President, New College of Florida

5800 Bay Shore Road, COH 204
Sarasota, Florida 34243
Phone: 941-487-4100
Fax: 941-487-4101


Harvard University, A.B. (Mathematics) 6/74
Queen’s University (Canada), M.Sc. (Mathematics) 1/77
Queen’s University (Canada), Ph.D. (Mathematics) 1/81


July 1, 2012 – present: President, New College of Florida

1998- 2012: Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Mount Holyoke College

1994-1997: Sponsored Research Officer, Mount Holyoke College

1993-1996: Chair, Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Mount Holyoke College

1990-1993: Director, NSF/Five Colleges Regional Geometry Institute


1980- 2012: Mathematics faculty member, Mount Holyoke College, various ranks
Elizabeth T. Kennan Professor of Mathematics 1996-2012. Professor 1991-96. Associate
Professor 1986-91. Class of 1926 Assistant Professor 1986-91. Assistant Professor 1980-83.

Visiting Positions
University of Cambridge, Fall 2011
University of Miami, Fall 2004, and University of Edinburgh, Spring 2005
University of Hawaii Manoa 1997-98 and 1991-92
Universität Kaiserslautern, Germany 1988-89
University of Massachusetts at Amherst 1984-85
Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques, Bures-sur-Yvette, France 1983-84

Other Academic Administrative Positions
Member: Nominating Committee, American Mathematical Society, 1/2011-12/2013
Member: (and co-founder) Executive Committee, Women’s Education Worldwide, 2007-present
Member: CIC (Council of Independent Colleges) CAO Task Force, 2005-08 (Chair 2007-08)
Member: ACE (American Council of Education) Internationalization Forum, 2006-08
Member: Committee on exemplary departments, American Mathematical Society, 2004-07
Member: Board of directors of Canadian Mathematical Society, 1995-99
Reviewer: Various journals, publishers, proposals (NSF, FIPSE), math departments
Member (and former chair and co-founder): Valley Geometry Seminar
Member and former chair: Five College Applied Mathematics Group
Translator for American Mathematical Society Russian Translation Project, 1978-1996
Editor and translator: Encyclopedia of Math. Sciences (Springer-Verlag).(1986-2007)


• Expert on geometry of singularities of real and complex hypersurfaces, work that mixes differential and algebraic geometry and that has resulted in collaborations and invitations to speak around the world.
• Collaborations on medical imaging with a focus on algorithms to detect polyps on CAT images of the colon and on analysis of functional MRI images of the human cortex.
• Authority on computational methods in algebraic geometry.
• Interest in standard undergraduate mathematics courses and interdisciplinary courses
• Known nationally for curricular efforts, in particular authorship of teaching texts (see below)


Books and monographs:
The Poincaré Conjecture: In Search of the Shape of the Universe, Walker Books, New York: March, 2007 and in UK by Penguin (April, 2007). Translated into German (S. Fischer), Italian (Rizzoli), French (Dunod), Greek (Travlos), Japanese (Nikkei), Hebrew (Aryeh Nir), Portuguese (Editoria Record), Korean (Kachi), Spanish (Tusquets), Czech (Acdemia), Chinese (Hunan Science); all in 2007 except Hunan (2010). Vietnamese translation, 2011.
Peano prize, 2008.

with David Cox and John Little, Using Algebraic Geometry, New York: Springer, 1998. Japanese Translation, Springer-Verlag Tokyo, 2000. Second Edition, 2005.

with J.W. Bruce and MHC Math Department, Laboratories in Mathematical Experimentation: A Bridge to Higher Mathematics, New York: Springer Verlag, 1997; Instructors’ Guide, 1997. Chinese Translation, Chinese Higher Education Press Beijing and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 1998.

with D. Cox and J. Little, Ideals, Varieties, and Algorithms: An Introduction to Computational Algebraic Geometry and Comutative Algebra, New York: Springer, 1992. Second Edition, 1996. Russian Translation, Mir Moscow, 1998. Japanese Translation, Springer-Verlag Tokyo, 2000. Third Edition, 2007.

with J. Callahan, D. Cox, K. Hoffman, H. Pollatsek, and L. Senechal, Calculus in Context, New York: W.H. Freeman, 1995; Instructors’ Manual for Calculus in Context, 1996.

