While You Were Away
August 14, 2020
Welcome Back! Here's What You Missed...
The Mathematics Department welcomes comes back its returning students, and is anxious to work with a new class of mathematics majors and a new cohort of graduate students. As you return to campus, either virtually or in person, we want to update you with a sampling of news stories from around the department this summer.
Lauren Childs was awarded an NSF Rapid grant for COVID-19 modeling.
This summer, Dr. Lauren Childs was awarded an NSF Rapid grant for her work in COVID-19 modeling. She has been using data modeling to determine the most effective ways to staunch the spread of the virus based upon the particular testing strategies used and rates of testing.
More details on her grant and work can be found in the recent VTNEWS story.
The Blacksburg Math Circle was awarded the College of Science Outreach Excellence Award.
Virginia Tech Mathematicians Alex Elgart and Leonardo Mihalcea started the Blacksburg Math Circle to engage local middle school students in advanced mathematics. They bring together students from the Blacksburg area with mathematicians and graduate students from Virginia Tech, to explore the beauty of mathematics and promote mathematical creativity. The Math Circle is open to students in grades 4 - 7. The only requirement to participate is a curiosity and interest in discovering the power of mathematical thinking.
The group will help prepare students for participation in the Math Kangaroo. The Math Kangaroo is an international mathematical competition with more than 50 countries that take an active part in it. The competition is held annually on the third Thursday of March. The key competence tested by the Kangaroo is logical combination, not just knowledge of formulas.
The Blacksburg Math Circle sessions are generally offered every other week on Saturday mornngs throughout the academic school year. For more information on how to participate, visit the Blacksburg Math Circle.
Estrella Johnson begins her job as the College of Science Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
Dr. Johnson has officially started in her new position as Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Science. A faculty member since 2013, Dr. Johnson will continue in her role with the Mathematics Department while taking on her halftime duties as the Director.
Dr. Johnson assisted in the writing of the Mathematics Department's "Reflection on Injustice and Inequality and a Statment of Support for Marginalized Groups." One of her first initiatives is to turn this statement and those from other departments into an action-focused diversity implementation plan for the college.
More details on her appointment were written in the announcement from the College of Science.
Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus Erza "Bud" Brown recognized by the MAA for Meritorious Service to the field of mathematics.
This July, Dr. Ezra "Bud" Brown was one of five mathematicians nationwide to be honored with the Mathematical Association of America's Meritorious Service Award. The yearly award recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of mathematics and to the MAA.
You can read the details of Dr. Brown's award directly on the MAA website.
He was also featured in a recent College of Science News Article.
Congratulations to Bud Brown for his many achievements!
Sadly, the mathematics department lost one of their own this summer. Professor Emeritus Bob Wheeler passed away the first of June.
A member of the department from 1979 through 2010, Wheeler passed away on June 1st this year. During his time here at Virginia Tech, he taught mathematics courses at all levels and contributed to several curriculum reform efforts. Most notably, he was part of an NSF-funded effort to strenthen ties between engineering and mathematics curricula. Dr. Wheeler was honored with emeritus status in June 2010. He will be missed.
You can read more about Dr. Wheeler's time in the department including reflections from his colleagues in VTNews.