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Department of Mathematics Summer 2023 Newsletter

From the Department Chair...

Jeffrey Schenker, Chair Department of Mathematics
Jeffrey Schenker, Chair 
Department of Mathematics

Life in the Department of Mathematics has mostly returned to business as usual following the pandemic.  Last year, Michigan State University welcomed its largest ever incoming freshman class. And Wells Hall is back to being a vibrant place now that activities are again in person and busier than ever.

As MSU grows, so does our faculty. Konstantin Matetski, who studies stochastic PDEs and integrable probability, joined the department in 2022. 

In August 2023, we welcomed three new faculty members: March Boedihardjo, Avery St. Dizier and Demetre Kazaras. March studies high dimensional probability and the mathematics of data; Avery’s research is in algebraic combinatorics and discrete geometry; and Demetre is a geometer who studies mathematical general relativity and geometric PDE. 

These new faculty members join an outstanding cohort of mathematical researchers who continue to garner many prestigious awards. In 2022, Ilya Kachkovskiy received a Sloan Fellowship, Liz Munch won an NSF CAREER award and Keith Promislow, our former chair, was named a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. In 2023, Aaron Levin received a Simons Fellowship and Guowei Wei was inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows.

It is my honor to succeed Keith Promislow as chair of the Department of Mathematics.  Keith stepped down in August 2022, after eight years of service during which he spearheaded many positive changes in the department: the revision of our Ph.D. program, the creation of the Center for Instructional Mentoring and the hiring of a generation of outstanding young faculty members.

In this newsletter, you can read about the $1.9 million National Science Foundation Research Training Grant (RTG) that our world-class topology group—Teena Gerhardt, Matt Hedden, Effie Kalfagianni and Matthew Stoffregen—received.  This is just one of several major grants secured by mathematics faculty in the past year.  As I write this, participants in the RTG-supported MSU Summer Topology Reading program are working with their faculty advisors and graduate student mentors in the Wells Hall atrium. 

In November 2022, we held the investiture of François Greer. Greer is the inaugural Van Haften Endowed Professor in Deductive Literacy, a named professorship generously established by Dan Van Haften, who received B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from MSU. The generous donations of corporate sponsors and alumni, such as Dr. Van Haften, help to support undergraduate and graduate students, and the faculty who mentor them.

Now more than ever, there is a need for bright young mathematicians and scientists trained in cutting-edge quantitative methods. In fall 2023, the mathematics department will welcome 18 new graduate students and 12 new postdoctoral fellows. These talented young mathematicians will teach and engage in research at MSU before moving on to positions at other colleges and universities, and in industry. 

An endowment in support of our postdoctoral program would support this recurring influx of young talent that brings great vitality and vibrancy to the department. Your gift will bring us ever closer to our goals.

Enjoy the newsletter! 

Alumni Class Notes

Over the years, Peter H. Rheinstein, mathematics, '63; M.S., mathematics, '64, has spent a significant amount of time involved in alumni activities at his medical school and law school alma maters - The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. He was recently appointed to a second three-year term on the alumni board at Maryland Carey Law. In 2019 and 2020, Rheinstein served as president of the Academy of Medicine of Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Miriam, returned to the MSU campus for their 50-year class reunion.

Gary Evans, mathematics, '71, began umpiring intramural softball as an MSU freshman in the spring of 1968 to earn spending money for the grill at Wilson Hall. This led to a lifetime of umpiring and 35-plus years on the State Umpire Staff for USA Softball of Michigan teaching umpires. In 2017, he was inducted into the USA Softball National Hall of Fame.

Lisa (Daniel) Rasmussen, mathematics, '91, is retiring from Petoskey High School after 30 years in education. She taught high school mathematics and retired as the math department head.

Chris Tyler, computational mathematics, '01, a mathematics teacher at Waverly High School in Lansing, Mich., received a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program award. Through the program, he was able to foster connections with teachers and students in the United States and in Ghana. He visited for two weeks with 11 other Fulbrighters, working with a host teacher to teach classes, and meeting with high-level officials as they look to implement huge reforms to their education system.

