Witherspoon, a widely respected expert in algebra and member of the Texas A&M faculty since 2004, replaces Dr. Emil J. Straube, who has served since September 2011 as department head and will return to full-time teaching and research-related duties.
Witherspoon will provide consistent and capable direction for a department currently ranked 16th nationally and ninth among public institutions in the Shanghai Rankings and 21st among public graduate schools by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to an impressive array of extensive outside-of-class resources to support its own majors as well as students enrolled in its many undergraduate service courses, the department boasts several new degree programs, including a master’s of science in quantitative finance offered jointly with the Texas A&M Department of Finance and a mathematics of data science, encryption and authentication master’s track currently in the final stages of development. The department also recently established an international Texas A&M University-Beihang University Mathematics Program along with study abroad programs in France and China.
“I would like to thank the Department of Mathematics for participating in this process, especially the search committee,” Johnson said. “I have enjoyed our discussions on the trajectory of Texas A&M Mathematics and look forward to working with Dr. Witherspoon and the department in the future. Finally, let me say how much I appreciate all that Professor Emil Straube has done for the department, college and university.”
Two years after joining the Texas A&M Mathematics faculty as an assistant professor, Witherspoon earned promotion to associate professor in 2006 and then to full professor in 2010. She received her Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Chicago and held several postdoctoral positions, including at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, prior to coming to Texas A&M, where her research program has received continuous funding from either the National Science Foundation or the National Security Agency since her arrival. In addition, her proven skill at teaching courses ranging from advanced calculus to mathematics education was recognized by the department with its Outstanding Teaching Award in 2015. Witherspoon also is an exceptional thesis advisor and plays an important mentoring role for incoming graduate students.
A fellow of the American Mathematical Society, Witherspoon was the recipient of a prestigious 2005-2006 Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship. Her service to the mathematics community includes her election as a past Member-at-Large on the American Mathematical Society Council and to the current Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Human Resources Advisory Committee. In addition to serving as editor for AMS Contemporary Mathematics: Proceedings of the Conference on Group Theory, Combinatorics, and Computing in 2012, Witherspoon is a member of the editorial boards for Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society and Communications in Algebra, as well as a moderator for arXiv.
For more information about Witherspoon, visit https://www.math.tamu.edu/~sjw/.
To learn more about the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics, go to http://www.math.tamu.edu.