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A Word from the Chair

Submitted by Arts & Sciences Web Team on August 24, 2016 - 1:14pm
Bernard and Dubs

It’s been a few years since our last departmental newsletter. The biggest change since the last letter is that we’ve gone all electronic. I guess that’s not true: the biggest change for me is that I wasn’t the chair yet. But that change happened 18 months ago, and this newsletter focuses on the latest and greatest.

It has been yet another exciting year for the department, as they all tend to be. We welcomed two new tenure-track faculty to the department, while two rode off into a cloudy Seattle sunset. A new class of students arrived, while others graduated and went to other places where it is hard to imagine the grass being as green as it is here. In addition, many postdoctoral fellows joined the department. Their predecessors left for a variety of positions in academia or industry. We’ve had a few staff additions too: Alan Perry is our new office assistant and the editor for this newsletter! Second, Matt Austin joined us as the new Program Manager for the Computational Finance and Risk Management (CFRM) program.

Sasha Aravkin and Eli Shlizerman are the two new faculty in the department: Sasha is a UW alum (Math PhD 2010). He came back to UW from IBM Watson and Columbia University. He works on different aspects of optimization and data science.  You can read his story here. Eli Shlizerman has been in the department for a few years as a postdoc and a research assistant professor. Now he’s a tenure-track assistant professor working on network dynamics and data-driven dynamical systems. More detail in his own words is here. As a preview of coming attractions this next academic year, we welcome two more faculty to the department: Associate Professor Tim Leung has already arrived from Columbia University. He works on financial mathematics and he is the new director of the department’s CFRM program. Assistant Professor Ivana Bozic will arrive in March 2017. She’s currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, where she does cancer modeling. Both will be featured in next year’s newsletter!

Two faculty retired this year: Professor Loyce Adams retired in January, having served the university and the department since 1985. Professor Doug Martin retired in June. He joined our department from Statistics 5 years ago. He founded and directed the CFRM program, before handing it off to Tim as the new director. Both will continue to do research and serve the department while entering transitional retirement. Some other faculty highlights include Associate Professor Eric Shea-Brown’s promotion to Full Professor, effective this September; Hong Qian became our new Graduate Program Coordinator, taking over for Mark Kot, who served two years in this role; and Ulrich Hetmaniuk became the new director of the Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing. I also want to highlight the new postdocs in the department, who you can read about here. Their research and teaching contributions are an essential part of our department. Lastly, I want to steer you to the faculty article in this newsletter by CoMotion Presidential Innovation Fellow Randy LeVeque on tsunami forecasting.

This year, the department celebrated the graduation of 4 students with PhD degrees, 46 students with MS degrees in CFRM, and 44 students with MS degrees in applied mathematics. A photo special on our ever-larger graduation ceremony is available here, as is a list of faculty and student awards recognized there and a list of all degree recipients. All graduates of the CFRM program were successfully placed in industry, with the exception of one student, who will join the PhD program at the University of Texas at Austin. This 100% placement rate is not to be taken for granted and reflects the outstanding work of the staff associated with the CFRM program. The 44 MS in applied mathematics graduates continued in a variety of different tracks: one was recruited to our PhD program, three others joined highly rated PhD programs elsewhere (CU Boulder (2x), Houston), and many more took industry positions. Overall, our graduate program continues its trajectory of success: our students go on to the most desirable positions in their chosen path, and those that are involved in research (i.e., the PhD students and some MS students) produce works of the highest level. External fellowships continue to be a major funding source for our PhD students: this year, Kathleen Champion received the NSF Graduate Fellow award! In addition, Kathleen is the president-elect of our very active SIAM student chapter. You can read more about its role in the department and beyond here. You should also check out the contribution by newly minted PhD Dr. Susie Sargsyan on her graduate school experience and the article by Boeing Research Award recipient Kameron Harris.

Another feature you will see in this newsletter is the list of our renowned Boeing Colloquium Series speakers for Academic Year 2016-17. The Boeing Colloquium continues to be the venue where we try to bring the entire department together with talks whose level is accessible to a large audience. Please mark the dates for next year!

Finally, I want to thank all of you who have given generously to the department! Your support is used to provide research endowments for faculty, as well as fellowships for students and travel support to help them attend conferences and workshops. In other words, your contributions have a direct impact on the quality of research happening in the department and on the quality of the student experience we can provide!

– Bernard Deconinck

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