Current News


(June, 2014)  Chad Topaz has been awarded a 3-year $219,000 National Science Foundation research grant, Applied Dynamics and Topology of Aggregation Systems, to support his work on the mathematics and biology of swarms. This grant will support summer research involving six Macalester students and three Harvey Mudd College students, and will fund them to present their work at national conferences.

Dan FlathDan flath wins mAA north central section distinguished teaching award

(April, 2014)  Math Professor Dan Flath has won the 2014 Distinguished College or University Teacher of Mathematics Award from the Mathematical Association of America, North Central Section. 


A paper published in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports by MSCS professor Vittorio Addona and then Mac student Jeremy Roth (class of 2010) is cited in the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine.  In his column, The Numbers, Peter Keating points to Addona and Roth's paper as the only one he's seen connecting performance-enhancing drug use to quantifiable on-field changes in Major League Baseball.  Addona and Roth found that steroid use was associated with increased fastball velocities for pitchers of over 1 MPH. 

Karen SaxeKaren Saxe selected as 2013-2014 Congressional Fellow by American Mathematical Society

(May, 2013) Karen Saxe was selected by the American Mathematical Society as its 2013-2013 Congressional Fellow. The AMS Congressional Fellowship provides a unique public policy learning experience to demonstrate the value of science-government interaction and to bring a technical background and external perspective to the decision making process in Congress.  The fellowship is year-long and runs from September through August.

The Congressional Fellowship is one of several fellowships offered through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowships program.  This fellowship allows the recipient an opportunity to work on the staff of a member of Congress or a congressional committee, working as a special legislative assistant in legislative and policy areas requiring scientific and technical input.  The fellowship includes an orientation on congressional and executive branch operations and a year-long seminar series on issues involving science, technology and public policy.  Learn more about the AMS Congressional Fellowship and read about some fellowship experiences.  Saxe fellowship article

Taylor Rasmussen ('13) receives inaugural A. Wayne Roberts PrizeTaylor Rasmussen and Wayne Roberts

(April, 2013) Taylor Rasmussen ('13) is the first receipient of A. Wayne Roberts Prize. This newly established prize will be given each year to honor a junior or senior majoring in mathematics or computer science in recognition of a dedication to the education of youth, as demonstrated by work tutoring K-12 students, a keen interest in education policy, or through commitment to service teaching K-12 mathematics or computer science after graduation. This prize is established by department colleagues in honor of Dr. A. Wayne Roberts, who worked at Macalester from 1965 until 2005, as professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and in service as provost of the College.  Through his work with Macalester students and faculty, and with the Minnesota State High School Mathematics League, which he founded in 1980 and led until 2009, Dr. Roberts has played an enormously important role in mathematics education in Minnesota.

Students receive department awards

(April, 2013) Each year the MSCS faculty select students to receive department awards.  This year's Konhauser award recipients are Meg Naminski ('13) and Phuong Vu ('13).  This year's Ezra Camp award recipients are Brandon Maus ('13) and Colin Jarvis ('13).  We instituted a new Roberts award this year; the recipient was Taylor Rasmussen('13) (see article above).  The competition award, renamed to honor Prof. Stan Wagon, was given to Junyi Wang ('14). Four students received Capstone Awards for outstanding Capstone Day presentations: Yacoub Shomali, Kyle Rosenberg, AnnaLeigh Smith, and Jacob Rath.

Konhauser Achievement Award, established and funded by Fred Deschamps (’87) and family in honor of Dr. Joseph D. Konhauser, professor and chair of the Mathematics Department 1968–1991, is awarded to juniors or seniors majoring in mathematics or computer science in recognition of an outstanding academic record coupled with a demonstrated dedication to and interest in the field.

 Ezra J. Camp Endowed Prize, established and funded by colleagues and friends in memory of Dr. Camp, professor and chair of the Mathematics Department 1939-1970, is awarded for meritorious performance in one or more of the following areas: academic record, marked by improvement while at Macalester; work as a preceptor or honors work.

