Earlier today, Texas A&M mathematician Dr. Sue Geller celebrated a major career milestone -- her 100th master's degree student, Plano native James DeVinney '15.


Although Monday typically isn't a day to get excited about in most people's books, this week's marked a milestone occasion for Texas A&M University mathematician Dr. Sue Geller.

On Monday, April 11, Geller kicked off another work-week in her 35-year career as a professor in the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics by certifying her 100th master's student, James DeVinney '15, for graduation next month with a non-thesis Master of Science in Mathematics as part of Texas A&M's spring commencement ceremonies.

Geller celebrated DeVinney and the sweet career moment in style at his afternoon master's oral examination with a made-from-scratch chocolate cake, fittingly topped with a "100" in chocolate chips and fudge icing.

"As much as I love doing research, especially with students, advising and mentoring at all levels from undergraduate through faculty is my favorite professional activity now," Geller said. "James was the 100th student who asked me to be his math master's advisor, but we were both surprised and pleased that he is also my 100th to finish. He's very special, and I expect great things from him in the future."

A native of Plano, DeVinney enrolled as an undergraduate at Texas A&M in 2011, graduating with his bachelor's in applied mathematics in December 2014 with a specialization in statistics. He will complete his master's in three semesters plus one summer session, finishing a full semester sooner than the typical graduate student in the program. DeVinney also boasts extensive internship experience, including previous summer stints with UnaliWear in data science (2015), ARGO in analytical sciences (2014) and PlainsCapital Corporation in finance (2012). In addition, he is first author on a paper published last month by SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) Undergraduate Research Online, "Mathematical modeling of the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa," detailing the results of a study in collaboration with two other students in which the team created a discrete time-and-age-structured model for the epidemic using assumptions based on publicly available data from Sierra Leone and West Africa.

DeVinney is a member of the national mathematics honor society Pi Mu Epsilon as well as Kappa Upsilon Chi, where he served as pledge trainer and fundraising chair. He also was a counselor for Impact, a religious student organization that offers a retreat each summer for incoming freshmen attending Texas A&M and Blinn College.

"Dr. Geller is the person you want behind you as you strive for a difficult goal," DeVinney said. "I graduated with my undergrad in three-and-one-half years with the help and guidance of Dr. Geller and then was able to graduate with my master's in one-and-one-half years, again with the guidance of Dr. Geller. I hope everyone has an advisor like her."

Geller, who holds both a master's and a doctorate from Cornell University, joined the Texas A&M Mathematics faculty in 1981. Since 1994, she also has held a joint appointment in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences within the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences. In addition, she has served since 2004 as director of the Honors Program in Mathematics, which she established in 1994 as the first such departmental program across the campus that, to this day, offers the only honors minor.

Geller, whose published research features material on both abstract algebra and biostatistics, has had a transformative effect on the pedagogical mission of the Department of Mathematics. In addition to founding the honors program, she helped put into place a specialized track of the master's degree program in mathematics intended for prospective teachers, writing several of the courses as well as an open-source book with fellow Texas A&M mathematician Harold Boas that still is used today for two courses. Her exemplary record of innovative teaching and effective mentoring -- student and faculty -- has been recognized with numerous awards, including the University Honors Program's Directors Award (2012), the Texas A&M Women's Faculty Network's Outstanding Mentoring Award (2013), the Texas Section of the Mathematical Association of America's Ron Barnes Distinguished Service to Students Award (2014) and the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Student Relations (2015). She is an active member of the MAA, the American Mathematical Society and the Association for Women in Mathematics, as well as the American Statistical Association and the International Society for Computational Biology.

"On behalf of the department and myself, I congratulate Dr. Geller on reaching this fantastic milestone in her career as an outstanding scholar-teacher-mentor," said Dr. Emil J. Straube, professor and head of Texas A&M Mathematics. "Her accomplishments in this arena have been recognized by a number of well-deserved awards. Whether it is chairing graduate committees, directing our successful honors program or shepherding excited undergraduate students through their first presentation at a mathematics conference, Dr. Geller always finds ways to let our students shine. All of us -- her colleagues and her students -- are very fortunate to have her here.

"I also congratulate James DeVinney on his accomplishment. I think it is fitting that this centennial degree comes to a student who went through the master's program in record time, as ambitious and academically talented students like James do."

To learn more about Geller and her teaching, research and service efforts, go to http://www.math.tamu.edu/~sue.geller/.

For additional information on Texas A&M Mathematics and related degree programs, visit http://www.math.tamu.edu/courses/.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Sue Geller, (979) 845-7531 or geller@math.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Emil J. Straube (right), professor and head of the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics, joined Geller and DeVinney for the afternoon festivities.

  • While Geller presented DeVinney with a made-from-scratch cake (above), Straube likewise surprised Geller with a plaque on behalf of the Department of Mathematics (below).

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