Jordan Vale, jazz studies, '15; mathematics, '16, has released a math-themed album with his funk band, Mr. Vale's Math Class, titled "We Can Help You Out." He was awarded a Make Learn Build grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Counsel (RACC); the band has been awarded an Arts3C grant from RACC. Vale left his position as assistant director at Mathnasium to tutor independently.

Chris Lemoine, mathematics, '21, accepted a full-time job as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, Mich.


Ivanov headshotNikolai Ivanov, professor emeritus, retired in August 2022. His research is focused on topology and its interaction with other branches of mathematics, especially with the theory of Teichmüller spaces. Among his contributions are a classification of subgroups and the determination of virtual automorphisms of TeichmŸller modular groups. He received his Ph.D. from Steklov Mathematical Institute of USSR Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the inaugural Class of Fellows (2013) of the American Mathematical Society.

Jeanne Wald headshotJeanne Wald, professor emeritus, retired January 2023 after more than 40 years of exceptional instruction, mentoring, leadership and research in the department. Wald served as associate chair (1993-1996, 2009-2016) and undergraduate director (2009-2014). She established MSU's Mathematics Learning Center and three math department programs: Advanced Track, Community Outreach and International Student Exchange. Wald received numerous honors during her tenure including two departmental Frame Teaching Excellence Awards, MSU Women's Resource Center's Inspirational Woman of the Year Award (professional achievement) and the College of Natural Science's Teaching Excellence Award. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.


New Faculty/Staff

March Boedihardjo headshotMarch Boedihardjo joined the department as an assistant professor in August 2023. His research focuses on high dimensional probability. Boedihardjo was the Hedrick Assistant Professor at UCLA (2016-2019), assistant adjunct professor at UCLA (2019-2021) and a visiting assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine (2021-2022). He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at ETH ZŸrich prior to joining MSU. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Texas A&M University.

Hitesh Gakhar headshotHitesh Gakhar joined the department in August 2023 as an instructor, with interests in topological data analysis and applied topology. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from MSU and then worked as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Oklahoma. His dissertation research involved the study of toroidal dynamical systems from a topological perspective. In it, he contributed to the development of persistent homology, topological time series analysis and multiscale data coordinatization in topological spaces. 

Demetre Kazaras headshotDemetre Kazaras joined the department as an assistant professor in August 2023, having completed three years of postdoctoral research at Duke and three years at Stony Brook. His research focus is differential geometry and smooth topology, specifically mathematical general relativity, geometric PDE, minimal surfaces, comparison geometry, convergence of manifolds and low dimensional topology. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Oregon.

Kevin Lawrence headshotKevin Lawrence joined the department as an instructor in August 2022. His research interests include technology use in the teaching and learning of mathematics as well as K-12 teacher preparation. Lawrence received his Ph.D. from MSU's Program in Mathematics Education (PRIME). 

Konstantin Matetski headshotKonstantin Matetski joined the department in August 2022 as an assistant professor; he conducts research in probability and stochastics. Matetski received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Warwick and completed his postdoc at the University of Toronto. He then worked as a Joseph F. Ritt assistant professor for four years at Columbia University in New York. 

Michail Paparizos headshotMichail Paparizos joined the department in August 2022 as an instructor. He has taught multivariable calculus and matrix algebra, and conducts research in harmonic analysis, complex analysis and potential theory. Paparizos was a vising lecturer at Indiana University, Bloomington, in 2021-2022. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from MSU.

Laura Perensen headshotLaura Perensen joined the department as an instructor in August 2023. Her teaching experience includes online and in-person classes in algebra, geometry and calculus. Perensen received her master's degree in teaching and curriculum from MSU's College of Education, with a concentration in science and mathematics education, and her bachelor's degree in mathematics from MSU. She was teaching high school prior to joining Michigan State. 

Avery St. Dizier headshotAvery St. Dizier joined the department as an assistant professor in August 2023, following a three-year NSF Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), studying algebraic combinatorics. In June 2023, he co-organized a program on Schubert Calculus at UIUC, a ten-day conference and workshop. St. Dizier received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell University.

Faculty Honors

Ilya Kachkovskiy received a two-year, $75,000 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in recognition of his accomplishments as an early career scientist. An international leader in transport in disordered media, Kachkovskiy will use his award for greater flexibility in balancing his teaching, research, travel and the support of graduate students and postdocs.

