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The 2017 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA

The Ninety Sixth Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America will be held March 31 and April 1, 2017, on the campus of the College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

This conference marks the 100th anniversary of our section, as well as the 50th anniversary for our host institution—definitely not one to miss!

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

March 27, 2017

Meeting Highlights

This year’s conference will include:

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Meeting Schedule

Friday, March 31, 2017

Saturday, April 1, 2017

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Conference Workshop

A workshop, titled Activities that Enhance Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Statistics, will be presented by Michael Sullivan of Joliet Junior College.

This session will introduce and explore applet activities, simulation activities, and randomization methods that the presenter uses in his classes that allow students to develop their understanding of a variety of topics in an Introductory Statistics course. Most of the activities will utilize technology (computers and internet access for participants will be provided by College of DuPage). Participants will explore methods and utilize data sets that are more elaborate than those typically seen in an introductory course. This workshop is appropriate for undergraduates, graduate students, and seasoned statistics instructors!

Mike Sullivan III is a professor of mathematics at Joliet Junior College. He holds graduate degrees from DePaul University in both mathematics and economics. Mike is an author or co-author of numerous textbooks, including several statistics texts and a developmental mathematics series.

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Improv for Professors Workshop

Speaker: Douglas Shaw, University of Northern Iowa
Place: HSC 1330
Time: Friday 2:40PM

Abstract: Crucial teaching skills include being able to listen completely, react quickly, and to make bold choices. Many teachers who have had improv instruction discover that it transforms their teaching. Applied Improvisation has come into its own in the past several years, even being cited in medical journals. This experimental session will help you learn to teach “in the moment.” The fact that it will also be Fun is an unavoidable byproduct of the work, and we apologize in advance. It is led by Professor Douglas Shaw, and builds on work he has done with the Applied Improvisation Network.

Pre-registration link below (session limited to 20 participants):

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Plenary Session Abstracts

All plenary talks, including the banquet, will be in Room SRC 2000. The abstracts for the plenary talks and the Improv for Professors workshop are also available in PDF format.

Susanna Epp, DePaul University

Title: A Helpful Way to Think of Mathematical Variables
Time: Friday 1:15PM

Abstract: Felix Klein wrote in 1908 that “one may well declare that real mathematics begins with operations with letters,” and Alfred Tarski wrote in 1941 that “the invention of variables constitutes a turning point in the history of mathematics.” In this talk I will discuss a way to think of variables that can help students avoid a variety of mathematical misunderstandings.

Douglas Shaw, University of Northern Iowa

Title: A Non-Imaginary Approach to Complex Numbers
Time: Friday, 7:45PM (after the banquet)

Abstract: All of us introduce complex numbers to students this way: Take the real numbers, throw in the ridiculous square root of negative one, then duck. Actually, most of us THINK of them this way – Complex numbers are the field extension of the reals when you add in the square root of negative one. When students question the existence of the square root of negative one, our responses come in two flavors, both annoying. In this talk we show how engineers think of complex numbers, and the square root of negative one is not needed to define them. This is a fun talk that will involve people being punched repeatedly in the face, a picture of the Enterprise, and a surprisingly relevant quote from Taylor Swift.

Robert Cappetta, University of Illinois at Chicago

Title: Teaching Calculus in the 21st Century
Time: Saturday, 8:30AM

Abstract: Calculus has not changed much in recent years but the way it is being taught certainly has. Much of this is driven by emerging technology and moving away from student memorization to conceptual understanding and non-routine problem solving. As more students will need calculus, managing the challenging issues of limited student interest, poor preparation and inadequate study habits will become crucial. Calculus is the gateway for students into STEM disciplines so the importance of these courses is clear. This presentation will examine some of these issues and begin to suggest some solutions. Attendees will be encouraged to share ideas.

Laura DeMarco, Northwestern University

Title: The Mandelbrot Set: What We Know Today
Time: Saturday, 12:00PM

Abstract: The Mandelbrot set is one of the most famous objects in modern mathematics. We see images of it everywhere, but despite its popularity and decades of research, we still don’t fully understand it. I will survey results about the Mandelbrot set, from its discovery to today.

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Parallel Session Abstracts

The abstracts for the Parallel Sessions are available in three PDF files as follows:

The times and locations of these talks are shown in the meeting schedule

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The banquet will be held Friday evening starting at 7:00pm in Room 2000 of the Student Resource Center. A reception with cash bar will be held before the banquest beginning at 6:00pm.

Following the banquet at approximately 7:45pm will be a talk by Doug Shaw. Note that there should be sufficient room for students and others not attending the banquet to attend the talk.

The cost of the dinner is $30.00. Banquet tickets must be purchased in advance. The meal will be served buffet style. The menu includes Ceaseer Salad, Rolls, Sauteed Fresh Zuchini, Baked Cheese Mostaccoli, Vegetable Lasagna, Sweet Italian Sausage with Onions & Peppers, Meetballs, and Chicken Cacciatore. Dessert options include Cookies and Peach, Apple, or Cherry Crisp.

