Fall 2006 Departmental News

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Central College Luther College
Coe College Simpson College
Drake University University of Iowa Mathematics Department
Grinnell College University of Northern Iowa
Iowa State University Mathematics Department Wartburg College

Central College
Mark Mills
millsm@central.edu

Our department currently had two members come off sabbatical from last year and two members go on sabbatical this year.

We were pleased to have one student selected to participate in a mathematics REU program this past summer. Adrian Bell studied evolutionary game theory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is currently working with Tom Linton to continue her studies, as well as turn it into a senior honors thesis.

Over the past two years, we have seen a drop in the number of students who have chosen to major in mathematics and computer science. This follows a couple of years where we had a large number of majors, causing an enrollment "bubble" in many of our classes. We are working to try to cultivate new students and new majors.

Al Hibbard and Wendy Weber participated in grading the Advanced Placement (AP) calculus exam in early June at Colorado State University.

On a more personal note, the Central mathematics "family" has grown by two members in the past month and a half. Russ and Linda Goodman adopted nine-month-old Mia Lin Goodman from China in mid-September. Mark and Ann Mills had son William John Mills join their family in late-September. Both sets of parents are thrilled with the new additions, but craving more sleep than they're currently getting! (You can check out www.central.edu/homepages/goodmanr/Mia.htm and www.central.edu/homepages/millsm/William.html for pictures of each child.)

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Coe College
Cal Van Niewaal
cvanniew@coe.edu

Coe completed a renovation of Stuart Hall, its oldest academic building, and the mathematical sciences department moved into the building in August. The renovated facilities give the department significantly more space than it previously had in Hickok Hall. A favorite space of students and faculty alike is the new Lindsay Study Lounge, named in honor of Charles Lindsay and his wife Phyllis. The study lounge is furnished with a couch, some comfortable chairs, a conference table and chairs, bookcases and three computer work stations. There is also a kitchenette with microwave oven and a refrigerator that the math club is stocking with soda.

The Lindsay Seminar is a new program at Coe for first-year students. The seminar is pretty much the opposite of a regular first-year mathematics class. Instead of routine exercises with little intrinsic value or interest, Lindsay seminar problems are chosen to intrigue students who have an aptitude for mathematics. The activities are designed to be both fun and challenging while introducing students to a wide variety of topics in mathematics. The Lindsay seminar meets one evening a week during the fall semester. Jon White began the seminar last year with four students. Six are participating this fall.

While enrollments in computer science classes remain relatively low, we have had surprisingly large enrollments in our upper level math classes this fall: 19 in real analysis and 16 in modern algebra.

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Drake University
Alexander Kleiner
afkleiner@drake.edu

Luz de Alba has returned from leave.

Kenneth J Kopecky retired in May 2006 after 42 years on the Drake faculty.

Dan Alexander is now serving as the Director of the Center for Digital Technology and Learning.

Michael Rieck has received tenure and been promoted to Associate Professor.

Timothy Urness has joined the department. Tim received his Ph. D. in computer science from the University of Minnesota this year and will teach the computer courses including those that Ken Kopecky taught. One of Tim's first projects was to revamp the Department's web site. The new site contains a page of Department News and can be found at http://www.drake.edu/artsci/mathcs/.

Jeffery Langford, who graduated last May, spent the summer at the Nebraska IMMERSE program in Lincoln and is currently a graduate student in mathematics at Washington University.

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Grinnell College
Keri Kornelson
kornelso@math.grinnell.edu

The Grinnell Department of Mathematics and Statistics has had a dynamic year. Our department of Math and Computer Science has undergone a reorganization, so we are now two departments: the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. We are pleased to have two new members, Holly Mosley and Leah Jager, who are here this year to replace people on leave. Holly received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 2005 and most recently held a postdoctoral position at the University of California, San Diego. Leah completed her Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Washington in 2006.