Aaron Levin, associate professor, received a 2023 Simons Fellowship to support his sabbatical leave during the 2023-24 academic year. Levin is an expert in number theory and arithmetic geometry. During his sabbatical, he plans to travel to several overseas institutions where he will pursue research on topics in Diophantine approximation and Diophantine geometry. 

Elizabeth Munch, associate professor, received a five-year, 2022 NSF Early CAREER Award. She will use her $507,462 award toward a new graduate-level graphical signatures course, an expanded seminar program and workshops on Topological Data Analysis. These activities will facilitate networking in the field, bringing new speakers to MSU, and will encourage interdisciplinary collaborations between junior researchers and domain scientists.

Keith Promislow, professor, was named a 2022 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Fellow for his contributions to rigorous asymptotic reductions, development of novel models and their applications, and service to the industrial and applied mathematics community.  The honor recognizes lifetime achievement in the application of mathematics to illuminate the structure of physical systems.

Guowei Wei, MSU Research Foundation Professor, was inducted into the prestigious American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. Wei was recognized for outstanding contributions in mathematical molecular biosciences and drug discovery, and for predicting variants, infectivity, and vaccine breakthrough of SARS-CoV-2.

Three mathematics department members were recognized at the 2022 College of Natural Science awards ceremony last November. Brent Nelson, assistant professor, received a Teacher-Scholar award for excellence in teaching; Michael Brown, instructor, received a Teaching Prize for teaching excellence based on outstanding student evaluations and innovative, research-validated teaching methods; and Rachel Lund, teaching specialist, received the Ronald W. Wilson Endowed Teaching Award for teaching excellence in the integrative studies curriculum.

Student Honors

Samara Chamoun, a doctoral candidate in mathematics, was featured as MSU Educator of the Month in January 2023. She was recognized for being a passionate educator committed to enhancing the experience of her students and for helping to provide the best education possible.

Four mathematics students were among 15 MSU recipients named 2022 fellows of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program- Isabella Ginnett, an Honors College senior majoring in advanced mathematics and physics; Spencer Lee, a graduate with bachelor's degrees in advanced mathematics and physics who is currently a Ph.D. student in computational mathematics, science and engineering; Andrew McDonald, a senior majoring in advanced mathematics and statistics; and Joseph Slivka, a graduate with bachelor's degrees in mathematics and physics who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at the University of California-Berkeley.

Nicholas Rekuski, a graduate student, received a 2022 MSU Excellence-in-Teaching Citation, awarded to teaching assistants who have distinguished themselves by the care they have given and the skill they have shown in meeting their classroom responsibilities. Rekuski was recognized for his dedication to improving undergraduate mathematics education and putting student engagement at the forefront of his teaching. 

Samuel Sottile, an MSU junior majoring in advanced mathematics, is among three MSU undergraduate students who are recipients of the nationally competitive Goldwater Scholarship for 2022. Sottile was also named a Churchill Scholar. He traveled to England following graduation to do one year of master's study at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

Research Feature

Mathematicians at Michigan State University are using a five-year, $1.9 million National Science Foundation research training grant to amplify the university's success in math research by creating communities of undergraduates, graduates, post-graduates and faculty working in topology and related mathematical areas.

The goal: To create environments that nurture mentorship and connections and ultimately open doors to more inclusivity and broader recruitment.
Principal investigators of the initiative, "Algebraic and Geometric Topology at Michigan State," are mathematicians Teena Gerhardt, Matthew Hedden, Efstratia Kalfagianni and Matthew Stoffregen.

Topology is the study of shapes called "topological spaces," with a primary goal of determining when such shapes are the same or different. The topology group at MSU has a long tradition of mentoring graduate students and postdocs.
"This training grant will help us expand and build on this tradition," said Hedden. "We will be incorporating new mentoring practices and enhancing our existing professional development and research opportunities for students and postdocs."

While topologists, geometers and algebraists are often seen as working in separate mathematical areas, many striking advancements have resulted from communication and interaction between the disciplines. Hedden explained that the goal of strengthening these connections and collaborations underlies many of the grant's activities.

