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May 16, 2019

Award Winners Honored at Annual Ceremony

(L to R) Ryan Solava, Jesse Peterson, and Blake Dunshee

Five students were recognized for outstanding achievements at the recent Department of Mathematics annual awards ceremony.

The 2019 B.F. Bryant Prize for Excellence in Teaching was shared by graduate students Blake Dunshee and Ryan Solava. The award recognizes graduate teaching assistants who have demonstrated concern for and accomplishments in teaching, qualities that characterized the career of former Professor and Department Chair Billy Bryant.

In announcing the award, Associate Director of Graduate Studies Jesse Peterson cited the outstanding ratings Dunshee and Solava received on student evaluations.

“Blake’s student evaluations contained many comments about how eager he is to help students in their understanding, and how he is willing to stick to a concept until they reach the point of understanding,” he said. “Ryan’s student evaluations also contained many comments about his eagerness to help, as well as many about how well crafted his explanations were.”

Dunshee will begin his fifth year in the graduate program in the fall. Solava expects to receive his Ph.D. in August 2019. He has accepted a tenure track position at Saint Mary’s College in Indiana as an assistant professor.

The Bjarni Jónsson Prize for Research was awarded jointly to Longxiu Huang and Bin Sun. The prize was established in honor of former Distinguished Professor Bjarni Jónsson and is awarded annually to one or more graduate students for exceptional research in mathematics and outstanding research potential.

(L to R) Longxiu Huang, Jesse Peterson, Bin Sun, and Denis Osin

Huang’s research interests are at the intersection of modern harmonic analysis, computational mathematics, and functional analysis. Her dissertation work was in the area of sampling and reconstruction. She is a co-author of five papers, one of which has already appeared in the SIAM Journal of Discrete Mathematics and one that has been accepted for publication in the journal Sampling Theory in Signal and Image Processing.

Among her notable research achievements, Huang developed several new ideas connecting harmonic analysis, functional analysis, and complex analysis techniques that were used to prove the properties of a certain system of continuous frames.

“She is very strong in several areas of pure and applied mathematics,” noted her advisor, Professor Akram Aldroubi. “Besides her mathematical talents, Ms. Huang is also an excellent programmer who produces code and numerical algorithms that complement her work and elevate it to a higher level.”

Huang received her Ph.D. in May 2019 and will be an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA beginning this fall.

Bin Sun’s research interests are in geometric group theory, especially acylindrically hyperbolic groups. He is the sole author of three research papers. In one of these, entitled “A Dynamical Characterization of Acylindrically Hyperbolic Groups,” he clarified the relation between two classes of generalizations of hyperbolic groups — convergence groups and acylindrically hyperbolic groups. That paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Algebraic and Geometric Topology.

Sun has also studied group theoretic Dehn filling, which generalizes Dehn fillings in 3-manifolds. In two papers on this subject, he developed a general method of computing cohomology of Dehn fillings of acylindrically hyperbolic groups based on spectral sequences.

“Working with Bin was a real pleasure,” said his advisor Denis Osin. “I was impressed by his motivation, independence, and ability to quickly absorb new and technical material.”

Sun expects to receive his Ph.D. in June of 2019. He has accepted a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Riverside.

The winner of this year’s Richard J. Larsen Award for Achievement in Undergraduate Mathematics was Gregory Bixler. Established in honor of Professor Emeritus Richard Larsen, the award is presented to the senior math major judged by the faculty to have excelled in all aspects of undergraduate mathematics.

(L to R) Mike Mihalik, Gregory Bixler, and John Rafter

Bixler completed all of the Department of Mathematics first-year graduate courses as well as two second-year graduate courses. He participated in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Chicago and also completed an REU with Professor Ed Saff. He attended the Notre Dame Summer Undergraduate Workshop in Geometry and Topology and completed an Honor’s Thesis on simply-connected-at-infinity groups under the direction of Professor Mike Mihalik.

“Greg has been fully immersed in our department,” said Director of Undergraduate Studies John Rafter. “He has been an active contributor to the Math Club. He has also been a standout student, a TA, a tutor, and a grader, as well as a regular attendee at department colloquia and research group seminars.”

In addition to his major in mathematics, Bixler completed minors in music performance, physics, and computer science. He will pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics at Northwestern University.

The Department of Mathematics is proud to honor these accomplished award winners.