Tag Archives: uw

Wisconsin hires 2012

I’m happy to report on another very successful hiring year for the UW-Madison math department!  We added Dima Arinkin from UNC, who does algebraic geometry with connections to geometric Langlands; Betsy Stovall in harmonic analysis, from UCLA; our former Ph.D. student Bing Wang, returning to Madison after a postdoc at Princeton; Saverio Spagnolie, in fluid dynamics and biomechanics (who’s so organized he’s already put up a UW homepage!); and probabilist Sebastian Roch, whose job talk I enthusiastically blogged about a few weeks back.

Tagged , ,

The experts list, or: how can a journalist find out how to compute pi to high precision?

A reporter at the Wisconsin State Journal called me the other day with a really good question.  He had heard that pi had been computed to ten trillion decimal places.  And he wanted to know:  how could you possibly measure a circle that precisely?

So how did he know to call me?  Because I’m on the experts list, which UW-Madison’s public relations office set up to give journalists the opportunity to consult a Wisconsin professor on just about any subject.  Topics of current news interest get promoted to the front: on today’s front page we’ve got the professor who can talk about Kim Jong-Il, the professor who can talk about the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Arizona immigration law, and the professor who can talk about the Scott Walker recall.  (I have a feeling that last guy is going to be on the front page for a while.)

Such a simple idea, but such a good one!  The UW-Madison ought to be a resource for Wisconsin journalists — and everybody else in Wisconsin, for that matter.  Good for the PR office for making it as easy as possible to reach faculty who want to face the public and share what they know.

Oh:  here’s the article about pi in the WSJ, by Dave Tenenbaum.  I thought it came out well!

Tagged , , , , ,

Two CAREER awards at Wisconsin

I always post about our great new faculty members when we hire them, but it’s worth mentioning that they keep being great once they get here.  Of the 27 CAREER grants awarded by NSF’s Division of Mathematical Sciences this year, two went to the UW-Madison math department:   Benedek Valkó for “Random eigenvalue problems and fluctuations of large stochastic systems” and Andrej Zlatoš for “Reactive Processes and Turbulent Flows.”

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Wisconsin faculty blogs

This month’s On Wisconsin has a feature on UW faculty blogs, including this one.  I had no idea there were so many!  John Hawks, who writes bracingly about anthropology, is said to get 8,000 hits a day.  (I get…. fewer than that.)  Deborah Blum, who teaches our aspiring science journalists, stands up for science blogging at Speakeasy Science.  Economics prof Menzie Chinn co-blogs at Econbrowser; lots of good material up there right now about the state of the Wisconsin budget.  And our communications grad students have a group blog, Antenna:  great news for people like me who have no idea what our communications grad students do.  (It seems that among other things they think carefully about reality TV, an activity of which I approve.)

Use comments to promote any UW blogs the article missed!

Tagged ,

In which I am impressed by Biddy Martin’s political savvy

The University of Wisconsin, like all big public institutions, faces a future of declining state support.  And, like all big public institutions, we have to figure out how to keep doing our jobs despite that.  Chancellor Martin’s proposal is a New Badger Partnership, under which UW would be allowed to set its own tuition, as Michigan does.  The sticker price of a Wisconsin education would go up, and the extra revenue would be plowed back into financial aid in order to keep college affordable for middle-class students and their parents.

I don’t know enough about higher education policy to comment on the merits of the plan.  But it’s kind of a work of political genius, isn’t it?  To the Democrats in the state government, Martin can say “UW needs to do much, much more to give working families a chance at a world-class education, even if rich Chicago parents take a hit. ” And to the Republicans, she can say, “I came here to run this university like a business, and that means charging market rates.”

Why it’s genius:  because she’s right on both counts!  The ultimate free-market dream is differential pricing:  charging each customer the maximum they’re willing to pay.  Most businesses don’t get to examine their customers’ bank balance before naming a price.  But UW does.  If the university can be more capitalist than the capitalists, redistribute wealth downward, and reduce our dependence on legislative whim, all at the same time, why shouldn’t we?

Tagged , , , ,

What does Republican state government mean for the University of Wisconsin?

Well, we have to talk about the election a little, right?

Governor-elect Scott Walker today, telling the regents of UW not to expect any increase in allocation from the state:

“It isn’t just always about more money. It’s going to be about finding ways to take the dollar we have, finding ways with flexibility, innovation and creativity, to apply those dollars in the best way possible to meet those goals.”

Jim Doyle has been in the Capitol ever since I moved to Wisconsin.  So I really have no sense of what a Republican governor, state senate, and state assembly means for UW-Madison and the UW system.  Will the university lose whole departmentsIs embryonic stem cell research at UW kaput?  Will Walker back Chancellor Martin’s plan to charge market-rate tuition?  (The Daily Cardinal says yes.)

Give predictions in comments.  Or tell me about your own state university system, and how it fares under Republican governance.

Tagged , , , ,

Wisconsin 49, Austin Peay 3 — at the half!

Just watched a bit of this with CJ and AB.  A question for people with a more in-depth knowledge of college football than I have.  How does this help the Badgers?  Are they really in any sense “tuning up” for Michigan State or OSU by playing a team who were unable to record a first down in the 11 minutes we watched, and against whom Wisconsin can score at will?

Tagged , , , ,

Post-colonial agriculture

I didn’t know that lots of commercial crops are pollinated by giant trucked-in hives of honeybees.  I also didn’t know that these hives are being decimated by Colony Collapse Disorder, which is Science for “the hive’s empty except for the queen, there’s no dead bees around, we basically don’t know what’s going on.”  UW researchers are studying the Wisconsin cranberry crop, assessing the feasibility of going back to native pollinators like bumblebees, squash bees, and leaf-cutter bees.  I hope the work will be done in time to save CranFest!

Leaf-cutter bee

Tagged , , , , ,

Zlatos a Badger

And while we’re talking hiring, I’m happy to report that Andrej Zlatos has accepted a position at Wisconsin, joining the four newcomers I blogged about last month.

Tagged , , ,

Wisconsin math conquers Britain

This year’s winners of the Churchill Scholarship have been announced — and of the fourteen US undergraduates who will spend 2010-11 at Cambridge studying the sciences, three have studied math at UW!  Daniel Lecoanet is the first UW undergrad to win a Churchill in 30 years; he was my research assistant for two years, carrying out experiments on low-height points on P^1 over cubic fields that were essential to the production of this paper.  Two other winners, George Boxer from Princeton and Maria Monks from MIT, are former participants in Ken Ono’s star-studded REU program in number theory.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: