BGSU Department of Mathematics and Statistics Newsletter

Message from the Chair

Hanfeng ChenThe year of 2018-2019 was a great year for BGSU in many senses. First of all, in Fall 2018 the university welcomed the strongest freshmen and maintained the high retention rate of 79%. In January 2019, we welcomed our new Provost Joe Whitehead. He and the university made many administrative changes during the 2018-19 academic year. Starting in Fall 2018, BGSU made the conversion from a 16-week semester to a 15-week semester for Fall and Spring semesters with an addition of the 4-week Winter session in January. While the change imposes challenges on implementation of the curricula that were set based on 16-week semesters, the shorter semesters allow students to participate in more summer and winter intersessions, which can improve their time to degree, or add experiential learning opportunities such as internships and study abroad. The shorter semesters also give faculty two more weeks to do research and offer more flexibility to do scholarly activities. Also, in Fall 2018, BGSU began implementing the university-wide online evaluation for teaching and learning. As a result, the department no longer collects student teaching evaluations for teaching. 
What’s new with the department? First of all, congratulations to Xiangdong Xie for promotion to Professor and to Debra Trace for promotion to Lecturer. James Albert was awarded the Distinguished University Professor. Alexander Izzo was awarded a major NSF research grant. In Fall 2018, we welcomed the new faculty member Dr. Xiaofen Zhang. 
Following the national trend and by the state’s requirement, our department has created a new course Math 1190 (Quantitative Reasoning). Central to the curriculum of the QR is the application of basic math skills to the analysis and interpretation in the context of a discipline or an interdisciplinary problem to draw conclusions that are relevant to students in their daily lives. As an addition to the two existing math pathways (college algebra and introductory statistics), the QR gives non-STEM students a new math pathway and provides them additional support to succeed in the classroom and life. We are offering more than 10 pilot sections of the QR course in Fall 2019 and will formally offer it in Spring 2020. 
For the 2019-20 academic year, we have welcomed two new Assistant Professors in August: Dr. Benjamin Ward (algebra) and Dr. Umar Islambekov (data science). We are proud of what we have done, where we are heading, and how we are equipped with our brilliant students succeeding in their programs, our dedicated faculty and staff, and distinguished alumni. I thank all of you for devotion to the department and your contributions to our successes, and I thank each of you for your strong support during the past four years. I look forward to continuing working together, under the new chair Dr. Junfeng Shang, to move the department forward with our mission.
Dr. Hanfeng Chen, Professor and Chair (2018-19)
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
David O’Brien
BGSU Board of Trustee member David O’Brien ’89 (left) endowed a math professorship to honor his father, Dr. Thomas V. O’Brien(right), who taught at BGSU for 30 years.

O'Brien Professorship: The product of lessons learned at BGSU

It was more than 45 years ago that a Bowling Green State University freshman walked into calculus class in his first fall term on campus, and sat down to listen to an instructor whose knowledge, delivery and zest for the subject would leave a lasting impression on the young student.

Dr. Thomas O’Brien presented mathematics in an interesting, oftentimes exciting, and always passionate manner, and that unique approach had considerable staying power with Rob Armstrong, who would go on to become a 1977 graduate with a degree in accounting.

“An excellent instructor to us silly freshmen coming in,” is how Armstrong characterized his impression of Dr. O’Brien. “Patient, mild-mannered and really able to connect. I remember his smile because it was not a big smile and it arrived slowly when it came. He and I got along very well.”

Read more about Professor David O'Brien

Jim Albert students

Jim Albert named 'Distinguished University Professor

In recognition of a lifetime of contributions to his discipline and to Bowling Green State University, the BGSU Board of Trustees conferred the title of Distinguished University Professor on Dr. James Albert. He was also honored at the 2018 Faculty Excellence Awards on April 9.

Read more about Dr. James Albert

James Bailey

James Bailey '67 honored with a doctor of humane letters

James Bailey (B.S., Mathematics, 1967) was presented an honorary doctor of humane letters at Bowling Green State University’s commencement May 5, 2018 at the Stroh Center. 

 Read more about James Bailey

Faculty News

Beth Burns, senior lecturer, retired in 2018 after 16 years of service at BGSU Mathematics and Statistics and more than 30 years of service in teaching mathematics. Beth’s son Christian Burns was a member of our first cohort of undergraduate Data Science majors, graduating in December 2018.

Retiree News

Retiree Reunion was held the weekend of September 14, 2018. Dr. Edsel Pena returned to campus to present a colloquium talk. Additionally, the group enjoyed a luncheon at the University House, a golf cart tour of campus and dinner at Sam B’s.



Tom Hern
Tom Hern

By Dr. James Albert, Distinguished University Professor

Tom Hern passed away on May 30, 2019. Tom spent his entire academic career as a full-time professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, retiring after 29 years in 1998. He was noted as a great teacher, receiving awards from Kappa Mu Epsilon, the mathematics honorary, and was nominated four times for the Master Teacher Award. He published many articles in the College Mathematics Journal and the MAA Notes Series and was a regular presenter at meetings of the Ohio Section of the Mathematics Association of America (MAA).

