McMaster University will continue to host undergraduate academic activities remotely for the Spring/Summer/Intersession term with only a few exceptions for courses that need student access to specialized equipment.

Carl Riehm (1935 – 2021)

Carl Riehm (1935 – 2021)

We are saddened by the death of Carl Riehm, a long-time faculty member at McMaster University and a good friend of the Fields Institute, who passed away on March 16, 2021. He was 85.

Carl was a dedicated academic whose interest in algebra and number theory contributed to his prolific, high-caliber research output. Born in Kitchener Ontario, Carl earned a B.A. at the University of Toronto in 1958. He then studied at Princeton University where, in 1961, he received his PhD under the supervision of Tim O’Meara for work on integral representations of quadratic forms.

Carl held a position at McGill University, followed by a professorship at Notre Dame from 1963 until 1972. He was recruited to McMaster from the University of Notre Dame in 1972 to be Department Chair and he remained at McMaster until his retirement in 2000. There, he served as Department Chair from 1972 until 1978.

Carl was instrumental in the formation of the Fields Institute, and ensured that McMaster was fully involved in the Institute from the beginning. In fact, it was Carl’s wife Elaine, later a biographer of John Charles Fields, who provided the suggestion to call the institute after the Canadian mathematician and founder of the Fields Medal. Carl served on the Board of the Institute and after retiring from McMaster, he ran publications at Fields for 13 years as Managing Editor. He was made a Fields Fellow in the inaugural class of Fellows in 2002.

On top of his many achievements, Carl will be most fondly remembered for his kindness and generosity toward those fortunate enough to enter his orbit. A former Fields colleague recalls that Carl was a “prince” who was always an engaging conversationalist. “I always tried to score a seat beside Carl or Elaine at any Fields dinner because I knew we’d have lots to chat about,” she recalls.

True to form, this gregariousness made him a familiar figure at McMaster’s University Club, where he held a prime seat at the “Math Table” and made it his job to know everyone and to connect people. From his seat, Carl would have lunch with and chat with everyone from the most recent hire in the department to the Dean and the upper administration. He remained a mentor and friend to so many throughout his life, taking new recruits out for lunch, a run or a game of squash.

Carl is survived by his wife, Elaine, their sons Derek and Marc, as well as their six grandchildren. The family will organize a celebration of his life this coming fall.Carl Riehm

James Stewart Research Support Awards - Summer 2021 applications

The James Stewart fund provides funding for students in Mathematics and Statistics to participate in opportunities that might not otherwise be available to them. These can include, but are not limited to, summer research with faculty at McMaster or elsewhere, travel to conferences, outreach activities. Undergraduate students at McMaster may wish to have a research opportunity that is not covered by the NSERC USRA awards; for example, to work for just one or two months, or to work with a faculty member at another university. Students at another university may apply for funding to work with a McMaster faculty member. Undergraduate or graduate students may apply for support to travel to a relevant conference.
Awards are available to students in any Mathematics and Statistics program at McMaster, and to students in any program to work with a faculty member in the Mathematics and Statistics department at McMaster.
Applications for Small Awards (up to $500) will be accepted at any time and funded on a rolling basis. For Large Awards (up to $5000) there will be a call for proposals in the winter term. It is expected, although exceptions are possible, that funding will be used in the subsequent summer. Applications demonstrating that matching funds are being provided will be viewed more favourably than those without. Applications by undergraduates and by graduate students will be assessed separately. Previous awards can be viewed here.
Applications are now invited for Large Awards for summer 2021.
An application consists of:
- a description of the proposed project (up to one page), with a timeframe;
- a budget, specifying how much funding is requested and how it will be spent (e.g. stipend, travel, etc);
- a cv;
- an (informal) transcript;
- a letter of support from a faculty member at McMaster (potential supervisors and projects can be viewed here). If research is to be conducted at another university, there should be a letter of invitation from that university. If a student is registered at another university, there should be a letter of recommendation from that university.

Students are encouraged to consult with the undergraduate advisor Adam Van Tuyl or the graduate advisor Bartosz Protas for advice on the budget and the feasibility of their project.
All applications should be sent to with subject line Stewart Award. Applications are due March 19, 2021.

Second McMaster & Co-operators Problem Solving Workshop

We are happy to announce the Second McMaster & Co-operators Problem Solving e-Workshop edition, jointly organized by the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at McMaster University ( and The Co-operators General Insurance Company (

The Workshop will take place online on Saturday, March 13th, 2021, and will gather representatives from industry, academic mathematicians, undergraduate and graduate students.

This year, we are introducing a new concept: the piscine competition! The Piscine is the final trial during the e-workshop. It is not a swimming trial (Piscine is the French word for “swimming pool”) but a deep dive into the code pool that will let us pick the winners among the most motivated and talented candidates.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come online and spend the entire day modeling and coding your heart out with several other candidates, all hoping to earn the same prize: to be seen as a talent by The Co-operators.

The main goal of this Piscine workshop is to provide the students with an experiential learning opportunity through a concrete real-world problem submitted by the insurance company. The participants will work individually, or in study groups (up to 4 students), and will have the opportunity to learn and develop their interpersonal and technical skills (including data science, statistics, optimization, mathematical finance, programming, communication, etc.). This would also enable the industrial partner to connect with McMaster students. This workshop is also aimed to be an “incubator” of collaborations, that can lead to more long-term and impactful relationships between the participants and the industrial partner.

Moreover, The Co-operators is currently hiring and actively looking for new talents to join their forces for the Actuarial and Business Intelligence teams.

The problem description and the registration details can be found on the Workshop website ( Here are the important dates and deadlines:

  • February 5th, 2021: Registration opens
  • February 15th, 2021: Registration ends and start of the qualification round
  • March 5th, 2021: Announcement of the finalists (e-Workshop participants)
  • March 13th, 2021 (Pi-day-1): A full day e-workshop
  • April 1st, 2021: Announcement of the winners and the prizes

Here are some of the prizes offered to the participants:

  • $ 1000x(π -1) total for the top groups
  • Invitation to present the results to The Co-operators managerial team
  • Job Shadowing with actuaries, statisticians/mathematicians and data scientists
  • Aesthetic signed one-pager presentation of your solution for your next job interview
  • Door prizes, and more!

Dr Paul McNicholas awarded prestigious Steacie Prize for Natural Sciences

Congratulations to Dr Paul McNicholas who has won the prestigious Steacie Prize for Natural Sciences  for his contributions to statistics research in Canada – the first time the prize has been awarded for research in statistics. The Steacie Prize, one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for early-career scientists and engineers, is awarded to a researcher who is 40 or younger for outstanding research conducted in Canada. One prize has been awarded annually since 1964.

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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Math & Stats