Picture of Dr. Steven Rayan

Dr. Steven Rayan DPhil (Oxford) Professor, Mathematics & Statistics

About Me


I am a Professor and NSERC, NFRF, and CFI-supported researcher in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at the University of Saskatchewan, which is located on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. I am a faculty member of both the College of Arts & Science and the College of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies. I am the lead for the University's Signature Area of Research in Quantum Innovation and the Director of the Centre for Quantum Topology and Its Applications (quanTA).  I am also the University's Director of Interdisciplinary Programming.

I am a pure mathematician influenced in large part by physics. My primary areas of research are:

  • algebraic geometry, topology, and representation theory of moduli spaces
  • geometric and topological techniques in mathematical physics and quantum theory

You can read an overview of my research or you can see my papers directly. If you want to learn about some of my research and also see cartoons of hedgehogs at the same time, please have a look at Higgs Bundles without Geometry, a pamphlet that I wrote with Laura Schaposnik for the Oberwolfach Snapshots of Modern Mathematics series, which is "designed to promote the understanding and appreciation of modern mathematics and mathematical research in the interested public world-wide."

I was invited by the Canadian Science Policy Centre to write about grand challenges around quantum innovation in the current decade. You can read my article on page 39 of the 2020 edition of the Canadian Science Policy Magazine.

I am also an editor of the journal Research in the Mathematical Sciences and a member of the NSF GEAR Network and Geometry Labs United.

Mathematical Physics Program


I am the Chair of the Mathematical Physics BScH Program at the University of Saskatchewan. This is an exciting interdisciplinary undergraduate program that combines the best of two worlds. The program provides a rigorous foundation in both mathematics and physics, and upper-year students enjoy special topics courses ranging from algebraic geometry, to mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics, to string theory. Students in the program are very successful in attaining paid summer research positions and have an excellent track record of being admitted into top graduate schools. If you are performing well in first-year and second-year mathematics and physics courses and are considering the possibility of applying for Mathematical Physics, please schedule an appointment with me.

Graduate Programs


I am the Graduate Chair in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics. If you have a strong record of undergraduate and/or postgraduate academic achievement in the mathematical sciences; are keen to pursue Master's or PhD-level level studies in pure mathematics, applied mathematics, discrete mathematics, or statistics; and are interested in the research of one or more of our faculty members, then I encourage you to apply for admission to our MMath, MSc, or PhD graduate programs.


I am also the University of Saskatchewan's Director of Interdisciplinary Programming through which I chair the Interdisciplinary Studies graduate program.  This is an individualized graduate program in which students, with the guidance of supervisors and advisory committees, may propose their own scholarly investigations at the interface of two or more disciplines.  If you are interested in an MA, MSc, or PhD degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, you may apply for admission.


If you are interested in working under my supervision (through either program), please do not hesitate to contact me at rayan (at) math.usask.ca.  Knowing your past academic training and who your supervisors were (if any) would be valuable.  If you have any publications or written projects, I would be happy to examine these as part of our communication.  Please keep in mind that I am looking for graduate students who match very closely my research interests in algebraic geometry and mathematical physics, and this is best demonstrated through written projects, theses, and/or preprints and publications.

