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Contents for the Fall 2007 Issue


ISMAA Annual Meeting


The 2008 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA

The Eighty Seventh Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America will take place on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois on April 4 and 5, 2008. 

The meeting includes a banquet on Friday evening with a talk by Tom Hull( http://www.merrimack.edu/~thull/  ).  Other plenary speakers are James Tattersall (Associate Secretary of the Mathematical Association of America.), Bruce Bernt (University of Illinois), and Laurie Heyer (Davidson College, NC).  Contributed papers (including those presented by undergraduate students) are solicited.

There will be a workshop with Tom Hull (Merrimack College) on Friday morning, times and details will be given as they become available.

The ISMAA Annual meeting is open to both members and non-members of the Mathematical Association of America.

ISMAA- OUR Awards Announcement



The Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America (ISMAA) invites submissions for the 2008 Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research in Mathematics.

The awards will be given to the best three research papers authored and presented by undergraduate students in any field of mathematics.  For this award student participants are encouraged to produce complete research projects including, but not limited to focusing on interesting mathematical problems, the process of writing manuscripts, creating professional presentations and speaking at professional meetings. Faculty mentors will encourage their students to work on problems with more research emphasis. In addition to helping outstanding students fund their travels to ISMAA Meetings, we believe this award will help introduce selected students gain experience in conducting, writing, presenting and funding research projects.

Working in collaboration with a faculty advisor, undergraduate students who wish to apply for one of these awards should submit the following materials electronically (either as a PDF or MS Word document) to the Awards Committee.

Please include "OUR-Award-Submission" in the subject heading. Papers need not have been submitted for publication in a professional journal at the time of consideration for this award but they have to be complete scientific manuscripts.

This year the  awards for the top three ranked winners will be $250, $150 and $100.  For OUR Award application as well as regular abstract submission deadlines please go to ISMAA 2008 Annual Meeting website.

Questions? Email oakman@ilstu.edu .

Student Math 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 12th Annual Student Mathematics Contest which will be held on the afternoon of Friday April 4, 2008 during the Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. 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 (as well as slide rules and log tables and abacii) are not allowed. Competitors receive preference for a Travel Grant for the ISMAA meeting and will have their conference registration fee waived.

Teams need not register until the day of the Contest, but if you intend to participate in the contest, it would be helpful if you would inform Peter Andrews at pgandrews@eiu.edu.

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.

For additional information on the contest, please contact Peter Andrews at the above address.

Conference Workshop on Biomathematics Education

Tom Hull Conference Workshop

  Registration for this workshop is open to all ISMAA Annual Meeting Attendees and is part of the ISMAA Project NExT Program.

Questions about this workshop should be directed to Tim Comar at tcomar@ben.edu or 630-829-6555.

Registration Information

Workshop:  $15 (Registration Deadline March 16)

There will be two sessions, Friday, March 30 9:30-noon and Saturday, March 31 1:30-3:00.  These sessions will be independent of one another.  The registration fee covers one, the other, or both and includes lunch on Friday.

Conference Registration: On-site registration is available for $25

Student registration $10 (waived for students presenting papers or competing in the Student Math Contest)

Registration fee for retirees is $10

Registration is waived for first year MAA members and for 2007 and 2008  ISMAA Section NExT fellows

Plenary Speaker Schedule

Friday, April 4, 2008  (times subject to change)

Opening Talk (12:00PM-1:00PM)


James Tattersall, Providence

ABSTRACT: The contents of two first century (A.D.) manuscripts, the Introduction to Arithmetic, by Nicomachus of Gerasa and Mathematics Useful for Understanding Plato by Theon of Smyrna, will be discussed. They were the main sources of knowledge of formal Greek arithmetic in the Middle Ages. The books are philosophical in nature, contain few original results and no formal proofs. They abound, however, in intriguing number theoretic observations. We will extend some of the results found in these ancient volumes and introduce several types of numbers that lend themselves naturally to undergraduate research.