The department awarded two students the first Pamela Ferguson Endowed Prizes in Mathematics. The goal of this merit prize for at most two juniors is to recognize and encourage mathematical potential among students of both genders, but particularly among women. The awardees were Steffi Fried and Norman Perlmutter.

Marc Chamberland had a number of papers appear over the last academic year: "Dynamics of Maps with Nilpotent Jacobians" appeared in the Journal of Difference Equations and Applications; "Nilpotent Jacobians in Dimension Three" with Arno van den Essen (Radhoud University) appeared in the Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra; and "Dynamics of the degree six Landen Transformation" with Victor Moll (Tulane University) appeared in Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems. He gave several invited talks: "The Collatz Chameleon" and "Dynamics of the Degree Six Landen Transformation" at Mathfest (Albuquerque), and "The Many Faces of Pi" was the MAA Student Lecture at the Joint AMS-MAA meetings in San Antonio. Marc has become intensely focused on the growing area of Experimental Mathematics. To this end, he gave the talk "Mathematics by Experiment" at the MAA Iowa section meeting at ISU and had three problems (with Jon Borwein, Dalhousie University) of an experimental nature posted on the SIAM problems page: http://www.siam.org/journals/categories/classical.php. Marc wants to develop an upper level undergraduate course on Experimental Math and is open to input and discussion.

Chris French won a competitive year-long sabbatical for junior faculty at Grinnell called the Harris Fellowship. He is using this year
to extend results from his Ph.D. thesis, and to indulge in an undergraduate interest by taking a course on Herodotus. He will shortly be submitting a paper "Equivariant Maps of Spheres and Invariants of Adams Operations" which he wrote in the last year, and which itself extends results from his Ph.D. thesis. In addition, he has collaborated with Marc Chamberland on a paper "Generalized Catalan Numbers and Hankel Transformations" which they have submitted to the Online Journal of Integer Sequences.

Chuck Jepsen had one paper appear this year: "Dissections of p:q rectangles into thirteen rectangular elements" with Ming Gu, appeared in Discrete Mathematics. This paper is the result of a multiyear investigation with help from a student researcher. A joint paper with a student researcher, Valeria Vulpe, in summer 2005 is still under review. The summer of 2006, he worked with two students, Rolf Hoyer and Trevor Sedberry, on problems in equidissections. A paper giving some of their results is now being drafted. He is also writing a draft of some previous work on equidissections.

Keri Kornelson gave an invited talk in May at a conference in Boulder, Colorado, entitled "Non-Integer Translation Invariant Systems". She worked with two student researchers this past summer, Ben Backup and Chris LeBailly, on a project involving frames in two and three dimensions. She also attended an MAA-PrEP workshop in June on "Wavelets and Applications: A
Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Course with an Emphasis on Scientific Computing" with Karen Shuman. Their plans are to restructure our upper level course on Fourier analysis and wavelets.

Shonda Kuiper is on leave this year. She is primarily working on her NSF supported project to develop interdisiciplinary course materials.

Emily Moore continues to work on problems in graph coloring. She has had a paper with Joan Hutchinson, "Distance Constraints in Graph Color Extensions", accepted for publication in the Journal of Combinatorial Theory B. In the category of recreational mathematics: In February she gave a talk titled "Solving Sudoku" for readers of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. The audience of 143 people was eager, engaged, and almost all were there 45 minutes early!

Tom Moore finished up his term as chair of the MAA SIGMAA on Statistics Education by chairing the meeting in San Antonio. He has been involved in co-organizing several sessions for the MAA and he published on Simpson's paradox in the Journal of Statistics Education.

David Romano spent the last year in Oregon, working with a small group of theoretical neuroscientists on a range of problems. Among the more mathematical problems he concentrated on were the application of group theory and dynamical systems theory to the study of motor control and models for the transmission of electrical signals between neurons, and the fractional order dynamics of neurons in the vestibular system.

