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«FALL 2012 NEWSLETTER A Message from the Chair Departmental Happenings Greetings to all of our 1200+ math alumni! I hope that this message finds each ...»

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A Message from the Chair

Departmental Happenings

Greetings to all of our 1200+ math alumni! I hope that this message

finds each of you well.

We have lots of exciting events lined up in the department for 2012and we would love it if you could join us for some of these

events. We have several top-quality mathematicians visiting Baylor

University during the fall and spring semesters. Of course, bringing in

Please join us at our annual

these mathematicians has many immediate benefits. Our students Homecoming breakfast have the opportunity to see cutting edge ideas and results from the world‟s best mathematicians who, in turn, get to see how well our reception on the first floor of Sid Rich on Saturday from department is progressing on its path to Tier One status. All of this 10am - noon. We would love helps significantly in our recruiting of the best possible students and to see you and your family!


On September 20-21, we kicked off our special departmental lectures with a „double event‟ to a packed audience of students, faculty, and guests from our community. Dr. Tom Banchoff, an internationally recognized geometer from Brown University, and Dano Johnson, a successful director and animator, visited our department. Dano introduced the Baylor premiere of his recently released movie, „Flatland Sphereland‟, the much anticipated sequel of his 2007 hit, „Flatland: the Movie‟. Prior to showing the movie Dr. Banchoff gave a public lecture discussing the mathematics behind the movie.

On October 2-5, Dr. Keith Devlin, an award-winning mathematician and author from Stanford University, known to many as National Public Radio‟s “Math Guy”, will be the fifth speaker in the Baylor Undergraduate Lecture Series in Mathematics. Keith gave two lectures in the department during his visit; his public lecture “Leonardo Fibonacci and Steve Jobs” was based on two of his latest books.

Sam Vandervelde, a well-known number theorist from St. Lawrence University and the creator of the successful Mandelbrot Competition (a mathematics contest taken Lance Littlejohn by more than 6000 students in the US last year) visited the department from October 10-13. Sam‟s visit will have a dual purpose: in addition to consulting with us on his contest successes, he will also present a lecture, aimed towards undergraduate students, entitled "Where is the Middle of a Fibonacci Sequence?" Teaching and research continue to excel in our department. Last year, we shattered a record by teaching more than 6000 Baylor students (actually the figure was closer to 6200) on campus. This is significant and indicates more science-oriented students attending Baylor. I have always been impressed with the dedication that our faculty and graduate students have shown in their teaching duties. Baylor has always had a terrific reputation for being a strong teaching institution. Now, as we move towards earning a similar reputation for research, it is important that excellence in teaching remains a priority. In research, the mathematics faculty continues to do a terrific job of scholarly production. During the past calendar year, our faculty wrote an impressive total of 57 articles in various mathematics journals; again, this is a new record for our department!

We are thrilled with the results of our three faculty searches this spring. We hired Dr. Robert Kirby, a numerical and computational mathematician, who has spent the past 6 years at Texas Tech University.

Rob, who will join us as a tenured Associate Professor, earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Texas in 2000; previous to his appointment at Texas Tech, Rob was a Dickson Instructor at the University of Chicago. Dr. Constanze Liaw, who finished up a successful three year post-doctoral position at Texas A&M University, joins us as an Assistant Professor. Conni, a native of Germany, earned her Ph.D. degree at Brown University in 2008. She works in harmonic analysis and mathematical physics. We are also pleased that Dr. Jonathan Meddaugh, a topologist, will join our department as our newest post-doc.

Jonathan earned his B.S. degree at Baylor and recently finished his Ph.D. degree at Tulane University in 2011.

Baylor Athletics….and Mathematics?

This past academic year at Baylor University certainly deserves the title “The Year of the Bear”! What a performance by our athletes and coaches during this past season! In football, men‟s and women‟s basketball, and baseball, Baylor won a combined 129 games, shattering the previous national record of 123 victories set previously by the University of Texas. Our women‟s basketball team finished the season with a perfect 40-0 record (setting a new national record for wins in a season), culminating in the National championship. Brittney Griner won several conference and national awards, including both AP National Player of the Year, AP All-American honors, the Wade Trophy, the Wooden Award, the Naismith Trophy, as well as the Honda Cup Award for Collegiate Player of the Year. Baylor women‟s basketball coach Kim Mulkey was named the National Coach of the Year. In football, the men had a record-breaking year ending in a big bowl win; of course, Robert Griffin III won the coveted Heisman Trophy, the Davey O‟Brien Award, and National Player of the Year honors for his extraordinary season before moving onto instant success in the NFL. Men‟s basketball started the season by winning their first 18 games and making it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. The women‟s Equestrian team won the NCAA Hunter Seat national championship. Baylor baseball won 24 games in a row as well as the Big 12 title - and literally came within inches of making it to the College World Series. All 19 varsity sports made it to the post season, an unbelievable feat in today‟s ultra-competitive college sports scene; in fact, Baylor is one of only two universities in the country that can make this claim. ESPN noted recently that Baylor had “one of the greatest combined athletic seasons in NCAA history”.

So….our athletes shined brightly on the fields and courts setting multiple records. How did they do in the classroom? It should come as no surprise that they broke some records in this category too! A school record 630 student-athletes were named to the Big 12‟s 2011-12 Commissioner‟s Honor Roll while a Baylor record 149 student athletes earned All-Big 12 Academic All American honors and a record 252 were named to the Baylor‟s Dean‟s List. Baylor also had eight Capital One Academic All-District honorees in four sports, including five who went on to earn 2011-12 Academic All American honors and one NCAA Elite 88 academic award winner. The cumulative GPA for all 19 varsity sports at the end of the spring semester this year was an impressive 3.14….so the next time you think of the number π, remember that this was (almost) the GPA for all our athletes this year! Pretty impressive!

A Plea and a Pledge

What point am I trying to make with these references to Baylor sports and Baylor athletes…when I am a mathematician? Well, I would like to see our department earn the national reputation that our Baylor athletic program has earned. We have hired very well in the department and we need to continue along our current path to reach national and international prominence. But, like every top mathematics program in the country without exception, we need significant help from our alumni. We cannot achieve our goals without your help! With your help, we promise to build a top-ranked mathematics program at Baylor.

Here are my department‟s development goals; each is an expensive investment but the benefits to Baylor and our students would be immediate and everlasting.

(1) obtain three fully endowed named chairs in the department by 2015. This is absolutely essential for us to compete with the top mathematics programs in the country. Every top mathematics department in the country has several endowed chairs which are filled by world-class mathematicians. Hiring well-established mathematicians would help us significantly to increase our profile and recognition in the United States and the world. The department could make a significant leap forward if we had endowed chairs available to attract established, world-renowned teachers and researchers. Of course, our students stand to immediately gain from their added presence. The caliber of students – both undergraduate and graduate – would increase, too, if we can attract the world‟s best to Baylor.

(2) increase the number of mathematics scholarships in the department; the number of deserving undergraduate students always far outnumbers the scholarships that our department has to offer.

Information on current scholarships in our department can be found at our Mathematics Scholarships page.

(3) endow several graduate assistantships in the department; this would give us the opportunity to be more competitive with other universities and allow us to nationalize and internationalize our applicant pool.

(4) endow several visiting professorships in the department. Baylor mathematics faculty can benefit greatly by inviting research scholars and exceptional teachers from other institutions to visit our department for a semester or an academic year.

If you would like to help in any of these areas, please contact me at Lance_Littlejohn@baylor.edu or call at (254) 710-3165. Alternatively, you can contact Dean Lee Nordt (Lee_Nordt@baylor.edu), or either Frank Shannon (Frank_Shannon@baylor.edu) or Rose Youngblood (Rose_Youngblood@baylor.edu) in university development.

Please keep in touch with us – better still, come and visit us! I would love to visit with you! How about a visit during Homecoming this year?

Best wishes, Mathematics Scholarship Recipients The Mathematics Department awarded $120,545 in scholarships to mathematics students for the upcoming academic year. The following Baylor students received this scholarship support. We are very grateful to the families that endowed these scholarships and we wish each of the chosen students continued success in the coming year!

The John C. Lattimore Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Kelsey Carpenter, Yuelin Lu, Tongyao Wang The Earl, Maxine, Max, and Anita Bodine Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Mason Everett, Jacob O‟Bott, Allison Smith, Adam Telatovich, Peter Vanderbeek The K. L. and Vivian Carter Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Drew Allmon, Ben Larson, Purvi Prajaparti, Ashleyanne Thornhill, Jaclynne Torres The Jerry Johnson Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Evan Bauer, Yuelin Lu, Kim Woodsum The Howard L. Rolf Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Kelsey Carpenter The Hickey Mathematics Scholarship: Evan Bauer The Piziak Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Kelsey Carpenter The Roy Donald Perry Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund: Chrystal Rogers The Professor Albert Boggess Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Caitlyn Thelen The Ruth and Gene Royer Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Ryan Cowan, Chrystal Rogers, Ryan Warnick, Lauralee Welch The Schultz-Werba Mathematics Scholarship Fund: Rachel Carter, Brenna Cole, Alexa Samuel The Brian Family Scholarship: Chrystal Rogers, Ashleyanne Thornhill The department solicits applications each March for the following year's scholarships. Students may pick up an application form in the Mathematics office (SR 317). For more information concerning scholarships, students may contact Brian Raines at brian_raines@baylor.edu or call him at 710-4382.

Department News Judy Dees We are very sad to report that Donald Dees, the husband of Judy Dees, our Department‟s Office Manager, passed away on March 30, 2012. Donald was born in Purdon, Texas, on November 10, 1937.

Before retiring in 1993, he had worked at Owens Illinois Glass for 37 years; he and Judy were married for 37 years. Judy‟s terrific staff leadership and knowledge in the everyday running of the department are much appreciated by all of our faculty. Judy, and her family, are doing well and coping as well as they can with their devastating loss.

Johnny Henderson in the Inaugural Class of AMS Fellows Dr. Johnny Henderson, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, was selected in the inaugural class of AMS Fellows, a new program initiated by the American Mathematical Society to honor those mathematicians who are “recognized by their peers as distinguished for their contributions to the profession”. MathSciNet, the AMS publication database, currently lists 336 papers written by Johnny.

Moreover, Johnny‟s research publications have been cited more than 2000 times and by more than 700 mathematicians. Ten of the department‟s 26 Ph.D. graduates (since 2002) have been supervised by Johnny. Moreover, he is a dedicated, and immensely popular, teacher with our undergraduate students.

Congratulations, Johnny, on this well-earned, and well-deserved, honor!

New Mathematics Club, MÖBIUS, Begins at Baylor

Baylor mathematics faculty members, Steve Cates and Scott Wilde, have been instrumental in starting a new mathematics club, MÖBIUS, at Baylor. Both Cates and Wilde are co-faculty advisors for this club.

And, for the first time ever, Baylor students voted for executive officers for this new organization. There was a tie for President so Isai Chavarri and Rachel Shifflet will share the presidential duties. Thomas Gibson is the Vice President, Fontagne Stutzman is the Secretary, Billy Harrell is the Treasurer and Chase Sydow will be the club‟s Webmaster. What‟s first up on the agenda for the Executive Board? It is to apply for chartered club membership at Baylor.

Department Welcomes Fulbright Scholar from Tunisia

Professor Jalel Atia, from the University of Gabes in Tunisia, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to spend the fall semester working at Baylor with Lance Littlejohn. Dr. Atia is an expert in orthogonal polynomials, approximation theory, and the theory of moments. We are thrilled to have Jalel, his wife Monia, and their four children Sadok, Mohamed Awwab, Ilyab, and Saba.

Tim Sheng and His Extensive Mathematics Travels: If Today is Tuesday, Then It Must Be….Macau?

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