The grant supports 12 graduate students and four postdoctoral researchers who will help facilitate these collaborations between topology and other areas of mathematics, building on MSU's already strong reputation in the field.

Peter Johnson (right) discusses an in-class assignment on knot theory with Ishmael Adibuah during a summer directed reading program session
Several grant activities aim to draw undergraduate students into mathematics. Pictured above, math postdoc Peter Johnson (right) discusses an in-class assignment on knot theory with Ishmael Adibuah during a summer directed reading program session. Students in the back of the photo are (l to r): William Carvalho, Trixie Southwood, and CŽsarine Graham.

Grant activities are also designed to strengthen what Hedden describes as "vertical" connections, formed between researchers at different career stages.

"We'll bring in strong mathematicians who are early in their career for the postdoctoral positions, and they'll interact with both senior faculty and graduate students," he said.

"Not only will we as faculty mentor them and learn from them, but the postdocs will learn about mentoring grad students. Similarly, graduate students and postdocs will play big roles with the undergraduate programs. These interactions strengthen the training of everyone in the group,  and ease transitions between career stages. Moreover, new mathematics will result as a byproduct."

The project also includes several activities aimed to draw undergraduate students into mathematics who, according to Hedden, "haven't already gone all-in on mathematics, people with high potential who might not yet see themselves as mathematicians."

For instance, grant funds will provide support for graduate students to mentor undergraduate freshmen, opening doors to a likely unfamiliar world that has a place for them in graduate school and as a career. There is a summer directed reading program, where undergraduate students are introduced to gateway topology topics such as knot theory, which asks: can this knotted loop of string be untied without cutting it?

"The activities supported by this grant will have a lasting impact on students and faculty," Gerhardt said. "It will strengthen our community of scholars and create new opportunities for both research and professional development."

Giving Profile

Michigan State University could have been an intimidating place for the 17-year-old freshman from a small, rural community in southwestern Michigan. But because of the Charles Drew Science Enrichment Program (now known as the Charles Drew Science Scholars) it was an easy transition.

Rita Dandridge headshot
Rita Dandridge

Rita Dandridge (B.S., mathematics, '89) always knew she would study mathematics, but she was not sure of her exact career path. Then she applied to MSU and got connected to the Charles Drew program.

"That program was a way for me to have community," Dandridge said. "I was nervous about going to a very large school after having been in a small school with a lot of people who looked like me. It was a way for me to find my own path and my own community immediately at MSU."

"I have friends who went through the Charles Drew program with me - and we remain friends today," she added.

Dandridge is currently a senior director in the Midwest division of Willis Towers Watson US, LLC in Southfield, Mich.

After earning her B.S. from MSU, she received a master's degree in actuarial mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1992.

Dandridge has continued her relationship with MSU in many capacities. She

was an industrial advisor for the Master of Science in Industrial Mathematics program when it was launched in the late 1990s; on the national board of directors for the MSU Black Alumni Association; and currently serves on the College of Natural Science (NatSci) Dean's Board of Advisors.

She was also the emcee for the annual NatSci Alumni Awards dinner in April 2023; was a panel member for the MSU Women in Philanthropy program in 2021; and supports the Dr. Paulette C. Walker Endowed Scholarship for Leaders.

"These are ways for me to create connection and maintain community with Michigan State," Dandridge said. 
In addition to giving of her time with students, faculty and staff to provide input and direction for the program, her participation has also included financial support.

She was excited to be able to establish the Rita Dandridge Endowment for Students in STEM in April 2022.

"It's important for me to pay it forward for students like me who are interested in a STEM-related field," she said. "It's a way for me to give perpetually, to support my objectives for ensuring a more diverse, inclusive educational experience for students' so they will be able to have the same opportunities as I had at MSU."

"What excites me most about maintaining a connection with MSU is that it gives me a view into the future in terms of problems that exist today that MSU is absolutely involved in - and how MSU is developing individuals and talent to help solve those problems," Dandridge added. "The research, and the ideas, and the thought processes . . .  it's just amazing to me. It gives you hope for the future."

