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Mathematics & Statistics


Here's the news since the last Quaternion...


The Department’s faculty are very active researchers, and their accomplishments are getting growing recognition. Here are the awards received in the last four months.

Dr. Jean-François Biasse received two grants over the past few months.

First, he received a one-year $75,000 grant from the Florida Center for Cybersecurity for a project titled Quantum-Resistant Zero-Knowledge Proofs Applied to Anonymity-Preserving Data Collection and Anonymous Cryptocurrencies. The project is in collaboration with Reza Azarderakhsh of Florida Atlantic University Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and pertains to the design of cryptographic protocols for collecting users' data and managing blockchain transactions that provably protect anonymity, with a focus on quantum-safe solutions to these problems.

Second, he received a two-year $216,000 grant from National Science Foundation for a project titled EAGER: Quantum-Safe Cryptosystems Based on Isogenies. This award will support Dr. Biasse’s research into the security of a new family of cryptosystems based on a mathematical structure called “isogenies of elliptic curves”. The research will also include the development of new isogeny-based protocols, analysis of the hardness of the task of finding isogenies and identification of an appropriate size for keys that keep users out of the reach of quantum attacks.

Dr. Nataša Jonoska was a member of the team that won a $10 million grant for a National Science Foundation–Simons Research Center for the Mathematics of Computational Biological Systems headquartered at Georgia Institute of Technology. The goal of the center is to enable innovative collaborative research at the intersection of mathematics and molecular, cellular and organismal biology, to establish new connections between these two disciplines, and to promote interdisciplinary education and workforce training. The center is one of four NSF–Simons Research Centers for Mathematics of Complex Biological Systems. The other three are based at Harvard University, at the University of California, Irvine, and at Northwestern University.

In addition, Jonoska (as Principal Investigator) and Dr. Masahico Saito (as co-Principal Investigator) received a $1.1 million collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate “Discrete and Topological Models for Template-Guided Genome Rearrangements”. This project is a collaboration with Columbia University in New York and will use experimental tools and knot theory and discrete mathematics. The project will also impact postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate education in mathematics, biology, and chemistry at Columbia and USF.

Dr. Jonoska and Dr. Saito run a research group studying Discrete and Topological Models for DNA Assembly.

Dr. Lu Lu and Dr. Jiangfeng Zhou of the Department of Physics received a three-year $419,000 grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for a project titled Reversibly Reconfigurable 3D Micro- and Nano-Photonic Devices by Magnetically Programmable Polymeric Composites. Dr. Zhou was the Principal Investigator and Dr. Lu the co-PI.

The project will develop reconfigurable metasurface photonic devices using magnetically programmable polymeric composites to actively control the phase, amplitude, and polarization of light. Statistical experimental design, analysis and machine learning methods will be used to understand the device structure, predict and optimize the metasurface performance. This grant involves interdisciplinary collaboration and will support graduate students from both departments.

Dr. Theodore Molla received a three-year $114,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled Factors in Graphs and Related Combinatorial Structures. This project’s main focus is on optimizing local conditions that force a specific global structure in graphs, directed graphs, and hypergraphs. This work has a significant intersection with computer science and will explore novel algorithmic approaches using probabilistic absorbing techniques and regularity methods.


In addition to Natasa Jonoska, promoted to Distinguished Research Professor, two other faculty were promoted.

The Very Reverend Dr. Igor Chitikov was promoted to Instructor, Level II. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Moscow State University and Voronezh State University in 1985, and then went to Tambov State University, where he ultimately became an associate professor. He was ordained in 1991 and came to the USA the following year, and a year after that became rector and priest at St. Andrew’s Russian Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg, Florida — a position he holds today. He served as an adjunct at USF for a decade, becoming an Instructor, Level I, in 2012.

Dr. Scott Rimbey was promoted to Instructor, Level III. He received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from UCLA in 1984, and after sojourns at the University of Virginia, the Rocketdyne Division of the Rockwell Corporation, the University of Delaware, and the Educational Testing Service, he came to USF as an Instructor in 2000. He served as Associate Chair from 2002 to 2009, was promoted to Instructor II in 2014, and returned to the Associate Chair’s office in 2016.

New Faculty

Four new permanent faculty have joined the department.

Dr. Vladimir Grupcev was hired as an Instructor, Level I. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from USF in 2015 and has worked as a temporary faculty member at Hillsborough Community College, the International VISION University in Macedonia, the University of Information Science and Technology in Macedonia, USF, and the University of Tampa.

Dr. Marian Hernández-Viera was hired as Instructor, Level I. She received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Tulane University in 2012, and served as an assistant professor at the University of Puerto Rico, first at the Cayey campus Mathematics Department, then at the Piedras campus Statistics Institute. She came to USF in 2016 as a visiting instructor.

Dr. Stephen Lappano was hired as an Instructor, Level I. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 2016 and was then hired as a visiting instructor.

Dr. Rumiya Masagutova was hired as an Instructor, Level I. She received her Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematical Sciences from the A.F. A.F. Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute in Russia in 1981, and served as a professor at the Tashkent University of Economics in what is now Uzbekistan until 1996. She then came to the United States, where she worked at New Mexico State University, Suffolk University and North Shore Community College in Massachusetts, and then came to USF in 2012.