Benzion Boukai to Step Down as Chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at IUPUI

Release Date: 
Mar 24 2009

(March 24, 2009) --Professor Benzion Boukai announced today that he will step down as chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at IUPUI, effective June 30, 2009. Boukai, who holds a doctorate from the State University of New York at Binghamton, has served in this position since January 1999. With 45 full-time faculty and some 30 part-time instructors serving more than 13,000 students each year, Mathematical Sciences is one the largest academic units on the IUPUI campus.

"For the past 10 years, our campus and the School of Science have been very lucky to have someone of Professor Boukai's extraordinary commitment and outstanding administrative skills at the helm of a department that is central to the education mission of IUPUI," said School of Science Acting Dean Bart S. Ng.

Ng noted that during Boukai's tenure as chair, the Department of Mathematical Sciences has grown in faculty and staff and in the number of students served each semester, and the department has expanded its course offerings and programs that now include an actuarial sciences option for its undergraduate majors and a new Ph.D. program in biostatistics. Building on the department's traditional strengths in mathematical physics, integrable systems and dynamical systems, Boukai expanded significantly its research programs through targeted faculty hiring in several interdisciplinary areas-including mathematical neuroscience, bio-fluid dynamics, scientific computing, applied statistics and biostatistics.

Under Boukai's leadership, the department also embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at increasing student success in mathematics. In partnership with IUPUI's University College, the department established the Mathematics Assistance Center (MAC). The MAC provides many beginning students with section- and course-specific mentoring, one-on-one tutoring and other forms of supplemental instruction. Additionally, a summer mathematics preparatory program has been implemented as have other curricular innovations, including the incorporation of MAPLE-TA as a tool for assessing student learning in key mathematics courses. In early 2005, Boukai led the effort to develop, jointly with the Division of Biostatistics in the IU School of Medicine, a Ph.D. degree program in biostatistics, designed to meet the growing national need for highly trained statisticians with specialized skills in the area of health and life sciences. This new Ph.D. program was subsequently approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in May 2008 and is now admitting its second cohort of students for the fall 2009 semester.

Boukai also founded the IUPUI Signature Center for Mathematical Biosciences (CMB) to spearhead research and programmatic activities in biomathematics. The Center, located on the 4th floor of the Health Information and Translational Sciences Building at IUPUI, houses several faculty affiliates, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students working on research problems in computational neuroscience and bio-fluid dynamics, as well as the modeling and analysis of proteomics and genomics data.

After stepping down as chair, Boukai plans to return to full-time teaching and research and will continue to assist in departmental administration by serving as director of the graduate programs in biostatistics and statistics and as acting director of the CMB. He especially looks forward to continuing his research in mathematical statistics and applications of sequential methodologies and his service as associate editor of Sequential Analysis. Ng has appointed Professor Zhongmin "James" Shen to succeed Boukai as chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, effective July 1, 2009.