Dr. Kamal Khuri-Makdisi returned to Lebanon in 1999 after a 15-year
absence. Leaving as an IC graduate, he returned with a PhD in Mathematics
from Princeton University.
What brought him back? Rumors on the Lebanese grapevine about an
opportunity at AUB's Mathematics Department and the Center for Advanced
Mathematical Sciences (CAMS). Part of the lure, he said, was the certainty
that he would have good students to work with at AUB.
Now Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department and a faculty
member of CAMS, he finds the students are up to his expectations. "They
are bright and well prepared," he said. "In fact, many of them
On the other hand, he complained that some students acted like
they were still in high school. "They don't understand they have
to do two or three hours of work for every lecture they attend. Also,
a minority are more concerned about their numerical grade than anything
When Khuri-Makdisi started his higher education at Yale University
in the United States he was intent on a degree in Electrical Engineering.
He soon realized, however, that it was the mathematics in his engineering
and computer courses that appealed to him most. "Math is a bigger
challenge," he said. "It goes deeper. And it opens more doors
than you would think. Mathematicians today should be ready to look beyond
the traditional academic path."
Graduating summa cum laude from Yale in 1988 with a double major
in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, he spent a year as a Fulbright
Scholar at the University of Bonn. Later he joined Princeton University,
where he was granted a PhD in Mathematics in November 1993
Khuri-Makdisi sees a lot of potential at AUB. "There are many
good people and interesting research is going on here. But we need more
opportunity to work together."
He likes being part of CAMS, which is working toward just such a
goal in the field of mathematics. "Ideally, CAMS will become a meeting
point for scientific fields that use sophisticated mathematics. Now, just
starting out, it is more of a forum where scholars gather for lectures,
workshops and advanced training."
Last year, his first at AUB, Khuri-Makdisi taught courses in Math
202, Differential Equations, and Number Theory (which he defined as "solving
equations with integers or the study of integers.")
His moderate teaching load allows him a reasonable amount of time for
research. "I only need pencil and paper and a comfortable place to
sit," he said. "Computers are fine for quick computations, but
I work best with no intermediary between my ideas and the paper."
At present, he is researching complex geometry related to automorphic
forms, but he also has a new project ready to go on the L-functions of
"What spare time?" Khuri-Makdisi retorted when asked about how
he spends his leisure moments. When he does take time out to relax he
likes to play the piano and is particularly fond of classical music from
Bach to Schubert, as well as 20th century compositions. Reading is also
a favorite pastime.
A recent recipient of a research award from the Clay Mathematics
Institute, he spent a month last summer researching in France and 2 months
in North America. While he was Benjamin Peirce Assistant Professor at
Harvard University in 1992-93 and 1996-98 he received the Levenson award
for excellence in undergraduate teaching and the Phi Beta Kappa award
for excellence in teaching. Between 1989 and 1993 he was supported by
a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and a grant from the
US Department of Education.
Dr. Khuri-Makdisi has publications in International Mathematical
Research Notices and the Canadian Journal of Mathematics. A
revised version of his PhD thesis, entitled "On the Fourier Coefficients
of Nonholomorphic Hilbert Modular Forms of Half-integral Weight,"
was published in the Duke Mathematical Journal in 1996.
Born in New York City, he is fluent in Arabic, English, French and German.
Rabih Sultan Attends Research Conference
In August Dr. Rabih Sultan of the Chemistry Department attended
a research conference on the subject of "Oscillations and Dynamic
Instabilities in Chemical Systems." His presence at the conference,
held at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, was supported by the
University Research Board (URB).
The meeting focused on novel findings in the fields of chemical
waves and pattern formation, notably in chemical and biological systems.
Nonlinear dynamics in the biological sciences is of increasing importance
due to the potential applicability of oscillations in nerve axons, cardiac
fibers and metabolic biochemical oscillators.
Professor Sultan presented two papers on research work carried
out in his laboratory at the Chemistry Department. One was in the form
of a talk entitled "Propagating Fronts in Cr(OH)3 Precipitation Systems
in Gelled Media." The other paper, given during the poster session,
was on "Crystal Selection and Liesegang Banding in Dynamic Precipitate