|UW Mathematics||Autumn 2007|
Message from the Chair
Only two mathematics departments nationwide have won back-to-back five-year VIGRE (Vertical Integration of Research and Education) grants from the National Science Foundation going back to the programís start in 1999, both at universities with the initials UW! (The other one is Wisconsin.) Our $4,000,000 VIGRE grant is a collaboration with the Departments of Applied Mathematics and Statistics. It funds undergraduate research projects, graduate traineeships, postdoctoral fellowships, student travel, and a range of activities meant to enrich and broaden the professional development of our students at all levels.
One of the highlights this past year was a visit by Professor Hendrik Lenstra of the University of Leiden as VIGRE Distinguished Lecturer in November 2006. As part of this visit, Professor Lenstra gave a spectacular public lecture on "Escher and the Droste Effect," about the deep mathematics underlying a lithograph by M. C. Escher called "Print Gallery," to over 200 people. His week-long visit was organized and run by VIGRE graduate fellows, who had many opportunities to interact with this internationally recognized scholar.
Our graduate students also used VIGRE funds to host a national conference on combinatorics one weekend in April, at which over 100 students from around the country participated in lively exchanges about their work and heard a keynote address by Professor Vic Reiner of the University of Minnesota (see photo below).VIGRE continues to fund dozens of our undergraduates working on projects with faculty. Professor William Stein has been especially energetic in recruiting undergraduates to make crucial contributions to SAGE, the publicly available mathematical software system he is developing. In addition, VIGRE graduate fellows help run our Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences Seminar, recruiting speakers who explain subjects like "Blowing Stuff Up and Looking for Oil in Silly Putty: Seismic Inverse Problems," "Numerical Modeling of Tsunamis," and "Sphere Packing and Error Correcting Codes."