I got to know Tom immediately on my arrival in the math-stat department in 1979. He was the Assistant Chair and also my next-door office neighbor on the 4th floor of the Math-Science building. I was pretty naive as a new assistant professor in the department and Tom helped me understand academic life. Since we shared similar interests in probability, statistics, computing, and graphics, Tom was a great friend to talk with and he always had time to chat about anything that was on my mind. A department really benefited from Tom who was effective in promoting accomplishments and encouraging the faculty who were starting their academic careers.

Tom really had a hands-on approach on how he worked on department responsibilities. In the early days of personal computing, the department had to manage the allocation of computers and Tom, as head of the department's computing committee, really made sure that the newer, faster computers were given to the faculty who really needed them. 

Tom loved teaching and was a wonderful teacher as documented by all of the student testimonials. John Zimmerman, former student at BGSU and Mathematics Professor at W & J College, stated “All I can tell you is that he was a wonderful mathematics professor who truly cared about his students. His interest in us went well beyond what was going on in the classroom." 

His dedication to the field of mathematics was demonstrated through his leadership in the Ohio Section of the MAA. He was the primary department representative to the Ohio Section for many years and served in many leadership roles. He always contributed talks at the Section meetings. He wrote a history of the Ohio MAA and was a co-developer of the Ohio Masters of Mathematics on-line collection of biographies. Even in the later years, Tom always contacted me with corrections to the department web pages on the history of the department. 

I miss Tom greatly, both as a great friend of the department who loved math and really cared about people, and also as a personal friend. He was a great model for how we should participate and serve members of the department.

Lou Graue

Louis Charles Graue passed away in November 2018. He was born Dec. 23, 1923 in Louisiana, Missouri and raised in Mexico, Missouri.

During high school, he earned the nickname “Leaping Louie” as he towered over the other football and basketball players. He attended Central College in Fayette, Missouri. When World War II started, he joined the Navy and attended Midshipmen school at Columbia University. He attended the Navy Optical School at Mare Island, California. He was an optical officer on the USS Chicago and later a gunnery officer on the aircraft carrier USS Cowpens. After the end of the war, he attended the University of Chicago where he earned a B.S. in 1947 and M.S. in 1948 in mathematics. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1950 and wrote a thesis in Differential Geometry. It was at Indiana University that he met and married Patricia. 

After getting married, his first teaching job was as an instructor at California State University in Sacramento, California. He was their first math instructor and helped design the math curriculum. He established the North California Math Competition to attract good math students to the new school. 

Later he became one of the graders of the Putnam Mathematics Competition and published the solutions in the American Mathematical Monthly. 

He also began a serious study to find out how homing pigeons navigate and obtained National Science Foundation and Office of Naval Research contracts to do research on the problem. Over the years, Graue published three major articles on his research and has been cited in more that 50 publications about related research. His work caught the attention of Walter Cronkite’s “20th Century” television show and a segment was filmed and aired in 1967. 

Prior to joining the BGSU faculty as an associate professor of mathematics in 1959, Graue taught for three years at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He and his family moved to Bowling Green and built a house on Campbell Hill Road where they resided until 1998. 

In 1965, the department elected Graue as chairman. The most difficult task was finding several new faculty members each year. At that time, IBM announced that they would be able to hire all the new Ph.D. graduates in mathematics which made it difficult to attract mathematicians to teach at universities. 

The department succeeded in adding staff and had grown so large that they housed part of the faculty in the new Education Building and the new Life Sciences Building. With Graue’s vision, the department was allowed to participate in planning for a new building. 

When Graue was chairman of the Liberal Arts Council, he proposed that the council approve the establishment of a department of computer science. At the time, he predicted that this would be a large popular program and suggested that it was important to have the computer talent on campus. 

He retired from the University in 1991. He and his wife Patricia moved to southern Florida in 1998 where they enjoyed retirement. She died in September 2013. Survivors include their children Geoff Graue, Nancy Bodem and David Graue, five grandchildren, Pat’s brother Richard, and Lou’s brother Robert.

Fred Leetch

J. Frederick Leetch II, 89, of Bowling Green, Ohio, passed away on October 9, 2018.

He was born to Anna (Kemper) Leetch and James Frederick Leetch I, Sept. 27, 1929, in Butler, Pennsylvania. He graduated with a B.S. from Grove City College, M.S. in mathematics and Ph.D. in mathematics and statistics from Ohio State University (1961).

He married Nancy Alice Wikoff (Hazel Annetta Bidlack and Charles Henry Wikoff) in 1958 in Columbus, Ohio. In 1961, they moved to Bowling Green, where Fred taught mathematics and statistics and retired as Professor Emeritus in 1990.

He served as a Naval Officer on both a destroyer and an aircraft carrier during the Korean War and retired as a Captain after 30 years. After retirement from teaching, he worked at True Value Hardware Store, was a Master Gardener and woodworker.

A gentle and loving man with a wry sense of humor, he is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughters Alice Annette Leetch (Brett Oberholzer), Cincinnati, and Elaine Marie Leetch Albright, Bowling Green; and grandchildren, Celia Leetch Oberholzer, Columbus; Daria Leetch Oberholzer, Cincinnati; Jacob Allen Albright, Hartville; Kacy Marie Albright, Brunswick; and Jessie Lynn Albright, Bowling Green.

Fred and Nancy traveled to Paris, France for a barge trip on the Seine and took part in many Elderhostel trips together. A “Renaissance Man,” Fred loved making wooden toys for his grandchildren when they were young and made musical instruments from gourds, which he grew, dried and decorated.

Fred was a musician able to play many instruments and played the piano by ear. He taught youth sailing and built sailboats for the Optimist Club and loved sailing at Sand Lake, Michigan, where the family had a summer house. He took printmaking classes at BGSU, always donated blood and was an avid squash player. He also entered the Wood County Fair in many different categories and helped in the woodworking booth there.

Papathanasiou paper published

Dimitris Papathanasiou (Ph.D., Mathematics 2017) Dimitri’s doctoral supervisor, Dr. Juan Bes, reports that his second paper appears published at the Journal of Functional Analysis, a highly regarded journal in analysis. His third paper has already been referred to as an important advance in the area in a paper at the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society. Papathanasiou was invited to do a postdoc in 2019 with Frederic Bayart, arguably the top researcher in his research area.


Student and Alumni News

Students earn President’s Academic Achievement Award

Data Science majors Rachel Hinton (left), Mackenzi Stump (center) and Sarah Hercules (right) received the President’s Academic Achievement Award on April 26, 2018. All three graduated May 5, 2018 with a B.S. in mathematics/data science, earning perfect 4.0 GPAs.

BGSU Math Competition winners announced

The annual BGSU Math Competition took place in March 2018, with 20 participants (10 advanced and 10 beginners). In the advanced section, winners included: first place Annaliese Keiser, second place April Heideloff, and third place Gwin Wilson.

In the beginners’ competition, winners were: first place Jacob Moll, second place Cameron Kraeger, and third place (tie) Grace Vaughn and Julia Zick. The competition was organized and students coached by Daria Filipova, Irina Franke, Alex Izzo and Mihai Staic.

Recent Ph.D. Graduates

Raju Bhusal (Ph.D., Mathematics, 2018) “Error Analysis of the Cubic Front Tracking and RKDG Method for One-Dimensional Conservation Laws,” supervised by Tong Sun.

Todd Romutis (Ph.D., Mathematics, 2018) “Numerical Smoothness and Error Analysis,” supervised by Tong Sun.

Paul Schrader (Ph.D., Mathematics, 2018) “Hom-Tensor Categories,” supervised by Mihai Staic.

Amani Alghamdi (Ph.D., Mathematics, 2018) “Study of Generalized Lomax Distribution and Change Point Problem,” supervised by Wei Ning and Arjun Gupta.

Lulah Alnaii (Ph.D., Mathematics, 2018) “Generalized Estimating Equations for Mixed Models,” supervised by Hanfeng Chen.

John Haman (Ph.D., Statistics, 2018) “The Energy Goodness-of-Fit Test and E-M Type Estimator for Asymmetric Laplace Distributions,” supervised by Maria Rizzo

Yehan Ma (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Simultaneous Inference for Survival Data,” supervised by John Chen.

Eduardo Schneider (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Exact Calculations for the Lagrangian Velocity,” supervised by Craig Zirbel.

Kevin Stoll (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Methodologies for Missing Data with Range Regressions,” supervised by John Chen.

Jordan Bounds (Ph.D., Mathematics, 2019) “On the Quasi-Isometric Rigidity of a Class of Right-Angled Coxeter Groups,” supervised by Xiangdong Xie.

Samuel Carolus (Ph.D., Mathematics, 2019) “Properties of Higher Order Hochschild Cohomology,” supervised by Mihai Staic.

Wentao Ge (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Bootstrap-adjusted Quasi-likelihood Information Criteria for Mixed Model Selection,” supervised by Junfeng Shang.

Samuel Hokamp (Ph.D., Mathematics, 2019) “Weak*-Closed Unitarily and Moebius Invariant Spaces of Bounded Measurable Functions on a Sphere,” supervised by Alexander Izzo.

Yi-Ching Lee (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “An Approach to Estimation and Selection in Linear Mixed Models with Missing Data,” supervised by Junfeng Shang.

Logan Opperman (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Sequential Inference and Nonparametric Goodness-of-Fit Tests for Certain Types of Skewed Distributions,” supervised by Wei Ning.

Afroza Polin (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Simultaneous Inference for High Dimensional and Correlated Data,” supervised by John Chen.

James Roll (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Inferring RNA 3D Motifs from Sequence,” supervised by Craig Zirbel and Paul Morris.

Yaa Wonkye (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Innovations of Random Forests for Longitudinal Data,” supervised by John Chen.

Mohamed Yousef (Ph.D., Statistics, 2019) “Two-Stage SCAD LASSO for Linear Mixed Model Selection,” supervised by Junfeng Shang.

Updated: 12/17/2021 09:04AM