Colloquium Series 2022-2023

This Colloquium Series is sponsored by the Department of Mathematics & Statistics
For more information, contact the colloquium chair, Dr. Michael Kerckhove.


Monday 27 March

1:30 PM, Jepson Hall 109

Ovidiu Lipan, PhD

Associate Professor of Physics and Mathematics, University of Richmond

Title: The Beauty I See in the Mathematics I Use

Abstract: The theories of physics are not perfect, they approximate reality. However, the imperfection is balanced by the presence of elegance, for elegance and truth have many things in common. In this talk I will cover elegant aspects of mathematics that I use in my research. One aspect is related to the solution to Maxwell’s equation for stained glass laminae. The beauty of stained glass has captured the imagination of humans since antiquity, and we remain fascinated by the experience of light passing through stained glass. Could it be that the mathematics of this scattering problem displays an equivalent beauty? If time permits, I will cover other elegant mathematical aspects too, related to algebraic curves from devices with memory and topological numbers in present day physics.

Monday 3 April

1:30 PM, Jepson Hall 109

John Polhill, PhD

Professor of Mathematics, Bloomsburg University; 2023 Robert Edwin Gaines Professor in Mathematics

Title: A Community of Partial Difference Sets? 

Abstract: There is a well-known proverb - “Less is More.” There are many contexts, even within the field of mathematics, where this notion applies. Consider how an elegant, simple proof is nearly always preferable to one that is lengthy and technical. The talk will begin with a brief consideration of some anecdotes of community in mathematics. We will next consider the mathematical structure known as a partial difference set, which is a subset of a finite group having combinatorial properties linking them to some other well-known mathematical objects such as two-weight codes. We will learn about particular constructions of partial difference sets and see instances where it is clearly better to have more. By more in this instance we mean families of partial difference sets, partitions of groups into partial difference sets, and certain set products that will generate additional examples. But to decide whether we have any communities of partial difference sets will be left for the presentation.

Monday 17 April

4:30 PM, Jepson Hall 109 (note special time)

Honors Presentations

Past Events:

Monday 20 March

Kobi Abayomi, PhD

Professor of Statistics, Seton Hall; Senior Vice President of Data Science, Warner Music Group

Title: Optimal Content Strategies for Digital Streaming

Abstract: Digital delivery of songs has radically changed the way people enjoy music, the sort of music available for listening, and the manner by which rights holders are compensated for their contributions to songs. Generally, listeners enjoy an unlimited potpourri of sounds – uniquely free of incremental costs – which yield to listening patterns governed by affinity, boredom, & attention budget...beyond impulse or point-of-sale excitation. We argue here that this regime shift in demand availability - with the commensurate translation of revenue implications - reveals an hierarchical interactive strategy for best practices among listener segments, artist & sound curation, & market level dynamic. This research was done in collaboration with Shuya Li and Julien DeMori.

Monday 27 February


AfterMaths is a panel of alumni who majored in Mathematics or Mathematical Economics


Britney D’Oleo, Financial Analyst at Diamond Communications, LLC

Kevin Erb, Berkeley Research Group, LLC

Fiona Lynch, Sales Consultant at CareJourney IT Services and IT Consulting


Monday 13 February

Jonathan Jedwab, PhD

Professor of Mathematics, Simon Fraser University

Title: Hidden Mathematics in the Card Game SET

Abstract: We will discover some of the beautiful mathematics that underlies the popular card game “SET”, and demonstrate connections to coding theory, combinatorics, and finite geometry. SET novices and addicts are equally welcome!

Monday 06 February

Michael Kerckhove, PhD

Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Richmond

Title3D Rotations via the Sandwich Product and a Twisted Factorization in 4D (with Applications to Computer Animations)

Abstract: Are imaginary numbers real? Is the use of I = √(−𝟏) in algebraic equations made more legitimate by understanding this "impossible number" as a counterclockwise rotation through 90 degrees? The introduction of the Argand diagram in 1813 sparked a debate. By 1843 number systems in dimensions 4 and 8 had been devised, the former linked to rotations in 3-space. New numbers beget new constructions: the talk will conclude with Hopf's twisted factorization of the 3-sphere.

