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

2021 Mathematics Alumni Award Recipients: Danyel Graves Larsen, Michael Stillman, Judy Leavitt Walker

Three alumni awarded 2021 Department of Mathematics Alumni Awards


Each year, the Department of Mathematics recognizes exceptional alumni who have have made significant contributions through outstanding professional achievement in academia, research, and industry. This year, the Department of Mathematics Alumni Awards Committee has selected three inspirational alumni as 2021 alumni award recipients.

Danyel Graves Larsen (BA, ’04, mathematics) of Oregon, Ill., has been named the recipient of the 2021 Alumni Humanitarian Award for her excellence and impact in the field of mathematics education.

Michael Stillman (BA, ’78, mathematics) of Ithaca, N.Y, has been named a recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award for his outstanding professional career and significant contributions in computational algebraic geometry and commutative algebra.

Judy Leavitt Walker (MS, ’92, mathematics; PhD, ’96, mathematics) of Lincoln, Neb., has been named a recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award for her outstanding professional career and her leadership and contributions to the advancement of mathematics and inclusion. 
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Old chair reveals how Altgeld Hall was once the campus seat

An architect determined that an existing chair (lower left) in a professor's office in Altgeld Hall is an original from the office of former U of I President Andrew Draper, who worked there from 1897-1904. | Photos from Bailey Edward 

When you spend a year and a half immersed in a place, as Karla Smalley has in Altgeld Hall, you start to develop a sense for the significant details. One day not long ago the architect was drawn to an old chair on the building’s third floor that seemed out of place, yet oddly familiar.

Smalley is an associate principal and architect at Bailey Edward, a firm hired by campus to help renovate Altgeld Hall while preserving the building’s colorful history.  Her work is part of the Altgeld and Illini Hall Project, which was launched to renovate Altgeld Hall and replace its neighbor across Wright Street with a new building to improve and modernize spaces in data science and other mathematical sciences.

Smalley was studying the building’s decorative paint and windows when it occurred to her where she’d seen that old leather chair: the historical archives.

“When you look at those photos for a year and a half, they sort of become engrained in your mind,” she said. So she went back to the archival photos, and sure enough, there was the chair in black and white, in the office of former University of Illinois President Andrew Draper, who’d served from 1894-1904.
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Mathematics undergraduate receives Goldwater scholarship

Ariel Lerman 

Four University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign students, including Department of Mathematics sophomore Ariel Lerman, were awarded Barry M. Goldwater scholarships for their potential to contribute to the advancement of research in the natural sciences, mathematics or engineering.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Goldwater, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The program encourages the continued development of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college sophomores and juniors from the U.S. who intend to pursue doctorates. The scholarship provides recipients $7,500 annually toward undergraduate tuition, fees, books or room and board.

This year’s 410 scholars were selected from among the 1,256 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by colleges and universities nationwide.
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New model shows how to make smart homes more frugal

Stock photo of a smart home 

Professor Richard Sowers has developed a smart home model that uses real-time energy pricing data to save money. The system crunches hourly market prices, spot prices, and day-ahead prices to predict the cheapest time to schedule residential loads such as dishwashers, washers, dryers, and the charging of electric vehicles.

“There’s so much thinking about the smart home. The point of this was also a frugal home,” Sowers said. “Your home may be smart and turn the thermostat on and so forth, but can your home also try to save money intelligently?”
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JOIN OUR TEAM: Academic advisor job opening

Visiting Internship Project Developer, 

The academic advisor, located in our Undergraduate Studies Office, provides academic advising for students in the undergraduate mathematics program and advises new freshmen in mathematical majors daily during summer orientation. This position is a full-time, benefits-eligible, academic professional position appointed on a 12-month service basis. A bachelor’s degree in mathematics or a related field and two years professional work experience in a student or education related area are required. Full consideration will be given to complete applications received by May 4, 2021.
Learn more and apply today →


Remembering Professor Emeritus Graham Evans

Professor Emeritus Evan Graham 

Professor Emeritus Graham Evans passed away on March 20, 2021. Evans joined the department in 1972 and retired in 2004. While a member of the department, he served as managing editor of the Illinois Journal of Mathematics (1994-98) and as director of undergraduate studies (2000-04).

His research was centered on commutative rings and the study of free resolutions of modules. He spent the early part of his research collaborating on a series of articles with David Eisenbud and wrote with several others while at Illinois—principally Phillip Griffith. In the mid 1970s, he worked with then UIUC undergraduate Michael Stillman (BA ’78) on a computer program to create free resolutions. This was substantially improved by Stillman, David Bayer, Professor Emeritus Daniel Grayson, and others to become Macaulay 2.

Four students completed their PhD's under his direction. Evans received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in 1975-76 that he spent at Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHES) in Paris. In 2001, he received the Campus Award for Excellence in Advising Undergraduate Students
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Since his passing, several members of the UIUC Mathematics family have sent us their memories of Professor Evans, sharing how impactful he was on their lives. We are hoping to feature these stories on his memorial page on the department website and/or the summer 2021 issue of Math Times. Have a memory you would like included? Please fill out the online form to submit your story.
Share your Graham Evans memories →



Felix Leditzky, assistant professor 

Felix Leditzky joined the Department of Mathematics this spring as an assistant professor. When he is not teaching MATH 595: Quantum channels I & II, he enjoys all things music (including playing the guitar and listening to all genres of music), reading, traveling, slowly improving his cooking, and watching and playing sports.
View the Fast Five Q&A →




Glazer named IMSA president


Evan Glazer (BS ’93, MS ’94) has been named the fifth president of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). He currently serves as the head of school for Avenues: The World School in New York, a grades N-12 independent school with 1,700 students and five schools. 
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2021 Department Awards Program

Earlier this week, we celebrated our Department of Mathematics students, faculty, staff, and alumni at our department's virtual awards program. 
Watch the recording →
Download a PDF of the program →



Alma Mater with the Altgeld Hall chimes tower in the background. 

Since 1871, 18 men have held the position of head or chair of the department. For this month's trivia question, let's take a look back at the impressive history of leadership in the Department of Mathematics.
Test your knowledge →



Commencement | May 15, 2021

Join the university-wide online celebration and welcome the class of 2021 to the alumni family.
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SIM Camp 2021 | June 7-25, 2021

This year's Summer Illinois Math (SIM) Camp, a virtual week-long math day camp for middle and high school students, aims to provide 8th-12th grade campers with a creative and hands-on online learning experience in fun and engaging mathematics.
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24th International Congress on Insurance: Mathematics and Economics

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with partner universities, the Pennsylvania State UniversityUlm University, and the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) will host the the 24th International Congress on Insurance: Mathematics and Economics (IME), the largest international meeting dedicated to exploring current trends and research in actuarial science and the insurance and finance industries, July 5-9, 2021.
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Seminar & Event Calendar

View all the upcoming seminars, colloquia, and events hosted by the department at

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University of Illinois Alumni Association Calendar

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