Dear Members and Friends of the UNT Math Department,
This is already my 4th year as chair of the UNT Math Department, and it was supposed to be the end of my chair term. However a search for my successor was not successful, so I will be in this role for another year. Luckily the department is a great place to work.
One of the big trends in the department is that while the enrollment in upper level classes is decreasing, enrollment in lower level classes and developmental math is strongly increasing. This past spring we taught 12.6% more semester credit hours than the spring before, and for the fall we expect a growth of 24% compared with the previous fall. Last year was the first time we were struggling to find enough teachers.
To help meet the demand for more and more math classes, we hired several new lecturers. Last fall we were joined by Lidia Dattalo, Lauren De La Rosa and Benjamin Schwaighofer. This coming fall we will be reinforced by Shafeena Khan, Kyranna Kioulafa and Jayshree Medtia. All of them were tried and proven adjuncts before they became lecturers. Jayshree will teach math classes in Frisco, where student numbers are going up and up every year.
We had two rather successful years in tenure-track hiring. Last year we hired Lea Beneish (Number Theory) and Jackson Morrow (Arithmetic Geometry), and this year we hired Shuang Liu (Numerical Analysis, Applied PDE) and Junhyeon Kwon (Statistics). Lea and Jackson were delayed by one year, so we look forward to welcoming all four of them this fall. We suffered one resignation with the departure of Helen Wang in Fall 2022.
The physical space of the department on the 4th floor of the GAB has undergone a bit of a facelift. A number of pictures and posters are now adorning the hallways and classrooms. It has been a surprising amount of work (and cost a surprising amount of money) to select the right pictures, get them printed, get them framed, select locations, and hang everything up. Hopefully the result was worth the effort.
The main office also looks rather different from a year ago, with new furniture, new carpet, new paint, frosted glass and a better use of space.
The room GAB 464, which used to belong to Women's Studies but was assigned to Math about two years ago, has received shelves, white boards, lots of fascinating old books, and the "Star Trek table". It is now frequently used for meetings or small group research sessions. The books and the table used to be in GAB 473, which now houses journals instead, and is a more functional classroom. It has been renamed "The room formerly known as the Library".
Last year no fewer than 10 PhD students successfully defended their thesis. Each of them has been here for longer than myself, so it will be strange to not see them in the hallway anymore. Six Master's students also finished their degrees. We wish everyone all the best and hope that they stay in touch and come back to visit some day.
Award-winning educator and leader, Dr. John Quintanilla was promoted to the prestigious position of Dean for UNT’s College of Science, effective April 1, 2023. He had been serving as the interim dean since June 2022. For 27 years, his students at UNT have called him "Dr. Q." Prior to becoming Dean, he was the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. He was a founding co-director of Teach North Texas, UNT’s program for preparing and supporting secondary teachers of mathematics and science. In the Department of Mathematics, he was a faculty undergraduate advisor who developed UNT’s certificate in actuarial science. His weekly blog, meangreenmath.com, has had over 400,000 page views. Dr. Quintanilla has received multiple awards for his teaching and service. In 2005, he received the Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics Award from the Texas Section of the Mathematical Association of America. He is also a University Distinguished Teaching Professor. Dr. Quintanilla was a first-generation college student, receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Stanford and his Ph.D. from Princeton. His research interests include applying stochastic geometry to materials science and mathematics education. He has also made multiple presentations to high school teachers concerning the utility of secondary mathematics.
The 2023 Southwest Local Algebra Meeting was held here at UNT on March 4-5. Its organizers included Dr. Lars Winther Christensen (Texas Tech University), Dr. Louiza Fouli (New Mexico State University), Dr. David Jorgensen (University of Texas at Arlington), Dr. Jonathan Montaño (Arizona State University), and our own Dr. Charles Conley and Dr. Anne Shepler (University of North Texas). Around 92 participants were registered for the meeting, and the speakers are Dr. Luigi Ferraro (Texas Tech University), Dr. Susanna Fishel (Arizona State University), Dr. Patricia Klein (Texas A&M University), Dr. Nathan Williams (University Texas at Dallas), Dr. James Zhang (University of Washington), and our own Dr. Olav Richter (University of North Texas). Our Graduate students Lhexa D'Avignin and Dillon Hanson also presented at the meeting.
