Assistant Professor of Mathematical Biology Calistus Ngonghala is the lead author of a new study published in the journal Mathematical Biosciences that studied the efficacy of non-pharmaceutical interventions in curtailing the virus.

The researchers found that widespread use of highly effective surgical facemasks in the public could wipe out the virus, while the use of less-effective cloth masks alone could significantly reduce, but not eliminate, the impact of the pandemic. The simulations showed even better results when extensive mask-wearing was paired with strict social distancing.

The study was recently featured in a roundup of research highlights released by the Washington State Department of Health, which has been faced with addressing one of the worst outbreaks in the United States.

This post is excerpts from the article Model Shows How Masks and Social Distancing Could Control Coronavirus in UF CLAS News

Dr. William Severa‘s research team at Sandia National Laboratories was featured in an article entitled “One Step Closer to Deep Learning on Neuromorphic Hardware” in The Next Platform. Dr. Severa is a Senior Member of the Technical Staff in the Data-driven and Neural Computing group at Sandia  and is lead mathematician on the profiled project. The article states that  the “group of researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a tool that can cross-train standard convolutional neural networks (CNN) to a spiking neural model that can be used on neuromorphic processors.”  In the article Dr. Severa notes that “I think it’s not too long before it’s feasible to have neuromorphic hardware embedded on traditional HPC or datacenter racks.”


Prof. Andrew Vince together with his coauthor Michael Barnsley were recipients of a 2018 Mathematics Association of America  Paul R. Halmos – Lester R. Ford Award for their paper “Self-Similar Polygonal Tiling” . The Paul R. Halmos-Lester R. Ford Awards recognize authors of articles of expository excellence published in The American Mathematical Monthly.

The award citation read in part:  Many mathematicians are familiar with the magical beauty of Penrose tilings. These famous aperiodic tilings of the plane involve two primitive shapes: the “kite” and the “dart.” They are non-local in the sense that one cannot distinguish between the uncountably many distinct Penrose tilings based upon examining any finite region of the plane. What about similar tilings that involve only one primitive shape? This fantastic article investigates the fascinating possibilities. It begins with a careful study of the tilings that arise from the “Golden Bee,” an unusual six-sided polygon closely related to the Golden Ratio. The authors then proceed to a general construction of self-similar polygonal tilings. Remarkably, many of their polygons are irregular in appearance and some are not even convex. Nevertheless, they still manage to tile the plane in startling and unusual ways. Many examples are studied, each of which is accompanied by dazzling full-color artwork.

It is a pleasure for the Mathematics Department at the University of Florida to welcome 13 new members of our department this Fall hired as part of the University of Florida’s Faculty 500 initiative. Our new Assistant Professors are Dana Bartosova (Logic), Luca Fabrizio Di Cerbo (Geometry), Arnaud Marsiglietti (Probability), James Pascoe (Analysis), Sara Pollock (Numerical Analysis), and Cheng Yu (Partial Differential Equations). Our new Lecturers are Amy Grady, Ian Manly, Melissa Shabazz, Corey Stone and Alex York. The new Visiting Assistant Professors are Ethan McCarthy (Logic) and Ryan Nikin-Beers (Biomathematics).

Our graduate alumnus, Dr. Jia-Jie Zhu, has recently been awarded the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, one of Europe’s most prestigious grant awards for junior scientists. Jia-Jie received doctoral training with Prof. William Hager and is currently a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute in Tuebingen where he working on a project in reinforcement learning (RL) and optimal control, focusing on the scalability and data efficiency in robotic control applications. A profile with more details appears on the Max Planck news pages.

The National Science Foundation, in partnership with the Simons Foundation, has launched four new centers to bring mathematical perspectives to the biological search for the ‘Rules of Life’ — the underlying principles that govern how life functions. UF Mathematics Professor Peter Bubenik is one of 14 researchers in the $10M NSF-Simons Southeast Center for Mathematics and Biology. Together with Hang Lu, a biological engineer at Georgia Tech, he will use topological data analysis to summarize morphological changes in order to understand the genetic basis of phenotype. Announcements appear on the news pages of Georgia Tech, the Simons Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Florida.

Dr. Aziza Jefferson, who received her PhD under Prof. Vatter in 2015, has been featured in an article in the National Security Agencies news. While a UF grad student she was an intern in the NSA’s Summer Program for Operations Research Technology (SPORT). “Once in the internship I decided to return full time because I found that I could truly help other people by solving interesting problems. I am not only able to use my mathematical skills, but engage my interests in other fields as well.”

A recent article by Assistant Professor Ngonghala on the ecology of rural poverty has been featured in several major science news outlets. His paper, entitled “General ecological models for human subsistence, health and poverty”, is discussed in detail in the on-line versions of both Science and Nature, two of the most prominent scientific journals. For the non-experts there is also excellent profiles in the UF News and Ytori Magazine.