Dr. Matt Baker is a featured speaker at the Benjamin Peirce Centennial Conference which will be held at Harvard University in June 2016. This prestigious gathering of mathematicians includes Fields Medalists and other leading researchers. It celebrates 100 years of the Benjamin Peirce Fellowship at Harvard.
Five faculty members in the College of Sciences are among the recent recipients of the early-career grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The highly competitive awards are from the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program; they provide five years of funding to junior faculty.
Of the five College of Sciences CAREER award recipients, four are assistant professors in the School of Mathematics. Their names and research interests are:
Michael K. Damron - dynamical systems, probability, and statistics
Esther Ezra - discrete geometry, combinatorics, probability, discrepancy theory, and approximation algorithms
Jennifer C. Hom - low-dimensional topology, Heegaard Floer homology, knot theory, concordance, and Dehn surgery
Kirsten G. Wickelgren - algebra, geometry, and topology
Amit R. Reddi, an assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is the fifth College of Sciences CAREER awardee. Reddi studies metalloproteins. His lab is interested in determining the cellular, molecular, and chemical mechanisms by which these proteins are activated in cells and their roles in cell metabolism and physiology.
"I'm thrilled - but not at all surprised - by the recognition of accomplishment and promise by our early-career colleagues that these NSF CAREER awards signal. Their successes reflect the vigor they bring to their respective schools and to mathematics and the sciences at Georgia Tech," says College of Sciences Dean Paul M. Goldbart.
The CAREER awards are NSF's most prestigious grant to support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars. Through five years of sustained support, the award enables promising and talented researchers to build a foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.
During July 11-15, 2016 Georgia Tech will host Summer School on Real Algebraic Geometry and Optimization organized by Greg Blekherman and Rainer Sinn (Georgia Tech) and Mauricio Velasco (Universidad de los Andes). The summer school is aimed at graduate students and recent PhD's with the goal of introducing them to latest developments in the theory of nonnegative polynomials and sums of squares and applications. The topics for the school are:
- Geometry of Sums of Squares and Nonnegative Polynomials, recent connections with Classical Algebraic Geometry
- Applications of Sums of Squares Methods in Optimization and Engineering
Location: Skiles 006.
Dan Margalit, has been selected to receive the inaugural 2016 Leddy Family Faculty Fellowship.
The Leddy Family Faculty Fellowship is awarded to a tenure track faculty member in the College of Sciences. The award is made to further the goals of the College by supporting development of the research and training program and quality of instruction of a mid-career faculty member (loosely defined as a tenured Associate Professor, or one who is just before promotion to this rank, or just after promotion from this rank). This award is made possible through a generous gift to the College of Sciences from Jeff '78 (Physics) and Pam Leddy.
Michael Damron is the 2016 recipient of the LexisNexis Dean's Excellence Award in the College of Sciences. The award recognizes Damron's teaching and mentoring efforts, including placement of postdoctoral fellows, as well as his excellent research contributions. Earlier this year, Damron received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (NSF CAREER) award.
LexisNexis is a provider of legal, government, business, and high-tech information and other services. "The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding educators from among the untenured junior faculty at the assistant professor level," according to LexisNexis. "Award recipients are selected for extraordinary effectiveness in classroom teaching, educational innovations, inspiration transmitted to students, direct impact and involvement with students, and impact on the postgraduate success of students."
In 2014, Martin Short, was the recipient of the award in the College of Sciences.
All students interested in graduate studies in the School of Math are invited to attend the "prospective student day." This event will offer the opportunity to hear about our graduate degree options, requirements for admission, as well as meet our Faculty and current graduate students. Prospective students from underrepresented groups in the Mathematical Sciences and students from the Atlanta area are particularly encouraged to attend. If you plan to attend, please send your name, the year you plan to graduate, and the college you are attending to email@example.com. See the schedule for more details.
Elaine Marjorie Hubbard died at the age of 66 on Nov. 18, 2016. She was an alumna of the School of Mathematics, earning a B.S. in Applied Mathematics in 1972, an M.S. in Applied Mathematics in 1974, and a Ph.D. Mathematics in 1980.
After a career as a distinguished and innovative mathematics professor at Kennesaw State University for almost 30 years, she retired in 2003. She was a long-time friend and supporter of the College of Sciences School of Mathematics and a member of the College of Sciences Advisory Board until her untimely death.
College of Sciences Dean Paul M. Goldbart delivered the eulogy at the funeral service, on Nov. 23, 2016. Following is a slightly abridged version of Dean Goldbart’s remarks:
Today is a very sad occasion. But I hope I may be able to ease our sadness by reflecting on some things we all share and treasure, our friendship with a remarkable woman, Elaine Hubbard, and our gratitude for Elaine’s life and accomplishments, which are rightly measured as being path-breaking and good.
My name is Paul Goldbart, and I am fortunate to serve as dean of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Sciences, which I am honored to represent today, especially given Elaine’s abiding love for the Institute. Being dean means that I guide the educational and research activities provided by the college, which range across the sciences and include those undertaken within our School of Mathematics. This school was home to Elaine during her studies at Georgia Tech, the place where she earned not one, or two, but three degrees: bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate, following an associate’s degree from what was then Kennesaw Junior College.
At Georgia Tech Elaine is and always will be admired as one of our pioneers and early role models: a highly successful student, encouraged by her late father, Glenn, and her mother, Marjorie, at a time when women in mathematics, especially at the graduate level, were extremely few. With her dissertation “An Algorithm for Finite-Dimensional Approximations of Solutions to Infinite-Dimensional Problems,” Elaine was among Georgia Tech’s very first female Ph.D.s in Mathematics. I think she would be pleased to know that this very month Georgia Tech has appointed the first ever woman to chair its School of Mathematics.
A good friend of Elaine’s at Georgia Tech, Frank Cullen, offered this eloquent characterization: “Elaine was a classmate in most of our upper-level math courses, including differential equations, analysis, advanced algebra, and others. She was a stellar student, always at the top of the class, well prepared, courteous, respectful, and confident— and the only female. I never beat her in a class grade of any kind. Her command of mathematical subjects was truly awesome.” Never one to boast about breaking new ground, Elaine did however delight in telling the story of her doctoral certificate, of how it was doctored by Georgia Tech with correction fluid being applied so that an administrator could handwrite the words “she” over the stock-printed words “he.”
Friends of Elaine will know the broad range of her personal interests and her willingness to take on volunteer leadership roles. At Georgia Tech, she was a loyal member of the Friends of the School of Mathematics and an active volunteer with the Alumni Association, promoting her class reunions and other programs. She was also a consistent and generous donor with interest in supporting the development of faculty in the School of Mathematics.
Of special significance was Elaine’s long-time membership on the College of Sciences Advisory Board. This is a small group comprising some of our most accomplished graduates—people having distinguished careers in business, government, and academia—who provide guidance and counsel to the dean. It is through this affiliation that I came to know Elaine and to develop great regard for her intellect, academic achievements, devotion to students, warm personality, good humor, and her quiet but deep desire to make a difference.
Mathematics Education Innovator
In her professional life, Elaine taught mathematics at our sister institution, Kennesaw State University, from 1975 until her retirement in 2003, rising to the rank of professor. Throughout, she was a true innovator, her delight in doing mathematics serving to inspire her students. She piloted the use of graphical calculators and gained national recognition and the Kennesaw Distinguished Teaching Award for her groundbreaking uses of technology. She spoke on mathematics education at conferences and campuses around the nation and received the Kennesaw State Alumni Association Achievement Award in 1994.
Elaine co-authored an amazing 13 textbooks on mathematics, important for their incorporation of the scholarship of teaching and learning to promote student success. Elaine’s friend and neighbor Juanita Hughes told me that Elaine would bring her autographed copies of her latest book, hot off the press, but thankfully would not quiz Juanita on the contents.
Elaine participated in numerous professional organizations‚ including several honor societies; the American Mathematical Society; the Mathematical Association of America; and the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.
An active member of the community‚ Elaine was involved in the Cherokee County Historical Society and Preservation Woodstock‚ the Woodstock Centennial Commission‚ the Cherokee County Library Board‚ and the Sequoyah Regional Library Board. She also served as a poll manager for Cherokee County.
Elaine was very proud of her work with public libraries in Cherokee County. Her passion was evident in how she spoke about the challenges and her efforts to improve access to information and knowledge for the citizens of the community that was her home for life. Cherokee County stands out as excellent in both public education and resources for its residents. Elaine’s work is testament to her passion for helping others and to her splendid intellect. Elaine has done good things wherever she has gone and in whatever she has attempted.
Friend and Supporter of Georgia Tech
Elaine was a thoughtful donor to Georgia Tech. While she was quiet about her philanthropy, I don’t think Elaine would mind my telling you that she made a special provision in her will to permanently endow a faculty position in our School of Mathematics. This means that a full professorship will carry her name at the Georgia Institute of Technology forevermore, supporting the research and educational activities of a scholar of international renown and serving to retain such talent for the people of the State of Georgia.
In expressing his gratitude to Elaine, Georgia Tech’s President G. P. “Bud” Peterson wrote that it is “thanks to the support of principal benefactors like Dr. Hubbard, [that] Georgia Tech continues to reach new heights, building upon academic strengths, and addressing the challenges facing our region, our nation, and the world.” I’m sure you will agree that this is indeed a fine tribute to a remarkable mind who valued education and service. This legacy will stand alongside Elaine’s deep commitment to community, family, and friends.
Former chair of the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics, Professor Doug Ulmer also knew Elaine well. Due to international travel he is unable to be with us today. But both he and Interim School Chair Prasad Tetali have asked me to offer their heartfelt condolences to all. Doug expressed to me his deep gratitude to Elaine for her advice, friendship, and support during his term as chair. He also reminded me that Elaine was not noted for her formality. When asked if she would like Georgia Tech to hold a formal event to recognize her contributions, she said that the idea was “about as appealing as hot needles in the eyes.” Instead, we accompanied Elaine to a Georgia Tech baseball game, where we shared ice creams to beat the Atlanta summer heat. I think Elaine loved Tech football even more. While many fans chatter during the games, she would be utterly focused, carefully following every down.
Thank you, Elaine
Like each of you, I am deeply saddened by the news of Elaine’s untimely passing. And I don’t mind telling you that—though deeply honored – I was at first a little anxious when Joe James invited me to speak at this service. For me, the more natural habitat is the lecture hall. But then a ray of sunlight fell across my desk, with its crisp geometrical outlines, and I saw there was no better way for me to honor my friendship with Elaine than to stand before you today. It is yet another gift to celebrate her life before family and friends.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, a time for reflection on what we have and what we share with others, a time to be with family and friends, a time to recognize those who have made a difference in our lives.
Tomorrow, and on every Thanksgiving Day that follows, with the same spirit of love, admiration, and appreciation that we share here today, I shall pause and think of Elaine Hubbard and give thanks for her life.
Fall Commencement at the Georgia Institute of Technology Dec. 16-17 will feature keynote addresses from Georgia Tech mathematics professor Robin Thomas and Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
The ceremony for Ph.D. and master’s degree graduates will be 7-9 p.m., Dec. 16, at McCamish Pavilion on 10th Street. No tickets are required to attend. Students should arrive no later than 6 p.m. and report to Zelnak Center adjacent to McCamish.
Thomas, a professor in the School of Mathematics, is the recipient of this year’s Class of 1934 Distinguished Professor Award. Born, raised and educated in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Thomas came to Georgia Tech in 1989. He holds the Regents professor designation from the University System of Georgia and has led the Algorithms, Combinatorics and Optimization program at Georgia Tech since 2006. Read the full story here.
Michole E. Washington graduated with a B.S. in Applied Mathematics. She came to Georgia Tech from Westlake High School, Atlanta, Georgia. While waiting to hear from Ph.D. programs, she is growing a mathematics tutoring company she established just shortly before graduation.
What attracted you to study in Georgia Tech? How did Georgia Tech meet your expectations?
I am from a lower socioeconomic community south of Atlanta; my mother and I fell on hard times almost routinely. I found solace in independently learning math. During my senior year of high school, I decided to major in mathematics after years of self-exploration of the subject. With support from my mother and friends, I applied to Georgia Tech even though I had little hope that I would be accepted. I was not only accepted early, but I was also awarded a G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise scholarship, including funding for a semester of study abroad.
What is the most important thing you learned while at Georgia Tech?
I learned the true value in building meaningful relationships, not only with my peers, but also with faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the surrounding community; janitors, supervisors, professors, chefs, security guards, and Stinger drivers, whom I loved getting to know. They, too, supported me. Networking is beyond potential monetary gain. Networking should be an organic exchange of cultures, ideals, trades, and other aspects that make individuals different and unique. Being exposed to various perspectives at Tech made the experience even more worthwhile.
What surprised you the most at Georgia Tech? What disappointed you the most?
A few weeks before graduation I discovered that I would be only the ninth black woman to graduate with a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Tech. A mentor of mine shared this fact on her Facebook page. Within hours the post went viral: 40 shares on Twitter, more than 20,000 likes on Instagram, and at least 6,000 retweets on Twitter.
Being only the ninth in 131 years is equally surprising as it is disappointing, but it encourages me and others to shrink the gap.
Which professor(s) or class(es) made a big impact on you?
Abstract Algebra was extremely difficult. On my first try, I constantly battled a two-fold problem: learning how to write proofs and trying to master new material that uses proof writing. After weeks of deliberation, I withdrew from the class.
The following semester I re-enrolled in the class taught by Professor Josephine Yu, who teaches much differently from other math professors. Her class was interactive and creative; whether you grasp the information or not, you walk away from her class feeling like she was giving her all so that you can organically learn the information. Having a professor who cared that much guarantees an impact, and I passed the class.
What is your most vivid memory of your time at Georgia Tech?
My most vivid memory currently is meeting the Fall 2016 commencement speaker, University of Maryland Baltimore County President Freeman A. Hrabowski III. He is my idol as a black mathematician and an influential proponent of increasing the access of minority students to STEM education. Meeting him was just phenomenal. He offered great advice, which I hope to live up to within the next year.
In what experiential learning activities did you participate? What was the most valuable outcome of your experience?
In Summer 2014, I conducted research at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, in Berkeley, California. It was my first exposure to advanced mathematics, like Real Analysis. Although it was difficult, I found great support from my two research partners, graduate teaching assistants, and program directors. Some people in my cohort remain dear friends today. We continue to support each other on our mathematical journeys.
In Summer 2015, I studied in Hungary as part of the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program. It was my first time abroad, an amazing experience every day. I loved learning mathematics from Hungarian mathematicians and traveling to nine countries in two months.
In Summer 2016, I was a counselor for OMED’s Challenge Program 2016 for incoming minority Yellow Jackets. I continue to be a mentor and resource to them today.
On the basis of your experience, what advice would you give to incoming freshmen at Georgia Tech?
Speak up; you have a voice, not only for matters of social injustice, but also for academics.
I cannot count the number of times when—even though I numerically did not “pass” the course—the professor graded me on the basis of my ability to hold discussion in several office hours about the content. They rated me according to my willingness to learn inside and outside of lectures. Truth be told I was probably wrong nine times out of 10, but they recognized my desire to fix the mistakes. That is the value in education.
Do not sit quietly and struggle alone. Raise your hand in class and go to office hours. You can even go to other professors’ and teaching assistants’ office hours.
Do not let anything get in the way of your education and your goals, but also know that it is okay to take a step back, to fail, or to barely miss your goal. The process is what makes you strong.
What feedback would you give to Georgia Tech leaders, faculty, and/or staff to improve the Georgia Tech experience for future students?
The student experience can be improved. Students deserve faculty who care about their holistic growth as future contributors to society. Meaningful relationships go much farther than the syllabus content. We need the motivation and support all around to encourage us to learn more.
Where are you headed after graduation? How did your Georgia Tech education prepare you for this next step?
Georgia Tech taught me that it is okay to love mathematics the way that I do and that it is an even better idea to share my passion with the world.
A year before graduation, I started my own math tutoring/mentoring company, called Afrithmetic. I plan to grow my company and spread our reach to several schools in the Metro Atlanta Area. I am also awaiting notification from several Ph.D. programs in Mathematics Education.
Professors Robin Thomas and Prasad Tetali are organizing a conference to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ACO Program at Georgia Tech. It will be held January 9-11, 2017 in Klaus 1116 on the Georgia Tech campus. The conference will feature a Distinguished Lecture by Professor Laszlo Babai of the University of Chicago, a number of one-hour speakers, lectures by ACO alumni, and a poster session open to all interested parties. See the complete list of speakers. Registration is free, but we ask everyone interested in attending to please register in order to help us plan.