Noted mathematician, alumnus is keynote speaker for Rall Symposium

May 01, 2014

North Central College welcomes Dr. Satyan Devadoss ’93 as the keynote speaker for the College’s 17th annual Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research on May 13.

Devadoss holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from The Johns Hopkins University and is professor of mathematics at Williams College in Massachusetts. He graduated summa cum laude from North Central in 1993 with a B.S. in mathematics and minor in physics. He also is a 1990 graduate of Naperville Central High School.

Devadoss’ talk begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 13, in the College’s Wentz Concert Hall. In his keynote address, titled “The Shape of Nature: Bees, Trees, Origami,” he will discuss how the study of nature serves as a bridge between art and science, providing clear examples where art, visualization and research mathematics intersect.

His keynote address kicks off a day of student oral and poster presentations held during the Rall Symposium, a forum for North Central College undergraduate students to present their independent scholarly research projects across all academic areas. This event is part of a daylong Honors Day, which recognizes top student scholars and their academic achievements.

Devadoss’ work and teaching have earned national recognition. He has received multiple awards, including the William Kelso Morrill Award, the Nelson Bushnell Prize and the Henry L. Alder National Award, honoring young faculty whose teaching has been extraordinarily successful with influence beyond their own classrooms. Devadoss also is an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, whose members have made outstanding contributions to mathematics. In 2008, he received North Central’s Alumni Recognition Award, which recognizes potential for success in a career, community service or support to the College by younger alumni.

An author of a computational geometry textbook, Devadoss has created a DVD lecture series on the shape of nature and written dozens of research articles on topics ranging from origami and cartography to phylogenetics and particle collisions. Additionally, he has attracted support from the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense, and holds visiting positions at The Ohio State University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.

On sabbatical for the 2013-2014 academic year, Devadoss is serving as visiting professor at Stanford University investigating computational topology, using the shape of data to extract meaning. He continues to speak at a variety of universities and organizations, including Pixar, Google, Lucas Film and the Veritas Forum. Forum topics range from God and the nature of reality to happiness and the search for meaning.

The son of North Central College Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty R. Devadoss Pandian, he carries on his father's passion for teaching, scholarship and strong leadership in higher education.