Kirwan Hall Front

We welcomed 13 new members to the Math Family this fall!


Gail Letzer


Gail Letzer. Gail is a researcher at the NSA and a former math professor at Virginia Tech. She will bespending next year as a visiting fellow with the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science. Her interests are in quantum groups, Lie representation theory, applied algebraic geometry, and cryptography. Gail is a member of the executive committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics. She currently serves as a major technical advisor to the chief and deputies of NSA’s Mathematical Research Group.



 Cleve Moler


Cleve Moler. Cleve is the founder and chief mathematician of MathWorks. He was the driving force in the development of MATLAB. He is a highly distinguished scientist, with honors including election in the National Academy of Engineering, the SIAM Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession, and the IEEE John von Neumann Medal. Cleve recently moved to St. Michaels, Maryland, and was looking for a home base for his academic endeavors, which we are happy to offer.



  Radhakrishnan Balu



Radhakrishnan Balu. Rad is a program manager in the Mathematical Sciences Division of the Army Research Office. His research focuses on quantum information processing. As a representative of the Department of Defense community, his collaborations span research groups at major universities including the Joint Quantum Institute as well as industrial partners such as Zapata and IBM. Rad is located in Adelphi, Maryland.




Jean Opsomer



Jean Opsomer. Jean was the chair of the Department of Statistics at Colorado State University. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.He currently serves as the vice president of Rockville, Maryland-based Westat, where he is responsible for the statistical and survey methodology of large-scale survey projects.



  Antonio DeRosa



 Antonio De Rosa. Antonio received his B.S. from the University of Rome in 2012 and his Ph.D. from the University of Zurich in 2017 under the supervision of De Lellis and De Philippis. He is currently a Courant Instructor at NYU. Antonio’s expertise is in geometric measure theory, calculus of variations and minimal surfaces. Some of his most significant results are in the area of geometric variational problems driven by anisotropic surface tensions.



Yihang Zhu


Yihang Zhu. Yiahang received his B.S. from Tsinghua in 2012 and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 2017 under the supervision of Kisin. He is currently a Ritt Assistant Professor at Columbia. Yihang is a number theorist, whose research focuses on Shimura varieties and trace formulas.  He has obtained a wide array of major results at the interface of number theory, arithmetic geometry and representation theory. 




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Todd Rowland. Todd earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He worked for 15 years at Wolfram Research and then as a research scientist at Quantum Gravity Research.



Eoin Mackall



Eoin Mackall. Eoin earned a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta and works in algebraic geometry and algebraic K-theory.







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Daiel Lozier

Daniel LozierLozier honored for contributions to online NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions 

University of Maryland alumnus Daniel Lozier (Ph.D. ’79, applied mathematics) was honored by having his portrait added to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Gallery of Distinguished Scientists, Engineers and Administrators on October 23, 2020. Lozier’s addition brought the number of portraits to just 351.

NIST Director Walt Copan called this recognition the highest honor that NIST bestows on its employees and referred to the portrait gallery as NIST’s hall of fame.

Lozier was honored for “outstanding technical contributions and exceptional leadership to provide an online, interactive, and authoritative reference for special functions of applied mathematics, the NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions (DLMF).”

“Of course I was surprised to receive this honor but happily received it on behalf of the many dedicated individuals who worked with me to make the DLMF happen,” Lozier said.

The DLMF appeared in May 2010, bringing the 1964 Handbook of Mathematical Functions, the agency's most widely cited publication of all time, fully up to date with 21st century requirements. The free online library provides researchers in all areas of science essential information needed to utilize the special functions of applied mathematics, which are ubiquitous in mathematical modeling and simulation.

No off-the-shelf commercial products were available for effectively presenting highly technical mathematics on the web. Creating the DLMF website required Lozier and others at NIST to develop new tools for mathematical authoring, for display of colorful three-dimensional function visualizations, and for searching in mathematics-intense databases, all created specifically for web-based content.

“Part of the technical hurdle was translating all the complicated math formulas into a format that could be used by the web,” Lozier said at the time—when the tools for displaying math on the web were still in their infancy.

Government Computer News magazine honored the DLMF with one of its 10 annual awards for information technology achievement in government in 2011. Lozier was also awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal in 2011 for this work.

“It took a decade of effort,” Lozier said at the time, “but the painstakingly verified 10,000 equations, 600 visualizations and 2,500 references in the DLMF should provide scientists and engineers with ready access to information they need to do advanced mathematical modeling and computational simulation well into the 21st century.”

Co-authors of DLMF included the late Frank Olver, who worked at NIST until 1986 when he joined UMD as a professor of mathematics with a joint appointment in the Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST), and Charles Clark, a NIST division chief, Joint Quantum Institute Fellow and IPST adjunct professor.

“The DLMF did not end in 2010,” Lozier said. “The NIST team is continually adding mathematical content and making IT improvements, disseminated in a regular series of quarterly updates.”