An Introduction to Dynamical Systems and Mathematical Modelling, Stony Brook: Sloan NLA Monographs, 1992.

An Exposition of Catastrophe Theory and its Applications to Phase Transitions, Kingston: Queen’s Papers in Pure and Applied Mathematics, no. 47, 1977 (Second Printing, 1980).

Research articles (mathematics):
(with Lev Birbrair, Alexandre Fernandes, Vincent Grandjean, ). Choking horns in Lipschitz Geometry of Complex Algebraic Varieties. arXiv:1206.3105 [pdf, ps, other]

(with A. Durfee). Polynomial Knots (preprint). arXiv:math/0612803

(with L. Wilson). Limits of Tangent Spaces to Real Surfaces. Amer. J. Math, 126 (2004) 951-980.

(with H.D. Tagare, D. Groissser). Non-rigid Shape Comparison of Plane Curves in Images, Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, 16: Feb (2002) 57-68.

Computing Invariants of Hypersurface Singularities, in S. Sertöz (ed.), pp. 296-347 in Algebraic Geometry, Marcel-Dekker, 1997.

(with C. Teleman) Limits of tangent spaces and a criterion for m-constancy, pp. 78-85 in D. Trotman, L. Wilson (eds.) Stratifications and Topology of Singular Spaces, Paris: Hermann, 1997.

(with A. Rangarajan and H. Tagare) A geometric criterion for shape-based non-rigid correspondence, Proceedings International Conference on Computer Vision, Boston, June, 95, 434-439.

(with L. Wilson) Normal and conormal cones of real surfaces, Chinese Quarterly Jounal of Mathematics, vol. 10, No. 4, (1995) 62-71.

Limits of Tangent Spaces: Effective Computation in Singularity Theory, pp. 549-573 in D.T.Lê, K. Saito, B. Teissier (eds.), Singularity Theory, Cambridge: World Scientific Publishing Co., 1995.

(with L.Wilson), Computing Limiting Normals to Real Surfaces, Proc.Symp.Appl.Math, 48 (1994) 349-54.

(with P. J. Giblin) The bitangent sphere problem, Amer. Math. Monthly, 97 (1990) 5-23.

Spaces of limiting tangent spaces, Contemp. Math., 90 (1989) 229-239.

Topologically trivial deformations of isolated quasihomogeneous singularities are equimultiple.
Proc. Amer. Math. Soc., 101, no. 2 (1987) 260-2.

The Bernstein-Osserman-Xavier theorem, Asterisque, 154 (1987) 95-113.

Elementary catastrophes, phase transitions and singularities, Math.Modeling, 7 (1986) 397-411.

Vanishing folds in families of singularities, Proc. Symp. Pure Math, 40, Part 2 (1983) 293-304.

Finite jumps in Milnor number imply vanishing folds, Proc. Amer. Math. Soc., 87 (1983) 15-18.

(with A.J. Coleman). The local classification of phase diagrams, Phys.Rev. B, 22 (1980) 3428-3442.

Other refereed publications:
“A review of Perfect Rigor,” Notices Amer. Math. Soc., 58 Jan. (2011) 56-59.

“The Surprising Resolution of the Poincaré Conjecture” in D. Rowe (ed..), Beyond Einstein: Perspectives on Geometry, Gravitation, and Cosmology, New York: Springer, to appear 2010.

“What Do Mathematicians Do?” (A review of three books.) Nature, Oct 25, 2007.

“Jacques Hadamard, Pontigny-en-Amerique and creativity in the sciences” in C. Benfey, K. Remmler (eds.), Artists, Intellectuals, and World War II, U. Mass. Press, 2006.

(with H. Pollatsek) Are Prerequisites Necessary? Notices of Amer. Math. Soc., May 1997, 210-221.

(with Les Senechal), Student Learning Difficulties and Calculus in Context in M. Artigue and G. Ervynck (eds.), Proceedings of Working Group 3 on Students’ Difficulties in Calculus, Collège de Sherbrooke, 1993.

Difficultés des étudiantes en calcul différentiel et intégral in Proceedings ICME-7, Birkhauser Verlag.

L’analyse et les sciences, Actes du Colloque sur les Objectifs de l’Enseignement Scientifique, Palaiseau, Avril 1990}, Soc. Math. de France (1991) 101-113.

