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Chair’s Message

Dear alumni and friends,

Eric Weber
Eric Weber, Chair, department of Mathematics. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)
I’m delighted to present this issue of Math Matters. Our last issue was published in 2019 – pre-pandemic. Much has changed since then, including yours truly as chair of the department. My term as chair began in July 2022, and I am honored to have the opportunity to play a leadership and support role in the impact our faculty, students, staff, and alumni are making in communities throughout the world.

One of our biggest challenges continues to be supporting incoming students as they still feel the effects of the pandemic. However, I am proud of the innovations and efforts of everyone in the department to support students and create solutions to bridge learning gaps and help them along their academic journey. Indeed, Iowa State University’s new strategic plan identifies being “the most student-centric leading research university,” and the department is committed to fulfilling its crucial role in student success. For example, several faculty ran “bootcamps” during the first few weekends of the fall 2022 semester to help students sharpen their mathematical skills. Other faculty are involved in an innovative curriculum development project to use Iowa State’s recently instituted winter session of courses to help students stay on track in calculus courses.

Our faculty continue to conduct cutting-edge, world-class research. You’ll read about Dr. Claus Kadelka, whose research group modeled different vaccination strategies to optimize the mitigation of the contagion spread. We have faculty that are receiving newly awarded external funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, in addition to our traditional sources of the National Science Foundation and the Simons Foundation. Our faculty are also becoming key members of the university’s efforts in data science/artificial intelligence research and teaching. We are seeing numerous positive outcomes of these efforts, as will you in our feature stories on Meredith Tucker and Blake Heimann, whose careers are math-informed and data-centric.

It is an exciting time in the world of mathematics – as the world relies more and more on data, our faculty, students, and alumni become increasingly critical to tomorrow’s innovation. We would love to hear from you about your experiences and contributions! I welcome your updates and thoughts on the news you’d like to hear from us.

We couldn’t fit all of our news into just one issue, but I hope you enjoy this update.