CSU welcomes Kenneth McLaughlin, new chair of the Department of Mathematics

Ken McLaughlin

The Department of Mathematics in the College of Natural Sciences at Colorado State University welcomes a new chair this academic year. This summer Professor Kenneth McLaughlin made the move to Fort Collins from Tucson, Arizona, where he had been chair of the math department at the University of Arizona.

“I am delighted to be joining CSU’s mathematics department,” he said. “I am looking forward to growing our existing strengths and creating new initiatives in research – and continuing the important work of preparing our students for great careers.” He is already hard at work expanding efforts to support students and broaden the department’s outreach.

Teaching, research, play

At previous institutions, McLaughlin has taught a wide variety of courses, from a first-year seminar course on the dynamics of fluids (titled “’Fish Gotta’ Swim, Birds Gotta’ Fly: The Mathematics and the Mechanics of Moving”), to all flavors of calculus and differential equations, to research courses for graduate students. He is passionate about teaching as well as about his research, which includes investigations into the analysis of partial differential equations, the theory of approximation, and the theory of random matrices.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ken to the mathematics department and to the College of Natural Sciences,” said Jan Nerger, dean of the college. “We are very pleased to have his scholarly talent as well as his dedication to the success of students here at CSU.”

McLaughlin studied mathematics at New York University and went on to earn his Ph.D. from that school’s Courant Institute in 1994. After graduation, he was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and has also been on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His work has taken him around the world, including positions at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, France, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, the Pontificial Universidade Católica de Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the Katholieke Unversiteit in Leuven, Belgium, the Ecole Normale Superieur in Paris, France, and the Université de Paris VII.

Wherever he is, he said, he can clearly number his priorities: “1. family, 2. teaching, 3. research, and 4. play. But I’ve never made it past item three on this list!”

Building on successes

As McLaughlin takes the mathematics reins at CSU, the college extended its gratitude to Professor Gerhard Dangelmayr for his five years of excellent service as department chair. Under his supervision, the department grew from 22 regular faculty members to 31, and from one special faculty member to four. It also introduced new courses and saw outstanding performances by CSU students in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition.

In addition to serving its own faculty and students, the mathematics department continues to be an essential part of the university. Each year, it provides courses to some 10,000 students across campus. Its latest development: the opening of a dedicated Calculus Center in the Weber Building.