Banquet Talk (After dinner, approximately 8:00PM)

Tom Hull, Merrimack College TBA

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Opening Talk (8:30AM-9:30AM)

Ramanujan's Lost Notebook

Bruce Bernt, U of Illinois


Srinivasa Ramanujan, generally regarded as the greatest mathematician in Indian  history, was born in 1887 and died in 1920 at the age of 32.  Most of his work was recorded without proofs in notebooks.  In the spring of 1976, while searching through papers of the late G. N. Watson at Trinity College, Cambridge, George Andrews found a sheaf of 138 pages in Ramanujan's handwriting.  In view of the fame of Ramanujan's "ordinary" notebooks, Andrews naturally called this collection of sheets Ramanujan's "lost notebook." This work, comprising about 650 results with no proofs, arises from the last year of Ramanujan's life and represents some of his deepest work. After a brief history of Ramanujan's life and notebooks, the history and origin of the lost notebook will be given.  The remainder of the lecture will be devoted to a survey of some of the most interesting entries in the lost notebook.  These include claims about theta functions, continued fractions, integrals, partitions, q-series, and other infinite series.

Closing Talk (12:00PM-1:00PM)

Laurie Heyer, Davidson College, North Carolina, TBA

For additional information on the program, please contact the program committee or:

Peter Andrews
Mathematics Department
Eastern Illinois University
Charleston, Illinois 61920
(217) 581-6275


ISMAA 2008: Call for participants


Fellow Illinois Members of the MAA:


This is a gentle reminder that the deadline for submitting an abstract for a talk at the annual meeting of the Illinois section of the MAA is around the corner.  We are accepting talks in all areas of mathematics, so if you have a 20-minute, 30-minute, or 60-minute presentation you would like to give please send a title and brief abstract to pmccombs@ednet.rvc.cc.il.us as soon as possible.


A formal announcement for the meeting will be out soon.  Until then, the most up-to-date details on the meeting may be found on the ISMAA Website.



Please let me know if you have any questions.  I hope to see you in



Paul McCombs


ISMAA 2008 Program Committee


From the Section Governor

Herbert E. Kasube

Bradley University



Let me start my first report as Governor of the Illinois Section by saying “Thank You” to all who had the confidence to elect me to this position.  It is truly an honor to serve as Governor of the Illinois Section.


In June, the MAA held a 2-day orientation for new governors and new MAA officers.  This orientation was held at the newly remodeled Carriage House at MAA headquarters in Washington, DC.  This quality facility is beautiful and will serve the MAA well.  We had the opportunity to meet other new governors, MAA officers and MAA staff.  It gave me an excellent overview of my role and responsibilities.  We all agreed that it made us feel “welcomed” into the MAA community.  This was the first time such an event had been held.  Previously, new governors met for a couple of hours the night before their first Board of Governors meeting. 


Mathfest in San Jose had record attendance. This follows the Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans which set a record for JMM’s.  Aside from a few glitches with dormitory accommodations at San Jose State University everything went smoothly. 


Some highlights from the Board of Governors meeting: 


Rick Anderson  EIU

Andrea Frazier  North Central College

Hemanshu Kaul  IIT

Sung Eun Kim  Judson University

Joshua Kramer  Illinois Wesleyan University

Aliza Steuer  Dominican University

Adam Weyhaupt  SIUE 

From the Section Chair

Lanette Poteete-Young


Judson University




Did you know that the Illinois Section of the MAA was established in 1917, three years before the MAA was even incorporated?  On December 27, 1917 at the University of Chicago, an Executive Committee was formed and plans were developed to nominate permanent officers and begin meetings.  The MAA was then officially incorporated in 1920.  We have an impressive history!  To commemorate our sections’ involvement from the beginning of the MAA, the ISMAA Board of Directors has voted to buy a memorial brick to be placed in the walkway at the Carriage House.


I have just begun my service as Chair and am still learning the ins and outs of my new responsibilities.  One of my jobs is to appoint members to serve on our standing committees.  This is where I need to rely on you, the membership, for help.  I am looking for people willing to get involved in the section in important, but not extremely time-consuming, ways.  Are you interested in learning how our section operates?  Would you be willing to serve a term on one of our standing committees?  Generally the committees do their work electronically.  The committees needing members are:


Two-Year College Committee

The Nominating Committee

The Committee on Awards

The Committee on Teacher Education

The Committee on Finance.


