Photograph by Karen Morgan

The next time you text, stream a video, or shop online, spare a thought for the unsung professionals who make it possible: mathematicians.

“There’s a lot of math that balances speed, accuracy, and security” when you’re using a cell phone, said professor Jim Davis (above), an expert in the invisible mathematical infrastructure underlying modern communication. “We’ve all been in a situation where we are trying to send a text or download something and can’t.”

With support from a Fulbright Global Scholar Award, Davis will travel to three countries in 2017–18 to confer with colleagues to solve “problems related to coding theory and combinatorics, specifically Boolean function theory and difference sets,” according to a University media release.

Put more plainly, “there have been many advances in [communication technology] in the past 10 to 15 years, and there’s a need now to further review the math and make improvements as needed,” he said. “That’s what I’ll be working on with other leading experts.”

April brought news of two more Fulbrights. David Brandenberger, a professor in history and international studies, received a grant to support four months of research in Russia. Ryan McEvoy, ’17, received an English teaching assistant grant and will teach English and American studies in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany.