In Memoriam: Mark Naigles


Mark Naigles

We are very saddened to have to report that our colleague Mark Naigles passed away yesterday, December 30, 2021. The news comes as a great shock to those of us who have been working with him closely and for all who have known him for years. Mark taught for the Math Department as adjunct faculty for many years and this year came on board as full-time faculty.

Mark was known for his passion for teaching and for the warmth of his personality. Many of us will have memories to share, which we plan to post on our website. From Department Head Ambar Sengupta: “I had extensive conversations with Mark well before coming to UConn and he was kind enough to send me a lot of helpful information about the area. Earlier this month I ran into Mark in a near-empty Monteith building, and we had a pleasant chat. He was thinking of writing a song for an event we talked about.”

Mark, you will be deeply missed!

A memorial service open to all (masks required) will be held for Mark on Sunday, January 2nd, 1pm, at UConn Hillel (54 North Eagleville Road).

In Memoriam: Joe McKenna

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Emeritus Patrick Joseph McKenna. Joe passed away December 29, 2021. It was a shock for those of us who have been in touch with him recently. He attended a grad panel in the department on November 19th and shared some advice for our students.

Joe received his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1976. After appointments at the University of Wyoming and at the University of Florida, he joined UConn in 1986 as full Professor and served on our faculty until 2018. Joe’s research was mostly in the area of partial differential equations. MathSciNet lists 115 publications by Joe, with over 2,500 citations. At UConn he advised 14 PhD students. He was a popular teacher and won the MAA Northeastern Section Teaching Award in 2004. Over the years he influenced many students. Talitha Washington’s article in the Notices of the AMS has a photo of Joe and some of her memories of the department from her time here.

We are grateful to have known Joe and to have had the chance of enjoying his company. His memory will be with all who came to know him. A memorial service might take place in the future when there are no pandemic restrictions.

In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Murray Wachman

Murray Wachman

Professor Emeritus Murray Wachman passed away on September 29, 2021, after a serious illness of several weeks duration. His funeral was held on October 1 at 9 a.m. at the Weinstein Mortuary at 640 Farmington Avenue in Hartford. He was 90 years old.

Murray was born on February 1, 1931 in Tel Aviv which then lay in the (League of Nations) Mandate of Palestine administered by Great Britain. In 1941, his family moved to Brooklyn, New York. As an undergrad, he studied at Brooklyn College where he received his B.A. in 1953. Like most American men of that era, he served in the Army from 1953 till 1955.

Murray did his graduate work at the Mathematics Institute of New York University. The Institute had a defining presence in American applied mathematics and welcomed many refugee mathematicians before and after the Second World War. It was renamed for its founder and is now called the Courant Institute of the Mathematical Sciences.

His masters degree was granted in 1956. He then worked as a mathematical analyst and programmer at Republic Aircraft from 1957 to 1959 and, from 1959 to 1967, as a group leader in the General Electric Space Science Laboratory. Those industrial jobs overlapped with his doctoral study.

Murray received his doctorate in 1961. His doctoral supervisor was Fritz John who had been a student of Courant in Göttingen. Murray’s research there concerned the isolated non-removable (essential) singularities of linear elliptic partial differential equations (PDEs). He then moved to applications in celestial mechanics, gas mechanics and, later, biological systems. Along the way, he worked on numeric solutions of PDEs and generalized series solutions of elliptic PDEs in finite dimensions. He described his area of interest as generalized complex variables.

At UConn, Murray played a key role in introducing applied mathematics as a significant research area in the mathematics department. He supervised the graduate program during the period when doctoral study matured from one producing an occasional graduate to one much like the one we now have. He recognized the opportunity provided by the influx, into American academia, of students from China whose studies had been interrupted by the Cultural Revolution; that period is often dated as occurring from 1966 till 1976.

Murray was a warm, caring colleague and friend. He will be missed by those of us who were fortunate enough to know him.

Welcoming New Students and New Faculty


Welcome back, Huskies!

Welcome to the Fall 2021 semester, and to a new academic year!

This semester, we are joined by a class of 10 new PhD students and 10 new MS students!

We are very pleased to welcome new faculty joining our ranks! These include Julia Bernatska (Lecturer), Andreas Malmendier (Associate Professor), and Andrew Niedzielski (Lecturer, Actuarial Science).

We wish everyone a happy, safe, and productive semester!

Professor Cardetti Receives NSF Grant to Help Develop Mathematics Teacher Leaders for Connecticut


Professor Fabiana Cardetti has been awarded an NSF grant to support the project Developing Mathematics Teacher Leaders for Connecticut Alliance School Districts with Co-PIs Megan Staples and Gladis Kersaint from the Neag School of Education and in partnership with the State Department of Education. The project aims to serve the national interest by developing highly effective mathematics teacher leaders who can address the mathematics-specific instructional needs of high-needs and low-performing school districts in Connecticut. The 5-year mathematics leadership development program is bolstered by, and advances, the growing body of research on teacher leadership and its impact on supporting equitable outcomes in mathematics education.

Image caption: Fabian Cardetti.