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Student Activities

A number of activities of particular interest to Mathematics Students are scheduled include a mathematics contest Friday afternoon, a Friday evening Pizza Party, and sessions for Student Presentations on both Friday and Saturday. A limited number of travel grants may be available for students traveling more than 50 miles to the meeting.

Mathematics Contest

You have a deck of 10 cards and on each card there is a single digit between 0 and 9, inclusive. The digit on the top card equals the number of cards which have a zero on them, and so forth until the digit on the last card is the number of cards with a nine on them. What are the digits, in order from top to bottom, on the cards?

Is this the sort of problem that intrigues you? Then you should consider competing in our Fourteenth Annual Student Mathematics Contest which will be held on the afternoon of Friday, March 31, 2017 at 5:00-6:15 in room HSC 2324 during the Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA at College of DuPage. The contest is likely to have a minimum of four problems for the teams to consider. A team from a particular college is to consist of up to 3 undergraduate students. A college or university may enter more than one team. Team members may work together in solving the problems and will submit one team solution for each. Electronic computational devices (and slide rules and log tables and abacii) are not allowed. Competitors will have their conference registration fee waived.

Teams need not register until the day of the contest. The participating teams will receive the results of the contest as soon as they become available. The contest results will also be posted on the ISMAA website.

Student Presentations

For information presenting a paper, see the Call for Student Presenters.

Pizza Party

There will be a Pizza Party for students attending the meeting at 6:30pm on Friday, March 31, 2017. Following the Pizza Party, students are invited to attend Professor Shaw's talk following the banquet at approximately 7:45pm.

Travel Grants

Travel funds are available to support student attendance at the ISMAA meeting. Up to $50 per student is available for Illinois institutions to use in support of student travel, with a max of $200 per institution. Limited funds are available.

We ask that institutions which already provide full support not request these funds. Travel funds are not available to the hosting institution or to institutions within 50 miles of the meeting site. Travel awards are available for all students (secondary, undergraduate, or graduate); however, preference will be given to students presenting at the meeting.

The travel form is available as a Word document or as a PDF document. Please send completed forms electronically to Pat Kiihne, ISMAA Secretary/Treasurer at by March 17, 2017.

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ISMAA Project NExT

The Twentieth Annual ISMAA Project NExT Program will be held in conjunction with the ISMAA annual meeting at College of Dupage March 31-April 1. Up to nine ISMAA Project NExT Fellows will be selected. Anyone within their first four years of teaching mathematics (after finishing a master's or doctoral degree) at any two or four-year college or university in Illinois is eligible, as well as any graduate students at universities in Illinois who are completing their PhD this year and have a position in Illinois for the upcoming academic year. Newly selected ISMAA Project NExT Fellows' meeting registration, pre-conference workshop registration, opening banquet fees, and Friday lunches at the annual meeting will be paid for by the ISMAA for the current and next year’s ISMAA Annual Meetings.

The Fellows’ Program will begin on Friday morning (March 31, 2017), with the pre-conference workshop. The workshop is followed by an opening lunch during which new ISMAA NExT Fellows will have an opportunity to get to know one another as well as other sectional Fellows and national NExT Fellows. The ISMAA Project NExT program will conclude on the morning of Saturday, April 1, 2017, preceding the closing address of the ISMAA meeting. The topic for the Saturday morning round table discussion will be determined by interest of the Fellows. At the meeting, we will match new ISMAA NExT Fellows with a Mentor. It is expected that each Mentor-Fellow pair will continue to communicate about professional development issues throughout the following academic year.

Application materials for ISMAA Project NExT Fellows can be accessed via the links below. For further information, please contact the Director for the ISMAA Project NExT Program:

ISMAA Project NExT Application (MS Word)
ISMAA Project NExT Application (pdf)

Ellen Ziliak
Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, Benedictine University
Lisle, IL 60532
Phone: 630-829-6594

The application deadline for the 2017 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows is Friday March 10, 2017.

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Business Meeting

The annual business meeting of the section will be held on Friday, March 31, 2017, at 5:00pm in room HSC 1234. The agenda includes approval of the minutes of the 2016 meeting and election of board members. A copy of the unapproved minutes of the 2016 meeting is available for review.

There will also be a report on the recent changes to the MAA bylaws. These changes represent a major restructuring of the what was the MAA Board of Governors. The ISMAA board is currently reviewing and updating the ISMAA bylaws.

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Meeting Location

Regional Map and Campus Maps

The Regional Map shows the location of the College of Dupage and includes directions via the major highways in the area. The DuPage College Campus Map shows the location of the various buildings. The location of the buildings for the ISMAA Meeting and recommended parking lots are circled on this map.

