Department News
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Professor David Eck Retires

Professor David Eck retired at the end of 2022 from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. The Department honored him in our annual spring banquet. Seven alums were able to join us for the celebration and are pictured with Professor Eck below.

David Eck received his Ph.D. in Mathematics at Brandeis University in 1980. His thesis, Gauge-natural Bundles and Generalized Gauge Theories, was in the area of Differential Geometry. After teaching for a few years at Dartmouth College and the State University of New York at Buffalo, Eck joined the faculty of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1986.

Eck is the author of the widely used online textbook, Introduction to Programming Using Java and the online textbook, Introduction to Computer Graphics. He is the co-author of the CPSC 229 textbook, Foundations of Computation. In 2019 he was recognized by the entire HWS faculty with the Faculty Teaching Prize.

Although Eck is no longer a member of the teaching faculty, he continues as a member of the HWS community as Professor Emeritus. The remaining members of the Department honor him for his service and wish him well as he moves into the next phase of his life.

Posted 15 August 2023

Faculty Reviews and Promotions

Two faculty members in the department, Jocelyn Bell and Jennifer Biermann, passed Review II this year. Review II, also known as tenure review, generally occurs in a professor's sixth year at the Colleges. By passing this review, Professors Bell and Biermann became permanent members of the faculty and were promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor. Tenure review is one of the most important events in a faculty member's career.

Another faculty member, Jonathan Forde, passed Review III this year and was promoted from Associate Professor to Professor (or "full professor"), which is the highest faculty rank.

And Christopher Fietkiewicz passed Review I. A faculty member generally undergoes Review I in their third year at the Colleges. As part of Review I, Professor Fietkiewicz's contract is renewed for an additional three years, and he will be eligible for tenure review.

Congratulations to Jocelyn, Jennifer, Jon, and Chris!

Posted 27 May 2022

Math Intern and Teaching Fellows

The Math Intern for the academic year 2021–22 is Connor Parrow. The Math Intern offers help to students in introductory and intermediate level math courses. Connor is a 2021 graduate of William Smith College who majored in mathematics. She also had a second major in biology. Connor was awarded the Robert L. Beinert Prize, which is given to a Hobart and William Smith Colleges senior for excellence in Mathematics.

Help is also available from Teaching Fellows — current students who can provide assistance in introductory courses.

The Mathematics Teaching Fellows for the Fall 2021 semester include math majors Aarushi Agarwal, Colleen Boucher, Meryem Boumalak, Jonathan Garcia, and David Corrales Marco. Allie Low, who graduated last year but is continuing at HWS in the Masters program in Education, is also working as a Teaching Fellow.

And for Computer Science, the Teaching Fellows for the Fall are computer science majors Kidus Ayele, Lindsey Crowell, Taylor Muenzberg, Nick Plants, Reagan Wolf, and Alex Zaykowski.

Posted 26 September 2021

Summer REU Students Win Awards

For the third time, the Department hosted a Natural Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Mathematics in the summer of 2021. Ten students came from colleges and universities around the country to live and work on our campus for nine weeks. The students experienced researching closely with a faculty member and a team of peers, practiced and honed their mathematical writing and presenting skills, participated in a colloquium series of invited speakers, and traveled to graduate schools (Cornell and the Rochester Institute of Technology) to learn about specific programs and the graduate experience in mathematics more generally. This summer the students worked with Prof. Jennifer Biermann in algebraic combinatorics, Prof. Jonathan Forde in mathematical virology, Prof. Yan Hao in neuron networks, and Prof. Erika L.C. King in graph theory.

At the end of the nine weeks, the students remained on campus to attend the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) conference MathFest, which was held virtually. Each of the four research groups gave a virtual talk. Their talks were among nearly one hundred undergraduate talks at the conference. Both Prof. Hao and Prof. Biermann’s groups won MAA Outstanding Student Paper Session Presentation Awards, and Prof. Forde’s group won The Andersen Prize, awarded in memory of Janet Andersen by the Special Interest Group of the MAA for Mathematical and Computational Biology, and recognizing an outstanding presentation and work in areas related to mathematical biology.

Pictured here are Professors Biermann, Forde, King, and Hao, in the front row, with their students at their end-of-the-program celebration at Seneca Lake.

Posted 31 August 2021


It is just over a year since the pandemic forced the Colleges to switch to fully remote learning in the middle of the Spring 2020 semester. It has been a long and in many ways difficult year. A lot has happened, but no news about the 2020–21 academic year has made it onto this web site.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, like the rest of the Colleges, has been offering a mix of in-person, remote, and hybrid courses this year. With no Winter Break or Spring Break, the semesters have seemed long, and many of us — students and faculty alike — are feeling at least a little burnt out. However, we are encouraged by the rollout of Covid vaccines, and we hope that things will be mostly back to normal next Fall.

The department was joined this year by a new Visiting Professor of Computer Science, Hanqing Hu. Professors Alden Gassert and William Simmons continued as visiting professors (Professor Simmons for the Fall semester only). Professors Gassert and Hu will return as visiting professors next year. The Math Intern for the year was Hadley DeBrine WS'20.

The REU that was canceled last summer will go forward this year. Unfortunately, both the Department's Fall picnic and its Spring dinner were canceled this year, but we look forward to resuming both events next year.

Posted 4 April 2021

Department Student Prizes, 2020

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science selects students to receive a variety of academic prizes. Full descriptions of the prizes and lists of past recipients can be found on the department's Prize Page. Here is the list of recipients for 2020:
  • The Robert Beinert Prize, awarded to a a graduating Senior for excellence in Mathematics, to Hugh (Nick) Mckenny and Kaitlyn Geraghty.
  • The John S. Klein Prize, awarded to a graduating Senior to recognize excellence in Computer Science, to Max Brodheim.
  • The Catherine Adele Rippey '35 Prize, awarded to a William Smith Senior to recognize excellence in Mathematics, to Kaitlyn Geraghty.
  • The Glenn M. Lee Prize, awarded to the Hobart Senior who has been most proficient in mathematics and athletics, to Andrew Koonz and Peter Thibodeau.
  • 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 Hugh (Nick) Mckenny, and Cody Roberts.
  • 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 Julia Bellamy, and Colleen Boucher.
  • 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 Dimosthenis Chrysochoou.

In addition to the departmental prizes, several graduating mathematics students were elected to the national honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, by the local chapter of that organization: Math major Jesse Maltese and math minors Kelsey Pierce and Angus Pratt. Nick Mckenny was elected last year as a Junior.

Posted 9 May 2020

Math REU, Summer 2020

Update: Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 REU has been canceled. However, an REU is planned for summer 20201.

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