Annual Newsletter of the University of Wisconsin Math Department

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2004 Van Vleck Notes

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New Faculty

Two faculty members were hired this past year as part of the strategic hiring initiatives of the university to maintain our research preeminence and to develop world-class programs in emerging areas of knowledge. Julie Mitchell is part of the cluster on Molecular Biometry (joint with Mathematics and Biochemistry). Albrecht Klemm is part of the cluster on String Theory (joint with Mathematics and Physics). The hiring for this cluster is now complete; besides Dr. Klemm, it consists of Gary Shiu (100% Physics) and Akikazu Hashimoto (100% Physics).

Dr. Julie C. Mitchell was appointed as an Assistant Professor with a 50% time appointment in Mathematics (College of Letters & Sciences) and a 50% time appointment in Biochemistry (College of Agriculture & Life Sciences). Julie did her undergraduate work in Mathematics at San Jose State University and received the PhD in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998. Her PhD thesis was titled ``Hodge Decomposition and Expanding Maps on Flat Tori'' and was written under the direction of Morris Hirsch. Leaving Berkeley, she changed fields and spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at the San Diego Supercomputer Center and two more years as Assistant Principal Scientist at that Center.

Dr. Mitchell's research centers on one of the major problems in Molecular Biology: the identification of protein-protein interaction based on the structures of the individual proteins. Two highlights of her work and accomplishments are:

Fast Atomic Density Evaluator (FADE) - a program to calculate molecular shape and shape complementarity. The program uses Fast Fourier Transforms to compute local atomic density, and is widely used. In fact, since June 2001, FADE has been downloaded by almost 500 users from 30 different countries.

Docking Mesh Evaluator (DoME) - a program for molecular docking of proteins and other macromolecules. This method uses adaptive mesh solutions to the Poisson-Boltzmann equation to calculate interaction energies.

Julie's current research goals are to continue to develop FADE and DoME and to come full circle toward an integration of her research in computational biology and her prior work in mathematics. She plans to participate in the 2004-05 program of the Institute for Mathematics and Applications (IMA) on ``Mathematics of Materials and Macromolecules: Multiple Scales, Disorder, and Singularities.''

Dr. Mitchell brings new opportunities for cross-disciplinary training to our university. Plans include the development of a course that will be cross-listed with Mathematics and Biochemistry, thereby strengthening the ties between the two departments. While a graduate student at UC-Berkeley, Julie won the ``Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award.''

Last September, Julie gave a talk at a "virtual" conference that was simulcast to hundreds of locations around the world. She went to Fargo, North Dakota and was broadcast from their site. There were a number of different "nodes" where people gave their talks, and the audience from one node could ask questions in real time of speakers broadcasting from the other nodes. Julie says that there were some glitches, but overall it was really quite impressive - sort of like a video conference, but between hundreds of sites.

Dr. Albrecht Klemm was appointed as an Associate Professor with a 25% time appointment in Mathematics and a 75% time appointment in Physics. Albrecht was born in Germany and studied at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg. He completed his Habilitation from the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität in 1997. He has been a Research Fellow at the Department of Mathematics of Harvard University and at the Enrico-Fermi-Institute of the University of Chicago. In 1998-2000 he was a Heisenberg Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. From 2000 to 2003 Dr. Klemm was a Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Professor Klemm is one of the leading experts in modern mathematical physics which involves such mathematical topics as Calabi-Yau manifolds, mirror symmetry and algebraic geometry. His work has had a large impact on supersymmetric field theories and string theory. The important topics on which he has made substantial contributions include mirror symmetry, dynamics of supersymmetric gauge theories and the use of ``geometric engineering'' to embed it into string theory, and the relations of matrix models, gauge theories, and Chern-Simons theory. At Humboldt University, Albrecht has taught a variety of courses, including those on Mathematical Aspects of String Theory, Electro Dynamics, Quantum Mechanics, and Classical Mechanics.

Dr. Klemm is one of the coauthors of the American Mathematical Society book ``Mirror Symmetry'' published in 2002. He has given many lecture series including ``Mirror Symmetry at Higher Genus'' at the School on Mirror Symmetry organized by the Clay Institute for Mathematics at Harvard University in 2000, and ``Open and Closed String Mirror Symmetry'' at the Workshop on Mathematical Aspects of String Theory at the Erwin Schrödinger Institute in Vienna in 2001.

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