Recent Grants

Andrew Christlieb, MSU Research Foundation Professor, received a five-year, $15 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to establish the Center for Hierarchical and Robust Modeling of Non-Equilibrium Transport, or CHaRMNET - which focuses on developing new mathematical tools that will enable design of fusion energy systems from a first principles perspective. Christlieb and researchers at eight other universities and national labs across the country are developing new mathematical and computational tools to better model the physics needed to understand, control and sustain fusion. The MSU-led center is one of four new DOE Mathematical Multifaceted Integrated Capability Centers.

Matthew Hedden, Teena Gerhardt, Effie Kalfagianni and Matt Stoffregen received a five-year, $1.93 million National Science Foundation research training grant to amplify the university's success in math research by creating communities of undergraduates, graduates, post-graduates and faculty working in topology and related mathematical areas. The grant will strengthen connections among researchers at different career stages and in different research areas within algebraic and geometric topology and related disciplines. The aim is to create environments that nurture mentorship and connections, and ultimately open doors to more inclusivity and broader recruitment.

Keith Promislow, professor, is leading a five-year, $3 million NSF Research Traineeship Program grant to create a graduate program to train students to solve STEM problems with the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Combining these new methods with high-performance computing techniques will enable the discovery of new science and engineering applications of importance to society. The program aims to train future scientists to ensure that the United States maintains its leadership in machine learning.

Jeffrey Schenker, professor, received a three-year, $450,000 NSF grant to study quantum systems with time and space dependent disorder. The goal of this project is to deepen the theoretical and mathematical understanding of disorder effects in key models of the quantum evolution of "open" quantum systems, with non-negligible environment interactions. Progress in understanding the solutions to these equations will improve basic understanding of models of theoretical physics and applied mathematics.

Alexander "Sasha" Volberg, University Distinguished Professor, received a three-year, $298,000 NSF grant to better understand singular integrals, which feature heavily in the study of partial differential equations, with applications ranging from physics to engineering to quantum computing. The project will also provide opportunities for training junior mathematicians, including graduate students.

Guowei Wei, MSU Research Foundation Professor, received $540,234 as the second payment of a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support the development of new mathematical tools and artificial intelligence (AI) models. Wei and his research team have built a comprehensive program for predicting SARS-CoV-2 variant infectivity and antibody disruption by integrating genomic analysis, AI, computational biophysics, advanced mathematics and experimental data. The predictive models will be implemented into a user-friendly platform with online servers for researchers to design mutation-proof new vaccines and antibody therapies.

Faculty Feature

Ilya Kachkovskiy, MSU associate professor, has established himself as a prominent mathematician in his field and brought recognition to the math department.

He works in a branch of mathematical physics called spectral theory - which he describes as "the language of the mathematically rigorous version of quantum mechanics."

Ilya Kachkovskiy headshot
Ilya Kachkovskiy

In recent years, he has been working with collaborators on spectral theory of quasiperiodic operators, developing and using meticulous mathematical methods to study models of quantum particles that originate from quantum mechanics and solid-state physics. His impressive record of publication and external funding place him in the position of an international leader.

Kachkovskiy received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Early CAREER Faculty Award in 2019; a highly competitive NSF Focused Research Group (FRG) grant in 2021; and most recently an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.

With the CAREER Award, Kachkovskiy is investigating his groundbreaking theory that particles in a non-randomized, or deterministic, environment may have physical properties similar to random ones. The grant also provides funds to partially support a postdoctoral position.

He will use the FRG grant to advance an already fruitful collaboration with his

former mentor - Svetlana Jitomirskaya - at the University of California Irvine; and Wencai Liu at Texas A&M.

Their aim is to expand new methods for analyzing small denominator problems to address unanswered questions related to quasiperiodic motion. It also provides funding for one or two postdocs who will have the invaluable opportunity to travel and interact with all three principal investigators."We want to understand how often and in what pattern a quasiperiodic system would return to a state that is very close to the initial state," Kachkovskiy said.
Quasiperiodic motion is threaded throughout nature, including the motion of planets, population dynamics in biology and quasicrystals found in solid state physics.

The FRG grant will also allow Kachkovskiy and his collaborators to further expand methods developed as part of his 2019 Early CAREER Award to construct quasiperiodic solutions to some classes of discrete non-linear Schrodinger equations.

