Zhao: The Gaps Between Square-Free Numbers
    • Pieter Blue, Stephen Hartke, Jason Tedor: Invariance in Combinatorics
    • Eva Curry: Identifying Low-Pass Filters
    • Waldeck Schutzer: Symmetric Functions and the Hook-Length Formula
    • Jeff Burdges: Weil Group Chunk Theorem: Geometry?
    • Alfredo Rios: Picard's Little Theorem and Brownian Motion (or, "What, You Can Do That?")
    • Kia Dalili: The Tale of Ext, A Long Tail



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



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 contribution, you can do so directly on the web at the URL by clicking on "Or choose an academic department:" and selecting Mathematics. If you would like to discuss various possibilities for a gift to the Department, please call the Department Chair, Richard Falk, at 732-445-2393.

One particular high priority fund-raising project for the Department is the renovation of the seventh-floor lounge in the Hill Center and naming it the Wolfson Lounge, in honor of Ken Wolfson, former Chair of the Department and Dean of the Graduate School. An article about Ken Wolfson that appeared recently in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Newsletter can be found here. If you wish to join our effort to honor Ken, you can do so by sending a donation to the Kenneth Wolfson Memorial Fund (Account #7-34568), a special fund that has been set up for this purpose. In particular, if you were planning to contribute to the Rutgers University Capital Campaign, you may request that the funds go specifically to the Kenneth Wolfson Memorial Fund. The estimated cost of the lounge renovation is approximately $108,000. As part of the Higher Education Capital Improvement Fund, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has already allocated about \(62,000. Last year, we raised approximately \)9000. Thus, to complete the project, we need to raise about $37,000.

Ken was instrumental in building the Mathematics Department to the stature it has today. Renovating the lounge in the manner described in the FAS Newsletter article will greatly benefit the Mathematics Department and be a wonderful way to honor Ken for his accomplishments and dedication to the Department. I hope you will be able to help us achieve this goal.