Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
  1. Home
  2. News
  3. Simon’s Rock Math Professor Dr. Tim Susse Awarded National Science Foundation Grant for ‘Mathinars’ and Group Theory Research

Simon’s Rock Math Professor Dr. Tim Susse Awarded National Science Foundation Grant for ‘Mathinars’ and Group Theory Research

by Fiona Scruggs

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Tim Susse is dynamically advancing the study of mathematics at Simon’s Rock and across the broader Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) Network through the math seminar programs, or rather Mathinars. The Mathinars at Simon’s Rock/BHSEC are supported by the National Science Foundation through the Launching Early-Career Academic Pathways in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (LEAPS-MPS) grant, which is a two-year grant. The LEAPS-MPS grant (DMS-2137608) funds the mathinars and guest speakers, as well as Dr. Susse’s research, travel, and an undergraduate internship for two summers.

The Mathinars first began remotely at Simon’s Rock last year, along with the leadership of Ken Knox, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Associate Dean of Studies for the Sophomore Year and Upper College. It was shortly thereafter that Dr. Susse applied for the National Science Foundation grant to expand the audiences of the seminars. Since the grant supports guest speakers, it provides the opportunity for the speakers to travel to Simon’s Rock and participate in person.

An important initiative of the grant is broadening participation among underrepresented groups in math, especially BIPOC and Latinx students. To foster and support this, Dr. Susse will facilitate a reading group for math faculty at Simon’s Rock and elsewhere in summer 2022, focusing on diversity in the classroom and participation among underserved groups. Dr. Susse is also working to further enhance the research environment at Simon’s Rock and is currently leading a junior STEM faculty writing group, which meets weekly.

Dr. Susse shared that it was important to “invite mathematicians to talk about their research in a way that is accessible to undergraduates and high school students to get them excited that math is more than the calculus that they’re learning in their classrooms. We want to show that math is a lively and vibrant field with really exciting people. It is also important for us that we highlight a diverse set of speakers to appeal to a diverse audience to improve visibility and representation in the field.”

The Mathinars, which cover a wide array of topics, are all live-streamed and recorded for students in the Bard High School Early College Network, as well as local high schools. Local high schools including Monument Mountain Regional High School, Lee Middle and High School, Mount Everett High School, Taconic High School, Pittsfield High School, and Lenox Memorial High School are invited to attend these seminars, which take place monthly during the spring and fall semesters.

During the fall 2021 semester, Mathinars included Felipe Ramirez from Wesleyan University, The Dynamics of Numbers; Miha E. Habič from Simon’s Rock, Hiding information in Generic Sequences; and Nancy Scherich from Brown University, Dancing with Braids. Scherich, who is also a dancer, gave a visual talk and demonstrated braid representation and how she expresses her mathematical work through dance and choreography.

Mathinars in spring 2022 have included Emma Hasson & Yolanda Zhu, students from Simon's Rock who conducted summer research, Infinite Latin Squares; Chassidy Bozeman from Mount Holyoke, Maximum Nullity, Zero Forcing, and Power Domination; Angela Robinson from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, The Integer Factorization and Discrete Logarithm Problems which focused on her work in cryptography; and coming up on May 5, 2022, Joy Wang from Union College, whose previous work has focused on applying math in social justice.

Recordings of past Mathinars are available on the SR/BHSEC Seminar Recordings playlist on YouTube.

Dr. Susse’s research, which the NSF grant also funds, focuses on studying geometric objects and their symmetries to demonstrate a connection between geometry and algebra. As a group theorist, Dr. Susse’s work also intersects with computer science. One of his projects is working on a finite state automaton model of a computer, which is a computer with a finite amount of memory. Other projects include studying generic properties symmetry groups generated by reflections using random graph models, and studying the internal symmetries of right-angled Coxeter groups.

When sharing about the opportunities the NSF grant is creating for Simon’s Rock and Susse’s own research, he shared that it is “the most exciting thing to happen in my entire career. It’s really an honor to get it, especially since only a few receive it. It’s a huge honor to get this.”

Dr. Susse is going to Paris, France in the summer of 2022 to attend the “Hyperbolic groups and their generalizations", part of the "Groups acting on fractals, hyperbolicity and self-similarity" thematic quarter at L'institut Henri Poincaré as part of the NSF grant.