The UCLA Curtis Center will be hosting their Annual Mathematics and Teaching Virtual Conference on Saturday, March 6, 2021 from 9:00AM-3:00PM. Typically, the conference welcomes over 200 teachers, students, and mathematicians for a day of meaningful discussion about mathematics education as well as some hands-on learning.

This year, there will be two keynote speakers covering the challenges of systemic inequity and COVID-19. Dr. Edray H. Goins, a mathematics professor at Pomona College, will discuss “A Black Man’s Journey from South Central to Studying Dessins d’ Enfants.” Dr. Karen C. Fuson, an emerita professor at Northwestern University, will lead a conversation in “Balanced Learning-Path Teaching in the Classroom and Remotely.” Read more about each speaker in the conference flyer here.

Established in 2007, the Curtis Center for Mathematics and Teaching is named after Philip C. Curtis, Jr., a UCLA Mathematics professor for over 50 years. The Curtis Center is a group of K-12 and university mathematics enthusiasts who work together to improve the quality of K-12 mathematics activity through continuing education programs for K-12 teachers, and mathematics teacher preparation programs for UCLA undergraduates.

To register for the conference, visit:

UCLA Mathematics Professor Wotao Yin‘s paper titled, “Hybrid Federated Learning: Algorithms and Implementation,” won the Best Student Paper Award at the 34th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS-20) Workshop on Scalability, Privacy, and Security in Federated Learning. The paper, written in collaborations with researchers from the University of Minnesota and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was published on February 18, 2021 on

Yin explains, “The research is about federated learning, a new form of machine learning where the data from different participants are subject to distributed processing and privacy requirements. They jointly do machine learning without directly exchanging their data. In particular, the proposed method works when each participant has the records of only a portion of all the subjects and their records are possibly highly incomplete. As a potential application, a union of loan and insurance providers can work together to build a model to compute a customer’s credit without sharing or exchanging their customers’ credit histories. (On the contrary, today, they report everyone’s full credit histories to credit bureaus, and a lender must access your full history during your loan application. This is both unsafe and expensive.)”

Aleka McAdams, an alumna of UCLA Mathematics, is part of the award winning team that accepted a 2020 Oscars for Scientific and Technical Achievement.

McAdams and her team received the Technical Achievement Award for the Walt Disney Animation Studios Hair Simulation System at the virtual ceremony this past Saturday, February 13, 2021.

“The WDAS Hair Simulation System is a robust, predictable, fast and highly art-directable system built on the mathematics of discrete elastic rods. This has provided Disney artists the flexibility to manipulate hair in hyper-realistic ways to create the strong silhouettes required for character animation and has enabled a wide range of complex hairstyles in animated feature films.”

McAdams is a Senior Software Engineer at Walt Disney Animation Studios on the Simulation team.  She received her Ph.D. in applied mathematics at UCLA in 2011 and was a student of Joseph Teran. Her work is primarily in physics-based simulation for movie special effects.

Below is a short video of McAdams and her team accepting the award. More information can be found on the Oscars website:

UCLA Mathematics Professor Chandrashekhar Khare has been awarded the 2021 fellowship from the Simons Foundation.

“Khare, a fellow of Britain’s Royal Society, is an expert on Galois representations and modular forms. He and the late French mathematician Jean-Pierre Wintenberger proved a conjecture that was widely considered unachievable. Khare and Wintenberger were awarded the 2011 Frank Nelson Cole Prize in Number Theory by the American Mathematical Society for their proof of Fields Medalist Jean-Pierre Serre’s modularity conjecture. The conjecture was first proposed in 1973 by Serre and has had an important impact in number theory. In 2004, Khare and Wintenberger astonished the mathematical community when they found a remarkable strategy for Serre’s conjecture.

The Simons Foundation fellowships enable outstanding scientists to focus solely on research for a year.”

To read the full UCLA Newsroom article, click here.

UCLA Mathematics Assistant Professor Pavel Galashin was awarded the 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship today. Four UCLA professors were selected among 128 scientists and scholars from 58 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

“Galashin conducts research in algebraic combinatorics. He is particularly interested in its unexpected applications to other areas of math and physics, such as magnetism, knot theory and the physics of scattering amplitudes. He earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and recently received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Winners of Sloan Research Fellowships receive a two-year, $75,000 award to support their research. The fellowships are intended to enhance the careers of exceptional young scientists and scholars in chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, earth science and physics. The philanthropic, New York–based foundation was established in 1934.”

To read the full UCLA Newsroom article, click here.

The UCLA Mathematics Undergraduate Student Services office supports over 2,000 math majors and manages 20,000+ general course enrollments. Like many departments at UCLA, they are made up of a small team and are consistently inundated with requests. Managing a high volume of emails in a shared inbox is cumbersome and inefficient for both staff and students waiting to receive a response.  

Last fall, the Department hosted its first virtual town hall specifically for undergraduate students to voice their concerns to the Department Chair (Prof. Mario Bonk) and Undergraduate Vice Chairs (Profs. Don Blasius and Michael Hill). One of the main student concerns was the long response times for email requests.  

Leadership immediately began working with the Mathematics Computing Group (MCG) who proposed a helpdesk ticketing system as a viable solution. Zendesk, a SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud-based ticketing system, is used by many departments in the UC system. When an email is sent to, it becomes a ticket on the Zendesk platform. Through the Zendesk administrative portal, undergraduate staff can view status in real-time and organize, respond to, and manage support tickets.  

The official roll out of Zendesk in the Department took place during winter quarter. The hope is that this new system will increase efficiency and result in a better customer service experience for undergraduate students. 

Undergraduate town halls will continue to be hosted quarterly as part of a larger effort to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all students. To learn more about the town halls and other action items the Department is taking, please visit:

This year’s UC Riverside workshop on Diversity and Excellence will be on the topic of “Women in Combinatorics and Representation Theory.” The conference will be held online, May 15-16, 2021.

This virtual workshop will five plenary talks, given by
Pamela Harris, Williams College
Sabine Lang, University of Denver
Sarah Mason, Wake Forest University
Chelsea Walton, Rice University
Elizabeth Wicks, Microsoft

Applications are currently being accepted for five short talks from junior researchers (strong preference given to PhD students and Postdocs/Temporary faculty or equivalent). Female mentees in Representation Theory and Combinatorics are encouraged to apply by February 28th!

Registration, short talk applications, and more information is all available on the workshop website at

For any additional questions please contact the organizing committee:
Vyjayanthi Chari, UC Riverside
Zajj Daugherty, City College of NY
Nicolle González, UCLA