Here you can find the titles and abstracts for the talks at the
graduate workshop and the main conference. All talks will take place in Room 201 of the Physical Sciences Center
(PHSC), located at 601 Elm Avenue.

To go back to the main
conference page, click here.

**Title:** Abelian quotients of the Torelli
group

**Abstract:**
The mapping class group MCG(S) of a surface S is the group of
symmetries of S,
that is, the group of self-homeomorphisms of S up to isotopy. MCG(S)
acts naturally on the first homology group of S, giving rise to a
representation MCG(S) → Sp(2g,Z). The Torelli group
of the surface S is the kernel of this representation, and is often
described as the “nonlinear” or “mysterious” part of the mapping
class group. A basic question about any group is: what is its
abelianization, and what does that tell us about the group? In 1978,
Birman-Craggs discovered
the first abelian quotients of the Torelli group, giving a family of
maps to Z/2 via the Rokhlin invariant of 4-manifolds. A few years
later, Dennis Johnson discovered a new abelian quotient of
the Torelli group onto a free abelian group. He further showed that
this map, now known as the Johnson homomorphism, together with the
Birman-Craggs maps, are sufficient to calculate the abelianization of
the Torelli group. In this talk, we will explain both “pieces” of the
abelianization:
we will describe the Birman-Craggs maps and also give two ways to
define the Johnson homomorphism, one in terms of certain 3-manifolds
and one that is more algebraic in flavor. We will also briefly survey
more recent work of Masatoshi Sato and of Tudur Lewis on the
abelianization of a closely related group, the level 2 congruence
subgroup of MCG(S), and describe how this sheds new light
on the work of Johnson and Birman-Craggs.

**Title:** Semi-direct product
structures in mapping class groups of 3-manifolds

**Abstract:** There is a natural map from the mapping class
group of any manifold to the (outer) automorphism group of its
fundamental group. In general, this map is neither injective nor
surjective. In this talk, we will show that an associated short exact
sequence splits, which gives rise to a semi-direct product structure
on the mapping class group when the 3-manifold contains copies of
S^{2}
× S^{1}. (This is joint work with Nathan Broaddus and Andrew Putman.)

**Title:** The Steinberg Module of the braid group

**Abstract:**
The braid group on n strands is a Bieri-Eckmann duality group due to
the fact that it is torsion free and has a finite index subgroup (the
pure braid group) which is an iterated extension of free groups by
free groups. I will talk about current joint work with Lindsey-Kay
Lauderdale (Southern Illinois University), Emille Lawrence
(University of San Francisco), Anisah Nu’Man (Spelman College) and
Robin Wilson (Loyola Marymount University) in which we seek to
improve upon the known presentations of the dualizing module of the
braid group as a braid group module.

**Title:** Mapping class groups of circle bundles over a surface

**Abstract:**
In this talk, we study the algebraic structure of mapping class group
Mod(M) of 3- manifolds M that fiber as a circle bundle over a surface
S_{1} → M → S_{g}. We prove an exact sequence 1 →
H_{1}(S_{g}) → Mod(M) → Mod(S_{g})
→ 1, relate this to the Birman exact sequence, and determine when
this sequence splits. This is joint work with Bena Tshishiku.

**Title:** Cohomology of mapping class
groups: known and unknown

**Abstract:** A well-studied group that captures the symmetries
of a topological surface is its mapping class group: the group of
isotopy classes of the self-homeomorphisms of the surface. In this
talk we will recall its definition and describe some of its
properties for surfaces of finite type. Our goal is to present an
overview of known results, and some open questions, about homology
and cohomology of mapping class groups of orientable surfaces of
finite type. If type permits, we will talk about our contributions to
this topic.

