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People at LBC

Robert W. Bell
Robert W. Bell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Department: Mathematics
Address: W-32 Holmes
Phone: (517) 353-4857

Pronouns: he/him/his


A.B. in Mathematics from Boston College, 1995
M.S. in Mathematics from Syracuse University, 1996.
Ph.D. in Mathematics from The Ohio State University, 2003.

Background: My interest in mathematics began at an early age. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in an after school math enrichment program in middle school. In high school I competed on the math team and tutored mathematics and Latin. It was around this time that I decided that I wanted to become a math teacher. And although I was tempted by beauty of theoretical physics, I majored in mathematics at Boston College and graduated with honors in 1995.

I next attended Syracuse University, where I was admitted on an All-University Graduate Fellowship. There I studied three of the core areas of modern pure mathematics: algebra, analysis, and topology. Through independent reading and attending conferences, I developed a strong interest in a relatively new area of mathematical research: geometric group theory.

I transfered to The Ohio State University in 1998 to work with experts in this field of research. I completed my doctoral work in 2003, writing a disertation on non-positive curvature and generalized braid groups. Later that fall, I joined the faculty of the University of Utah as an NSF VIGRE post-doctoral fellow. There I worked on several research projects and co-wrote two articles on the algebraic and geometric properties of mapping class groups.

I joined the faculty at Michigan State University in the Fall of 2006. I hold a 75% appointment in Lyman Briggs College and a 25% appointment in the Mathematics Department. My current interests include developing projects and interactive lessons for first and second year calculus students, supervising undergraduate research experiences, and continued research in geometric group theory. My hobbies include playing strategic board games and walking / hiking.

I typically teach one or two calculus courses (LB 118 Calculus I, LB 119 Calculus II, or LB 220 Calculus III) each semester. Every other semester, I teach an undergraduate or graduate course in the Mathematics Department. A recent exception is the LB 492 capstone course that I taught in Spring 2009; the topic of this class was the interplay between the mathematics of game theory, geometry, and probability and the analysis of voting systems, fair division, and models of conflict in political science. I will likely teach this course (LB 492: The Mathematics of Politics) again in the near future.

Selected publications:

Bell, Robert W. and Margalit, Dan. Injections of Artin groups, Commentarii Mathematici Helvetici, 82 (2007) 725-751.
Bell, Robert W. and Margalit, Dan. Braid groups and the co-Hopfian property, Journal of Algebra, 303 (2006), 275-294.
Bell, Robert W. Three dimensional FC Artin groups are CAT(0), Geometriae Dedicata, 113 (2005), 21-53.

    National Security Agency, (Zeleke, Bell, Gerhardt), Summer Undergraduate Research Institute in Experimental Mathematics (SURIEM) [2013 -2015] $186,854
    National Science Foundation, Division of Mathematial Sciences, (Bell, Zeleke), REU Site in Applied & Discrete Mathematics [2011 -2013] $275,406
    National Security Agency, (Bell, Zeleke), Summer Undergraduate Research Institute in Experimental Mathematics [2011 -2013] $88,578
    National Security Agency, (Zeleke, Bell, Dougherty), Summer Undergraduate Research Institute in Experimental Mathematics (SURIEM) [2010 -2011] $87,199

    2011 Robert W. Bell. Combinatorial Methods for Detecting Surface Subgroups in Right-Angled Artin Groups. ISRN Algebra, vol. 2011, Article ID 102029, 6 pages, 2011. doi:10.5402/2011/102029.