News Archive

Colloquim: Dr. Eric M. Friedlander

The Alexander Grothendieck Lecture

Title: Modular Representation theory (the wild world of characteristic p)

Tuesday, December 5 4:00 PM 135 TMCB

Abstract: Strange examples arise when we look at actions on vector spaces over a field of charactersitic p > 0. Classically, one considers transformation groups acting on real vector spaces and uses Lie algebras to study continuous actions. Motivated by number theory and algebraic geometry, one also studies actions on vector spaces over other fields. Surprising behavior occurs and there are more strange examples than general theory.

Refreshments served at 3:30  in 294 TMCB

Everyone welcome!

Careers in Math: Michael Dorff

Michael Dorff, Mathematics Department Chair, will discuss how mathematics is making Hollywood better. Join us Thursday, November 30th, at 4:30 im TMCB 1170. Refreshments will be served.

Student Alumni Networking Dinner

The college of physical and mathematical sciences student alumni networking dinner is Thursday, November 16th at 6:30 PM in the Hinckley Center 3rd Floor Assembly Hall. Please RSVP at

Focus on Math: Ross Curtis

Title: From Science to Product at AncestryDNA

Abstract: Converting cutting-edge research into everyday consumer products is exciting and challenging. In this talk I will discuss recent groundbreaking research (published in Nature Communications) that identifies recent populations using genetic data from our direct to consumer DNA business. Then, I will highlight some of the process that went into turning that research into a product that helps users connect with recent populations their ancestors may have come from.

Biography: Ross Curtis joined the AncestryDNA team in January of 2012. He is a computational biologist specializing in genetics and visual analytics and loves applying his expertise to family history and genealogy. Before AncestryDNA, Dr. Curtis focused on using visualization and statistics to discover genetic mutations that contribute to disease. Dr. Curtis received his B.S. from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Computational Biology from Carnegie Mellon University.

Join us Thursday, November 16 at 4:30 in TMCB 1170 to hear about Ross’ experience on the AncestryDNA team.

Annual High School Banquet

Once a year the math department honors students from across the state who have performed above and beyond in their math assessments. Guests will hear from professors about the opportunities that await them in college and in the workforce.

The event will take place on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 6:30pm in the Wilk Ballroom. If you have been invited to participate please don’t forget to rsvp at

Sara Smoot Gerrard, LinkedIn

Careers In Math: Todd Fisher

Does God Play Dice?
Throughout the history of civilization, we have struggled with understanding seemingly random events. In the 17th century, mathematicians began to develop tools to help quantify odds and probabilities. We will give a brief history of how these concepts have developed, and see that patterns often arise in random events. The field of dynamical systems arose in the latter half of the 20th century to help discern these patterns. We will look at some of the results from dynamical systems, and show how these have influenced our understanding in both mathematics and science.
OCT. 26, 2017 • Refreshments • 1170 TMCB • 4:30 pm

Grad Open House

Virginia Tech Regional Math Contest

Come have a chance to win cash prizes. The event will be held in 111 TMCB on Saturday, October 21st. Breakfast will be served at 8:30 AM, come no later than 8:45. Email Dr. Nielson with questions, No sign up is necessary.

Focus on Math: Pamela Harris – Professor

Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 4:30:pm in 1170 TMCB

Title: Invisible Lattice Points

Abstract: This talk is about the invisibility of points on the integer lattice ℤ ✕ ℤ, where we think of these points as (infinitely thin) trees. Standing at the origin one may notice that the tree at the integer lattice point (1, 1) blocks from view the trees at (2, 2), (3, 3), and, more generally, at (n, n) for any n ∈ ℤ≥0. In fact any tree at (ℓ, m) will be invisible from the origin whenever ? and m share any divisor d, since the tree at (ℓ/D, m/D), where D = gcd(ℓ, m) blocks (ℓ, m) from view. With this fact at hand, we will investigate the following questions. If the lines of sight are straight lines through the origin, then what is the probability that the tree at (ℓ, m) is visible? Meaning, that the tree (ℓ, m) is not blocked from view by a tree in front of it. Is possible for us to find forests of trees (rectangular regions of adjacent lattice points) in which all trees are invisible? If it is possible to find such forests, how large can those forests be? What happens if the lines of sight are no longer straight lines through the origin, i.e. functions of the form f(x) = ax with , but instead are functions of the form f(x) = axb with b a positive integer and a ∈ ℚ? Along this mathematical journey, I will also discuss invisibility as it deals with the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the mathematical sciences and I will share the work I have done to help bring more visibility to the mathematical contributions of Latinx and Hispanic Mathematicians.

Math work is joint with Bethany Kubik, Edray Goins, and Aba Mbirika. Diversity work with Alexander Diaz-Lopez, Alicia Prieto Langarica, and Gabriel Sosa.

Biography: Pamela E. Harris is a Mexican-American Assistant Professor in the department of Mathematics and Statistics at Williams College. She received her B.S. from Marquette University, and M.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research interests are in algebra and combinatorics, particularly as these subjects relate to the representation theory of Lie algebras. Her recent research on vector partition functions and projects in graph theory has been supported through awards from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics. Harris co-organizes research symposia and professional development sessions for the national conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, was a Mathematical Association of America’s Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) Fellow from 2012-2013, and is an editor of the e-Mentoring Network blog of the American Mathematical Society. In 2016, she co-founded an online platform that features prominently the extent of the research and mentoring contributions of Latins and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences. She is also the lead editor for the Special Issue on Motherhood and Mathematics of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.