This newsletter is sent to all Ph.D. students every other week. Read all the latest updates on student spotlight, conferences, research and job opportunities, deadlines, and more!

Congratulations to students graduating this May and August! We celebrate all of your accomplishments thus far and the many great things ahead. We wish you the best in your job search and future endeavors. Cheers to:

Atiqah Almuzaini for accepting the position of Assistant Professor at University of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Thejani Gamage for accepting the position of Visiting Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts
Quinn Le for accepting the position of Quantitative Research Associate at JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Ziyi Liang for accepting a Postdoc position at University of California Irvine
Elif Uskuplu for accepting a Zorn Assistant Professor position at University of Indiana
Chenchen Zhao for accepting a Postdoc position at University of California Davis

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to Inga Girshfeld for receiving the 2024 WiSE Susan Montgomery Leadership Award! This award, named for our esteemed colleague, distinguishes exceptional students who make a positive difference in their scholarly community. In addition to her scholarly success working with Professor Xiaohui Chen, Inga is a driving force in our department organizing seminars, industry panels, and social events as well as sitting on student panels, hosting admitted students, and more, all to provide support structures for students and foster a strong sense of community. Space limitation preclude an exhaustive list of all that Inga has done (13 activities this year alone!), but we hope this award shows our appreciation for her exhaustless service! Congratulations and gratitude from all of us, Inga!

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to Tina Peng for being awarded the USC Gold Family Graduate Fellowship for “demonstrating outstanding academic promise.” This award offers generous summer funding for Tina to continue her work understanding Koszul-perverse coherent sheaves via their cluster algebra structure. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor, and best wishes for a productive summer of research!

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to M. Susan Montgomery for her outstanding thesis “The Lie Structure of Simple Rings with Involution of Characteristic 2” written under the supervision of I. N. Herstein. With this sensational start, we’re certain Susan will have a long and distinguished career as a leader in noncommutative algebras, Hopf Algebras, quantum groups, category theory and more (for full spoilers, see link). Congratulations, Susan!

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to Vlad Roman for his latest preprint, “The commuting variety of pgl_n”, now available on the arXiv Working in positive characteristic, Vlad extends classical results of Motzkin—Taussky, Richardson, and evy to show that when p divides n, the commuting variety of the Lie algebra pgl_n has exactly two irreducible components. Vlad will be presenting his work at the Postgraduate Group Theory Conference at the niversity of Birmingham this summer as well as the conference Groups and their actions: algebraic, geometric and combinatorial aspects in Levico Terme, Italy. Congratulations again, Vlad!

Student Spotlight: Thank you to Rundong Ding, an outstanding second year AMAT student who has graciously agreed to lead the Analysis, Probability, and PDE portion of the summer Grad Exam Prep Course. Rundong has begun working with Jinchi Lv in Marshall. Rundong is also featured in the acknowledgments of Sheldon Ross’s recent paper, “Using a Chen-Stein identity to obtain low variance simulation estimators” published in Probability in the Engineering and Informational Sciences, for carrying out the simulation computations. Thanks, Rundong, for your leadership and support!

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to Ziyi (Cora) Liang for her paper “Integrative conformal p-values for out-of-distribution testing with labelled outliers”, joint with Matteo Sesia (in Marshall) and Wenguang Sun, which just appeared in January 2024 in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B! We know Cora will continue to make ground-breaking advances in the theory of machine learning, but she’s also an amazing teacher! She is this year’s recipient of the Harris Teaching Prize for her outstanding efforts and results in teaching and re-designed Math 40 to better meet the needs of our students. Congrats again, Cora, on all of your many accomplishments!

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to Robin Rong for acceptance to the SLMath Summer Program on H-Principle hosted in Sendai, Japan! The homotopy principle, developed by Gromov, uses topological methods to solve non-linear PDEs, so this topic dovetails nicely into Robin’s research with our own Professor Julian Chaidez. And a huge THANK YOU to Robin for his work organizing MGSA’s amazing Directed Reading Program ( which pairs undergraduate students with graduate student mentors to read a math textbook over the semester and present on what they learn. Please join Robin and all the program participants on April 22 for the final presentations!

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to Haoxing Liu for presenting his research at the 2023 62nd IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (CDC) in Singapore in December! His work on transdermal Alcohol concentration monitoring is part of a collaboration with our very own Professors Goldstein and Rosen, as well as Professor Luczak from the Psychology Department. We have no doubt that Haoxing will continue his great work after graduating with a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics this May. Congrats again, Haoxing!

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to Wes Wise for a successful bid to host the 2025 Graduate Student Combinatorics Conference (GSCC) at USC and, even better, for receiving an NSA grant to fund the event! We hope everyone with combinatorial tendencies will support Wes’s amazing efforts by volunteering to help organize and host this awesome conference. For a sneak peek of what’s the come, check out the 2024 GSCC at Carnegie Mellon in March:

Staff Spotlight: Our dedicated staff members enjoyed a two week Winter Break to rest and recharge before diving into the Spring Semester.

Student Spotlight: Dr. Elif Uskuplu, who successfully defended her thesis on October 17, has made groundbreaking strides in extending Homotopy Type Theory (HoTT), an endeavor crucial for delving into the intricacies of 2-category theory. She’s co-authored two published papers, in IEEE Access and Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics, and has another recent pre-print for which she is single author. Her thesis has earned her the Edward and Dolores Blum Research Prize for an outstanding dissertation. Congratulations, Dr. Uskulpu!

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to 6th year student, Chenchen Zhao! Chenchen submitted two papers this semester ( and the other arXiv number will be available soon) and one paper with a research group ( ). She recently spoke at the UCLA Combinatorics Forum on October 26 (by invitation) and at the Southern California Discrete Mathematics Symposium at CSULA (accepted as a presenter among many submissions)

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to to 5th year graduate student Sam Armon, whose paper “A Proof of the Conjecture for Hook Shapes” appeared this month in the latest issue of Annals of Combinatorics (Volume 27, Issue 4), and whose latest pre-print “Extremal subsets and atom-positivity” just hit the arXiv:

Student Spotlight: Congratulations to 5th year student, Thejani Gamage, on completion of her latest paper, Reinforcement Learning for optimal dividend problem under diffusion model, joint with Lihua Bai, our very own Jin Ma, and Pengxu Xie.