The A. Wayne Roberts Prize is given by the department to honor a junior or senior majoring in mathematics or computer science in recognition of a dedication to the education of youth. This dedication will be demonstrated by work tutoring K-12 students, a keen interest in education policy, or through commitment to service teaching K-12 mathematics or computer science after graduation. This prize is established by department colleagues in honor of Dr. A. Wayne Roberts, who worked at Macalester from 1965 until 2005, as professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and in service as provost of the College.  Through his work with Macalester students and faculty, and with the Minnesota State High School Mathematics League, which he founded in 1980 and led until 2009, Dr. Roberts has played an enormously important role in mathematics education in Minnesota.

 The Wagon Competition Prize is given by the department to honor a student majoring in mathematics or computer science who has demonstrated the spirit of teamwork, creativity, cooperation, and a striving for excellence that we try to foster through the many competitions in which we participate. This award is named in honor of Dr. Stan Wagon, professor of Mathematics at Macalester from 1990 to 2012, who worked enthusiastically and tirelessly throughout his teaching career, training, inspiring, rewarding, and in all ways supporting students in their problem-solving and competition endeavors.

Tom Halverson picture

Tom Halverson Receives Simons Foundation Grant

 (April, 2013) Tom Halverson has been awarded a 5-year $35,000 Collaboration Grant from the Simons Foundation for his research in combinatorial representation theory. The goal of this program is to support the "mathematical marketplace" by increasing collaborative contacts in the community of mathematicians. The grant supports travel for the awardee and for Macalester students and provides departmental funds for seminar and colloquium speakers.  The Simons Foundation is a private foundation whose mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences.

Capstone Day 2013 WAs great! 

(April, 2013) Capstone Day 2013 took place on Wednesday, April 17.  Our seniors presented their capstone projects!  On Thursday, April 18, David Liben-Nowell will speak for our Senior Banquet.   Schedule of Capstone Talks      Capstone Project Titles and Abstracts    David Liben-Nowel Talk

Chad TopazChad Topaz receives SIAM Award

(March, 2013) Chad Topaz has been selected for an award by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) for work conducted jointly with Prof. Andrew Bernoff of Harvey Mudd College. Their paper, A Primer of Swarm Equilibria, SIAM J Appl Dyn Syst 10(1) (2011) 212–250, will reappear as the "SIGEST" article in SIAM Review, the society's flagship journal. The purpose of SIGEST is to make the over 10,000 readers of SIAM Review aware of exceptional papers published in SIAM's specialized journals. SIGEST articles are nominated by the editorial boards of these specialized journals. Chad's article was selected “for the importance of its contributions and topic, its clear writing style, and its accessibility.” Chad will be recognized at the awards luncheon of the 2014 SIAM Annual Meeting.
In addition, this paper was one of three chosen for the 2013 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Outstanding Paper Prize. The award is given for outstanding papers published in SIAM journals during the past three years. Topaz will receive this award July 9, during the 2013 SIAM Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Mathematics students win four prizes at national meeting

(February, 2013) Four posters contributed by Macalester summer research students received an Outstanding Presentation Award at the 2013 MAA Undergraduate Student Poster Session last month at the Joint Math Meetings in San Diego.  The awardees include seniors Hossein Alidaee, Mike Reeks,and Maxray Savage, who, along with seven other undergraduate student researchers, developed their mathematics research last summer. They were mentored by Macalester Mathematics professors Andrew Beveridge, Dan Flath and Tom Halverson. Alidaee and Reeks did independent research at Macalester, while Savage was part of MAXIMA, a 12-student REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) that is co-hosted by Macalester and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota.  JMM Prizes article

Faculty, Students, and Alumni meet at Annual Math meeting

Faculty/Students JMM(January, 2013) Faculty, students, and alumni met for dinner at the 2013 Math Meetings.






Math Jeopardy Team Defends its title

(December, 2012) Macalester's Math Jeopardy team successfully defended Macalester's title at the Math Jeopardy tournament.

