Message From The Department Head AY 2021-2022
Welcome to the UNC Greensboro Department of Mathematics and Statistics! On behalf of the Department, I invite you to browse this website to see many exciting things that have happened over the last Academic Year.
Let me begin by expressing a very sincere gratitude to our faculty, staff, and students for dealing with the COVID challenges so admirably. Nothing fell apart! If anything, we performed much better than previous years in many areas. Before I start bragging about our achievements, let me introduce the Department first.
The Department offers a number of outstanding degree programs. Included among these programs is a PhD in Computational Mathematics with tracks in Computational Mathematics and Computational Statistics. We also offer a Doctoral Minor Program in Statistics geared primarily towards UNCG PhD students looking to acquire significant data analytics skills. A brand-new MS in Applied Statistics program started in Fall 2020. Our existing MA in Mathematics program added a new concentration “Mathematical Foundations of Data Science”. Our collaborations with the MS in Informatics and Analytics (MSIA) program continue to get stronger and we have collaboratively developed several cross-listed courses. The undergraduate BA/BS programs in Mathematics are also going though a major transformation. We have a new STEM Calculus sequence and a new Biology Calculus sequence. Our Business Calculus sequence has also been revamped.
Undergraduate research has been a major strength for our department for close to 20 years. We have hosted many NSF funded research program over the years. The latest being the REU program in Complex Data Analysis using Statistical and Machine Learning Tools (Sat Gupta (PI) and Xiaoli Gao (Co-PI)) that ran from May 26 – July 31 in the Summer of 2020, and again, from May 24-July 30 in the Summer of 2021. Each year, the program trained nine nationally recruited undergraduate students who worked on a variety of research projects.
In 2020, we graduated five PhD students. All five of these graduates secured great jobs even before formally completing the degree program. Three of them accepted tenure-track Assistant Professor positions at various universities, one accepted a Postdoc position at Duke, and one accepted a Senior Analyst position at a biomedical devices company. This year, we graduated three more PhD students and they all got nice positions in the academy.
Our faculty continues to excel in research. AY 2019-20 was the best year for the Department in terms of new external funding. We received four NSF awards and one Army Research Office award. The NSF awards included a 3-year award of $324,000 for Sat Gupta, a 3-year award of $238,982 for Ratnasingham Shivaji, and a one-year award of $46,000 for Talia Fernos. Talia Fernos also received another 3-year NSF award of $283,145 that became effective in Fall 2020. Yu-Min Chung received a 3-year award of $193,244 from the Army Research Office. We had great success with external grants in 2020-21 as well. Dan Yasaki, Xiaoli Gao and Yi Zhang received Simons Foundations grants. Xiaoli Gao also received an Army Research Office grant. Tom Lewis received two NSF grants – one as a PI and another as Co-PI. Yi Zhang also received an NSF grant (PI) and a CURM grant with funds from NSF. We have never had this kind of success, and at that, two years in a row.
In addition to the unprecedented success in securing external funding, the faculty published 46 high quality journal articles in CY 2020. Also, in spite of travel restrictions due to Covid, our faculty made 69 research presentations, including 9 at international venues.
Two of the faculty received special professional recognitions. Sat Gupta became an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute. Beth Lewis won the UNCG Online Teaching Excellence Award. The Department is also home to the Journal of Statistical Theory and Practice (Springer) with Sat Gupta serving as the Editor-in-Chief. The Department is also affiliated with the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) and the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS). These affiliations offer a host of professional development opportunities to our faculty and students.
Two of our regular faculty members were able to secure bigger positions in the academy/industry and decided not to return. We were sad to say goodbye to them but are excited to see them excel in their new positions. Tracey Howell (Senior Academic Professional) moved to Appalachian State University, and Yu-Min Chung (Assistant Professor) moved to Eli Lily. We also made some faculty hires for a one-year term. Dr. Sheela Misra has joined the Department as a Visiting Professor of Statistics. Dr. Alexey Sukhinin has joined us as a Visiting Assistant Professor (Mathematics), and Dr. Maxine Guzman has joined us as a Lecturer.
Our Math Pathways work continues to excel, and we have become one of the leaders in the UNC System. The future looks even brighter with the appointment of Dr. Dan Yasaki as our Director of Student Success. Thanks to these efforts our DFW rates have come down dramatically and we have now provided access to STEM Calculus and Business Calculus to a far greater number of students.
Thanks to our donors, we were able to provide a variety of scholarships to our students in AY 2020-21. These included the Helen Barton Scholarship, Vicky Langley Math Scholarship, Ione Holt Grogan Scholarship, Judith J. Mendenhall Scholarship, Mary D. Murray Scholarship in Mathematics, Eldon E. And Christine J. Posey Mathematics Scholarship, Cornelia Strong Scholarship, Dr. Theresa Phillips Vaughan Math Scholarship, and Bertha Barnwell Vielhauer Endowed Scholarship.
Our Statistical Consulting Center, under the leadership of Director and Professor Scott Richter, continued to serve the campus and the off-campus community holding over 50 consulting sessions and hosting our 6th consecutive year of Quantitative Methodology Series workshops. Some of the other services we offer include a Math Help Center that provides free one-on-one assistance for students enrolled in our undergraduate mathematics and statistics classes, and a Math Emporium for undergraduate students who wish to enroll in a College Algebra or Precalculus class taught in a non-traditional, hybrid format. Our Math Club provides an opportunity to connect with our faculty and students. We are also home to a Chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics. Many of these services are currently offered remotely but we look forward to more in-person interactions with our students and the larger campus community when the COVID situation improves.
For many years, the Department has been hosting an annual student conference – The UNCG Regional Mathematics and Statistics Conference (RMSC), and a biennial international conference on Advances in Interdisciplinary Statistics and Combinatorics (AISC). This year we added another biennial international conference “The UNCG PDE Conference” that was hosted virtually May 24-25, 2021. We also host a variety of other special events, lecture series, and colloquia.
If you need further information or have any suggestions about how we can better serve the campus and off-campus communities, please email me. If you are an alum, please email me about yourself. We would love to connect with you and keep you abreast, through our newsletters, of all the wonderful things that happen in the Department. If you would like to visit our department, do not hesitate to contact us. We are housed in the Petty Science Building on the UNCG campus, in the city of Greensboro, and are a part of the University of North Carolina System.
All in all, AY 2020-21 was a highly satisfying year and I look forward to continued excellence by our faculty and students.
Fellow of the American Statistical Association