Donald Estep

CIMS 2014-2015


Below we summarize the activities related to CIMS for the PRSE period of 2012-2016. This activity builds on a history of substantial activity, productivity, accomplishment and distinction as a PRSE in the previous period 2008-2011 and with roots extending earlier to PRIMES (Program for Interdisciplinary Mathematics, Statistics, and Ecology), which was the first NSF IGERT project at CSU.


Core Members

Jay Breidt

Edwin Chong

Donald Estep

Jennifer Hoeting

Jennifer Mueller

Jean Opsomer

Simon Tavener

Other Faculty Involvement

CIMS PRSE support is used to fund activities related to interdisciplinary research and education. CIMS is inclusive of faculty in all parts of campus and CIMS entertains proposals for support from faculty across campus and regularly provides support to faculty outside of group of the Core members. Hence, CIMS does not have affiliate faculty in a usual sense.


CIMS has a very lean administrative structure and no part of the CIMS budget is used for administrative costs. Estep serves as Director of CIMS while the core group of CIMS faculty serves as a CIMS Council. Estep handles all administrative and financial oversight. D. Estep generally handles relatively small requests for CIMS support. This includes advising on interdisciplinary aspects of research and devising ways in which CIMS support can be used effectively. D. Estep approaches the Council for advice and decisions regarding complex and larger requests. Ideas for new ways to use CIMS support originate from the Core faculty. The Mathematics and Statistics Departments choose the entering graduate students that receive the CIMS PRSE graduate student support.


CIMS is designed to provide the support needed to overcome the significant barriers associated with initiating interdisciplinary activities to faculty across the university. The main goals are to provide support and advice for the initialization of interdisciplinary research and education involving mathematical sciences and organize the resources needed to formulate competitive proposals for interdisciplinary opportunities. CIMS does not support the conduct of research except in the context of initial preparation for a proposal submission. Typical examples of the ways in which CIMS support is used include:

• Preliminary research for an interdisciplinary proposal;

• Faculty release time, faculty travel, and administration support for large proposal preparation;

• Faculty internal sabbaticals teaching courses in other departments;

• Visitors and workshops;

• Advice on initiating interdisciplinary research and education opportunities.

To pursue these goals, CIMS leverages the modest institutional investment gained by the PRSE designation using a nimble proposal mechanism that makes CIMS resources available to the broad University community. CIMS supported activities are successful because they are guided by the deep experience and success of the Core CIMS faculty with interdisciplinary research and education.

Examples of CIMS supported activities in the last period include:

• 24 entering graduate students in mathematics and statistics received CIMS PRSE student support to pursue interdisciplinary education in the first summer in their program;

• Support for extended visits by a number of collaborators through a CIMS visitor program;

• Support for several students and postdocs to develop preliminary results for research proposals;

• Support for development of problem-based learning courses to supplement mathematics courses with substantial enrollment by science majors.


Interdisciplinary research and education has been a core part of the University mission and strategic plan for many years. However, the barriers and challenges facing interdisciplinary activities are well publicized. Experience in multiple universities has demonstrated that successful promotion of interdisciplinary activity requires active and engaged support and advising mechanisms. In this general context, a particular challenge arises because of the increasing importance of the mathematical and statistical components in modern science and engineering. This trend is documented in numerous advisory reports as well as national funding trends. The administration has made substantial investments in interdisciplinary research and education initiatives on campus, e.g. through mechanisms such as the Special Academic Units and OVPR competitions. But, these kinds of investments are relevant to large groups of faculty and researchers, and this leaves a significant void in terms of supporting small groups and individual faculty who are interested in pursuing interdisciplinary activity. Moreover, almost none of this support goes directly to the mathematical sciences as a major partner. CIMS is a nimble operation that provides small but high impact grassroots support at the level of individual faculty in the mathematical sciences and their interdisciplinary partners. The success of CIMS sponsored activities and its Core faculty has resulted in a substantial contribution to the mission and strategic goals of the University and the OVPR.


A summary of the excellence and impact of CIMS Core faculty for the period of the PRSE designation 2012-2015:

• Published 141 journal articles with articles appearing in 78 different journals;

• Advised 42 Ph.D. students and 14 postdocs/research scientists;

• Won external grants as PI and Co-PI totaling $49,532,136;

• 21 appointments on editorial boards, including 3 appointments as Editor in Chief/Senior Editor and 2 Founding Editors;

• Service in 32 professional appointments/advisory panels/boards/committees for government and professional societies;

• Presented 5 short courses, 37 invited talks at meetings, and numerous seminars at 32 universities;

• Earned 11 major professional awards and distinctions.


Summary of the collaborations of the Core CIMS faculty:

• Collaborations with 43 Faculty and Research Scientists at CSU

• Collaborations with 22 government institutions and laboratories and professional agencies

• Collaborations with faculty and researchers in 43 universities

• Collaborations with 5 companies.