News and updates for UIUC Department of Mathematics alumni and friends
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[ Alumni + Friends Math Monthly | July 2021 ]

SHIELD team member explaining testing protocol. Photo by Fred Zwicky, UI Public Affairs.

UIUC receives APLU award for COVID-19 testing program


The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has received the inaugural Research Response to Community Crisis Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) for its COVID-19 testing program.

The university’s SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell program combined a campus-developed saliva-based COVID-19 testing protocol with statistical modeling and a mobile app for rapid results reporting and contact tracing. Students and employees were tested multiple times per week to maintain campus building access.

“We are so proud of our innovative faculty, staff and students who mobilized to create the comprehensive SHIELD platform and ecosystem in record time,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Susan Martinis. “We are grateful for the APLU and our peer institutions who helped us think creatively about the resources, partners and enormous intellectual capacity that we could harness in Champaign-Urbana to protect our campus and greater community.”
Learn more →




Faculty, staff, and students recognized with Department of Mathematics Impact Award

Students on the Main Quad with the Block I structure. 

The Department of Mathematics Impact Award recognizes faculty, staff, and graduate students in the Department of Mathematics for work which has substantially improved the welfare of members of our community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nominated by members of the department and selected by the department's executive committee, particular emphasis was placed on work which has helped students to succeed and thrive throughout the past year, including innovations in the virtual classroom.
Learn more →


IGL collaborates with high school students for annual summer research program

Illinois Geometry Lab logo 

The Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL) ran five projects for talented University Laboratory High School (Uni High) students during this year's IGL-Uni High Summer Program. This annual program, now in its fourth year and made possible through funding provided by Uni High alumnus David Frankel, the CEO of ZipDX LLC, runs for four weeks during the summer and introduces Uni High students to the possibilities of advanced mathematical research. Each research team consists of one graduate student/postdoc team leader and up to five Uni High students. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this summer's research teams met virually again this year. 
Learn more →


New scholarship honors alumna, former faculty member

Dr. Josephine Chanler with Padmini Joshi (PhD '69) and Nalini Joshi. 

Established this year, the Josephine Chanler Scholarship is named in honor of alumna and professor emerita Dr. Josephine Hughes Chanler (MA, '30, PhD '33), an American mathematician specializing in algebraic geometry. It is awarded to undergraduate students based upon GPA and strength of courses.

After completing her PhD in 1933, Chanler joined the UIUC Department of Mathematics faculty, and remained on the staff until she retired as an assistant professor in 1971. 
Learn more →


2021 Annual Report: Empowering Extraordinary

Cover of the 2021 University of Illinois System Annual Report 

Earlier this month, the University of Illinois System released its annual report, highlighting achievements of all three universities during the past year. Our ingenuity helped lead the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, from cutting-edge epidemiological modeling that guided statewide stay-at-home orders to clinical trials of vaccines and a breakthrough testing protocol that allowed us to return to our universities, and to do so safely.

Through it all, our core missions of world-class education and innovation continued, exemplifying the excellence and commitment to the public good that has made the U of I System a world leader.
View the report →



Vera Hur, interim chair, Department of Mathematics 

Effective August 16, 2021, Professor Vera Hur will serve as the 21st chair of the Department of Mathematics. Hur has a well-deserved international reputation for her work in differential equations and applied mathematics and is the Philippe Tondeur Scholar in Mathematics. Additionally, she is a Brad and Karen Smith Professorial Scholar of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and serves as a member of the Illinois Campus Research Board. Hur previously served as the department's associate chair for faculty from 2017-20 and has been a leader in the college and in the profession, especially in supporting the careers of women. She will be the first woman to lead the department in its 150-year history. Hur will step into this role following Professor Jeremy Tyson, who has served as chair since 2018.

Chair appointments require the approval of the UIUC Board of Trustees; Hur’s title will be interim chair until the BOT has an opportunity to approve her appointment, which is expected at their meeting in September. 
See more department history →



Holzhauer joins “The Athletic” as contributor

James Holzhauer (BS ’05) has joined the sports-based website “The Athletic” as a new sports betting contributor.
Learn more →

Holzhauer, who is also one of four featured trivia titans on ABC's “The Chase,” appeared on a recent episode of the baseball-inspired "Starkville" podcast with “The Athletic” hosts Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville to talk about his new column, betting strategies, and some “Jeopardy!” memories (starting at approximately the 24:55 mark).
Listen to the podcast →

Share your alumni news!

Have news you would like to share with your fellow alums in an upcoming issue of Math Monthly? Submit your items using our online form.
Send us your news →



Juneteenth Chimes Concert

In honor of Juneteeth, Altgeld chimesmaster Tina Horton held a celebratory concert that rang across the UIUC campus.
Watch the recording →



Glass with "Department of Mathematics" above the doorway to the main entry of Altgeld Hall. 

The Department of Mathematics has a long and distinguished history at the University of Illinois and is rated in the top 20 mathematics departments in the nation. Many of our faculty have spoken at the International Congress of Mathematicians, won national and international prizes for research, and are acclaimed experts in their fields. For this month's trivia, let's take a look back at a former faculty member's remarkable achievement.
Test your knowledge →



Fall Statistics & Mathematics Career Forum | Sept. 21, 2021

Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to attend the career forum to meet and network with various companies who may be hiring for full-time, part-time, or internship work. Interested in learning how your company can participate? Contact AJ Schmidt, academic program coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Studies, at

Homecoming 2021 | Oct. 4–9, 2021

Save the date for this year's homecoming, “Close or Apart, We’re Illini at Heart.” Learn more about this year’s plans, events, and updates on the university’s Homecoming website.

Alumni Awards Nomination Deadline | Nov. 15, 2021

Each year, the Department of Mathematics recognizes exceptional alumni who have made significant contributions through outstanding professional achievement in academia, research, and industry. 
Learn more and nominate today →

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