Calculus en contexte: un nouveau cours d’introduction a l’analyse, Gazette des Math., 48 (1991) 25-29.

(with J. Callahan, D. Cox, K. Hoffman, L. Senechal, F. Wattenberg, Calculus in Context: The Five Colleges, in Calculus Reform and the First Two Years}, MAA Notes, 1991.

Summer Mathematics Research at Mount Holyoke College, in Models for Undergraduate Research, (ed. L. S. Senechal) MAA notes, 1990.

Mount Holyoke’s Laboratory in Mathematical Experimentation, in Mathematics Curriculum: Towards the Year 2000}, (ed. J. Malone, H. Burkhardt, C. Keitel), Austin University Press (1989)

Translations of Books:
from Russian (with Dawson), V.I. Arnold and D.V. Anosov, Dynamical Systems I, (Encyclopedia of Mathematics, vol 17), Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, 1988.

from Russian: Arkhangelskii and Fedorchuk, Topology I, (Encyclopedia of Mathematics, vol 50), Heideberg: Springer Verlag, 1990.

from French: R. Séroul, Programming for Mathematicians, Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2000

Over 130 translations of Russian language mathematics articles.

Recent (since 2005) op-eds available online:
Mount Holyoke Convocation Address, Sept 2005

“Pick a Number, Any Number: On the perils of bad math education.” Forbes, Mar 12, 2007

“High-stakes tests do maths no favours.” Times Educational Supplement, Apr 27, 2007

“Interview with Donal O’Shea.” Scientists Nightstand. American Scientist online, June 7, 2007.

GRANTS (from 1990):

• 1989-91 PD and co-PI with R. Weaver on the NSF ILI grant USEME-8951358 for $83,739 entitled Laboratories in Advanced Mathematics.
• 1988-91co-PI with D. Cox and J. Little on NECUSE (Pew Charitable Trusts) grant in 1988 for $35,000 entitled Computational Algebraic Geometry; supplements of $15,000 and $10,000 received in 1989-90 and 1990-91.
• 1988-91 PD and co-PI with J. Gifford and M.Peterson on three-year NSF REU grant DMS-88049962 for $144,000 entitled Mount Holyoke Undergraduate Mathematics Summer Research Institute renewed twice with an additional $290,000 in funding for two additional three year periods.
• 1988-94 co-PI with J. Callahan, D. Cox, K. Hoffman, L. Senechal and F. Wattenberg on the five year Calculus in Context grant DMS-8814004 for $714,000.
• 1990-93 PD and co-PI with H. Pollatsek on a three year DOE FIPSE grant P116B00468 for $208,000 entitled Increasing Accessibility to Advanced Mathematics.
• 1990-94 PD on three year NSF RGI grant DMS-9013220 for $1,469,607 entitled Geometry in the Machine Age.
• 1992-93 PD and co-PI on NECUSE (Pew Charitable Trusts) grant in 1992 for $18,000 entitled Guided Exploration in Geometry for Beginning Undergraduates.
• 1992-95 co-PI with J. Callahan, K. Hoffman, and H. Pollatsek on three year NSF grant DUE-9245065 for $205,000 entitled Disseminating Calculus in Context.
• 1994-96 PD on two year NSF grant DMS-9404497 entitled Effective Methods in Analytic Geometry for $28,900.
• 1994 PD on NECUSE (Pew Charitable Trusts) grant in 1994 for $18,500 entitled Mathematics Laboratories for Sophomores.
• 1995-98 PD on NSF grant DUE-9554646 entitled Mount Holyoke’s Laboratory in Computer Experimentation for $99,990.
• 1996-98 PD on NSF grant DUE-9555132 entitled Computational Algebra and Geometry for $45,004.
• 1996-98 PD and co-PI with H. Pollatsek and R. Weaver on NSF grant entitled Laboratories for a Mathematics Minor for $50,000.
• 1998-01 co-PI with H. Pollatsek on NSF grant DUE 9752750 entitled Multiple Entry Points to the Mathematics Major and Minor for $38,597.
• 1998-02 co-PI with H. Pollatsek, L.M. Hsu and Stan Rachootin on NSF grant DUE 9850028 entitled Institution-Wide Reform of Science Laboratories at Mount Holyoke.

Institutional Grants through Mount Holyoke
• Key role in raising more than $2 million from Dana Foundation, Sloan Foundation, NSF DUE, NEH, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Mellon Foundation, as well as other private foundations.
• Conceived and was the principal investigator on a $2.5 million grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation Centers of Excellence program, a series of attractive experientially based minors that allow students to link their stud of the liberal arts and their career aspirations is well underway.
• Principal investigator on a $200,000 Sloan grant to the college (administered through ACE) to enhance Faculty Career Flexibility.


• Queen Elizabeth II Dissertation Fellowship, 1978
• NSERC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship,1981 (declined) and 1983-85,
• Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, 1986-87
• Council of Independent Colleges CAO Service Award, 2007
• Peano Prize, 2008
• Steele Prize, American Mathematical Society, 2016


• American Association of Colleges and Universities
• Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges
• Florida Association of Colleges and Universities
• Southern University Conference
• Individual memberships: American Mathematical Society, Canadian Mathematical Society, European Mathematical Society, London Mathematical Society, Mathematical Association of America, NERCHE Academic Affairs Think Tank, Société Mathématique de France, and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematicians.


Recent public addresses to large national or international audiences:

“The unexpected resolution of the Poincaré Conjecture,” University of Mainz, DE (9/08, 100+ in audience),

“The three dimensional sphere,” Torino (IT, Nov 20, 2008, 1300+ in audience), video of webcast on (navigate to 23d Edition, Nov 20, 2008)

“Limits of tangent spaces, separating sets and exceptional tangents at singular points of complex surfaces,” Universitet Aarhus, Aarhus (DK, 8/09, 40+ in audience), pdf of notes on:

“The Mathematical Brain,” St. Ann’s College, Oxford, (UK, 9/09, 70+ in audience),

“Mathematics, Content, and Gender” Fields Institute, Toronto (CA, 10/13, 100+ in audience)


• Organizer, Women’s Education Worldwide meeting in Sydney, Australia (Jan 6-8, 2010)
• Consulting for Effat University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Jan 9-12, 2010)
• AMS strategic planning, Joint Mathematics Meetings, San Francisco (Jan 13-16, 2010)
• Organized planning meeting for joint CAO-CFO meeting, Barnard (Feb 6, 2010),
• External reviewer for SUNY, Plattsburgh math department (Mar 5, 2010)
• Member NEASC reaccreditation visiting team, St. Michael’s College, Colchester VT (Mar 12-14, 2010)
• Member: press briefing team for Millennium Prize Award, Paris (Jun 7, 2010) (
• Lecture and book-reading, Vassar College (July 11, 2010)
• Research member and lecturer, Real and Complex Singularity International Symposium, Sao Carlos, Brazil (July 24-31, 2010)
• Delegate, International Conference of Mathematicians, Hyderabad (Aug 19-27, 2010)
• External Reviewer: Emmanuel College mathematics departments, Boston (Sept 29, 2010)
• Mentor program for new CAOs, Williamsburg (Nov 6-8, 2010)
• Organizer of joint conference for chief academic officers and principal business officers of Northeast Deans and Selective Liberal Arts Colleges to discuss challenges of the financial models of research liberal arts colleges, New York (Nov 11-13, 2010)
• Panelist on liberal arts, Seven Siblings Meeting, Wellesley (Nov 29, 2010)
• AMS Nominating Committee: New Orleans (Jan 5-6, 2011)
• ACAD workshop organizer: “Educating for Global Citizenship at Baccalaureate Liberal Arts Institutions: Maximizing the Benefits of International Student Integration,” San Francisco (Jan 26, 2011)
• AAC&U presentation: “Globalizing Community Engagement and Liberal Learning: Two Case Studies,” San Francisco (Jan 27, 2011)
• J. James Woods Lecture: “In Search of the Shape of the Universe”, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN (March 29, 2011) (
• American Mathematical Society: “Exceptional Lines and Separating Sets at Singular Points of Complex Surfaces,” College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA (Apr 9, 2011)
• Plenary for Twenty-First Century Liberal Education: A Contested Concept: “Geometry, Space and the Liberal Arts,” Transylvania University, Lexington, KY (July 28, 2011)

Married to Mary O’Shea (neé Barker). Four children.

Citizenship: US, Canada, Ireland (EU)