Department News
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Math REU, Summer 2020

The Department will host a Natural Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Mathematics in Summer 2020. The National Science Foundation funds REUs at colleges and universities around the country. This will be the third year that the program has been offered at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Ten students will take part in the REU. Most of the students come from other colleges, but for each of the past two summers, one HWS student has participated: Nick Mckenny H'20 in Summer 2018 and Connor Parrow WS'21 in Summer 2019.

Topics this summer will include algebra with Professor Biermann, graph theory with Professor King, Neural Networks with Professor Hao, and mathematical virology with Professor Forde.

Applications are due by February 14. Visit for more information.

Posted 2 February 2020

Math Intern for 2019–20: Sam LeGro

Sam LeGro is serving as the Department's Math Intern for the academic year 2019–20. Sam is a 2019 graduate of Hobart College, with a major in mathematics. As Math Intern, he is available afternoons and evenings, Sunday through Thursday, to offer help to students in introductory Math courses, including Elementary Functions and Calculus I and II.

Posted 30 September 2019

Professor David Eck Earns Faculty Teaching Prize

While the fact that Professor Eck is a highly skilled and beloved teacher is no news to students who have taken a class with him nor to colleagues who have worked with him, this year Professor Eck was recognized as such by the entire HWS faculty. Each year the Committee on Faculty Research and Honors chooses one faculty member from all submitted nominations to honor with the faculty prize for teaching. The winner for 2019 is Professor Eck! Read more about it on the HWS website here.

Posted 2 July 2019

Professors Bring REU Program to HWS

In 2018, Professor Rusinko, together with Professors Forde and King, won a grant to run a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in mathematics at HWS. The REU runs for nine weeks each summer with ten students, at least eight of which are from other institutions across the country. In the summer of 2018, mathematics major Nick Mckenny ’20 participated in the REU and this summer mathematics major Connor Parrow ’21 is participating. The majority of the mathematics faculty in the department will be participating as research mentors at some point over the course of the grant. During the summer of 2018, Professor Rusinko lead research in mathematical phylogenetics, Professor Biermann lead research in algebraic combinatorics, Professor Gassert lead research in number theory, and Professor King lead research in graph theory. This summer, Professor Rusinko again is leading research in mathematical phylogenetics, Professor Bell is leading research in graph theory, and Professor Forde is leading research in mathematical virology. Students experience researching closely with a faculty member and a team of peers, practice and hone their mathematical writing and presenting skills, participate in a colloquium series of invited speakers, and travel to graduate schools to learn about specific programs and the graduate experience in mathematics. Below is a picture of the Summer 2018 group at the final dinner and poster session.

Posted 2 July 2019

DeBrine Earns AMS Trjitzinsky Award

In September 2018, the AMS made $3,000 awards to each of seven students across the country through the Waldemar J. Trjitzinsky Memorial Fund, which is made possible by a bequest from the estate of Waldemar J., Barbara G., and Juliette Trjitzinsky. One of the seven students was our very own mathematics major Hadley DeBrine '20. In addition to her mathematics major, Hadley also has a studio art minor. She has a deep appreciation for mathematics and loves applying mathematical concepts to all aspects of her life such as in her art classes. Her professors have been impressed with her ability to understand the subtleties of proof, and believe she has a knack for unpacking abstract ideas. For more information on the award, check out the AMS announcement here.

Posted 5 June 2019

Student Prizes for 2019

Every year, the department awards several academic prizes to students. This year's prize recipients were:
  • The Robert Beinert Prize, awarded to a a graduating Senior for excellence in Mathematics, to Qingyi Lu.
  • The John S. Klein Prize, awarded to a graduating Senior to recognize excellence in Computer Science, to Erika Cardenas and Camera Finn.
  • The Catherine Adele Rippey '35 Prize, awarded to a William Smith Senior to recognize excellence in Mathematics, to Qingyi Lu.
  • The Glenn M. Lee Prize, awarded to the Hobart Senior who has been most proficient in mathematics and athletics, to Russell Merchant.
  • The Abigail Mosey Book Prize, awarded to a Hobart or William Smith Senior for generosity in helping others to learn and appreciate mathematical ideas, to Read Bohanan, Taylor Mancini, and Joon (Philip) Yoo.
  • The William Ross Proctor Prize, awarded to the William Smith Sophomore who has achieved the highest rank in mathematics in her first two years at the Colleges, to Alexandra Low, Connor Parrow, and Margaret Wagner.
  • The Irving Bentsen Prize, awarded to the second year student at Hobart College who has the most outstanding record in mathematics and computer science, to Collin Urie.

For more about student prizes in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, including lists of past recipients, visit our department prizes page.

Posted 8 May 2019

Qingyi Lu Completes Honors Project

Qingyi Lu WS'19, a double major in mathematics and computer science, has completed an Honors project, "Machine Learning for Phylogenomics: Improving Statistical Binning Techniques for Species Tree Reconstruction." The project was mentored by Professor Joseph Rusinko.

An Honors project is a year-long independent project, usually undertaken in a student's senior year, culminating in substantial Honors theses and an oral examination by a panel of three examiners. Lu's project looked for ways of improving classification of organisms into phylogenetic trees. According to her abstract, "Phylogenetics studies the evolutionary history among a set of individuals, genes or species, which plays an important role in biology. Because past evolutionary events cannot be directly observed, statistical models are needed to estimate the phylogenetic trees. Consequently, accurate estimations of phylogenetic trees could provide effective evidence for studies in biology." In the project, Lu approached the problem by implementing "four machine learning techniques (K-Nearest Neighbors, Support Vector Machine, Random Forest and Neural Network)."

Posted 7 May 2019

Hamdan Ahmed '20 Named Newman Civic Fellow

Computer Science major Hamdan Ahmed (Hobart '20) was named Newman Civic Fellow in March. This fellowship honors students who have worked to solve problems facing their community. Hamdan is one of only 262 students to receive this honor for 2019–20.

According to the HWS web site: "The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth for students who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership and an investment in solving public problems. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also affords fellows with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities."

Posted 1 May 2019

Math Intern for 2018–19

Drew Scammell will be the math intern for the academic year 2018–2019. Drew is a 2018 graduate of Hobart College with majors in Mathematics, Physics, and Dance. He was the recipient of the Beinert Prize, which is awarded annually to a graduating Hobart or William Smith student for excellence in Mathematics.

As math intern, Drew will be available to offer help to students in Calculus and Pre-calculus courses.

Posted 28 August 2018

Faculty Changes for 2018–19

The Department welcomes two new Visiting Assistant Professors of Mathematics for the 2018–19 academic year. Professor Cristobal Lemus-Vidales, shown on the left below, received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 2017. His research interests are in the area of Enumerative Combinatorics and Mathematics Education. Professor William Simmons, shown on the right below, received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013. His research interests include mathematical logic and its applications, differential algebra, formal methods and interactive theorem proving in computer science.

In other faculty news, Professor Alden Gassert continues as a Visiting Professor of Mathematics for a second year. Professor Yan Hao is on leave for the year, and Professor Jocelyn Bell is on leave for the Fall semester. Professor Joseph Rusinko will be spending the year as Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Affairs.

Posted 9 August 2018