Van Vleck Notes

Department of Mathematics
University of Wisconsin


  1. From the Editor
  2. From the Chair
  3. New Faculty
  4. Faculty News
  5. Van Vleck Visiting Assistant Professors
  6. Visiting Faculty
  7. Sabbaticals and Leaves
  8. Faculty Dinner Recognizes Retirees
  9. Honors and Awards
  10. Special Lectures
  11. Conference News
  12. Staff News
  13. Student and Instructional News
  14. Undergraduate Student News
  15. Graduate Student News
  16. Graduate Student Awards
  17. Other News
  18. Alumni News
  19. Death Notices
  20. Alumni Address Correction form

From the Editor ...

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In 1997 the UW-Madison Mathematics Department celebrated the 100th anniversary of the granting of the first PhD in Mathematics by the University of Wisconsin. Many of you were present at our PhD Centennial Conference held in Madison during May of 1997, some as former PhDs and some with PhDs still in progress. As many of you may recall from our 1997 newsletter, the first Wisconsin Mathematics PhD was awarded to Henry Freeman Stecker in 1897 with a thesis titled ``On the roots of equations, particularly the imaginary roots of numerical equations.'' Stecker, a native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, went on to have a successful career at Penn State University.

There were many highlights of our 1997 celebration, but none as thrilling as the festivities of the banquet in the Memorial Union when the many Wisconsin PhDs present were introduced. Among them were the ``fifty or more years group'' consisting of Lowell Paige [PhD, 1947, R.H. Bruck], William Leavitt [PhD 1947, R.E. Langer], Robert Lee Wilson [PhD 1947, C.C. MacDuffee], Robert Bartels [PhD 1938, I. Sokolnikoff], Margarete Caroline Wolf Hopkins [PhD 1935, M. Ingraham], and Elizabeth (Betty) Thatcher Stafford Hirschfelder, [PhD 1930, M. Ingraham]. Betty's class contained the 18th, 19th, and 20th Wisconsin Mathematics PhD. Sadly, as reported elsewhere in this newsletter, Betty died this past year.

Those of you who participated in the celebration in May of 1997 may remember our ``logo'' representing the number of Mathematics PhDs awarded after 100 years:
Math PhD dt = 900e

The e reflected the uncertainty of how many graduate students would actually finish in 1997. Now our website contains a current list of all Wisconsin Math Phds. You can find it at
The current Mathematics PhD count is 982 which means that sometime within the next year or so we are expected to reach the 1000 mark:
Math PhD dt = 1000
The attainment of such a milestone, which could occur in any of the months May, August, or December, will be good reason for a local celebration, followed by a special Wisconsin Reunion at the annual AMS Meeting (Will it be Phoenix 2004 or Atlanta 2005?). We hope to see many of you there. Watch our website for when this milestone is reached. Now read about what's been going on this past year in the UW-Madison Mathematics Department. And please stay in touch by letting us know what's been happening in your professional career. We have an alumni section in this newsletter for your news. And don't forget to update your addresses if there has been a change. We want to make sure that this newsletter reaches you.


From the Chair

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I am delighted to have this chance, 6 months into my first year as Chair, to share a few words with the UW Math community. My new job has a steep learning curve, especially in these challenging times, so first off I would like to thank the previous two chairs, Richard Brualdi and Alejandro Adem for their generous and ongoing support. Thanks to their guidance, and with the help of our superb faculty and staff, I am confident the department will continue its tradition of excellence.

Last year we had one of our best hiring seasons ever with the addition of 3 distinguished tenured professors: Nigel Boston, Xiuxiong Chen, and Alexander Kiselev. Nigel Boston joins our excellent applied math program as a cluster hire, joint with Electrical Computer Engineering. Xiuxiong Chen, a speaker at the most recent International Congress of Mathematicians, augments our world-class geometry group. Alexander Kiselev is a talented young analyst with interest in applications who, like our other recent addition to the analysis group Alexandru Ionescu, has recently won a Sloan Fellowship. We are very excited about this influx of world-class talent.

