"Welcome to the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The departmental roots go back to the turn of the last century when it originally was the Department of Engineering Mathematics. The Department teaches thousands of students and has a major research presence in computational and physical/biological mathematics and the statistical sciences. It has 18 tenure, tenure track faculty, expanding to 20 in the next two years. In addition there are 6 full time instructors, more than 70 graduate students including approximately 40 teaching assistants, about 150 applied math majors, 100 minors and a thriving BS-MS program."

Profiles in Applied Math - Per-Gunnar Martinsson

Q: Last June, you received the honor of presenting a series of ten lectures at Dartmouth College. Do you consider this to be a milestone in your career? Why or why not?   

A: Like most researchers, there are few things I enjoy more than talking about my work, and it was fantastic to be given ten hours over the course of a week to really dig in to details and provide more context than I am usually able to.

On a deeper level, it was very gratifying to see that other people find the techniques we develop to be useful, and want to learn more. When you propose new ways of doing things, you often initially receive serious push-back, and it can take years before first some level of (grudging!) acceptance from your academic colleagues, and then broader adaptation among practitioners in different fields. I am deeply grateful to the organizers at Dartmouth College, the supporting agencies (NSF and the Conference Board on Mathematical Sciences), and the sixty participants who traveled from all over the world, for showing this level of support for our work.

Q: You hold the position of Chair of Graduate Studies. What does
this position entail?

A: One of the most important and rewarding responsibilities of this position is to serve as the academic adviser for our incoming graduate students. Until the time they choose their research adviser, I help the students develop their plans of study, navigate the various degree requirements, choose their dissertation adviser, and so on. I also coordinate the admissions process where we select a new class of graduate students each year. This is a great opportunity to meet with a broad range of very talented and interesting people interested in pursuing a graduate degree. Finally, I work with my colleagues on the department graduate committee to make sure that our curriculum and program structures serve our students well in their future careers. Applied mathematics and scientific computation evolve rapidly, and in order to ensure that our program remains one of the top in the nation, we continually revise our course offerings and degree requirements.

Q: What advice would you give to a student interested in scientific computing?

A: At the undergraduate level, I would strongly encourage this student to spend as much time as possible on the classical fields of study in math (calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, Fourier analysis, etc) and physics (mechanics, electro-magnetics, quantum physics, etc). These are mature fields that provide extraordinarily powerful and versatile tools that are useful in almost all fields of study in the sciences. In my personal experience, studying the classical material in these fields is also incredibly rewarding and inspiring from a purely intellectual point of view.

At the graduate level, there are lots of different ways to go, and I believe it is hard to give any generic advice. It really depends on what aspects of scientific computing you find the most compelling - is your interest driven by particular applications? Or are you primarily interested in high performance computing? Or in theoretical analysis of algorithms? Make sure to think these things through, attend seminars, and talk to faculty members and academic advisers to find a path that is compelling to you.

Recent Applied Math News Articles

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Jeffrey Gay, mechanical engineering major and applied math minor, won the 2015 Telemark National Championship for ski racing. This year the National Championship took place at Sunlight Mountain Resort on Sunday, March 15th. Gay grew up skiing with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club based out of the local Steamboat ski area, Howelsen Hill. He attributes much of his success in balancing his high level of ski racing with an engineering course-load to that of the Engineering Honors Program in Andrews Hall. Gay, heading into his fifth year at CU Boulder, began and will finish his CU career within the program. He attended the Championship proudly wearing an Applied Math Department hat and shirt, thus blending two of his high achievements together.

Read more about the Telemark National Championship here.



Ben Southworth, second year graduate student, has received an esteemed three-year fellowship from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in order to pursue a doctoral degree in an area of DoD interest. The fellowships are awarded to graduate students of science and engineering that have shown special aptitude for advanced training in their field. Each year only 200 fellowships are granted, and the selection process is highly competitive. The fellowship includes full payment of tuition and all mandatory fees for a school of the recipient's choosing, a monthly stipend, and medical insurance.

More information on the DoD Fellowship can be found here.


John F. Nash Jr., Math Genius Defined by a 'Beautiful Mind,' Dies at 86

By Erica Goode

John F. Nash 1928-2015


John F. Nash Jr., a mathematician who shared a Nobel Prize in 1994 for work that greatly extended the reach and power of modern economic theory and whose decades-long descent into severe mental illness and eventual recovery were the subject of a book and a 2001 film, both titled “A Beautiful Mind,” was killed, along with his wife, in a car crash on Saturday in New Jersey. He was 86.

Dr. Nash, and his wife, Alicia, 82, were in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike when the driver lost control while trying to pass another car and hit a guard rail and another vehicle, said Sgt. Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police. 

In Remembrance of Professor Emeritus John Williamson

On March 30, 2015 former CU Professor Emeritus John Alexander Williamson passed away at age eighty-two. After obtaining his Ph.D in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota and instructing at Cornell University, Williamson accepted a position with CU Boulder in 1967 and remained until his retirement in 2005. His academic work focused on probability, statistics, and mathematical biology. His many achievements include Best Paper Award from the International Genetic Epidemiology Society and high ratings from students throughout his many years teaching. The Applied Mathematics Department and Williamson's family hope to create a scholarship in the professor's name in the near future. 

Read more about the life of John Williamson here. 


To Donate to the John Williamson Memorial Fund Now Click Here.

Outstanding results from the 2015 Mathematical Contest in Modeling

Each year the Department of Applied Mathematics sponsors undergraduate teams in the international Mathematical Contest in Modeling.  The contest lasted 4 days from Feb 5-Feb 9, 2015. During this time, each team of 3 students selected one of four problems, they did the research, constructed mathematical and then numerical models, and wrote a complete report. The modeling contest is essentially a mini-research project done in just 96 hours.


Associate Professor Vanja Dukic Selected as 2015 American Statistical Association Fellow

Dukic is one of 62 statisticians to be named fellows in this year’s round of ASA fellow elections for her outstanding contributions to the statistical professions throughout her scholarly career. Fellows will be presented with their awards on Tuesday, August 11, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. in Seattle, Washington at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center during the Joint Statistical Meetings awards ceremony.