Meeting Room Locations

The plenary talks and banquet will be in room 2000 in the Student Resource Center [SRC]. The breakout sessions will be held in the Health and Science Center [HSC]. The rooms are adjacent to the Commons in the center of the building and are marked in green on the floor plans.

Still More Maps

In addition to the above maps, the College of Dupage Maps and Directions page contains aditional maps, building floor plans, and directions.

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A block of rooms has been reserved at the Lisle/Naperville Hilton . Note that reservations must be made by March 9, 2017 to get the ISMAA rate.

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Advanced online registration is available through March 17, 2017. After March 17, one may register at the meeting.

The regular registration fee is $40.00 if paid in advance. and $45.00 othrwise. The fee is $10.00 for retirees and students. The banquet fee is $30.00 and the workshop fee is $20.00. Advanced registraton is required for the Banquet and Workshop.

Note that registation is free for new MAA members, 2016 or 2017 ISMAA Section NExT Fellows, students participating in the math contentest or presenting a paper, students from an ISMAA Institutional Sponsor. Up to three faculty members from an ISMAA Sponsor may also received free registration depending on the level of sponsorship.

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Dining and Other Nearby Attractions

Dining options

There are lots of dining options near campus. Here are some of the highlights.

Nearby Attractions

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ISMAA Awards

A number of awards may be presented at the meeting. Those awards may include the Distinguished Service, Distinguished Teaching, Outstanding Undergradute Research (OUR), and Outstanding Graduate Research Expostion (OGRE) awards. However, in order to be able to make those awards, the Awards Committee needs your help to indentify deserving candidates.

Additional information on the requirements of these awards follows in the next few sections.

OUR AWARDS – Support Undergraduate Research

The Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America invites submissions for the 2017 Outstanding Undergraduate Research (OUR) Awards. Up to three awards will be given for papers authored and presented by undergraduate students at the upcoming ISMAA meeting. Working in collaboration with a faculty advisor, undergraduate students who wish to apply for the OUR Awards should submit the following materials electronically (either as a PDF or MS Word document):

Submissions may be emailed to Heather A. Dye, Awards Committee Chair, at Please include "OUR Awards" in the subject heading.

Papers need not have been submitted for publication in a professional journal at the time of consideration, but must be complete manuscripts, even if only a subset of the research will be presented at the meeting.

Applicants should submit an abstract to give a talk in the student session of the 2017 ISMAA Meeting on March 31-April 1, 2017 at the College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn, IL. Applicants will be evaluated both for quality of research and for quality of presentation. The deadline for OUR Awards submissions is Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Questions? Email

OGRE AWARDS – Support future college educators!

The Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America invites submissions for the 2017 Outstanding Graduate Research Exposition (OGRE) Awards. These awards are designed for graduating or near graduating graduate students in mathematics who have an interest in academic careers at undergraduate teaching-oriented institutions. Candidates for the award will submit a written statement by March 1, 2017 and present a talk at the 2017 ISMAA Meeting on March 31-April 1, 2017 at the College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn, IL as described below.

The written statement should take the form and tone of research statement for a job application to an undergraduate teaching-oriented mathematics department. The statement should include:

The written statement will be submitted as a PDF file by Wednesday, March 1, 2017 to Heather A. Dye, Awards Committee Chair, at Please include "OGRE Awards" in the subject heading.

The talk should contain the content above and should be directed to an audience of non-experts in the particular area of mathematics and to undergraduate students. Candidates must be registered for the ISMAA meeting as well.

Questions? Email

Distinguished Teaching and Service Awards – Support your colleagues!

The deadline for the ISMAA’s Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Service Awards is February 21, 2017. We strongly encourage you to nominate your colleagues for these awards. The winner of ISMAA’s Distinguished Teaching award will be the ISMAA’s section nominee for the national Haimo Award!

To make a nomination for one of these awards, please submit a 1-page pdf letter of recommendation detailing the nominee’s qualifications. Submit the nomination to the ISMAA Awards Committee Chair, Heather A. Dye via email at with “ISMAA Distinguished Teaching Award” or “ISMAA Distinguished Service Award” in the subject header.

Since the ISMAA's Distiguished Teaching Award winner will be the Section's nominee for the national Haimo Award, please visit the MAA Teaching Awards web page for the guidelines on eligibility for that award. Questions about the ISMAA awards should be addressed to the ISMAA Awards Committee Chair Heather A. Dye at

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Poster Announcing the Meeting

A 11 x 8.5 poster in PDF format announcing the meeting is available. You may print it and post it on your departmental bullentin board.

Additional Information

ISMAA Board Meeting

There will be an ISMAA Board of Directors Meeting Thursday evening at 7:00pm at the College of DuPage.

2018 Annual Meeting

The 2018 ISMAA meeting will be March 23-24, 2018 at Valparaiso Universiy in Valparaiso, Indiana. This will be a Tri-Section meeting along with the Indiana and Michigan Sections.

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