Dear alumni and friends,
It is an exciting time for our department. The explosion of “big data” bodes well for research and career opportunities, our undergraduate program continues to grow, our graduate program has a new director, and we are poised to host a large international conference in 2017. We also recently received “exemplary” accolades from an external review conducted by representatives of peer institutions. I hope you are as proud of these accomplishments as am I.
Faculty and staff updates
One indicator of the vitality of an organization is the number of “comings and goings.” Since our last publication, we have said goodbye to a number of long-time faculty members. We wish them all well in their future adventures. At the same time, we welcome several newcomers who bring new energy to our research and teaching enterprises. We recently conducted a faculty search for a position in mathematical biology, but were unsuccessful, due to the demand for these individuals and our own high standards for a successful candidate. It is a priority for the College to strengthen its quantitative support for the life sciences, and we expect to pursue this again. We also welcome Sung-Yell Song, our new director of graduate education as of July 1, and thank outgoing director Justin Peters for enhancing the program. Finally, it takes excellent administrative support to keep our department moving. Jan Nyhus recently retired after 35 years of exceptional service, and we are grateful to be joined by two new administrative staff, Bonnie Tinker and Connie Steffen.
New course, new learning community, new partnership with College of Business
Undergraduate and graduate placement outcomes are very strong. One successful approach at the undergraduate level has been our “Math+” program, in which students earn a mathematics degree with specialization in a career-oriented application area such as actuarial science, physics, or electrical engineering. This spring, we hope to offer a new undergraduate course in mathematical modeling.
Dawn Walker, our academic advisor, recently launched a learning community for mathematics and statistics students, and 80 were enrolled in the first year. Learning communities, especially important for freshmen or transfer students, help build camaraderie within the major by providing educational, professional and social opportunities outside the classroom.
We are also partnering with the College of Business (COB) to develop an actuarial science major. The major will be housed in COB, with opportunities for students to double major in mathematics or pursue our Math+Actuarial Science option. This is a perfect partnership: COB can provide students with internship and business connections, while we help provide a rigorous mathematics foundation. We are excited about long-term possibilities for graduate coursework in this area.
2017 International Linear Algebra Society (ILAS) conference to be held in Ames
We are honored to host the ILAS conference July 24–28, 2017, and anticipate welcoming 500 international attendees. This is an exciting opportunity for all, particularly our graduate students who are outstanding ambassadors for the university and devote considerable time and effort to this event. More information is available at https://ilas2017.math.iastate.edu/.
The fall of 2016 marked the beginning of my last year as chair. We will conduct an international search for a new chair, with the goal to have the individual in place by July 1, 2017. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve in this role, and I am pleased with the influx of new people we continue to see in our department. I am confident our new chair will add to their energy and enthusiasm and carry us forward well.
Best wishes for the new year, Cliff Bergman