In July and August we welcomed 38 new TAs, from all around the world. Eight among these were more advanced students already working with mathematicians who are joining our faculty this year. As usual, the international TAs arrived first for the program conducted by the English as Second Language Department that helps orient them in the ambient language and culture. The ESL people also assess communication skills, in addition to English fluency, and make recommendations about readiness to work in a classroom.
After the ESL orientation, the School of Mathematics conducted its own orientation, introducing students to the mundane but important facts that they'll need in order to function in the School of Mathematics, and having videotaped practice sessions in which they presented material as a TA would. Several senior TAs (Dan Drake, Ryan Berndt, Gabe Soto, John Hall, and Upali Karunathilake) assisted, lending their insights and perspectives. Play-acting scripted and acted by the grad students made it all more memorable.
The Written Preliminary Ph.D. exams were given the week before classes, and as expected several students made progress toward completion of this requirement. Apart from making progress toward the Ph.D., TAs also get a pay raise for completion of this requirement. Diane Trager, the graduate secretary, organized things for the School of Mathematics picnic. She continues to learn the many details and conventions that play a role in the graduate program.
The Graduate Studies Committee awarded the Thesis Prize to Dr. Mireille (Mimi) Boutin for her thesis "On Invariants of Lie Group Actions and their Application to some Equivalence Problems." She worked under the supervision of Peter Olver, and is now at Brown University working with David Mumford.
In addition to Mimi Boutin, students who finished Ph.D.'s
this year were (the institution in parentheses indicates the current position):
Paul Castillo (advisor Bernardo Cockburn), "Local Discontinuous Galerkin Methods for Convection-Diffusion and Elliptic Problems," (Lawrence Livermore National Lab)
In addition, the following students graduated from the Master's
Elisa Ferretti (advisor Mikhail Safonov), August 2000
In closing, we have asked two of our graduating Ph.D. students to tell us briefly about their student experiences here. Their comments follow.
Professor Paul Garrett, Director of Graduate Studies
I have many good memories from the time I spent in Minnesota. When I arrived in 1996, the math department was full of students coming from all over the world and with very different backgrounds. We taught each other English, we wrote our homework together, we helped each other for the preliminary exams, we practiced giving talks together and we graded late through the night at the same table. The strong bond we built over the years even manifested itself when we applied for jobs, sharing files, information and tips. As you can imagine, our application material looked suspiciously similar! But we eventually had the joy to see each of us get a great offer and that is probably the best proof of the high quality of this department.
I started my studies in 1995 and earned my degree in 2001. My advisor was R. McGehee. I am very grateful that I had the chance to learn from excellent teachers at the U of MN. I was also lucky to teach the whole spectrum of classes offered to undergrads, from College Algebra to Honors classes and UMTYMP. I think the experience I acquired helped me to get my current position. I will always remember the non-mathematical times, too: it was great to get to know my professors during the picnics and to get together with my friends during the soccer games of the math department's team, the Eagles. I will always look forward to going back to the University to meet all my friends again.