Schenck named new chair of mathematics

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A new professor of mathematics at Iowa State University, Hal Schenck, was named the chair of its Department of Mathematics.

Schenck was previously a professor and associate chair in the Mathematics Department at the University of Illinois where he has been honored for his excellence in teaching. Schenck succeeds chair Clifford Bergman, professor of mathematics, who is returning to the faculty.

Schenck’s appointment is effective August 16.

“I’m very excited to be joining Iowa State, and look forward to helping build on the tradition of excellence in the Mathematics Department,” Schenck said. “It is a wonderful time to be working in mathematics: advances in technology have opened a vast array of new research opportunities and challenges. These advances have also created a broad range of new employment possibilities for our students, as well as a chance to forge interdisciplinary research connections both within Iowa State and externally.”

Schenck said that he was drawn to the data science initiative when he visited Iowa State. His research is in applied topology, which studies the shape of data.

“I’m looking forward to being involved in collaborations between applications, data, and mathematics,” he said.

After undergraduate work in applied mathematics and computer science at Carnegie-Mellon, Schenck spent four years as an army officer. He earned his PhD from Cornell, where he received the LAS distinguished teaching award. He then went on to postdoctoral work at Cornell, Harvard and Northeastern. In addition to his research in applied topology, he works in computational algebra and geometric modeling; he has authored two books and fifty research papers.