Recent Activity




  • June 2022: I gave an invited talk at the Conference on the Quantum Hall Effect and Topological Phases at the Institut de recherche mathématique avancée (IRMA) in Strasbourg.  My talk focused on my recent work concerning the algebraic geometry of two-dimensional quantum materials modelled on hyperbolic lattices.  I focused especially on hyperbolic band theory, nonabelian Bloch states, and the intersection of these materials with moduli spaces in algebraic and symplectic geometry.
  • March 2022: I delivered the Mathematical and Statistical Sciences Colloquium at the University of Alberta.  My talk introduced Higgs bundles from a pure-mathematical point of view, focusing on the algebra, topology, and combinatorics of their moduli spaces, utilizing matrix-valued polynomials as a toy model that anticipates most of the properties of the moduli space. I aimed to give a sense of where the subject is today and where it is going.
  • January 2022: I was invited to speak in the Special Session on Intersections of Geometric Analysis and Mathematical Physics at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Seattle.  The talk would have reported on new results on quantum matter that make use of moduli spaces of stable bundles on curves. However, due to the outbreak of the omicron variant of Covid-19, the JMM, and subsequently the special session, has been postponed.
  • November - December 2021: I gave an invited talk in the Minisymposium on Applications of Algebra in Mathematical Physics and Integrable Systems at TXLA21: 4th Annual Meeting of the SIAM Texas-Louisiana Section.  I spoke about Gelfand-Tsetlin-type integrable systems on Nakajima quiver varieties. I also delivered two talks, one on problems in quantum matter that may be addressed by neutron scattering and the other more broadly on new models of quantum matter inspired by hyperbolic geometry, locally at the University of Saskatchewan.  These were delivered in the Fedoruk Centre Neutron Coffee Break and the Department of Biology's Mathematical Modelling Seminar, respectively.
  • July - August 2021: In July, I gave an invited talk in the Special Session on Moduli Spaces in Algebraic Geometry and Applications at the Mathematical Congress of the Americas in Buenos Aires.  The talk, which was delivered virtually, concerned symplectic duality for hyperpolygon spaces and their connection with Higgs bundle modui spaces.  In August, I gave a talk at the International Symposium on Mathematical Dialogues held at the Chern Institute of Mathematics in Nankai, held in honour of the 110th anniversary of the birth of S.-S. Chern and the 90th birthday of Sir R. Penrose.  My talk concerned new constructions of quantum matter from algebraic geometry and number theory.
  • May - June 2021: In May, I gave the WiSe Seminar in the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland. I was invited to speak on my recent AMS Notices article (written with L. Schaposnik) concerning hyperpolygons. In my 2-hour virtual talk, I gave an overview of GIT and symplectic reduction (including the Kempf-Ness theorem), hyperkähler reduction, and Nakajima quiver varieties, before specializing to (generalized) hyperpolygon spaces and recent results concerning their integrability. Also in May, I gave a talk in the Differential Geometry Seminar at UC Santa Barbara on the differential topology of ordinary, twisted, and wild Hitchin systems, reporting on joint work in recent years with several students and other collaborators. In June, I gave a talk in the Scientific Session on Symplectic Geometry at the Canadian Mathematical Society's (75+1)th Anniversary Meeting. I reviewed results from recent work of mine on complete integrability for (generalized) hyperpolygon spaces and presented a conjecture regarding the Couloumb branch and symplectic duality for these spaces.
  • March - April 2021: I gave the Geometry Labs United Seminar. My talk, which was broadcast online, featured an overview of the work of the quanTA Centre, the hyperbolic band theory proposal put forward by J. Maciejko and myself, and the potential for students to contribute to this emerging field. I also gave the Colloquium of the Quantum Science and Engineering Research Center (QSEC) at George Mason University, going into further detail on the same topic.
  • January 2021: I gave the Mathematics & Statistics Colloquium at Utah State University. My talk, which was held online, was a survey of Hitchin systems together with an announcement of my recent results in hyperbolic band theory, emphasizing connections between the two.
  • November - December 2020: I gave an invited online talk in the Caltech High Energy Theory Seminar. My talk concerned relations between quiver varieties and Hitchin systems, the construction of Higgs bundles from hyperpolygons, and the definition of BPS hyperpolygons as a step towards computing explicit Seiberg-Witten curves for higher-genus N=1 Coulomb branch dynamics. I gave a similar invited online talk in the Clusters and Geometry Seminar at Yale University. This talk focused more on the construction of the quiver variety, the Hitchin systems correspondence, and the integrability theorem that I proved with L. Schaposnik.
  • September 2020: I gave an invited talk in the Séminaire physique mathématique at the Centre de recherches mathématiques. My talk, which was held online, was a survey of Hitchin systems together with an announcement of my recent results in hyperbolic band theory, emphasizing connections between the two.
  • May - July 2020: I was an invited speaker at the Workshop on Higgs Bundles and Related Topics and at the Conference on Lie Theory and Integrable Systems in Symplectic and Poisson Geometry, both of which were held online. At both venues, I spoke on the relationship between generalized hyperpolygons and Higgs bundles on punctured curves and the existence of a Gelfand-Tsetlin-type integrable system on the moduli space of generalized hyperpolygons for certain flag types. I also gave a talk on the algebraic geometry of quantum matter at the SIDE Math Conference and a "state of the lab" address at the Geometry Labs United Conference.



  • Please see here for highlights from my current CV.


Contact Information


Dr. Steven Rayan
Department of Mathematics & Statistics / quanTA
University of Saskatchewan
Office 209, McLean Hall
106 Wiggins Road
Saskatoon, SK
Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis
S7N 5E6