Most of the appointments are for three-year terms, although a few of them are for four or six years.  Please contact me if you are interested in serving on any of these committees.


The Program Committee is working hard to plan an outstanding spring meeting for all of us on April 4 and 5, 2008 at Eastern Illinois University.  Please plan to attend and bring your students and colleagues! 


The Committee on Sections of the MAA has announced a 10-year rotating schedule for all sections to review and submit changes to their bylaws.  The Illinois Section volunteered to participate in this first round since we have just recently extensively reviewed our bylaws. At the moment we have two changes that we plan to bring to the membership at our spring meeting.  The first change is to remove from the bylaws the Committee on Secondary School Lectures.  This committee has not been functioning well in the last several years and all of our attempts to revitalize it have failed.  There doesn’t appear to be much interest or demand for it.  The second change is in the make-up of the Committee on Finance.  The Board would like to include the Auditor as one of the regular members of that committee.  The Auditor would take the place of one of the three members who are appointed to 6-year overlapping terms.  This means that we would have 2 members in addition to the Secretary-Treasurer and Auditor, each of whom would need to be replaced every three years for a six-year term.


If you have any comments or questions concerning these potential changes to the bylaws, please let any Board member know.


Become an Institutional Sponsor

ISMAA has changed the levels of Institutional Sponsorship. Free student registration at the annual meeting comes with each level. The base level, Ordinary Sponsorship ($50), allows unlimited student registration at the annual meeting. The higher levels, Supporting Sponsorship ($90) and Speaker Sponsorship ($150), have all of the benefits of Ordinary Sponsorship PLUS two free faculty registrations. Those who choose Speaker Sponsorship will be listed as an underwriter of a plenary speaker at the ISMAA meeting.

Regular registration at the meeting is $20 (on-site would be $25), so those schools who would normally choose Ordinary Sponsorship may wish to consider the Supporting level. However, to make life easier on our secretary-treasurer (and faculty who wish to avail themselves of the "free" registration) please contact Jon Johnson by e-mail for the procedure prior to registering for the Annual Meeting. An institutional membership form was mailed to department chairs earlier this year. A copy of the form is also available online.

Looking for ISMAA Awardees

The ISMAA Awards Committee has extended the deadline for the section Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Service awards to March 15, 2007. This is to enhance the likelihood of having section awardees this year. The section awardees will be presented at the ISMAA annual meeting, March 30-31, at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. We strongly encourage all members to take the time and nominate a colleague worthy of the awards. For the guidelines on eligibility and nomination please visit the MAA Teaching Award web page. The completed nomination packets should be sent to:

Dr. Jon Johnson
ISMAA Secretary/Treasurer
Mathematics Department
Elmhurst College
Elmhurst, IL 60126

Questions about the ISMAA awards should be addressed to the ISMAA Awards Committee Chair Vali Siadat.

Andrew Leahy

P.S. Don't forget to cast your vote in the 2007 election for the Illinois Section Governor!

ISMAA Project NExT Program

Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) is a professional development program of the MAA, with major funding provided by the Exxon Education Foundation, and additional funding from several other sources. This program is designed to support new college faculty in their teaching, scholarly, and professional activities and and to help these new faculty members to get involved in the mathematical community beyond their own institutions.

The success of Project NExT on the national level has prompted a number of MAA sections to organize their own local versions of this program. The Tenth Annual ISMAA Project NExT Program will be held in conjunction with the ISMAA annual meeting at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, March 30, 2007- March 31, 2007. Up to nine 2007 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 2008-2009 academic year. 2008 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows' meeting registration, pre-conference workshop registration, opening banquet fees, and Friday and Saturday lunches at the annual meeting will be paid for by the ISMAA Project NExT for the 2008 and 2009 ISMAA Annual Meetings.

The 2008 Program will begin on the morning of Friday, April 4, 2008 with Dr. Thomas Hull, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Merrimack College, presenting the conference workshop on the mathematics of origami.  The workshop is followed by an opening lunch at 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 afternoon of Saturday, April 5, 2008, following the closing address of the ISMAA meeting. After a brief box lunch, the group will reconvene for a session devoted to professional development opportunities in the ISMAA and the MAA. This year we will match new ISMAA NExT Fellows with a Mentor at the meeting. It is expected that each Mentor-Fellow pair will continue to communicate about professional development issues throughout the following academic year.

Application materials for 2008 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows can be accessed via the links below. For further information, please contact the Director for the ISMAA Project NExT Program:

2008 ISMAA Project NExT Application (MS Word)
2008 ISMAA Project NExT Application (pdf

Timothy D. Comar
Department of Mathematics
Benedictine University
5700 College RD
Lisle, Illinois 60532
PHONE: (630) 829-6555
FAX: (630) 829-6551

The registration deadline for the 2007 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows is March 3, 2008.


News From Around the Section

Bradley University

Dr. Gerald Jungck recently was named Caterpillar Professor of Mathematics. The award recognizes the highest level of scholarship among senior faculty who hold tenure and have the rank of full professor. He is the 10th professor recognized since the inception of the award in 2000. Jungck has been with the University since 1959, rising to the level of professor of mathematics in 1982. Throughout his tenure he has been widely published in prestigious journals and has authored more than 40 publications.

Chicago State University


This year the Department has added three new tenure-track members at the Assistant Professor level: Alf Dolich, John Erickson, and Asmamaw Yimer. Dr. Dolich has his Ph.D. in Mathematics (mathematical logic) from the University of Maryland and has held previous positions at the University of Wisconsin, McMaster University and University of Illinois - Chicago. Dr. Erickson has recently completed his Ph.D. (numerical analysis) at IIT. He also holds Master’s degrees in Computer Science and in Teaching Mathematics. Dr. Yimer has his Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Illinois State University. He also holds a Master’s degree in Mathematics and has most recently held a position at University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.


Rohan Attele has been appointed Department Chair, replacing Howie Silver, who has retired.

Dominican University 

Donald Marzen was hired as a Visting Professor. Paul Coe was promoted to Full Professor. The Department hired new Project NExT Fellow Aliza Steuer. Mordechai Goodman retired.

Illinois Institute of Technology

Department of Applied Mathematics


New hires in the Department include Assistant Professor Igor Cialenco and Senior Lecturer Charles Tier. This makes a total of 14 tenure/tenure-track faculty and 3 senior lecturers in the department, in addition to another 6 faculty with joint appointments in engineering and science departments.

Senior Lecturer Sue Sitton won the Julia Beveridge Award. Associate Professor Xiaofan Li received the 2006 College of Science and Letters Excellence in Teaching Award. Assistant Professor Hemansho Kaul was named an AMS Project NExT Fellow for 2007-08. Professor and Chair Fred Hickernell was named a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He was also appointed Associate Editor of Mathematics of Computation. Associate Professor Greg Fasshauer published the book "Meshfree Approximation Methods with MATLAB."


Last fiscal year, four faculty members were externally funded for research. This fiscal year, to date, five faculty members are externally funded for research. The sources of funding include NSF, NSA, and industry.

The department has started a joint degree with the Department of Mathematics and Science Education for a Doctor of Philosophy in Collegiate Mathematics Education. This adds to the already existing Ph.D. and M.S. programs in Applied Mathematics offered by the department.

Illinois State University

Gary Lewis, who has received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, joins the Secondary Math Education group. Fusun Akman has been tenured and promoted to Associate Professor. Olcay Akman has been tenured and promoted to Associate Professor. M.A. (Ken) Clementshas has been promoted to Professor. Beverly Rich has been promoted to Associate Professor. Wenhua Zhao has been tenured and promoted to Associate Professor

Saad El-Zanati has received the Outstanding College Researcher in the Sciences. Saad El-Zanati has received a CCLI grant for Teacher-Scholar Program promoting Undergraduate Research. Saad El-Zanati has received an NSF grant for a Research Experience for Undergraduates focused on prospective secondary math teachers. Jeff Barrett has received an NSF grant. Jeff Barrett and Cindy Langrall have received a Illinois Math Science Partnership grant to develop an integrated math science masters program for practicing teachers.

The Department has begun offering new Masters sequences in Actuarial Science and Applied Statistics as well as a new Masters sequence in Biomathematics.

The Department has also begun a Teacher-Scholar program to encourage undergraduate research for prospective secondary mathematics teachers.

Judson University

Sung Eun Kim was hired to a tenure-track position in Mathematics beginning Fall 2007.  She received her PhD in mathematics from University of Rochester in the spring of 2007.   She is a Project NExT fellow for 2007-2008.


Richard J. Daley College

In support of the MAA's call to celebrate April as the Math Awareness Month, the Daley College Mathematics Department designated the week of April 16 through April 21, 2007, as the Math Awareness Week in order to promote the understanding and appreciation of mathematics and its application in all phases of life.  The theme of the activities was Math and the Brain.

The activities included symposiums featuring talks by Dr. Sylvia Ramos, Daley College president, Dr. Vali Siadat, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and 2005 Illinois Professor of the Year, and Dr. La Lura White, Fetal Medical Specialist and Director of the Pre-Birth Center, Mercy Hospital.  Other activities included exhibitions from various departments of the college highlighting the application of mathematics in other disciplines, cooperative problem-solving activities, games and prize-winning events. 

There were also presentations on Math and Art, Math and Music, Math and Sound, Math in Pharmacy, Math and Physics, Math and Chemistry and Careers in Math.  Continuous presentation of slide shows and videos, including showing of the movie "Stand and Deliver", "The Right Spin", and "Fermat's Last Theorem" were other highlights of the program.

The week-long activities culminated with the Mathematical Olympiad competition.  Daley College is the first in the City Colleges of Chicago district to have participated in the nationwide Math Awareness Month.

Last October, Vali Siadat was interviewed by STARLINK, an educational development agency in Texas, along with three other national award winners from Michigan, Ohio, and Texas about innovative approaches in creating an active classroom.  This event received lots of publicity and was nationally broadcast as a satellite telecast and also on the internet, followed by a telephone conference, on October 26, 2006.


Other News Items


Midwest History of Mathematics Conference

The Midwest History Mathematics Conference will take place in the Reinhart Center of Viterbo University, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on October 3 and 4, 2008. The keynote speaker will be Chris Christensen from Northern Kentucky University, who will present the talk The Theorem that Won the War, on the work of Polish, British and American mathematicians whose work culminated in the breaking of the Nazi Enigma Code. As the local organizer, I am soliciting talk submissions and inviting colleagues to attend. The forms for registrations and abstract submissions (by AUGUST 15, 2008), can be found at http://www.viterbo.edu/mhmc.aspx . A tentative schedule of the conference is at the same website.  Any questions can be directed to Michael Wodzak (mawodzak@viterbo.edu ). Viterbo University is easy to reach from I-90, and the area, nestled between the bluffs next to the Mississippi River is beautiful in the fall. Consider participating and presenting!


International Mathematical Olympiad


"GIRLS, WOMEN, AND MATH" ON SCIENCE FRIDAY (Sept. 21) Science Friday's second hour (3-4 p.m. Eastern) on National Public Radio will feature a segment on the eight high school girls who represented the US at the China Girls Mathematical Olympiad. Team member Jennifer Iglesias (Aurora, IL) and one of the team coaches, Melanie Wood - Princeton University graduate student and the first female to represent the US at the International Mathematical Olympiad - will be speaking about their trip, which was sponsored by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Also appearing on the show will be Dr. Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, who holds a Ph.D. in mathematics, and actress Danica McKellar, author of a new book designed to help middle school girls excel at math.


Joint Mathematical Meetings 2009


The dates for the Joint Mathematics Meetings for 2009 in Washington, DC have been changed to Jan 5-8 (from Jan 7-10), with a corresponding shift of all pre- and post-meeting events. Thus the Executive Committee will meet on Jan. 3 and the Board of Governors will meet on Jan. 6.


"Out Of Focus" is published twice per year, in February and October. Submissions and suggestions for articles should be sent to Dan Hrozencik at dhro@att.net