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Letter from the Chair 2019

Ben RichertSince this is my first newsletter as department chair, let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Ben Richert, and I came to Cal Poly in 2003. In 2011 I became the undergraduate coordinator for the department and worked closely with the two previous chairs. I can say without reservation that I inherited a well-functioning department with a great reputation on campus from my predecessor, Joe Borzellino. Joe has recently taken on a new and much-needed role on campus as the director of enrollment management. 

There is quite a bit of good news to share. First, the $110 million gift from William and Linda Frost continues to benefit the department. We support student-faculty research for 13 math students during the academic year. Baseball analytics, the Witt Ring, the Riemann Sphere and machine learning are among their research topics. This summer will see an additional 20 projects led by nine faculty advisors. These are unique opportunities for Cal Poly undergraduates to develop skills that prepare them to enter industry, graduate school or a credential program. And it’s just good clean fun!  

There is also exciting news concerning our graduate program. Students earning a master’s in mathematics from Cal Poly have been successful applying to prestigious doctoral programs or attaining employment at community colleges. We plan to strengthen the path from our degree to positions in industry by adding the option of an applied math specialization. 

Our vision involves expanding the applied coursework and developing internship partners. To help with the staffing side of these goals we recently conducted a fantastically successful search, and we are happy to announce that two new tenure-track colleagues in applied mathematics will join us next fall, Elena Dimitrova and Stathis Charalampidis. Watch this space for official introductions upon their arrival.  

Finally, let me offer one observation from a newbie. Like the rest of the faculty, I was aware that much of what the department is able to accomplish is due to donations. With the vantage point provided by my new position, however, I am astounded and humbled by the generosity of our donors. On behalf of the faculty and students, let me again offer our sincerest thanks for helping the Mathematics Department meet its critical goals.  

Please do keep in touch — we love to hear news, especially in person. If you're in town, please drop by the office to say hello.

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