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Christophe Golé

Professor of Mathematical Sciences; Faculty Director of the Clark Science Center

Christophe Golé


Burton Hall 309


Christophe Golé was born in France and raised partly in northern Africa. He has held positions at the University of Minnesota, ETH (Zurich), the State University of New York at Stony Brook and University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Golé is the author of a book on dynamical systems, Symplectic Twist Maps, a survey of that subfield, in which he describes some strange objects that he baptized ghost tori—whose topology is an instance of the so-called Floer cohomology.

Golé's more recent research interest is in mathematical biology, and more specifically, plant pattern formation (phyllotaxis). One well-publicized phenomenon is the very frequent occurrence of Fibonacci numbers of spirals in sunflowers, pine cones and most other plants. He and his colleagues have studied different mathematical models, compared their simulations to plant data and proved theorems explaining the Fibonacci phenomenon. More recently, they have shed light on what plants do when they do not exhibit Fibonacci phyllotaxis.

He was one of the founders and directors of the NSF-funded 4 College Biomath Consortium, which has given rise to the Five College Biomathematical Sciences Certificate Program. He is presently the faculty director of the Clark Science Center.

Selected Publications

Fibonacci or quasi-symmetric phyllotaxis. Part I: why? and Part II: observations. C. Golé, J. Dumais & S. Douady, Acta Soc Bot Pol. 2016; 85(4).

The Possible and the Actual in Phyllotaxis: Bridging the Gap Between Empirical Observations and Iterative Models, (w/ Hotton, S., Johnson, V. (Smith ’06), Wilbarger, J. (Smith ’08), Zwieniecki, K., Atela, P. and Dumais, J.), Jour. of Plant Growth Regulation 25 (2006).

A Dynamical System for Plant Pattern Formation: A Rigorous Analysis, (with Atela, P. and Hotton, S.) Journal of Nonlinear Science, Vol 12 (2002).

Symplectic Twist Maps, World Scientific Publishers (2001).

Periodic Orbits for Hamiltonian Systems in Cotangent Bundles, Trans. AMS. Vol. 343, (1994).

Ghost Circles for Twist Maps, Jour. Diff. Eq. Vol. 97, No. 1 (1992).


Ph.D., Boston University
M.A., University of California at Santa Cruz
B.A., Université Paris

Personal website

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks