Note From the Department Chair

June 27, 2017

Members of our department at all levels – students, faculty (current and emeritus), and staff – have recently received awards and other forms of recognition that are signs of the outstanding work that happens here every day.

  • Patrick Dynes (graduating with degrees in Mathematical Sciences and Computer Engineering) won the Outstanding Senior Award in the Sciences.
  • PhD student Yan Liu received a Distinguished Student Paper Award from the International Biometric Society.
  • Associate Professor Lea Jenkins was chosen by the American Mathematical Society as the one presenter for the AMS to highlight this year at the Coalition for National Science Funding exhibition, held on May 16 at the Rayburn House Office Building across the street from the U.S. Capitol.
  • David Reynolds, accountant for Mathematical Sciences and Physics & Astronomy, earned the College of Science Outstanding Staff Member Award in May.
  • Professor emeritus Dan Warner won the 2017 Alan Schaffer Faculty Senate Service Award.

It has been a year since the last newsletter was published, so here are some other department highlights and milestones from our soon-to-end fiscal year (July 2016 – June 2017):

  • We’re in a new college (as of July 1, 2016) and the transition this year has been remarkably smooth for us because of outstanding support from the College of Science Dean’s office and also because of extra efforts from our highly capable office staff.
  • Professor emeritus Renu Laskar presented a talk for the Math Club in the Fall entitled ‘Beautiful Minds’, recounting for us the famous visitors (five Nobel Laureates, Paul Erdös, and more) who came to Clemson at the invitation of Renu and her late husband Amulya (Professor in Physics & Astronomy). A recording of Renu’s presentation is available at
  • We taught a lot of students last year in our MATH and STAT courses.   To be exact, not counting labs and independent study sections, 325 students in Summer Session II 2016, 9177 in Fall 2016, 7385 in Spring 2017, and 606 in Summer Session I 2017.
  • We graduated 10 PhD, 17 MS, and 54 undergraduate students.
  • Professor Jim Brannan retired in December. I still remember when Jim and Bill Moss picked me up at the airport for my interview in spring 1984. With Jim retired, Warren Adams and I are now the ‘old guard’ of the department, though I’ll note that Billy Bridges’ Clemson career is only about 4 months shorter than ours. Jim’s solid impact on our profession will continue, including on an international level. I hear that he will be doing some teaching in China soon.
  • With the retirements of Pam King and Glenda Pepin in December, the MOOTB/PDI2 (Math Out Of The Box/Professional Development for Integrated Inquiry) program that had been under our departmental umbrella since late 2005 has also been retired. MOOTB/PDI2, for which Dot Moss served as program director until her retirement, is a K-5 curriculum development system that has positively impacted many students in South Carolina and beyond.
  • Clemson Calculus Challenge and the AP Statistics Practice Exam, in April and May, respectively, continue to draw increasingly more and more prospective students to Clemson.   Participant numbers for CCC were 235 students from 35 schools and for the AP Stat exam, 250 students from 16 schools.
  • A new degree program, MS in Data Science & Analytics was developed this year by our department and colleagues in the Department of Management. The program received Board of Trustees approval this spring. We held a Corporate Program Launch, gathering executives from several companies for an overview and feedback that will be useful as we move forward towards welcoming the first group of students in summer 2018.
  • The University promoted three of our faculty members, effective August 2017:
    • Chris McMahan to Associate Professor (with tenure)
    • Jim Brown to Professor and
    • Xiaoqian Sun to Professor
  • We welcomed a new staff member and several faculty members at a variety of levels: visiting scholars and visiting assistant professors, postdoctoral fellows, lecturers, and assistant professors. Short bios of these people are in a separate article.
  • We have three more additions to our Clemson family: babies born to Meredith & Michael Burr, Elena Dimitrova & John Paul Cane, and Svetlana Poznanovikj & Mishko Mitkovski.

It is interesting to reflect on the many events in our department over the past year, from babies to retirements with lots of publications, grants, presentations, teaching and research in between. Some of these are described in other articles in this newsletter.  It has been one of the best years I can think of for our students, undergraduate and graduate, to find work. We normally have a couple of PhD graduates who request to stay around for a year and teach while they explore the job market. It appears that we may not have any who need temporary employment with us. Our bachelors and masters graduates are being snatched up also. A Clemson University Mathematical Sciences degree is a hot commodity.

Two final comments:

  • Points of contact for our newsletter are Sean Sather-Wagstaff, Connie McClain, Kevin Hedetniemi, and me. We appreciate it when you send along items to post – in the newsletter, on our website as featured stories, or both.   The College of Science now has a full time information director, Jim Melvin, who has significant media experience and is very willing to help get the bigger stories published.
  • To those of you who have donated to one of our Foundation accounts (e.g. by clicking on the ‘Giving’ button on our home page), here is a heartfelt Thank You. Your support helps us achieve our mission in ways that would not be possible without your generosity.

– Chris Cox, Chair