As always, Madison is buzzing with math conferences, workshops and seminars this year. Here I will just mention some highlights. Last fall we hosted the AMS Central Section meeting. This spring Xiuxiong Chen is organizing the Great Lakes Geometry Conference, May 1-4, in honor of E. Calabi. Summer 2003 events include a Research Experience for Undergraduates hosted by Ken Ono and the annual Probability Intern Program hosted by Jim Kuelbs and Tom Kurtz.

Our faculty and staff also continue to garner an impressive array of honors and awards. For lack of space, let me single our Melinda Certain, who has just won the prestigious Chancellor's Hilldale Award for Excellence in Teaching. Sadly, Melinda is retiring at the end of the semester after nearly 15 years of outstanding service, highlighted by her role as Coordinator of our very successful Wisconsin Emerging Scholars program.

Many of you undoubtedly know that the State and University are now confronting a serious budget crisis. As a result, our department is being asked to make substantial cuts in all our operations. Hiring this year will be confined to cluster initiatives in Molecular Biometry and String Theory, as well as a few Van Vleck postdocs. So my current agenda for the department focuses on some major improvements to our building and office space, as well as our computing infrastructure. I hope to report back to you next year with good news in these areas. If I may be forgiven a modest solicitation, suffice it to say that even small donations are especially meaningful in times like this. Without your gifts it is more and more challenging to sustain our excellent research and teaching programs.

Finally, let me encourage everyone to stop by the department next time you're in Madison. Alternatively, consider visiting the Annual Wisconsin Reunion of Alumni and Friends next January in Phoenix at the Joint Mathematics Meetings. Either way, I look forward to meeting you.

David Griffeath

UW-Madison Math Dept Chair

Address Correction and Alumni News
You can check your listing in our alumni database
If this information is not correct, you can print out
the form below and mail it to us or else fill out the
electronic version of this form

Please use this form to update our information on your activities for use in the next newsletter.
Send to: Richard A. Brualdi, Editor, Department of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin,
480 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1381 (

[¯] Check here if new address/info       [¯] Check here if you plan to attend MathFest


Home Address:

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Department of Mathematics Annual Fund Drive

Please accept my contribution in the amount of $ _____________ (enclosed) which is designated for:

UW Foundation Accounts (Department of Mathematics)

[¯] Dept. of Math. General Fund - Serves as the department's general account.
[¯] R. Creighton Buck- awards an Undergraduate Prize for Creativity in Mathematics.
[¯] Wallace J. Hilliard Fund - provides support for the Wisconsin Emerging Scholars Program (WES).
[¯] Elizabeth Hirschfelder Fund-for Graduate Women in Mathematics, Chemistry & Physics.
[¯] Mark Ingraham Math Scholarship Fund - provides a scholarship for a mathematics major above freshman standing.
[¯] David and Janet Kirkbride Scholarship in Mathematics - provides a semester's tuition for an outstanding undergraduate student studying mathematics.
[¯] John Nohel Prize in Mathematics - a prize for the best Ph.D Thesis in applied mathematics.
[¯] Wolfgang Wasow Memorial Lecture Fund-supports a lecture by an eminent mathematician in the Distinguished Lecture series.
[¯] Van Vleck Math Talent Search - provides funds for our annual math talent competition.

For donations to the above funds, please make checks payable to UW Foundation and send them to:

UW Foundation
c/o David Simon
P.O. Box 8860
Madison, WI 53708-8860.

All contributions are tax deductible; many corporations have a matching grants program.

Van Vleck Notes
is published by annually by the
Department of Mathematics of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
480 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1388

Phone:(608) 263-3054
Fax: (608) 263-8891 Home Page:

Richard A. Brualdi, editor (
Diane Reppert, technical editor (