Lozier worked as a mathematician from 1969 to 2019 in what is now called NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory. His research interests centered on numerical analysis, special functions, computer arithmetic, and mathematical software construction and testing.

During his career, Lozier published more than 40 papers and served as an associate editor of Mathematics of Computation, the Journal of Research of NIST, and the Journal of Numerical Analysis, Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

He has maintained a close relationship with his alma mater, serving as an adjunct professor in applied mathematics at UMD from 1986 to 1997. He also created the Daniel W. Lozier Graduate Student Travel Endowment in 2018 to support applied mathematics graduate students at UMD traveling to national or international conferences to give oral or poster presentations.

“My experience at UMD enabled my career, so I wanted to do something that would help graduate students develop their own careers in mathematics,” Lozier said. “This led to my decision to establish the Graduate Student Travel Endowment.”


This article includes information and content provided by NIST.

Siri Nerchal and Mary Yilma

The Merrill Presidential Scholars Program honors the university’s most successful seniors

Two seniors in the University of Maryland’s Department of Mathematics have been named 2020 Merrill Presidential Scholars. The Merrill Presidential Scholars Program honors the university’s most successful seniors, and each of the honorees recognizes a UMD faculty member and high school teacher who helped guide them throughout their academic careers.

Siri Nerchal“One nice thing about the Merrill Scholars Program is the aspect of it that honors mentors, because I really think that I would not have achieved a single thing that I've done without the support and kindness I've experienced throughout my life,” said Siri Neerchal, one of the 2020 recipients. 

Neerchal started out as a math major at Maryland and later decided to add a second degree.

“I really enjoy math and I knew going into college that I wanted to do something data driven,” Neerchal said. “As a sophomore, I added a second degree in history.”

One faculty member in particular was very helpful in shaping Neerchal’s academic course.

“I approached Associate Professor Colleen Woods from the Department of History for guidance in an independent study on postcolonial theory,” Neerchal said. “And since then, she has been a source of conversation, ideas and support. My discussions with her have shaped my ideas and have helped me rework existing systems and concepts into a refined critical framework that informs my approach to quantitative research.”

While at Maryland, Neerchal found creative ways to blend math with other subjects. For three semesters, Neerchal taught the course MATH299C: Mathematics & Classical Music, which explored the historical discoveries in mathematics that have influenced Western classical music, as a part of the university’s Student Initiated Courses (STICs) program. From there, Neerchal went on to help other students develop their own STICs and now serves as executive director of the STICs program. 

“I got involved with the STICs board and enjoyed helping people develop their courses,” Neerchal said. “Now as the executive director I still get to do that and work with the administration to expand the program and ensure its long-term sustainability.” 

After graduating in May, Neerchal will work as a research fellow at Stanford University’s Law School doing empirical social science research.

“The research is very quantitative work, but in a social science context, which is what I'm interested in,” Neerchal said. “It is a great opportunity to put both of my degrees to work.”

Yilma MaryMary Yilma, the department’s second Merrill Scholar, is also a double-degree student, pursuing degrees in mathematics and economics.

Yilma began her studies as an economics major and added mathematics this semester after she realized she had taken enough courses to qualify for the major.

“I just added the additional degree in my final year, and I think it provides a nice quantitative backing to the theory I learned in my economics classes,” she said.

Yilma almost missed her opportunity to be a Merrill Scholar because of an email issue.

“Finding out that I was being considered was pretty flattering. I didn't expect it,” she said. “I missed the email for two weeks because it kept getting caught in my junk mail. Finally, someone else emailed me and asked me if I still wanted to be considered, and that email came through.”

Yilma recognized Jessica Goldberg, an associate professor in the Department of Economics, as her faculty mentor.

“Dr. Goldberg directs PADE (Promoting Achievement and Diversity in Economics), a program that provides academic support to students with the aim of increasing diversity and achievement among economics majors,” Yilma explained. “She gave me tireless feedback on my academic choices, introduced me to some great graduate student mentors, and helped me learn about different careers in economics and what their day to day entails. Dr. Goldberg is always in my corner and willing to suggest options I didn’t even know existed. Her office is always open, and she goes above and beyond for her students. I cannot thank her enough for her guidance.”

Yilma will be working as a research associate at Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco after she graduates in May. She believes the PADE program is a great tool for students in economics looking for career opportunities.

“It's a really good option for people who are interested in pursuing a career in economics. It provides really good resources and mentorship,” she said.

In a typical year, Merrill Scholars would be honored at a reception along with their mentors, but the event was not held this year due to COVID-19. However, Yilma and Neerchal were both glad to still have the opportunity to highlight their mentors through being recipients of the award.

“I'm very glad to be able to thank my high school teacher, Mr. Moose, and my mentor, Associate Professor Goldberg, because they're both really great educators and really great people,” Yilma said. 

“It was so nice to receive this award and have the opportunity to name people who I considered mentors both before and during college,” Neerchal said. “I would not be where I am today without the mentors I’ve had in my life.”

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