Math Jeopardy team celebrates  







David BressoudDavid Bressoud Named Fellow of the American Mathematical Society

(November, 2012) DeWitt Wallace Professor David Bressoud has been named to the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. David Bressoud AMS Fellow details


Karen SaxeKaren Saxe speaks at the MAA Distinguished Lecture Series

(November, 2012) Professor Karen Saxe will speak at the MAA Distinguished Lecture Series on Nov. 1 in Washington, DC. The title of her talk is "A Mathematical Adventure through the Census, Reapportionment, and Redistricting.”

Students enjoy Math pumpkin-carving day

(October 2012) Students carved pumpkins into math-inspired jack-o-lanterns.

students carving pumpkins Closeup of Sierpinski pumpkin Closeup of pumpkin-carvingSome final pumpkins


Alumni published in ESPN: The Magazine

(October, 2012) Kwame Fynn '13 (Accra, Ghana) and Morgan Sonnenschein '12 (Overland Park, Kansas), both Applied Math and Statistics majors,  had part of their research, "An Analysis of the Career Length of Professonal Basketball Players," published in ESPN: The Magazine (10/1/12).

Chad Topaz speaks at Chinese-American Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium

(August, 2012) Professor Chad Topaz has been invited to speak at the prestigious Chinese-American Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium in October of this year.  The symposium, co-sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, is the Academy’s premiere activity for distinguished young scientists.  Topaz Kavli article

Taylor Rasmussen '13, named M Club's Male Athlete of the Year

 (April, 2012) Congratulations to applied mathematics and statistics major Taylor Rasmussen '13, who has been named M Club's Male Athlete of the Year!  Rasmussen article

Kaplan Wins Statistics Education Award

(January, 2012) At the national Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston, Danny Kaplan from the MSCS Department was given the annual award for the Outstanding Contributed Paper in Statistics Education. The award is for Kaplan's 2011 paper, "Confounding the Introductory Statistics Course," which describes the motivations behind Macalester's Math 155, Introduction to Statistical Modeling, taken by approximately 150 Mac students each year.

Stan Wagon Wagon Wins Wolfram Innovator Award

(November, 2011) At the recent Wolfram Technology Conference in Champaign, Illinois, Stan Wagon of the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Department was one of 10 recipients of the new Wolfram Innovator Award. Professor Wagon has used Mathematica extensively since its introduction in 1990, writing several books and using it to aid in the design of devices such as the square wheel bike in the Science Center. The other recipients were educators from the University of Illinois, Colombia (South America), Carnegie Mellon Univ., Walla Walla Community College, and the Univ. of Houston Law School, as well as researchers from Procter & Gamble, Boeing, and Roche Pharmaceuticals.  

Tom Halverson

Math Professor Tom Halverson Wins MAA-NCS Award for Distinguished Teaching

(2011) Math Professor Tom Halverson has won the 2011 Distinguished College or University Teacher of Mathematics Award from the Mathematical Association of America, North Central Section. 


David Bressoud

Professor Addresses Congressional Committee

(March, 2011) Professor David Bressoud recently testified before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies on the need for more U.S. students to pursue scientific, mathematical and technological careers. Bressoud is the DeWitt Wallace Professor of Mathematics and past president of the Mathematical Association of America.

Snow SculptureInternational Snow Sculpture Competition

(January, 2011) Professor Stan Wagon was the captain of the Sweden/USA team that participated in the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Competition, 2011. Perpetual Motion was designed by Eva Hild, Boras, Sweden ( Without movement there is no life. Evolution, progress, life itself: all require energy and motion. Our sculpture’s boundary represents eternal flow, while the faces represent the pulse of the inner and outer world, as well as the search for new directions.


Karen Saxe

Editor of the Anneli Lax New Mathematical Library

Karen Saxe, Professor and Chair of MSCS, has been named Editor of the Anneli Lax New Mathematical Library. NML is published by the Mathematics Association of America, and is a series of monographs, written by individual mathematicians, on various mathematical topics meant as supplements for the interested high school or early college student.


(March, 2011) Rayanatou Laouali, a Math student from Niger, has received a $10,000 grant to return this summer to her childhood home to help women there expand their peanut-processing business, allowing them to better provide for and educate their children. Laoali grant article

STUDENT TEAM EARNS AWARD AT 2011 Joint Mathematics Meeting

(January, 2011) Congratulations! A three-student research team including Wanyi Li ’12, advised by mathematics professor Dan Flath, came home from the largest annual mathematics meeting in the world— the 2011 Joint Mathematics Meeting—with an award for their research. The meeting links together members from the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and drew nearly 6,000 mathematicians this year to New Orleans.

As part of an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) sponsored by the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), the team investigated a theoretical problem suggested by microfluidics, which involves modeling a chemical laboratory the size of a small chip, no bigger than a fingernail. The group’s project, “Elastohydrodynamic Instabilities in Gravity-Driven Flow,” focused on what happens when a tiny viscous layer of fluid flows across the top of a tiny layer of gel and the subsequent effect on its stability. Instability has been observed in lab work, but theoretical analyses have so far been lacking. The team built a theoretical model and explored computer- generated solutions.

REU teams submitted more than 200 posters at the Joint Mathematics Meeting, and Flath’s trio’s work was among 20 posters chosen for the prize. Another Macalester student, Sasha Indarte ’13, presented her research in New Orleans from a different REU program and was also recognized with an award.

The REU program gives students the opportunity to research a topic for five weeks and produce a poster, paper, and presentation at the term’s end. The teams present their progress weekly and enjoy social events and weekly guest lectures on applied math topics.

Flath, with a colleague, organized the first REU at IMA in 2009 and has taught both years. “It is absolutely amazing how much a team of students can learn and accomplish when working together full time on a single project for five weeks,” says Flath. “They come in knowing essentially nothing about the project, but it does not matter. They rise to the occasion.”


(March, 2011) A new website designed by U of M student with oversight by Professor Shilad Sen helps users find movies. Sen movie website article

David Lopez '10 Published by Saint Louis Federal Reserve

(January, 2011) Recent alum David Lopez '10, wrote about historical details of events leading up to the founding of the Federal Reserve.  His article was published in the Liber8 newsletter, part of the research branch of the Saint Louis Federal Reserve Bank. Lopez article

Shilad Sen's Wikileaks class project profiled in Chronicle of Higher Ed

 (December, 2010) Professor Shilad Sen examined WikiLeaks examples in his first-year course on Social Media.  His class project was profiled in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed.  Sen Wikileaks article

Chad Topaz Awarded $250K NSF Grant to Study Biological Swarming  

(July, 2010) Professor Chad Topaz, associate professor in MSCS, has been awarded a three-year, $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study biological swarming and chemical pattern formation. The project will provide research experience to 12 Macalester undergraduates who will collaborate with Topaz and with each other. Topaz swarming article

Shilad Sen Awarded $1.2m NSF Grant to Study Tags in Social Media

(July, 2010) Professor Shilad Sen, assistant professor inMSCS, has been awarded a four-year, $1.2M grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study tags, or words that people use to describe videos, photographs and web pages online. The grant will lay the groundwork for research collaboration between Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. Macalester’s portion of the grant is about $250,000.  Sen tag grant article 

    Mathematical Association of America — North Central Section

    (November, 2010) This year's NCS contest had 85 teams from 28 colleges in Minn., South and North Dakota, Manitoba, and extreme Western Ontario.

    The top five teams and scores were:

    1. Univ of Minnesota 100 pts
    2. St Olaf 98
    3. Univ. of Minnesota 95
    4. Macalester and Carleton (tie) 93 Junyi Wang, Chen Gu, Jiajun Liang (the tie goes as far as the individual scores: 10 on all but 3 on #7)

    Macalester had three other teams and all four finished in the top 20. Only Univ. of Minnesota placed as many in the top 20 (five). St. Olaf had three teams in top 20. Carleton had 2.

    11 Mac Andrew Bendelsmith, Wei Wang, Lan An
    14 Mac Siqi Zheng, Aaron Mayerson, Wanyi Li
    19 Mac Denghui Sun, Jie Shan, An Xia

    Congrats to all participants. Fourth place is excellent, and four in top 20 is also very nice.