The 34th Lonseth Lecture

The Department of Mathematics held its annual Lonseth Lecture and departmental award ceremony on April 19, 4:30-7pm in the CH2M Hill Alumni center. Following the awards ceremony,  the 34th Lonseth speaker, Dr. Mai Gehrke, presented her talk “Using Abstract Structures to Study Algorithmic Complexity Questions.” Automata are very simple computational models. They are important in applications of computer science but also serve as a laboratory for studying the complexity of algorithms. In this talk, Dr. Gehrke  introduced automata and described how finite monoids, certain very abstract algebraic structures, may be assigned as invariants of automata. She illustratrated how these invariants are powerful enough to make deep computational questions decidable. Finally, she gave a glimpse of an idea how this can be generalized to provide sophisticated mathematical tools for the study of computational complexity classes.

(From left to right):  Department Head Bill Bogley, and Associate Head, Vrushali Bokil with Lonseth speaker Mai Gehrke.

Mai Gehrke is a Senior Research Director in Theoretical Computer Science at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), currently affiliated with the Institut Jean Alexandre Dieudonné in Nice where she moved from the Institut de Recherche en Informatique Fondamentale of Université Paris Diderot. Previously she held the chair in Algebra and Logic at Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen in the Netherlands and a Full Professorship in mathematics at New Mexico State University in the United States.

Department of Mathematics Awards

The Department of Mathematics presented awards to undergraduate, graduate students, and faculty. Undergraduate and graduate students receive awards for demonstrating outstanding work and dedication, while graduate and faculty awards recognize excellence in teaching and research.  In particular, the department introduced two new awards this year: The Mathematics Student Success Award and the Mathematics Majors Award for Teaching. Detailed descriptions of each award are in the 2019 Lonseth Lecture Program.

The Department of Mathematics extends special thanks to the many alumni, emerita/e, and friends who support the department. Many of the Lonseth program awards carry financial scholarships for students, especially undergraduates, to help them cover the cost of their university educations. We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of our donors who make this support possible.

This year’s award recipients are:

Joel Davis Award for Excellence in Mathematics (from left to right):
Aaliyah Fiala, Prof. Thomann (presenter) and Benjamin Sharkansky.


Botond Gabor Eross Memorial Scholarship (from left to right front row):
Anthony Netz, Mattia Carbonaro, and Michael Kupperman, with Prof. Thomann (presenter).


Edward H. Stockwell Award (from left to right):
Francisco Bolanos, John Meo, Prof. Thomann (presenter), Jeremy Shahan, and Megan Tucker.


Harry and Molly Goheen Memorial Scholarship (from left to right):
Prof. Thomann (presenter) and Justin Bloom.


Actuarial Science Award (from left to right):
Manny Hur (presenter), Andrew Colburn, and Sally Fletcher.


Gary L. Musser Award (from left to right):
Prof. Dick (presenter) and Camryn Kimberly.


WIC Culture of Writing Award (from left to right):
Prof. Gibson (presenter) and Sara Tro.


William F. Burger Graduate Teaching Award (from left to right):
Prof. Swisher (presenter) and Sarah Hagen.


Outstanding Performance in Coursework Award (from left to right):
Prof. Peszynska (presenter), Michael Allen, and Naren Vohra; not pictured: Paul Dalenberg, Chung-Ping Lai, Slade Sanderson,and Benjamin Toomey.


Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Qualifying Exams (from left to right):
Prof. Peszynska (presenter), Patrick Donaghue and Leah Sturman.


Graduate Student Excellence Award: Naveen Somasunderam (not pictured).


Graduate Faculty Award (from left to right):
Elaine Cozzi and Branwen Purdy (presenter).


Joel Davis Faculty Award (from left to right):
Vrushali Bokil, Prof. Higdon (presenter), Nathan Gibson.


Mathematics Student Success Award (from left to right):
Katie Pacosa (presenter) and Daniel Rockwell.


Mathematics Majors Award for Teaching (from left to right):
Robert Higdon and Sara Tro (presenter).

The talk was proceeded by an informal meeting with the speaker, Gehrke, and visitor Martin Krupa, as well as an informational table set up by our Actuarial Club.

Informational table hosted by our Actuarial Club, advised by Manny Hur.

Following the award ceremony was a catered reception where undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff reflected on the preceding year as well as the Lonseth lecture.

Lonseth reception.

Thank you to everyone who attended, and a special thanks to our office staff, Joy King, Deanne Murray and Lisa Rogers (not in attendance), for helping to put this event together!

(From left to right): Joy King and Deanne Murray


This article was created by the Newsletter/Media Committee with photo editing by Joy King. Please email with any comments.