The Department of Mathematical Sciences was one of the first on campus to make research a priority. In 1969, a new Ph.D. program was approved. In 1970 and 1971, six new faculty members were hired including Ralph Faudree, John Haddock, James Jamison, Cecil Rousseau, and Richard Schelp. This was perhaps the first group on campus for which research became an important component and expectation of their faculty responsibilities. With the hiring of Stan Franklin as Chair in 1972, research in the Department of Mathematics (now Mathematical Sciences) received an additional boost.

As part of the Department’s journey in becoming established as a research leader at the University of Memphis and in the State, another significant boost occurred in the mid-1970s, when Paul Erdős of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences first set foot on campus (1974). Erdős, who arguably was the most famous living mathematician in the world until his death in 1996, was a regular visitor (2–3 times per year) and held the position of a University of Memphis Distinguished Adjunct faculty member for almost 20 years. He helped pave the way for the Department to hire excellent faculty members in graph theory and combinatorics, including the Hardin Chair of Excellence, Béla Bollobás. It should be noted that Erdős's original interest in the Department resulted from three of our then early career faculty members (Faudree, Rousseau, Schelp) having solved a problem and written a paper that captured his attention.

Currently the Department has strong research groups in Applied Statistics, Analysis, Combinatorics & Graph Theory, Differential Equations and Applied Mathematics, and Ergodic Theory. The menu links provide more information about these individual research groups.