MSCS @ Mac

The largest department at Macalester, we graduate a diverse group of 70–90 majors each year. Many Mac students enter with substantial previous work in mathematics or experience with computers; others start with little background. We tailor our program to both kinds of students—there is a place here for you.

Headline News

Phuong Vu awarded Outstanding PhD Student Award
Macalester and MSCS alumna Phuong Vu (class of 2013) has been awarded the Outstanding PhD Student Award in Biostatistics as part of the University of Washington’s 2019 School of Public Health Excellence Awards: Phuong research interests are in statistical modeling, visualization, and analysis of dependent data.  She develops statistical methods and machine learning techniques for spatially correlated and high-dimensional data, and her research is motivated by applications in environmental epidemiology, public health, and medicine.  Join us in congratulating Phuong on this fantastic achievement!
Students attend Minnebar Conference

Approximately 20 students attended Minnebar 14, an annual technology (un)conference, with Computer Science professor Paul Cantrell. We caught up with Mac alumni including Ayoub Belemlih ’18, Adom Mills-Robertson ’18, Connor Valenti ’17, Marisa Brandt ’98, and Andy Beger ’97. For a recap of the conference see:
Students attend Minnebar14 conference

Professor Susan Fox Awarded 2019 Jack and Marty Rossmann Excellence in Teaching Award

Susan Fox, professor of Computer Science, has been awarded the 2019 Jack and Marty Rossmann Excellence in Teaching Award that recognizes “a faculty member who has been identified by colleagues and students as exemplifying the teaching goals of Macalester College.”

Meritorious and Honorable Mention awards given to Mac teams in the COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling

The team of Lu Li, Zhaoheng Li, and Debbie Sun were awarded a Meritorious distinction for their entry in the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications Mathematical Contest in Modeling.  This is an international competition with more than 14000 teams submitting entries this year. The Meritorious distinction states that “the team’s report was judged to be excellent in many aspects of modeling and problem-solving. The report showed elements of modeling, problem-solving, and communication that are exemplary for the scope of the contest.”   Much deserved congratulations are due for Lu, Zhaoheng, and Debbie!  Additionally, the Macalester team of Rita Liu, Qingru Zhang, and Connor Martin received an Honorable Mention.  Let’s congratulate our modelers!

Professor Lauren Milne Awarded Google Grant to Make Google’s Blockly Accessible

Professor Lauren Milne (MSCS) has been awarded a grant from Google LLC for her project “Accessibility in Blockly: Touch Interaction Research.” Professor Milne’s research focuses on improving the touchscreen accessibility of  the Blockly code library to make it more accessible for children with visual impairments. She will be working with three students this summer on the project.

Student Research at the Joint Math Meetings

Sam Armon, Tiffany Li Fan, Raven McKnight, Trung Nguyen, Dona Pantova, Jonathan Scott, and Lu Xian attended the Joint Math Meetings in Baltimore in January. They are pictured here with professors Andrew Beveridge, Tom Halverson, Ian Whitehead, and Lori Ziegelmeier (Tiffany Li Fan not pictured). Armon, Fan, Nguyen, Pantova, Scott, and Xian presented research in the Undergraduate Research Poster Session. Fan, Pantova, and Scott each were awarded “Outstanding Poster” prizes. Armon and Xian each gave research talks at the meeting.

David Shuman Granted Tenure

David Shuman has been granted tenure. As usual, the department celebrated with donuts and bagpipe music. Congratulations David!

David Shuman granted tenure

Students Blog about Research with the Voting Rights Data Institute
MSCS majors, Katya Kelly and Katie Jolly, and 2018 Macalester graduate, Ruth Buck, wrote the following blog post for AMS Capitol Currents about their summer research with the Voting Rights Data Institute at Tufts University:
MSCS Professor Victor Addona Receives Trustee’s Award

Congratulations to Victor Addona for receiving one of the 2018 Trustee’s Awards! This award is given every year to a small number of Macalester faculty for their exceptional excellence in teaching, advising, scholarship, and service.

Two Honorable Mentions for Mac students in USRESP competition

Two Mac student projects win an Honorable Mention in the Undergraduate Research Project Competition (USRESP) sponsored by the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE). See here for more details about this competition:

You can find the two Mac projects listed here:
Congratulations to Phuc Nguyen, Jina Park, Tiffany Fan, and Haolin Chen!

Brent Hecht Discusses the Ethics of Computer Science

Brent Hecht was interviewed by Nature about a proposal that computer science researchers should disclose the negative societal impacts of their research or risk rejection during peer-review. Brent graduated from Macalester in 2005 with a double major in Computer Science and Geography. He is now an assistant professor at Northwestern University.  Read more about his interview at:

Brent will be our Math and Society Speaker this fall on October 18th, 2018.

MSCS Alumni take top honors in 2018 WNAR competition

Anu Mishra and Phuong Vu, both MSCS alumni and Biostatistics PhD students at the University of Washington, took top honors in the 2018 WNAR student paper competition this year! Congrats to Anu and Phuong, along with the other student winners, Katherine Wilson and Kelsey Grinde! Read about their work at:

Mathematics of Political Redistricting Webinar

Karen Saxe will be a panelist on a Webinar for the National Academy of Sciences on the topic of “The Mathematics of Redistricting.” Professor Saxe will join Jonathan Mattingly to discuss the mathematics of political redistricting — the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative electoral districts.This is part of the Mathematical Frontiers Webinar Series. It will be held May 8, 2018 at 2 p.m. ET. You can join the webinar here.

Andrew Beveridge Promoted to Full Professor

Andrew Beveridge as recently promoted to full professor. The department celebrated with bag pipe music and donuts. Congratulations Andrew!

1st Place in Case Study Category at the 2018 Public Health Scholar Bowl

Macalester’s Public Health Scholar Bowl team of: Annalivia Robinson, Emily Hodel, Euijin Kim, Kelsey Porter, Quinn Rafferty, Thao Hoang, and Caroline Duncombe won 1st place in the “Case Study” competition at the 2018 Public Health Scholar Bowl, held at Saint Louis University.  The Public Health Scholar Bowl is an annual competition where teams of undergraduate students come together from around the country to compete in Case Study and Trivia Bowl categories.  The 2018 competition marks Macalester’s 5th time competing in the Public Health Scholar Bowl, and our 5th consecutive year with a prize.  John’s Hopkins took home 1st place in the Trivia Bowl category.  Congratulations to our team!

1st Place 2018 Math Jeopardy

Math Jeopardy is an annual event hosted by Augsburg University.  Teams from Macalester, Augsburg, Concordia College, and the University of St Thomas compete in this fun Jeopardy themed competition with questions that range from math in pop culture and history to challenging math puzzles.

Math Jeopardy Team 2018 Math Jeopardy Team 2018