2020 PLENARY SPEAKERS

Michael Dorff
Michael Dorff
Brigham Young University

President, MAA


The Best Jobs this Century? – Mathematician/STEM Careers!

A 2014 ranking from CareerCast.com, a job search website, recently named mathematician the best job of 2014. “Mathematicians pull in a midlevel income of $101,360, according to CareerCast.com, and the field is expected to grow 23% in the next eight years,” states the Wall Street Journal blog post. Many students and professors think that teaching is the main (or only) career option for someone who studies mathematics. But there are hundreds of jobs for math students. However, just graduating with a math degree is not enough to guarantee to get one of these jobs. In this talk, we will talk about some of the exciting things mathematicians in business, industry, and government are doing in their careers. Also, we talk about the national PIC Math program that prepares students for nonacademic careers. Finally, we will reveal the three things that recruiters say every math student should do to get a job.

Michael Dorff's Bio

Michael Dorff is department chair and professor of mathematics at Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. He is co-founder and co-director of the NSF-funded PIC Math (Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences) sponsored by the MAA and SIAM. He is also the founder and previous director of the NSF-funded Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM). Dorff started the BYU "Careers in Math" Speaker series and the BYU summer 8-week mathematics REU. He is a popular mathematics expository speaker and has received several university and national teaching awards including the MAA Haimo Teaching Award, and BYU's top teaching award, the Maeser Excellence in Teaching Award. Dorff also received a Meritorious Service award as well as a Teaching award from the MAA Intermountain Section.


Charles Charlie Hadlock
Charles "Charlie" Hadlock
Bentley University

Pólya Lecturer


Fun with Auctions

One of the most popular aspects of my game theory class has been the class auction meeting, where every class member must design an auction to sell something and then carry it out in class. Yes, real money is constantly changing hands during the class, usually via Venmo accounts. On one occasion, a student sold a Dunkin Donuts bagel sandwich for $55, and so he certainly had a fun day. That $55 is not a typo. How did it happen, and why does it happen almost every semester? Calculus teachers could probably have a lot of fun with auctions too because there are so many simple but interesting aspects to the math behind them, thus providing some nice opportunities for examples and extra credit problems, perhaps better than fencing in a field along a river or optimizing the shape of a tin can. Oh, and perhaps one could hardly resist exploring some related ideas in probability and microeconomics at the same time.

Charlie Hadlock's Bio

Charlie Hadlock recently retired as Trustee Professor Emeritus from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where he variously served as dean and as the chair of both the math and finance departments. He received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Illinois in 1970. He is perhaps best known for his books published by the MAA: Field Theory and Its Classical Problems, which won the first Beckenbach Prize, Mathematical Modeling in the Environment, based on his earlier career as an envi-ronmental consultant, Mathematics in Service to the Community, exploring math-related service-learning options, and Six Sources of Collapse, which gives a mathematician’s perspective on how so many things can surprisingly fall apart in the ‘blink of an eye’.


Michael Dorff
Michael Dorff
Brigham Young University

President, MAA


How Mathematics is Making Hollywood Movies Better

What’s your favorite movie? Star Wars? Avatar? The Avengers? Frozen? What do these and all the highest-earning Hollywood movies since 2000 have in common? Mathematics! You probably didn’t think about it while watching these movies, but math was used to help make them. In this presentation, we will discuss how math is being used to create better and more realistic movies. Along the way, we will discuss some specific movies and the mathematics behind them. We will include examples from Disney’s 2013 movie Frozen (how to use math to create realistic looking snow) to Pixar’s 2004 movie The Incredibles (how to use math to make an animated character move faster). Come and join us and get a better appreciation of mathematics and movies.

Michael Dorff's Bio

Michael Dorff is department chair and professor of mathematics at Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. He is co-founder and co-director of the NSF-funded PIC Math (Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences) sponsored by the MAA and SIAM. He is also the founder and previous director of the NSF-funded Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM). Dorff started the BYU "Careers in Math" Speaker series and the BYU summer 8-week mathematics REU. He is a popular mathematics expository speaker and has received several university and national teaching awards including the MAA Haimo Teaching Award, and BYU's top teaching award, the Maeser Excellence in Teaching Award. Dorff also received a Meritorious Service award as well as a Teaching award from the MAA Intermountain Section.