Mark Levi named interim head of Department of Mathematics

Gail McCormick
October 01, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mark Levi, professor of mathematics, has been named the interim head of the Penn State Department of Mathematics, effective July 1, 2018. He served as associate head for administration in the department from 2009 to 2018.

“Mark has a distinguished record of service and leadership in the department, and I am glad that he agreed to serve as interim department head of mathematics over the next year,” said Douglas Cavener, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science. “I also want to thank the search committee, chaired by Professor of Mathematics Diane Henderson, for their considerable time and effort in this process.”

Levi’s research uses concepts from geometry and analysis as a tool to explain physical phenomena, providing insight that is not available by direct experimentation. He uses mathematical models to predict and explain the complex motion of dynamic systems, such as satellites, asteroids, electric circuits and fluids. By translating physical problems to a geometrical setting, he was able to predict a new phenomenon in arrays of Josephson junctions that was later rediscovered by experimentalists.

Mark Levi with arms crossed

Mark Levi, professor of mathematics at Penn State.

IMAGE: Carley LaVelle, Penn State

Levi’s book “Mathematical Mechanic” was included in the Amazon top 10 list for science in 2009 and was named one of the “Outstanding Academic Titles” for 2009 by CHOICE Magazine. His other books include “Why Cats Land on their Feet and 76 Other Physical Paradoxes and Puzzles,” published in 2012, and “Classical Mechanics with Calculus of Variations and Optimal Control: An Intuitive Introduction,” published in 2014. He writes a monthly column “Mathematical Curiosities” for SIAM News, which he has contributed since 2015. Levi has published more than 80 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, and he currently serves on the editorial boards for Applied Mathematics Letters, Communications on Applied and Nonlinear Analysis, and the Open Mathematics Journal.

Prior to joining Penn State in 1998, Levi served on the faculty of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1991 to 1998, Boston University from 1982 to 1991, Duke University from 1980 to 1982, and Northwestern University from 1978 to 1980. He earned a doctoral degree in mathematics from the Courant institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University in 1978 and an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Latvian State University in Riga, Latvia, in 1973.

Last Updated October 01, 2018