The Department of Mathematics congratulates Mr. Marc Grether for receiving the 2023 DSI CLEAR Outstanding Online Teaching & Course in Coursera Award from the UNT Foundation and Faculty Success. Our department has been contributing to the development of math courses for UNT online program through Coursera, and Marc has played an important role. This award recognizes excellence in the design of online courses and the facilitation of the instructional experience using educational technology. Mr. Grether joined the Mathematics Department in 2001. He was promoted to Principal Lecturer in 2018. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics from Texas A&M University. He has taught a variety of mathematics courses at UNT, from Algebra through Calculus. He has also received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in 2000. Additionally, he provides his service in various areas; he is an active member of various committees, a course coordinator and Faculty mentor and others.
On April 21, 12-1PM, Women in the Mathematical Sciences (WIMS) at UNT organized a panel discussion open to all members of UNT community on crafting a mathematical career and work boundaries. Dr. Anne Shepler from UNT Math department is the moderator. The panelists are three women in mathematics: Dr. Catherine Schwartz, Senior Data Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Chuang Shao, Department Chair of Mathematics at Dallas College; and Dr. Yanyan He, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Engineering at UNT. They talked about about their careers, how and why they started in mathematics, their day to day activities on the job, and navigating and setting work boundaries. More information on WIMS and some past events can be found on the website http://www.math.unt.edu/~ashepler/WIMS.
Poonam Chanana joined UNT as a Lecturer in the Fall of 2022. She previously worked as an adjunct instructor at Collin College teaching various mathematics courses. She received her M.S. in mathematics and information technology from Punjab University, Chandigarh, India. She currently lives in Plano with her husband and two beautiful kids. They spend their free time playing board games. She enjoys Zumba and Pilate classes outside of work.
Lauren DeLa Rosa joined UNT as a Lecturer in the Fall of 2022. She is a Dallas, Texas native. She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Texas Tech University in 2013. Later, she was awarded her B.S. in mathematics from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2016. In May 2020, she received her M.S. from UNT. Her focus is in developmental math and co-requisite courses.
Benjamin Schwaighofer joined UNT as a Lecturer in Fall of 2022. He has a B.S. from Angelo State University, and an M.S. from UNT, both in Mathematics. He has been teaching at UNT as adjunct faculty since earning his degree in 2014, and has taught a wide variety of classes. He has been helping develop the 1680 corequisite courses, teaching TAMS classes, and is known for his amazing collection of puns.
Lidia Dattalo joined UNT the Fall of 2022 as a Lecturer. She received her mathematics B.S. from the University of North Texas and her M.S. from TWU, where she was nominated outstanding Mathematics Graduate student. She has worked many years in engineering in the Silicon Valley area before moving back to the Texas area. She received her engineering B.S. from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas and her M.S. from San Jose State University in San Jose, Ca.
Harrison Gaebler joined the mathematics department in the Fall of 2022 as Visiting Assistant Professor. He defended his Ph.D. in the summer of 2021 at the University of Kansas. He worked as a one-year postdoc at the University of Oklahoma in 2022. He completed his undergraduate degree at Rice University. His research is in functional analysis and he is currently working on problems in the geometry of Banach spaces with Dr. Bunyamin Sari. He is excited to be back in Texas!
Ignat Soroko joined the mathematics department in the Fall of 2022 as Visiting Assistant Professor. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma in 2018. He is working in the areas of geometric group theory and low-dimensional topology under the mentorship of Dr. Mariusz Urbanski. His research interests include groups in Artin, Coxeter and mapping class. He was a visiting scholar at MSRI (Berkeley), the University of Sydney, Louisiana State University and the Fields Institute (Toronto). He is a recipient of the Provost Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from the University of Oklahoma and the AMS-Simons Travel Grant.
