Dr. John Graef, Professor of Mathematics for the Department of Mathematics marked two major career milestones during the pandemic. The year 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of receiving his Ph.D. He has also published his 500th research paper in Mathematics in 2021 .
Graef is a brilliant mathematician and has had a love for the subject since he was in the fourth grade. By the eight grade, he was sure that math was a subject that he wanted to study. Throughout secondary school, he had a several fantastic math teachers which made his transition to college much easier.
Graef attended Loyola University in Chicago, IL where he graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics with a minor in Philosophy in 1964. He did not know what he wanted to do after his undergraduate studies, though. His mom began a job at a local high school and her bosses had mentioned to him that St. Mary’s University had a fantastic Master’s program in Mathematics. In 1964, Graef had moved to San Antonio, TX to begin his graduate work in statistics. He graduated with his degree in 1965. Following graduate, John taught for the San Antonio Independent School District as a Junior High School math teacher from 1965 to 1966.
After teaching for a year, Graef realized wanted something a bit different so he had applied and was accepted into the Ph.D. program at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL in 1966. He was planning to complete his concentration in statistics until he learned that the statistician in the department was on leave. So, he opted for a differential equations instead. Graef completed his Ph.D. program in 1970 with his dissertation titled, “Relaxation and Forced Oscillations in a Second-Order Nonlinear Differential Equation.”
Once completing his Ph.D. program, Graef found that the job market was difficult. He eventually was offered a job at Mississippi State University in 1970 as an Assistant Professor. He was hired along with another person, Paul Spikes, who also had a concentration in differential equations. Graef and Spikes published about 80 papers together during this time.
Graef was hired as Department Head the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of Mathematics (UTC) in 1999. He has been a member of the department ever since, currently holding the position of Professor of Mathematics. He has continued to be a prolific researcher in the field of differential equations during his tenure at UTC.
Graef has published his 500th research paper in 2021. He does not have an all-time favorite paper, though he finds a lot of his earlier published papers to be a bit more special to him. His 500th publication is titled, “Altered Oscillation Criteria for Second-Order Nonlinear Neutral Delay Difference Equations of Non-Canonical Type” with G. Ayyappan, T. Kumar, and E. Thandapani. This will appear in the PanAmerican Mathematical Journal later this year. This paper was dedicated to the 90th birthday of his former colleague, Paul Spikes.