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Fall 2003 Departmental News

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Central College Mount Mercy College
Clarke College Simpson College
Coe College The Franciscan University (formerly Mount St. Claire College)
Cornell College University of Iowa Mathematics Department
Grinnell College University of Northern Iowa
Luther College Upper Iowa University
Maharishi University of Management Wartburg College

Central College
Mark Mills

We have begun this school year in the renovated and expanded Vermeer Science Center.  The project cost $20 million, and it tripled the size of the building.  We now have a number of new computer labs, and there are instructor computers and projectors in each classroom.  The transition to the new space has really gone quite smoothly.  We hope you will come to the section meeting in April to see our new building.

Our computer science colleague Robert Franks recently received a CSEMS grant of $315,000 from NSF to be used for scholarships.  The goal of the grant is to increase the number of mathematics and computer science majors here.  This year's freshman class is the first to receive the scholarships.

Central College is now a part of the AQIP process for accreditation.  One of the three major campus initiatives under AQIP is to increase the number of mathematics and science majors who pursue secondary licensure.  Wendy Weber has been chosen to be a part of the leadership team for this initiative.

Over the summer, Wendy Weber attended a week-long Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers (PMET) workshop in New York.  This is a two-year program, and Wendy will return next summer for another workshop.

Al Hibbard and Mark Mills participated in grading the Advanced Placement (AP) calculus exam in early June at Colorado State University.  This year, 630 mathematics educators graded over 200,000 exams (6 problems per exam) during the week.

In January, Mark Mills had a paper published from his Ph.D. dissertation:  "The intersection of the similarity and conjunctivity equivalence classes", Linear Algebra and its Applications, 362:129-136 (Jan. 2003).

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Clarke College
Monica Meissen

MATH 113: Intermediate Algebra was offered for the first time as an 8-week online course at Clarke College last summer. The course was developed as a result of a faculty development grant which the instructor, Monica Meissen, received last May.As a department, we arepleased with the outcome of this class and will offer Intermediate Algebraagain as an online course next summer.Those interested in learning moreabout what is entailed in preparing and offering such a course areencouraged to contact Monica ( or 563-588-6790).

Rebecca Culshaw of Clarke Collegehas two publication announcements to share.

1. "A Mathematical Model of cell-to-cell spread of HIV-1 that includes a time delay", Rebecca V. Culshaw, Shigui Ruan, Glenn Webb, J. Math. Biol. v. 46 #5, May 2003

2. "Optimal HIV Treatment by Maximising Immune Response", Rebecca V. Culshaw, Shigui Ruan, Raymond Spiteri, ACCEPTED J. Math. Biol.

Reprints or preprints may be obtained by contacting Rebecca ( or 563-588-6395).

Coe College
Cal Van Niewaal

Congratulations to Jonathan White, now known as Dr. White. Jon completed his Ph.D. program at the University of Oklahoma in August. His dissertation was titled Using Technology to Facilitate Visualization in Multivariable Calculus. Jon was accepted as a Dolciani Fellow in the Project NExT program and attended the Project NExT workshop at MathFest in August. He is co-organizing a panel discussion for the January 2004 Joint AMS/MAA meetings on practical use of mathematics education research for mathematicians.

Two Coe seniors, Teri Stimmel and Scott Searcy, served as co-authors with Jon on a new book for the publisher of Cliff Notes, CliffsStudySolver: Basic Math and Pre-Algebra. This endeavor provided a wonderful opportunity for Teri and Scott, both of whom are now teaching secondary mathematics.

Cal Van Niewaal has agreed to serve as director of Coe's First-Year Seminar Program for the next two academic years. As part of his duties Cal is involved with orientation, the first-year writing portfolio and other aspects of Coe's first-year experience.

Eleven students graduated with mathematics majors in 2003. This is the most mathematics majors since 1988. Five of these graduates completed the requirements for licensure as secondary mathematics teachers. Only 6 students graduated with computer science majors. The Class of 2003 was the first in over 20 years with more mathematics than computer science major.

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Cornell College
Jim Freeman

Cornell College will offer a new "liberal arts" math course this academic year. The course will focus on the basics of graph theory, surface theory, and knot theory. It is designed for students who need to meet the college's math requirement but do not want to take the more traditional pre-calculus, calculus, or statistics courses. The course will be taught from an American Mathematical Society monograph text entitled "Knots and Surfaces: A Guide to Discovering Mathematics", by David Farmer and Theodore Standford. As the title suggests, the object is to have students study examples and make and prove conjectures about general patterns. The visual nature of the subject makes it very accessible to students. Pre-registration figures indicate the new course is filling a need at Cornell. 38 students signed up for the 25 seats available for the course, which will run in the ninth term (May 3-26).

Grinnell College
Marc Chamberland

We have several new faculty members joining us this year. Replacing the positions of Arnie Adelberg and Gene Herman are Chris French and Karen Shuman. Shonda Kuiper fills our new expansion statistics position. Tom and Emily Moore are spending their sabbatical year in Northfield, Minnesota. Chuck Jepsen is in his last year of teaching, moving to senior faculty status where he will focus mainly on scholarship. Marc Chamberland obtained promotion and tenure. Royce Wolf is currently chair of the department. This past summer six students did research in mathematics, and Sam Rebelsky took 11 students in computer science.

Arnold Adelberg continues to work on generalizations of Bernoulli numbers. In particular he has found a very general "Universal Kummer Congruence" which he has submitted for publication. He had a joint paper published with Michael Filaseta last year, and is doing a great deal of refereeing and reviewing for Math Reviews. Arnold is currently devoting himself full time to research during a sabbatical semester at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Next semester he will continue the sabbatical at Ohio State University. Arnold has completed his active teaching at Grinnell and is contracted to assume "Senior Faculty Status" for a period of about 5 years.

Marc Chamberland continues his research in dynamical systems. He gave two talks related to Jacobian conjectures at the University of Washington in St. Louis and the recent joint meetings in Baltimore. He saw a paper appear entitled "Unbounded Orbits and Binary Digits" with Mario Martelli (Claremont McKenna College) in the Journal of Difference Equations and Applications. This paper spawned ideas connected to a class of infinite series, which motivated Marc's talk "Infinite Series for Logarithms using Cyclotomic Polynomials and Aurifeuillian Identities" given at last spring's MAA meeting at UNI. The summer of 2003 saw Marc supervise Grinnell students Andrea Brennen and Martha Makowski on a project regarding the dynamics of two-dimensional maps.

Chris French obtained his BA from Williams College and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He comes to us most recently from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was VIGRE Research Assistant Professor for two years. While there, he worked with Matthew Ando on orbifold elliptic genera.

Gene Herman has moved to "Senior Faculty Status". He is teaching one course this year.

Charles Jepsen supervised research with two students, Ananta Tiwari and Johathan Wellons, in summber, 2003. Each student worked on dissection problems, a favorite topic of the supervisor. He presented "Orders of L-Shaped Polyominoes" at the spring meetings of the Iowa Section MAA and has had a paper by the same name accepted for publication.

Shonda Kuiper obtained her BA from Wartburg College and Ph.D. from Iowa State University. She comes to us most recently from Wartburg College where she was an assistant professor for two years.

Karen Shuman obtained her BA from Agnes Scott College and Ph.D. from Dartmouth College. She comes to us most recently from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was VIGRE Research Assistant Professor for three years. While there, Karen worked with Joseph Rosenblatt on cyclic functions in Lp spaces and with Denka Kutzarova on greedy algorithms in Banach spaces.

Henry Walker began a 3-year term on the MAA Committee on the Profession this year. He also worked with the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) in the appointment of an ACM Representative to support MAA's joint project with NIH and NSF on the quantitative needs of undergraduates interested in the life sciences. In addition during 2002-2003, he attended a Discrete Mathematics Conference at West Point, attended a conference to promote cooperation between US-based professional organizations and their counterparts in the Learning and Teaching Support Network (UK), served on panels discussing discrete mathematics at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January and at the ACM/SIGCSE Symposium (for CS educators), and helped lead an MAA PREP Workshop related to discrete mathematics. In other areas, he has been very active in areas related to computer science education. Currently on his final semester of an extended leave, he is working on a new book on Computing Whys and Why Nots: A Down-to-earth Approach to Computer Fluency, scheduled for publication by Jones and Bartlett in 2004.

Royce Wolf researched virtual spherical knots during the summer of 2003 with Grinnell students Kate Kearney and Amy Donahue. He is wading through his first semester as chair of the Math/CS department. He is currently working on a solo piano recital to be presented in October, featuring Beethoven's Op 101, some Bartok and some Ives. After that, a recital featuring the complete Haydn flute trios with colleagues Rebecca Stuhr and Brian Borovsky.

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Luther College
Ruth Berger

We are very happy to announce that Troy Meyers has joined our department. Troy is a statistician who received his degree from the University of Iowa last December. His dissertation title was "Frequentist Properties of Bayesian Credible Intervals for Functions of Two Parameters".

Not much else had changed in the department. Steve Hubbard is still serving as department chair.

Walt Will is back to teaching Mathematics, after many years of serving in the CS department.

Ruth Berger is in her final year of represents the Iowa section on the MAA board of Governors.

Reginald Laursen again designed the Country Heritage Community Maize Maze, the 2003 Maize is located near Elgin, IA.

Eric Westlund is our department liaison to the Heartland Mathematics Partnership.

Alan Macdonald published two papers: "Universal one-way light speed from a universal light speed over closed paths", coauthored with Ettore Minguzzi in Foundations of Physics Letters 16, 587-598 (2003), and "Entanglement, joint measurement, and state reduction" in International Journal of Theoretical Physics 42, 943-953 (2003). Alan has developed a keen interest in geometric algebra, which provides a unified mathematical language for physics, engineering, and the geometrical aspects of computer science (e.g., graphics, robotics, computer vision). It subsumes, simplifies, and generalizes most of the mathematics used in those disciplines. For an introduction, see his "Notes on Geometric Algebra and Geometric Calculus," at his homepage . The notes were written to accompany lectures given at Knox College in October. He would be happy to repeat them at your institution.

The department is proud of our student team that tied Grinnell for first place in the 2003 Iowa Collegiate Mathematics Competition. We had two teams compete in the Math Modeling Competition this Spring. One received "Meritorious" designation, and the other "honorable mention".

We continue to have a healthy number of majors. This year we graduated 30 math majors, three of these were in statistics and nine double-majored with computer science.

The department continues with the experiment of offering a year-long Calculus I sequence instead of the traditional separate PreCalculus course. We are integrating Calculus concepts into the course right from the start, teaching PreCalculus concepts as needed as we go along. Reg's Spring 2004 sabbatical project will be to produce a manuscript that can be used as a textbook for such a course, especially for students with a really weak algebra background.

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Maharishi University of Management
Cathy Gorini

Cathy Gorini has written the Facts on File Geometry Handbook, which was published in May 2003.

Eric Hart is Senior Curriculum Developer of the Core-Plus Mathematics Project, which has received continuing funding from NSF for the next year. This is a curriculum development project that has produced a comprehensive, integrated, four-year high school mathematics curriculum, Contemporary Mathematics in Context: A Unified Approach. He is co-Director of the LEADERS-in-Mathematics Project, and NSF-funded professional development project for high school mathematics teachers in the Midwest. He is editor of Navigating Through Discrete Mathematics in Grades K-12, to be published by NCTM in 2004.

Eric is also is director of the Content Development Team, Mathematics Online Support for Teachers Project (MOST), funded by the North Central Regional Educational Lab. This project provides online support and professional development for teachers implementing Standards-based mathematics curricula. This project began field testing with teachers from the Midwest.

Finally, Eric was appointed to lead the mathematics education research review team for the Iowa Department of Education's Content Network project.

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Mount Mercy College
Kent Knopp

John Robeson, newly minted Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, has joined me. He is an algebraist, a student of D.D. Anderson, and his thesis was on "Irredundant Generating Sets for Modules." (Hok Kim has moved to Des Moines and teaches at Grandview College.) We remain 2 math and 2 computer science with part-time help in both disciplines.

We will once again host our October contest for high school students. It draws between 150 and 280, but we are trying hard to limit it to 220 contestants.

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Simpson College
Murphy Waggoner

This year Simpson plans to host an undergraduate research symposium. The main purpose of the conference is to provide an opportunity for undergraduate students to share and celebrate their achievements. In addition, the symposium will focus on opportunities for undergraduates while in college and after graduation. There will be an invited speaker who will talk about his or her favorite area of undergraduate research. A panel will answer questions students might have about what to do in mathematics after the bachelor's degree.  All undergraduate students and faculty in mathematics or related fields are invited to attend. Students are encouraged to give 15 minute presentations on any area of mathematical interest such as undergraduate research projects, interesting class projects, mathematics history, mathematics education projects, results from competitions such as the Putnam Exam or the MCM, etc. The tentative date for the symposium is Saturday, March 27. A formal announcement will be made later in the school year.

Rick Spellerberg has energetically taken on the duties of department chair this fall.

Murphy Waggoner was on sabbatical leave in Spring 2003 and, as part of her work, she authored and collected 750 writing prompts for Calculus I, II and III and published them on the web ( Murphy presented a talk at the Iowa Section meeting last spring at UNI on the "math quilt" her elementary education majors designed and another talk at MathFest in Boulder about the use of reflective portfolios a learning tool in mathematics courses. Bruce Sloan and Bill Dunning are directing the senior research projects this year in topology and number theory, respectively.

Of the 9 mathematics majors who graduated last May, 4 continued on to graduate school (Creighton, University of Iowa and University of Illinois-Urbana) and 4 are teaching high school.

In March, twelve of our mathematics majors traveled to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion to Mathematics on the Northern Plains, an undergraduate research conference. Amanda Rick and Brian Mann presented the results of their research in game theory at this conference. In Vermillion, Teresa Kreykes and Ashley Bennett presented the solution they and Greg Elliott developed during the 2003 Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM). This team of three students received a Meritorious designation for their work in the contest. Two other Simpson teams competed in the MCM, one of which received an honorable mention.

The Franciscan University
Glen A. Just

First, Mount St. Clare College has a new name and designation, it is now The Franciscan Univeristy. That means my email has now changed to: and the web is (although the old addresses will still work for a while longer). Due to a restructuring of the institution, the math department is no longer within the "Science Division" but rather now a part of the School of Arts and Sciences. The two other new schools at TFU are the School of Business and Computer Science and the School of Teacher Education and Human Services. The three school structure became effective this September.

We also have a new BS degree that started last fall, it is a major in "Computer Science and Mathematics". We actually had a transfer student complete the requirements for the CSM major and graudate on 10 May 03. His name is Jeffery W. Kane from Bettendorf, IA. We currently have 7 students majoring in CSM.

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University of Iowa Mathematics Department
David Manderscheid

David Manderscheid continues as Chair of the Department, Yi Li continues as Associate Chair for the Graduate Program, Dan Anderson continues as Associate Chair for the Undergraduate Program, and Herb Hethcote continues as chair of the Program in Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences.

Isabel Darcy joined us an assistant professor. Her research interests are in mathematical biology. We hired two new postdocs: Marta Asaeda (operator algebras) and Anatharam Raguram (representation theory).

Finally, I must regretfully inform you that Bob Oehmke passed away on Oct. 10, 2003, from lung cancer. He was a faculty member in the Department for 39 years and directed the dissertations of 35 students, the last finishing this past summer. He will be missed.

The Department of Mathematics undergraduate program has over 175 majors. Our undergraduate research program is thriving, with students working on projects with faculty in areas such as operator theory, number theory, and assessment. Interest in our "Program C" major is strong. This major is designed to meet the needs of students who want a degree in mathematics with a clear specialization in some area of application. The key is that certain courses in the area of specialization are counted towards the Mathematics degree. Students can focus on areas for which programs have been approved, such as Optimal Business Decision Making, Economics, Physics, Biomathematics and others, or they can propose new ones. Program C graduates do very well in the job market. In other news, we have made a number of changes in our courses for non-majors. The most significant is the introduction of a required course for all elementary education majors. Walter Seaman designed this course in consultation with the faculty of the College of Education.

We have two graduate programs with 112 students studying for MS and Ph.D. degrees. Of this total 32 students are in the Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences Ph.D. program. Students in this interdisciplinary program build a strong foundation in theoretical and applied mathematics but also do work in other areas. Some of the recent graduates of the program wrote dissertations in the areas of stochastic optimization in finance, atmospheric chemical models, and image compression. Our graduate students come from Iowa and surrounding states but also from California, Texas and New York among others. Our foreign graduate students come from around the world with the most students from Latin America, Korea, Romania and China. Currently 57% of our graduate students are US citizens, 38% of our graduate students are women and over 20% are US minorities from underrepresented groups. All of these figures are well above the national average and the latter figure is, to our knowledge, the highest in the country at a majority institution. We have increased our retention rate for graduate students through a number of innovative programs. These include our use of senior TAs to run problem sessions for first year graduate courses and also our use of senior TAs to run Ph.D. comprehensive exam preparation seminars during the summer. These programs also have proved to be an excellent credential for the senior TA when they go out on the job market. Another innovation is a semester long seminar "Introduction to the Graduate Program" which is required of all first-year graduate students. In this seminar, the students here faculty and graduate students talk about their research. Most of our PhDs last year took jobs teaching at four year colleges or institutions that offer MS degrees. A number of our Ph.D.s took postdoctoral positions.  Three of our PhD graduates this past year were US minorities.

For more information about what is going at Iowa, including our seminar schedule and information on our distinguished visitor series, please see our web page

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University of Northern Iowa
Joel Haack

First, a few numbers. In 2002-2003, UNI graduated 19 mathematics teaching majors, 1 general mathematics major, 3 applied mathematics majors, and 7 statistics/actuarial science majors. Forty-one elementary education majors earned minors in K-6 mathematics, and another student earned a minor in mathematics. Three students earned MA degrees in mathematics, while 11 earned an MA in Mathematics for the Middle Grades (4-8).

Two mathematics faculty retired from UNI last year, Bonnie Litwiller (secondary education) and Paul Trafton (early childhood through middle grades education). Their leadership will be missed. Ed Rathmell completed his successful service as interim department head and is returning to the faculty ranks.

Four new faculty members were added in 2003. Appointed as professor and department head is Jerry Ridenhour, coming to UNI from Utah State, where he also had served as department head. Jerry received his PhD from Arizona State University in 1971 after completing his BS and MA at Central State Missouri State College. His research interests are in oscillation and discongugacy theory for differential equations and difference equations, and in dynamic equations on time scales. He served as Chair of the Intermountain Section of the MAA in 1990-1992.

Jason Aubrey and Vera Rayevskaya were appointed assistant professors earlier this year. Jason's research interests are in set theory, more specifically cardinal characteristics of the continuum, set theoretic topology, and applications ot analysis. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan this year, after earning his BS at Purdue and his MS at Michigan.

Vera's research specialty is approximation theory, computer-aided geometric design, and multivariate splines. She came to UNI after completing her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt. She also earned a BA at Ural State University, an MS from the Nebraska-Lincoln, and an MS in computer science from Vanderbilt.

In a visiting position this year is Nikolay Silkin. He recently received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt, with a BS from Ural State University and MS degrees from Nebraska-Lincoln and Vanderbilt. His research interests are in combinatorial and geometrical group theory and bioinformatics. As you might gather from the vitas, Vera and Nikolay are married.

One of the mathematics student organizations at UNI is Kappa Mu Epsilon. Student members who presented papers at the monthly meetings included:  David Gisch, "Isometries of Euclidean 3-Space Into Itself"; Ben Wadsley, "Probabilistic Analysis of NCAA Final Four"; Jimmy Brito, "Benford's Law: The First Digit Phenomenon"; and James Mills, "Warning: Isometries are closer than they appear." Faculty advisor, Mark Ecker and students Sara Buchheim and Ben Wadsley attended the KME National Convention at Oral Roberts University, where Sara presented her paper "Significant Predictors for UNI GPA's." Six new members were initiated into KME's Iowa Alpha chapter in April.

Upper Iowa University
Maureen Busta

Dr. Nigel George, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Physics, is a new faculty member at Upper Iowa this fall. He grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and received a B.S degree in Mathematics and Physics as well as a Master's degree in Physics from the University of Auckland. He completed his Ph.D. in Physics in 1998, after which he joined a research collaboration called PHOBOS at Brookhaven National Lab in the summer of 1999.

Dr. Maureen Busta, Associate Professor of Mathematics, is currently President of the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics and is involved with two initiatives through the Iowa Department of Education:  Every Student Counts and the Math Content Network.

Wartburg College
Lynn Olson

The Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics Department at Wartburg College has experienced a number of changes in the past year. First of all, Augie Waltmann retired after thirty-four years in the department. We are happy for him but we will certainly miss his dedication to his profession and to his students. Augie's hearing had deteriorated over the last few years and he had worked diligently to overcome this handicap. He was managing well but he felt that he could no longer deliver his courses at the level of excellence he demanded.

Secondly, this past summer the department moved out of its home in Becker Hall of Science to temporary offices in the library and an office campus "annex". After fall term we hope to move completely out of Becker into the new addition. Old Becker Hall will then be "gutted" and rebuilt with a projected finish date for next fall. When the new building is finished and the old building is renovated we will have about twice the amount of space. It will be time to have the section meetings at Wartburg again.

We have three new faculty in the department. Dr. Richard Chilcoat is Augie's replacement. His Ph.D. is in mathematics education from the University of Northern Colorado and has been most recently at the University of Northern New Mexico.

Dr. Mahmoud Almanassra received his Ph.D. in statistics this past summer from the University of Southern Illinois. He joins us to fill a position vacated by Shonda Kuiper's leaving. Shonda "jumped ship" for a position at Grinnell this fall. We miss her but we are pleased to have Mahmoud with us.

Terry Letsche joined our staff in computer science to support our computer information systems major. He has had background in business world being part of starting an internet provider company. He is currently completing his doctorate at the University of Iowa in Industrial Engineering with research in data mining.

Chris Schmidt, who has taught physics and computer science at Wartburg for the last twenty-five years, has just announced that he will take early retirement this next spring. (If you know of anyone interested in a physics position please let them know about our vacancy.)

As you might guess the age composition of our department has changed quickly. At our last department pot luck we had sixteen children 6 and under.

Brian Birgen has been active with the local section of Kappa Mu Epsilon. He has taken over the role of corresponding secretary from Augie Waltmann and has established a bi-weekly card night when students can play Set and 500. He has also been training students for the Putnam exam and the Annual Iowa Collegiate Math Competition.

Mariah Birgen remains active with experimenting with new ways to use technology in the classroom. She is also heavily involved with our general education program and is currently serving as a coordinator of our campus wide first year course in general education.

John Zelle has finished his book, Python Programming and Introduction to Computer Science and we are using a preliminary version this fall. It will be out in December with Franklin, Beedle and Associates.

John Zelle and Charles Figura, one of our physicists, have established an ongoing interdisciplinary student/faculty research experience in virtual reality. The last couple of years they have had students working with them on various projects and they see many directions for it to take.

Lynn Olson, with Chris Schmidt's assistance, took a group of 19 students to the British Isles for 3 full weeks. The focus of the trip was science and mathematics history. Everyone thought that the Bletchley Park tour was the highlight of the trip. Kathy Olson and Mary Schmidt were responsible for adding cultural dimensions to the trip.

Last year we had 26 department graduates with twelve in computer science or information systems, thirteen in mathematics or mathematics education and nine with physics majors. We were pleased that almost half of our departmental majors went to graduate school.

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This page was last revised on October 21, 2003.