Kiko Kawamura was chosen to deliver the Spring 2023 COS commencement address. She shared a bit about her journey learning English as a second language while working on her post-doctoral research and the wisdom she has acquired in her twenty-four years at the University of North Texas. As an educator, she has had many accomplishments. In 2015, she received the Yale Educator Award and was recognized for exceptional teaching from Stanford University. Recently, she was recognized as a Teacher of Merit by the Society for Science’s Regeneron Science Talent Search, received a College of Science Faculty Award for Teaching as well as a Teaching Excellence Spotlight Award from UNT’s CLEAR.
Jana Watkins was a College of Science 2022 Service Award Recipient for her 15 years of service. Since 2011, Jana has been the administrative coordinator for the Mathematics Department. She has served as assistant to the chair, travel/grant support, department budget manager, among many other roles.
Kristi Nelson was promoted as a Senior Administrative Specialist in March. She will now be our Graduate Program coordinator and our Grants and Travel coordinator. Kristi received the 2021 UNT Staff Rising Star Award. During the pandemic, she was instrumental in the department’s transition to remote teaching, and she has continued to be an invaluable member of the department.
The department hired Federico Diaz as the Instructional Lab Manager. Federico has a Masters of Education in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Arlington, and is currently entering his last year of doctoral studies in Higher Education at Southern Methodist University. He is thrilled to be a part of the UNT family and the math department.
Rita Sears retired from UNT on March 31, 2023 after almost 20 years of service. She was the Placement and Testing Center coordinator. The department held a small retirement celebration in her honor on her last day of work. Here she is with the first chair of the department that she worked with (Dr. Neal Brand), and the last chair that she worked with (Dr. Ralf Schmidt).
Our staff members have made some additions to the COS March Madness Trophy before moving it to the Chemistry Department.
This year the department welcomed 14 new graduate students, 13 in Fall 2021 and 1 in Spring 2022. All the students are fully supported. We also saw 16 students complete their degrees: Congratulations to all of them!
The 2023 Integration Bee was held on April 14. In this contest students attempt to answer challenging indefinite integrals (like the integral of secant cubed) within a fixed period of time. This year we had about 20 competitors, 15 graders, and as always – we had great cake!
The winners of the Bee were three TAMS students – Atharv Chagi (winner), Arihan Varanasi (second place), and Eric Peng (third place). (In the photo Atharv is in the center, Eric on the right, and Arihan on the left).
In between rounds we had some interesting/quirky trivia questions for boxes of candy! Some of the questions were: who is the fashion designer in the Pixar film “The Incredibles” (Edna Mode), what does the F stand for in Robert F. Kennedy (Francis), and which President said to the doctors when being wheeled into the operating room to remove a bullet, “I sure hope you guys are Republicans”, (Ronald Reagan).
Congratulations to all the winners and participants!
The Math Club is devoted to promoting interest in mathematics and fellowship among students of all mathematical backgrounds. Meetings are at 1pm in GAB 473 to discuss math, play games, prepare for the Putnam exam, and to plan departmental picnics. The semester picnics take place at North Lakes Park.
The 83nd William Lowell Putnam Exam was on Saturday Dececember 3 and Tushar Das was our competitor this year!
The William Lowell Putnam exam is offered every year on the first Saturday in December to undergraduates. The problems are quite challenging; getting even 1 question correct is an achievement! Last year Dr. Iaia and Taylor have team taught Math 3010 – a one credit hour problem solving class which helps undergraduates prepare for the Putnam exam.
If you are interested in learning more about the exam, please check out the following websites: https://www.maa.org/math-competitions/putnam-competition and https://kskedlaya.org/putnam-archive/ (problems and solutions from 1985-2022).
Every month during regular semesters, the math department and the math club feature the problem of the month competition. This contest is open to all currently enrolled undergraduate students. Students who submit correct solutions receive cash prizes and certificates of excellence. For more information, please see http://math.unt.edu/problem-of-the-month. The winners from September 2022 until March 2023 are: Eric Peng, Victor Lin, Eric Peng, Victor Lin, Saisneha Ghatti, Victor Lin, Eric Peng.
Every year the Mathematics Department awards a number of scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, made possible by your financial contributions. If you would like to support our efforts, please consider filling out this donation form. Thank you!