Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Students
Department of Mathematics
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0123
Phone: (540) 231-4184
Fax: (540) 231-5960
Office: 430 McBryde Hall
8:30-10:30am Monday to Friday, or by appointment.
All of my classes are being managed through Canvas. Students should have access through the Canvas course site.
A large part of my job as Associate Chair is to recruit undergraduate students, monitor student progress, and assist our faculty undergraduate advisors. Below is a collection of links that I use frequently as references. Both students and advisors might find them useful.Advising Links
My research is aimed at achieving a deeper mathematical understanding of the physics of continua (i.e. materials that are described as a continuous body rather than a discrete or quantum mechanical system). The physics of continua is usually described mathematically by partial differential equations. Because of the mathematical links between different types of physical systems, I have been interested in a variety of physical problems: elasticity, electromagnetism, and thermodynamics. More specifically, I have been interested in phase transitions in fluids and solids and in ferromagnetism. All of these phenomena are described by "nonconvex" problem in the calculus of variations.
I grew up in Southern New Jersey. My father was a lawyer and my mother a high school math teacher. We ran a small, working (if not terribly profitable) sheep farm. After graduating from Northern Burlington County Regional High School, I went to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. I entered as a Chemistry major with the intention of going to med school (basically because that was the only job I was familiar with that paid you to do something involving science.) I had no thought of studying mathematics. I was good in math in high school, but didn't enjoy it. (My teacher was big on meticulously following well defined rules, not much for discovery and challenge.) Fortunately, I had some great math teachers in my early college math courses, and I began to appreciate the beauty, utility, and just plain fun of the subject. I switched my major to math, but since I took just about every Physics course that was offered, I picked up a double major in Physics my senior year.
After graduation I went to the University of Maryland for my Ph.D. (I can still remember being flabbergasted when I learned that graduate programs would pay me to study mathematics.) I went into graduate school planning to study numerical analysis, but in my first semester there was a special topics course in continuum mechanics (the mathematical theory of elastic bodies.) I loved the interplay of physics and axiomatic mathematics, and I was hooked. The subject has had intimate connections to all aspects of my scholarly life ever since.
After a stint as a postdoc at the Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I came to Virginia Tech Math Department in 1988 as an assistant professor. I've been a Hokie ever since. I am currently professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Students. My administrative duties include organizing undergraduate advising and monitoring undergraduate student progress. I also get to read the graduates name at the departmental graduation ceremony while wearing the world's silliest hat.
My wife Shirley and I have been married since 1979. We have a son, George (a huge Hokie fan) and a daughter, Alice (currently in graduate school.) I am an avid musician playing upright and electric bass, keyboards, and guitar. I maintain a home recording studio. I enjoy mixing my interest in music and acoustics with my mathematics. It is particularly helpful in my partial differential equations courses.