**Title:** On normalizers and commensurators of abelian subgroups of mapping class groups

**Abstract:**
Let Mod(S) be the mapping class group of a connected surface S of
finite type with negative Euler characteristic. In joint work with
León Álvarez and Sánchez Saldaña, we show that the commensurator of
any infinite abelian subgroup of Mod(S) can be realized as the
normalizer of a subgroup in the same commensuration class. As a
consequence, we give an upper bound for the virtually abelian
dimension of Mod(S). In this talk we will introduce the necessary
definitions and explain how these results are obtained.

**Title:** From Stallings’ Theorem to connected components of Morse boundaries of graph of groups

**Abstract:**
Every finitely generated group G has an associated topological space,
called a Morse boundary. It was introduced by a combination of Cordes
and Charney–Sultan and captures the hyperbolic-like behavior of G at
infinity.

In this talk, I will first explain Stallings’ theorem – a fundamental theorem in geometric group theory. Afterward, I will explain an analogous statement for Gromov boundaries of Gromov- hyperbolic groups. As Morse boundaries generalize Gromov boundaries, this raises the question whether it is possible to formulate an analog for Morse boundaries. Motivated by this question, we will study connected components of Morse boundaries of graph of groups. We will focus on the case where the edge groups are undistorted and do not contribute to the Morse boundary of the ambient group. Results presented are joint with Elia Fioravanti.

**Title:** Deformation Spaces of Free Splittings and Coarse Lipschitz Retractions

**Abstract:**
A free splitting of a group is a nontrivial action of that group on a
tree with trivial
edge stabilizers. Building on work of Forester and Culler–Vogtmann,
Guirardel and Levitt define
a deformation space of free splittings to which that tree action
belongs. In ongoing joint work
with Mosher, we provide a flexible construction of coarse Lipschitz
retractions between (pointed) deformation spaces of free splittings
and certain solvable Lie groups. As a corollary, we recover
and extend work of Bridson–Vogtmann and Handel–Mosher on the Dehn
function of outer automorphism groups of free groups.

**Title:** Distinguishing 3-manifold groups
by finite quotients

**Abstract:** By Perelman’s resolution of Thurston’s
Geometrization Conjecture, the fundamental groups of compact
3-manifolds are residually finite and thereby have a rich supply of
finite quotients. This talk will be a gentle discussion centered
around the questions: To what extent are 3-manifold groups determined
by their finite quotients and what properties of 3-manifolds are
recognized by finite quotients of their fundamental groups.

**Title:** Profinite rigidity, direct products and finite presentability

**Abstract:**
A finitely generated residually finite group G is called profinitely
rigid, if for any other finitely generated residually finite group H,
whenever the profinite completions of H and G are isomorphic, then H
is isomorphic to G. In this talk we will discuss some recent work
that constructs finitely presented groups that are profinitely rigid
amongst finitely presented groups but not amongst finitely generated
one.

**Title:** Hidden symmetries of groups via topology of solenoidal spaces

**Abstract:**
“Hidden symmetries” of a group G are packaged up in its abstract
commensurator, the group of isomorphisms between finite-index
subgroups of G, modulo equivalence. When G is of type F, the abstract
commensurator can be identified with the group of self-homotopy
equivalences of the inverse limit of all finite covers of a K(G,1)
complex, a so-called solenoidal space. We will explain these
constructions and provide context in classical work of McCord, the
use of shape theory, and related dynamical constructions of Sullivan
and others. In the second part of the talk, we will apply these ideas
to show that any countable union of finite groups can be realized as
a group of hidden symmetries of the free group F_{2}. This work is joint
with Edgar A. Bering IV.

**Title:** Aut-invariant quasimorphisms on groups

**Abstract:**
For a large class of groups, we exhibit an infinite-dimensional space
of homogeneous quasimorphisms that are invariant under the action of
the automorphism group. This class includes non-elementary hyperbolic
groups, infinitely-ended finitely generated groups, some relatively
hyperbolic groups, and a class of graph products of groups that
includes all right-angled Artin and Coxeter groups that are not
virtually abelian. This has some pleasing applications to
Aut-invariant norms on groups. Joint work with Francesco
Fournier-Facio.