Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Trip Back to Brown University, My Alma Mater

Yesterday, in traveling back from early holiday celebrations with relatives in Newport, Rhode Island, we stopped in Providence. I was curious to see how my alma mater, Brown University, was faring, given that I had heard that construction was in the plans.

There is something very special about going back to the place where you received a great education, made many friends, and have lifelong memories. OK, I admit, I also met my husband there freshman week - he was a graduate student in physics.

Thayer Street - the main commercial street that cuts through the campus is filled with even more restaurants than ever - quite a few with an international focus, which is great.

Pembroke, pictured below, where I lived as a freshman, still looks good.

As does Diman House, where I lived, and had the best room-mate, Teresa Davila, who was on the women's crew team - amazing for a former ballerina from Chile, and fellow Applied Math major.
I loved living at Diman, because it was close to the "Ratty," the main cafeteria, as well as to the frat quad, which made life always interesting. Yes, in those days, we even got to see "streakers," including members of the football team.

Also, I have incredibly fond memories of living in the Russian House and,  even last summer, while visiting my daughter, who was doing research at the University of Colorado, Boulder, we got to see Dr. Mark Kiken, who received his PhD from Brown. He was the dorm resident assistant of Russian House when I lived there for a year. My other major (I hold an AB and an ScB from Brown) was Russian Language & Literature.
I reconnected this past year with two other Russian majors, Janice Pilch, now at Rutgers, and Jill Rappaport, now teaching at Temple. We would spend a lot of time at Marston Hall where many of  the language faculty had offices. I could not resist having the photo taken below in front of Marston.
Then, just a few feet away, is the beautiful Applied Math building with stained glass windows, where I would visit faculty during office hours and we would pick up our exams and homeworks.
Less than a decade after getting my PhD from Brown in Applied Math, with a specialization in Operations Research, I was back in that building on my sabbatical and there I wrote my first book, Network Economics: A Variational Inequality Approach. I lived then in an apartment complex known as Wayland Manor, on Wayland Square,  which I visited yesterday.
My apartment was on the first floor behind the trees in the photo above.

Walking through the main campus was nostalgic.
Brown had invited me back (the Mathe Department) in 2007 to speak at the SUMS conference on Operations Research to undergraduates and a clip of my talk was posted on youtube. 

And, speaking of fellow Brown University Applied Math majors, I just heard that (I was his TA in OR courses), Dr. Irv Lustig has left IBM!  Dr. Les Servi of Mitre, another fellow Brown Applied Math major, is also rrenowned in our INFORMS professional community.  And, of course, I have to mention Dr. Georgia Perakis of the Sloan School at MIT. Georgia was my dissertation advisor's 4th PhD student and I was her first.

And, while on the main campus green, I had to take a photo of Wilson Hall, where I had my calculus classes from one of the founder's of dynamical systems, Professor Joe LaSalle.
The campus was very quiet since it is now the winter break period.

After exploring Brown, it was time to head to the Italian section of Providence, on Atwell's Avenue, to see what kind of holiday pastries were on display.

I couldn't resist taking the photo of the tree below - note that instead of a double yellow line on the street, there is a long Italian flag painted.

With best wishes for a joyous holiday season to my readers!