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Welcome to the Department of Mathematics

Our Department is at an exciting time in our history. We expect to grow dramatically over the next decade, in particular to hire multiple mathematical researchers every year for the foreseeable future. This year, we are hiring two tenure-track Assistant Professors, a number of Postdoctoral Scholars and Visiting Assistant Professors, and a newly endowed Professor of the Practice that will carry the title of Director of Inclusive Pedagogy. Please apply here!

Our goals as a department are:

  1. To provide world class education to our undergraduate and graduate students, and to do this in a way that is welcoming and equitable. We want all of our students to thrive when they come to Stevenson 1. We want them to learn to think critically. We want to help equip them to see and analyze the numbers, shapes, and patterns they see in everyday life. We want them to become expert truth seekers, a skill that is more important now than ever before.
  2. To perform mathematical research at the highest level. We aim to take risks, and tackle problems that have high rewards, both within pure mathematics and with regard to the fundamental issues of humanity. We aim to establish ourselves further as an international destination for mathematics, and to have a deep impact on the important mathematical questions of our time.
  3. To be ambassadors for mathematics within Vanderbilt, in the Nashville community, and beyond. Mathematics is increasingly central in our everyday lives. Our job is to convey this across disciplines and to the general public, and to inspire the next generation of mathematicians and scientists.

The department currently has 24 research faculty, 14 lecturers, 21 postdoctoral researchers, and 23 graduate students. Our research interests cover a wide swath of mathematics, including homotopy theory, operator algebras, geometric group theory, mathematical epidemiology, differential geometry, approximation theory, signal processing, differential equations, numerical analysis, mathematical physics, graph theory, number theory, and functional analysis.

Our researchers are highly recognized. We boast seven endowed Stevenson Professorships, two Dean’s Faculty Fellows, two Chancellor’s Faculty Fellows, one Centennial Professor, and one Distinguished Professor. We have three faculty who have spoken at the quadrennial International Congress of Mathematicians, one of the highest honors in the field. We also have six Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, two Fellows of the Society for Industrial and Applied Math, five Sloan Fellows, two National Science Foundation CAREER award winners, a Levi L. Conant Prize winner, a Simons Fellow, a Humboldt Prize winner, three AMS plenary speakers, and a Maryam Mirzakhani lecturer.

As a department, we have been well funded by a variety of outside sources, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the US Army Research Office, the Sloan Foundation, and the Simons Foundation. We are grateful to all of these organizations.

Our department is home to the internationally recognized Shanks Workshop and Shanks conferences, the Center for Noncommutative Geometry and Operator Algebras, and the Center for Constructive Approximation, as well as the VandyGRAF program, the Vanderbilt initiative for Gravity, Waves, and Fluids.

One of our core missions is to be a focal point for mathematical activity on the Vanderbilt campus. Within the last few years we have collaborations with the Quaranta Lab and the Quantitative Systems Biology Center in the Vanderbilt U Medical School, the Department of Teaching and Learning in Peabody College, the Department of Physics, the Machine Intelligence and Neural Technologies lab in the Neuroscience Department, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Department of Medicine, the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation, and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, among many others.

As teachers, we are devoted to our students and our craft. We teach in small classes – usually under 25 students – and with an emphasis on interaction and active learning. Our faculty has received a number of University wide teaching awards, such as a Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Fellowship and two Jeffrey Nordhaus Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

We teach an array of undergraduate courses, from Calculus, to Mathematical Finance, to Topology, to History of Mathematics. Our major has three tracks: standard, applied, and honors. We have an active Math Club, as well as an undergraduate seminar, a chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, and an Actuarial Science Club. Read more about our undergraduate program here.

Our graduate program is ranked 43rd by US News and World Report, up from 47th in the last rankings. We have consistently attracted excellent students from countries around the world, including China, Australia…. Those students have recently gone on to academic positions at Harvard, MIT, UCLA, Oxford, The Technion, the National University of Singapore, Australia National University, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, UC Santa Barbara, and Oak Ridge National Labs among many others. Out students have also gone on to jobs at Google, Humana, Alibaba, MITRE Corp, Carmax, and Experian, to name a few. Read more about our graduate program here.

We boast one of the largest postdoc programs in the country. Our postdocs are integral members of the department. This year, postdocs have gone on to tenure track positions at Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Tennessee – Knoxville.

Our faculty are dedicated to reaching out to the community and sharing our love for and knowledge of mathematics. We work with school children in the local Math Circle that we organize, with undergraduates in the Undergraduate Seminar, with graduate students in the EMIT (Establishing Multimessenger astronomy Inclusive Training) program, and with inmates in the correctional system.

If you are interested in becoming involved in any of these activities, please contact us. We look forwarding to hearing from you!

Department News

Margalit awarded 2024 Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition

Nov. 28, 2023—The American Mathematical Society has awarded Benson Farb and Dan Margalit the 2024 Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition. The award is in recognition of their book, A Primer on Mapping Class Groups, published by Princeton University Press in 2012. The Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition is given annually for a book or substantial survey or...

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Prof. Costas Tsinakis Publishes New Book with Vanderbilt-Affiliated Colleagues

Nov. 11, 2023—Prof. Costas Tsinakis has published a new book entitled “Residuated Structures in Algebra and Logic” in the AMS book series Mathematical Surveys and Monographs. His two co-authors also have affiliations with Vanderbilt: George Metcalfe is a former Vanderbilt postdoc, while Francesco Paoli has visited Vanderbilt several times. The book is available from the American Mathematical...

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Prof. Dietmar Bisch Awarded Funding by SMRI

Nov. 9, 2023—Prof. Dietmar Bisch was awarded funding by the Sydney Mathematical Research Institute (SMRI) in its recent August 2023 competition for the SMRI International Visitor Program. The funding will support a research visit by Prof. Bisch to Australia. He aims to use it in Spring 2025 to work with colleagues at SMRI, University of Sydney, University...

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Prof. Dietmar Bisch Awarded Major Interdisciplinary Grant

Nov. 9, 2023—Prof. Dietmar Bisch was awarded the three-grant W911NF-23-0026 from the US-Army Research Office. Entitled “Von Neumann Subfactors, Noncommutativity and Quantum Computing,” the $571,783.00 grant provides substantial support for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The research lies at the intersection of pure mathematics and quantum information theory.  

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