Most recently, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship will enable Kachkovskiy to develop perturbative and non-perturbative methods in spectral theory and study Anderson localization and delocalization.

"Professionally, this fellowship will allow me to have more flexibility with balancing my teaching, research, travel and support of graduate students and postdocs," he said.

'Kachkovskiy received two Ph.D. degrees in mathematics - one from King's College London and one from the Steklov Institute in St. Petersburg (both in 2013). Prior to coming to MSU in 2017, he was a postdoc member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

"I believe that the development of methods and a better understanding of the mathematical picture are the main outcomes of our work," Kachkovskiy said. 

Recent Grads: Where are they now?

Recent graduates continue to carry on the MSU math department's tradition of excellence in teaching and research. Here is a sampling:

Leonardo Abbrescia headshotLeonardo Abbrescia (Ph.D. '20);
Ph.D. advisor: Willie Wong
Research interests: Partial differential equations, fluid mechanics, geometric analysis

Since earning his Ph.D., Abbrescia has been an NSF postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University. He was named the inaugural Postdoc Fellow at the new Vanderbilt Initiative for Gravity, Waves, and Fluids Institute - a multidisciplinary research center bringing together mathematicians, physicists, and astrophysicists. He will join the Georgia Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in fall 2024. "The stars aligned for me, because 2015 was both my first year at MSU and the year the math department revamped its PDE curriculum," Abbrescia said. "Coincidentally, this revamp resulted in the hiring of my Ph.D. advisor Willie Wong - the rest is history!"

Sanjay Kumar headshotSanjay Kumar (Ph.D. '21);
Ph.D. advisor: Efstratia Kalfagianni
Research interests: Low-dimensional topology, quantum invariants of 3-manifolds, hyperbolic geometry

After graduating with his Ph.D., Kumar joined the mathematics department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a visiting assistant professor. "MSU has prepared me in every facet of academia," Kumar said. ". . . I had the privilege of communicating with experts in my field and was exposed to many interesting and relevant research topics. I had the opportunity to be the instructor for a variety of courses at MSU, which aided in my transition as a visiting assistant professor."

Abhishek Mallick headshotAbhishek Mallick (Ph.D. '21);
Ph.D. advisor: Matthew Hedden
Research interests: Low-dimensional topology

After receiving his Ph.D., Mallick joined Max Planck Institute, Bonn, as a visiting researcher for a year, followed by a semester as a postdoc at the Simons-Laufer MSRI in Berkeley, California. Mallick is currently a Hill Assistant Professor at Rutgers University. "I was fortunate enough to learn from the strong geometry and topology group at MSU" Mallick said. "And my advisor's guidance was invaluable throughout my journey as a graduate student."

Rodrigo Matos headshotRodrigo Matos (Ph.D. '20);
Ph.D. advisor: Jeff Schenker
Research interests: Analysis with applications to mathematical physics

After completing his Ph.D., Matos joined Texas A&M University as a visiting assistant professor. In June, he joined the mathematics department at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as an assistant professor. "The overall positive atmosphere of the mathematics department at MSU was very beneficial in my early years of graduate school," Matos said. "I also attended research conferences, which enhanced my research path and gave me excellent opportunities to make connections and move forward after graduate school."

Charlotte Ure headshotCharlotte Ure (Ph.D. '19);
Ph.D. advisor: Rajesh Kulkarni
Research interests: Algebra; algebraic and arithmetic geometry

After receiving her Ph.D., Ure joined the University of Virginia as a postdoctoral research associate and lecturer. She will join the mathematics department at the Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, as an assistant professor in fall 2023. "MSU's Ph.D. program prepared me well for my future career," Ure said. "I am particularly grateful for the excellent guidance and mentorship from my advisor. The projects I pursued at MSU served as a foundation for my own research and provided inspiration for new avenues of research."

François Greer named first Van Haften Endowed Professor

Michigan State University mathematician Franois Greer was honored as the inaugural Van Haften Endowed Professor in Deductive Literacy at an investiture ceremony held Nov. 3, 2022.

Greer is a leading young figure in the field of algebraic geometry. He studies enumerative algebraic geometry, modular forms and Hodge theory. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 2017 and held distinguished postdoctoral positions at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Greer joined MSU's mathematics department in August 2021 as an assistant professor.

