TOP MATHEMATICIAN TO HEAD UIC DEPARTMENT
Jerry Bona, one of the nation's most respected experts in the field of applied mathematics, has been selected to head the department of mathematics, statistics and computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, pending approval by the university's board of trustees.
"Bona's broad knowledge of mathematics with particular interests in computational applied mathematics and partial differential equations will be crucial for the growth of UIC's department," said John Baldwin, acting department head. "He is also very active in mathematics education and is one of the founders of the Mathematicians and Educators Reform Network. There is an increasing emphasis in the mathematics community on outreach via interdisciplinary research and mathematics education. He is exceptionally qualified to lead UIC in these directions."
"Bona knows the department and has an excellent understanding of the challenges and opportunities that both it and the field of mathematics in general face," said Stanley Fish, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "He is one of the few mathematicians with the breadth to lead a department as diverse as UIC's. He will raise its profile and visibility as no one else could."
"This is a very good department," said Bona. "Moreover, it is the broadest department in North America. No other major university mathematics department tries to cover as much of the intellectual waterfront as UIC. I was on a review committee of this department about a decade ago. The committee was just amazed everyone on the department's faculty not only had cordial relations but supported common goals despite the differences in culture among applied mathematics, statistics, mathematics education, computer science and core mathematics."
Bona plans to maintain and enhance the research and education efforts in the department by selective hiring, with a focus on younger faculty. "This is a distinguished department, but a rather old one." He quickly joked, "hiring me didn't help push down the average age."
Among other specific goals, Bona hopes the department will become an even better resource for Chicago schools. He hopes to improve interaction with mathematics departments at other Chicago-area universities and start a visitors program that will bring world-renowned mathematicians to UIC for lectures and meetings with faculty and students.
"We're already gearing up to start that program," Bona said. "It's good for all concerned and increases the department's visibility in the academic world. I've run programs like this before. They can be very effective."
Bona comes to UIC with a wealth of professional experience. His most recent appointment was at the University of Texas at Austin where he was a mathematics professor and first chairman of the Texas Institute for Computational and Applied Mathematics. Prior to his Texas appointment, Bona was chairman of the mathematics department at Pennsylvania State University, and before that, a professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago. Bona was also a research fellow in fluid mechanics at the University of Essex in England.
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Bona earned his bachelor's degree in applied mathematics and computer science at Washington University in St. Louis. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University, where he was both a National Science Foundation and Woodrow Wilson fellow.
Presently serving on the editorial boards of 21 academic journals and publications, Bona has published widely, in addition to presenting talks and lectures at numerous professional conferences. He has served on advisory boards and committees of universities and government organizations such as the National Science Foundation, acted as a visiting professor and researcher at institutes of higher education around the world and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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