Carnegie Mellon University
June 17, 2021

Mellon College of Science Celebrates the Achievements of Tom Bohman

By Ben Panko

Students, faculty, staff and alumni of the Mellon College of Science gathered virtually to celebrate the dedication and achievements of Alexander M. Knaster Professor and Head Tom Bohman as he prepares to step down as head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. 

"Ten years ago, the Mellon College of Science had no idea how right they were in selecting Tom to head the Mathematical Sciences Department," Glen de Vries Dean Rebecca W. Doerge said in introducing Bohman. "He has exceeded our high expectations at every level." 

Bohman then took time to highlight some of the achievements of the Mathematical Sciences Department under his leadership in the past decade.  

"My first motivation is the beauty of mathematics," Bohman said while showing off an isometric embedding of the flat torus into 3D space produced by famous MCS alumnus John Nash, and more recent work created by associate professors Hayden Schaeffer and Wes Pegden. 

Both Schaeffer and Pegden joined the department under Bohman's leadership and recruiting talented young faculty has been a main priority of his in the past decade, Bohman said. He noted that Mathematical Sciences faculty have won eight National Science Foundation Career Awards and four Sloan Fellowships in the last ten years, compared to just one Career Award and zero Sloan Fellowship ever before that. 

Another important priority was crafting a good student experience for Department of Mathematical Sciences students, including creating "compelling" courses, more opportunities for undergraduate mathematics research and strong participation in math-related extracurriculars. Bohman noted that under the leadership of Professor Po-Shen Loh, the number of MCS students placing in the top 500 in the prestigious William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition has increased dramatically in recent years. 

"My feeling is the best measure of whether you’re succeeding for the students is whether they come," Bohman said, and the steadily increasing number of undergraduate math majors seems to have pointed toward success in that area. 

After his presentation, celebration attendees moved to the virtual platform Gathertown to socialize and toast Bohman's achievements.