Dan Van Haften, who received B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from MSU in 1970, established the endowed professorship in honor of his parents, the late James and Esther Van Haften, who set a lifelong example of support for learning.

"I want to thank Dan for establishing this chair in deductive literacy. To determine the truth and to convince others of that truth, deductive thought is an indispensable tool," Greer said. "It's very humbling to be named the first Van Haften Professor. I do feel a strong mandate to carry on these high ideals that Van Haften stands for."

Greer's work in cutting-edge fields has already been published in some of the top journals in mathematics. He is an engaged teacher, has directed an undergraduate research group and co-organized the math department colloquium in 2021-2022.

"Franois is an excellent mathematician and a well-rounded professor," said Jeffrey Schenker, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics.

Francois Greer (right) talks with Dan Van Haften (left)
Franois Greer (right) talks with Dan Van Haften following his investiture ceremony. Van Haften established the professorship in 2017 with the goal of planting a seed for connecting mathematical logic with writing across the university.

"This professorship allows us to recruit a really excellent person and provide them with some acknowledgment, some extra resources at the beginning of their career where they can develop that into someone very successful."

"The bestowing of this professorship to Dr. Greer will help guarantee Michigan State's continued capacity to enhance its national and international reputation in algebraic geometry and ensure that students receive rigorous and rich classroom experiences around topics in this important and growing field," said Phil Duxbury, NatSci dean.

"Dr. Greer is a wonderful choice for this professorship; he has great academic credentials based on his work at Stony Brook and Princeton," said Van Haften, who gave remarks at the investiture. "It took a couple of years to find the right person [for the professorship] . . . It's a joy to have Dr. Greer as our inaugural Van Haften professor."

MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff also participated in the ceremony to recognize and congratulate Greer.

"I am confident that Dr. Greer will continue making significant contributions to his field, and that he will play a strong leadership role at MSU, both as a faculty member and as a mentor to the next generation of leaders through undergraduate research and programs."

Game on: Sports Analytics Graduate Certificate offered this fall

Graphic of figures playing various sports with 0's and 1's in the background and different percentages displayed

Decision-making in the companies we work at and in our personal lives is increasingly data-driven. The business and practice of sports management is no different. Whether it is linking an athlete's performance to compensation, designing better methods for spatiotemporal player tracking, or visualizing performance metrics for in-game and post-game analysis, folks involved in the management of player and team data have multiple decisions to make every day.

Beginning fall semester 2023, MSU is offering a Sports Analytics Graduate Certificate - a 12-credit program that combines best practices in data sourcing and model development with a clear understanding of why a model may, or may not, suit the data collected. The program is designed for those currently in sports management or coaching, or for those who wish to break into the field of sports analytics. Students will complete four three-credit courses, which include topics in algorithm design and analysis, statistical computation and visualization, quantitatively informed decision-making tools in sports analytics, and project design and presentation. Graduates will be ready to work at the interface of sports management and machine learning.

"The certificate will be a valuable credential in our graduates' portfolios and will provide a competitive edge as they seek employment in this field," said Albert Cohen, senior academic specialist and director of the Sports Analytics Certificate Program. "Combining instruction from our dedicated faculty and guest lectures from alumni and industry partners, the MSU Graduate Certificate in Sports Analytics is designed to train the next generation of analysts who will become the leaders of the field of sports analytics in the decades to come."
For more information about the program or how to apply, visit https://online.msu.edu/programs/sports-analytics-cert#programdetails (link opens in new window). 

The Department of Mathematics newsletter is published annually by the College of Natural Science for alumni and friends. Copyright 2023 Michigan State University. 

Send correspondence to:
MSU College of Natural Science
288 Farm Lane, Room 5
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 432-4561 | natsci4u@msu.edu

Contributing writers:
  • Marguerite Halversen
  • Sue Nichols
  • Val Osowski
  • Jeff Schenker
  • Laura Seeley
Images courtesy of:
  • Harley Seeley
  • Shutterstock/Golden Dayz
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Rita Dandridge
  • Recent alums courtesy photos
  • Andrew Ward/Shutterstock