A Word From the Chair - Autumn 2017

Submitted by Tony I Garcia on


A year gone by, a new newsletter! So much happens in our department over the course of a year that these things basically write themselves!

We welcomed two new faculty to the department: Associate Professor Tim Leung joined us in the fall of 2016, coming from Columbia University. Tim works in mathematical finance. He is the new director of the department’s Computational Finance and Risk Management (CFRM) Program. This program keeps on doing better as it matures: it is currently ranked #12 in the renowned QuantNet ranking! Second, Assistant Professor Ivana Bozic arrived at the start of spring quarter. Ivana works on cancer modeling. Previously she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. You can read about some other faculty highlights in the contributed article of Professor Chris Bretherton, who was on sabbatical, this past year. I have to end this faculty section on a sad note: on August 8, 2016, the Department lost one of its founding members, when Professor Emeritus Carl Pearson passed away in Issaquah, age 94. Carl was instrumental in the founding of the department, as the head of the original Applied Mathematics Committee, in 1969. A memorial event for friends, family, and colleagues was organized in the Department on November 21, 2017. Carl will be missed, but his legacy will live on forever through his many books and papers, and, of course, the department he helped start.

Two new staff arrived in the department: Karen Beaudry is the new Career Services Manager for the CFRM program, while Tony Garcia is our new Office Assistant. Tony replaces (impossible!) Alan Perry, who decided to head off to graduate school himself. Tony is the editor for this year’s newsletter, just like Alan was last year. Alan describes his experiences in our department here. As is the case each year, several new postdoctoral fellows joined the department, for a longer or shorter period. You can read about them here.

Our department graduated 9 students with PhD degrees, 54 students with MS degrees in CFRM, and 48 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 here and a list of all degree recipients. Almost all graduates of the CFRM program were successfully placed in industry, with some others continuing in other graduate programs or exploring other directions. This high placement rate continues to be one of the main achievements of our program staff and students. Some of our applied mathematics graduates are continuing in PhD programs, either with us or elsewhere. Ronan Keane, for instance, is moving on to a PhD in systems engineering at Cornell. He’s looking back at his year with us here.  Other MS students are moving on to various exciting positions in industry, in Seattle or elsewhere.  Our PhD students are moving on to great opportunities too, ranging from academics (Berkeley, Columbia, NYU, UPenn, UW) to industry (AMD) and health sciences (Mayo Clinic, Institute for Disease Modeling). As before, 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. Similarly, our student recruiting continues to be ever more successful, with our largest ever (13) class of full-time PhD students starting this fall. Our Amath MS and CFRM MS programs show similar success! External fellowships continue to be a major funding source for our PhD students: this year, Bobby Baraldi received a DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, and Matthew Farrell received the NSF Graduate Fellowship award! In addition, Niket Thakkar received UW’s Graduate School Medal, the first AMATH student to do so, to my knowledge! His contribution to this newsletter can be read here.

Effective this year, we have expanded the role of our Diversity Committee, with student and staff participation. Jake Price, one of the students on the committee, writes about it here. Other notable events include the first official visit to the department of the first Husky, Dubs, in fall quarter. While you’re clicking these different links, you can also experience the department’s new webpage.

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!

And this next year promises to be an exciting one, for the department and for me personally. The department is gearing up for its 10-year review, culminating with a committee site visit in April 2018. Having postponed my sabbatical one year, I will be enjoying autumn 2017 and winter 2018 in India and New Zealand, respectively, with some additional minor trips. The department will be in good hands, as Professor Randy LeVeque has agreed to step in as acting chair.

Finally, I want to acknowledge all of you who have given generously to the department! Your support is used to provide fellowships for students and travel support to help them attend conferences and workshops, as well as research endowments for faculty. Our department is better because of your continued support and all of our departmental members, faculty, staff and students, thank you!

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