Monday November 7

Tim Hamilton, PhD

Associate Professor of Economics, Robins School of Business, University of Richmond 

Title: The Amenity Value of Natural Views

Abstract: A fundamental question in environmental economics is how to balance the value of economic production with that of environmental quality. Methods of nonmarket valuation have emerged to measure and quantify the value of environmental goods, including air quality, water quality, and open space. This analysis studies the value of natural views in an urban setting, incorporating machine learning methods into conventional nonmarket methods. Our analysis uses Google street view images to classify the quality of a household’s view and estimates the degree to which that view is capitalized into the price of a home. 

Monday, October 17

Susan Staples, PhD 

Associate Professor and Actuarial Program Director

Mathematics, Texas Christian University, Department of Science & Engineering

Title: Actuarial Careers and Opportunities - What is Out There and Where Do You Fit in the Picture?

Abstract: Actuaries don’t make their living consulting moldy old mortality tables, but tackle problems far beyond the outdated stereotypes of the insurance industry. The vast scope of areas utilizing risk management specialists is surprising. Careers range from building data driven models to analyze health, life, and property insurance to quantifying financial risks tied to the Social Security system, climate change, 401K plans, or cybersecurity challenges. We will provide an overview of the profession and discuss resources and practical steps for a mathematics, data science, economics, or finance major to pursue this career

Monday September 26

Anna Haensch, PhD

Senior Data Scientist

Tufts University Data Intensive Studies Center

Title: From Riemann Zeta to Big Data: A journey through mathematics and the lessons learned along the way

Abstract: I recall being an undergrad math major, knowing that math was a simultaneously fun and powerful tool, but not quite understanding how I could be a "professional mathematician," or what that even meant! Sure, math is everywhere *gestures vaguely in the direction of everywhere, * but I needed something a bit more concrete than that.  Today, I still don't know everywhere that math is, but I've found a few interesting places.  In this talk, I'm going to share some snapshots from my journey in math.  I'll show you some of the specific ways that I've enjoyed math and how I've made a career out of that enjoyment. In particular, I'm going to share how I went from being an academic number theorist studying the cobweb covered equations of antiquity to becoming a cutting-edge data scientist, often called the "sexiest job of the 21st century."  I'll leave lots of space for questions and conversation!

Wednesday 07 September

Amalia Gjerloev

UR '17, MSc, PhD student, University College London 

Title: The Mathematics of Healthcare Operations Research 

Abstract: With the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare systems have seen a huge influx of patients, a strain on hospital resources and increased pressure to operate efficiently. Cancer services have been particularly impacted: clinicians face large appointment backlogs and patients experience long waiting times between appointments. In order to inform operational decision-making and analyze what-if scenarios, queuing theory can used to simulate patient flow along the patient care pathway. In addition to the mathematics, I will discuss communications with and benefits provided to healthcare staff and clinicians. 

Monday 29 August

Summer Research Posters

Student(s), Mentor(s), Title

Anna Fortunato REU NC State: (Dr. Mette Olufsen and PhD student Justen Geddes): Understanding Heart Rate variability Using Signal Processing and Data Analysis

Mengle Hu, Simeng (Hannah) Li & Ruiyi Liu University of Richmond (Dr. Kvam): Analyzing the Statistical Effectiveness of Diagnostic Tests for COVID-19 Using the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) Curve

Eli Chancey, Vahn Imani Corrothers & Lu Liu University of Richmond (Dr. Kerckhove): Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Through the Lens of Mathematical Game Theory 

Nate Jareb, Heidi Yuan & Zhuoyuan (Young) Yao University of Richmond (Dr. Kerckhove) Cybersecurity: Noise Packet Insertion as Defense Against Man In the Middle Attacks