Karen Shuman recently became Treasurer of the Iowa MAA. In late spring, she had an article (joint work with S.J. Dilworth of the University of South Carolina and Denka Kutzarova of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), "The Weak Chebyshev X-Greedy Algorithm in the unweighted Bergman space", appear in the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications. In early summer, she participated in the MAA PREP Wavelets Workshop at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, to prepare for an applied wavelets and harmonic analysis course she is teaching at Grinnell in spring 2007.

Henry Walker's work with the MAA continues as member of the MAA Committee on the Profession and as a member of the subcommittee that is drafting an ethics statement for the organization. Within computer science, he continues as Chair of the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), in which he has several responsibilities. At Grinnell, he serves as Chair of the new Department of Computer Science and as the Building Liaison for the Phase 2 expansion and renovation of the Science Building (see http://www.cs.grinnell.edu/~walker/phase2/ for pictures). Finally, his consulting involves the grading of AP CS exams and interactions with colleges and universities regarding math/cs and personnel reviews.

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Iowa State University Mathematics Department
Stephen J. Willson
willson@math.iastate.edu

  1. The Mathematics Department has opened the Richard Sprague Undergraduate Math Majors Resource Room. This room is available for undergraduate mathematics majors throughout the day and evenings. It is a place to meet other math majors, find a quiet place to sit and work between classes, or relax and play games (such as chess or go).
  2. Professor Sunder Sethuraman is on sabbatical leave for 2006-07 at the University of Cincinnati, working in probability theory.
  3. Professor Fred Wright retires in December 2006. Fred has been at ISU since 1953.
  4. Maria Axenovich was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Leslie Hogben was promoted to Full Professor. Congratulations to them both!
  5. Maria Axenovich was given the LAS Award for Early Teaching. The award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding teaching performance unusually early in their professional career.
  6. Heather Thompson, senior lecturer in mathematics, was given the LAS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Introductory Teaching. This award recognizes outstanding performance in teaching undergraduate introductory (entry-level) classes. The award honors her work with prospective elementary teachers.
  7. Professor Howard Levine was inducted into the University of Minnesota Duluth Academy of Science and Engineering. This Academy gives public recognition to distinguished alumni of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota at Duluth.

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Luther College
Ruth Berger
bergerr@luther.edu

In 2006 we graduated 5 math/statistic majors, 25 math majors of which 20 were double majors, 12 computer science majors and 10 math minors. In a huge turn around, there were 11 double math-physics majors following none last year.

Joyce Becker was Vice President Post Secondary of the ICTM and as Program Chair of the 2006 Conference lined up over 70 speakers for the day long conference in February. The theme of the Conference was "Algebra is Elementary - Understanding is the Key". Keynoters were Dr. Lee Stiff-Past National President of NCTM and Calculus textbook author Dr. Ron Larson.

Ruth Berger is still coordinating the Iowa Collegiate Undergraduate Math Competition.

Richard Bernatz and Luther student Kai Tsuruta are doing a poster presentation based on a portion of their work on mathematical modeling of rainfall-runoff at the Fourth Annual Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium to held November 7, 2006, at Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wisconsin. The poster is entitled "Estimation of the 1%-Annual Flood Event by TOPMODEL and GLUE." On another endeavor, Bernatz has nearly completed a first draft of an introductory text on partial differential equations to be used in his spring 2007 course offering.

Reginald Laursen continues to expand and revise his manuscript Calculus Motivated Precalculus Transitioning to Calculus One for Luther's integrated Precalculus/Calculus courses. He also once again provided the maze design for the Country Heritage Community Maize Maze at Elgin, Iowa. The math club took 40 participants to a night solve of the maze in September.

Troy Meyers received an offer late last spring from the USDA in Ames that he could not refuse. We are fortunate to have Walter Adair, a recent Masters graduate from ISU, teaching our Statistics classes this year. Consequently we are searching for a PhD statistician this year. If you have any graduates in statistics who would like to teach at a liberal arts college please notify us or them. (Luther College job opening for a PhD Statistician see http://math.luther.edu/.)

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Simpson College
Murphy Waggoner
waggoner@simpson.edu

Dr. Bruce Sloan will be retiring after the spring 2007 semester after almost 20 years of service to Simpson College. During his tenure, Bruce served the college in a variety of ways: Science Division Chair, Director of the South Central Iowa Science and Engineering Fair, faculty athletic representative, running the down marker on the sidelines at Simpson football games, and chair of many faculty committees. He also has served the Iowa Section of the MAA in many ways including as section chair. During Homecoming on October 14, there will be a reunion of alum who studied under Dr. Sloan during his time at Simpson. We will miss Bruce and wish him and his wife, Bev, the best in their retirement at their new home in Montana.

We are pleased to announce that Dr. William Schellhorn has accepted the position which will be vacated by Dr. Sloan's retirement. Bill has taught as an adjunct for us since the fall of 2005, and has already become an integral part of our small department. We are now searching for ways to fill Bill's adjunct position.

Dr. Debra Czarneski was selected to participate in Project NExT and began her work in that program at MathFest this past summer. Dr. Murphy Waggoner also attended MathFest in Knoxville, and she will again organize a contributed paper session on Getting Students to Write and Discuss Mathematics at the joint meetings in New Orleans. Dr. Rick Spellerberg continues as our department chair.

The department has authored a proposal to the Educational Policies and Curriculum Committee to make significant changes to the service component of our curriculum. We are adding an interdisciplinary course for non-majors that will prepare those students for the quantitative analysis needed in courses such as Chemistry, Political Science, Economics and other disciplines. This will replace the algebra requirement for non-science majors and better serve the needs of the students and the college.

Three of our students attended REUs this past summer. Jean Clipperton studied radio coding and graph theory at Valparaiso, while Jonna Anderson and Tracy Robson modeled largemouth bass cannibalism at the University of Nebraska. Jean continues her summer work as she begins her research to complete the degree of Honors in Mathematics. All three students presented their work to the Simpson community at a science REU symposium, will be presenting at the Argonne Symposium for Undergraduates in Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Argonne National Laboratories, and will present posters at the joint meetings of the MAA and AMS in New Orleans in January.

December 2 is our third annual Mathematics Day which is an opportunity for our alumni, current students and high school students to get together. We use the event to help students in mathematics learn more about the variety of areas of study in mathematics, the opportunities for graduate study and the diversity of job opportunities available to them and to facilitate networking between our current students and alums.

The fourth annual Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium (MUMS2007) will be held at Simpson on March 31, 2007. We are fortunate to have received funding for MUMS2007 from the NSF grant DMS-536991 through the MAA Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conferences Program this year which will allow us to provide student travel stipends for those students traveling to Indianola for the symposium. Information about these stipends will be announced soon and will be on the symposium web page (www.simpson.edu/math). The speaker for MUMS2007 is Dr. Jacob Oleson of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, and he will give talks on biostatistics.

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University of Iowa Mathematics Department
David Manderscheid
mander@math.uiowa.edu

The big news this year is that the Department won a prestigious five-year, $3 million NSF VIGRE (Vertical Integration of Research and Education) from the Division of Mathematical Sciences at NSF. The grant will enable us to support undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to do research as a part of teams with UI faculty. A major part of the grant is The Heartland Mathematics Partnership, which is composed of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Iowa, and the departments of mathematics at twelve other Midwest colleges and universities (including eight in Iowa). This partnership will allow us to increase the number of U.S. students who enter a career in the mathematical sciences.

The administration of the Department remains unchanged: David Manderscheid continues as Chair, Dan Anderson is Associate Chair for the Graduate Program, Weimin Han is the new Associate Chair for the Undergraduate Program, and Yi Li is the Director of the Program in Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences (AMCS).

We have one new assistant professor and one new postdoc this year. Muthukrishnan Krishnamurthy is our new assistant professor. Muthu was a student of Shahidi at Purdue and he is coming off a postdoc at Michigan. His research is in Representation Theory. The new postdoc this year is Pace Nielsen. Pace got his PhD with Lam at the University of California at Berkeley. His research is in Algebra and he is our first VIGRE postdoc.

We had three retirements this past year. Herb Hethcote retired and moved to the Seattle area. Nguyen Cac and Gene Madison also have retired. They are still living in the area.

On a sad note, we lost another faculty member this past year. Professor Thomas Branson died of a heart attack on March 11 at the age of 52. Professor Branson was an outstanding differential geometer who died at the height of his career and with no advance warning. The Department and his family miss him greatly.

On a much happier note, Professor Keith Stroyan won a Haimo Teaching Award from the MAA this year. He received the award at the San Antonio meetings and delivered a talk on lessons learned in calculus reform. Please join us in congratulating Keith.

The Department of Mathematics undergraduate program continues to grow. We now have 210 majors. Our undergraduate research program is thriving, with fifteen students working on projects with faculty in areas such as operator theory, number theory, and assessment. A number of these students are supported by the VIGRE grant. Interest in our "Program C" major remains 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.

Our graduate programs also continue to thrive also with 120 students currently studying for MS and Ph.D. degrees. Over 30 of these students are in the AMCS 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, Ohio and Texas among others. Our foreign graduate students come from around the world with the most students from Latin America, China, and Romania. Currently 65% of our PhD students are US citizens, 40 % are women and 23% are underrepresented US minorities. This is the third year of our new graduate curriculum and it is a hit with both students and faculty. This curriculum makes our exam structure simpler and less burdensome and allows students to get into research much more quickly. We continue to use senior TAs to run problem sessions for first year graduate courses and also to use senior TAs to run Ph.D. qualifying exam preparation seminars during the summer. At the San Antonio meetings, our graduate program won special recognition from the AMS as a "Program that Makes a Difference."

For more information about what is going at Iowa, including our seminar schedule, our VIGRE program, the Heartland Partnership and information on our distinguished visitor series, please see our web page www.math.uiowa.edu/ or write me, David Manderscheid, at mander@math.uiowa.edu. We also invite you to visit campus or join us at our reception for alumni and friends of the Department at the Winter meetings in New Orleans.

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University of Northern Iowa
Michael Prophet
prophet@math.uni.edu

  1. Genevra Neumann joins the department after completing a postdoc at Kansas State University. Her primary research interest is complex analysis (complex-valued harmonic functions). At Kansas State, she was also part of Andy Bennett's mathematics education research group. She received her Ph.D. in 2003 from the University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Joel Haack is now Dean of the College of Natural Sciences.
  3. Section members Greg (and Carol) Dotseth, Shirley Cropper, and Joel (and Linda) Haack attended the MAA Study Tour to China last June. Photos should be available shortly at www.maa.org/china.
  4. Vladimir Odinets (Herzen Univerisity, St. Petersburg Russia) visited our department for two weeks during September 2006.
  5. On April 2, 2007, Kenneth Ross, past President of AMS, will deliver the Hari Shankar Math Lecture

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Wartburg College
Mariah Birgen
mariah.birgen@wartburg.edu

This August, the Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics department welcomed Niel Martinsen-Burrell to an Assistant Professor in Applied Mathematics position. Dr. Martinsen-Burrell received a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics with a minor in religious studies from Harvey Mudd College in California and a doctorate in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Most recently, Dr. Martinsen-Burrell held a post-doctoral position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His most recent research presentation was "Distributions of Scalars in Basic Fluid Flows" at the Southeast Atlantic Mathematical Sciences Workshop in 2005.

Lynn Olson is on sabbatical and is studying both at Wartburg as well as the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Brian Birgen took thirteen students to Germany in May for a three week course on the historical roots of math and physics.

Mariah Birgen was on sabbatical in the winter term and worked on a mathematics course for non-majors on issues of democracy.

Richard Chilcoat took a Chautauqua course on coding at Bletchley Park, U.K.

We are proud to announce that our mathematics, chemistry, and biochemistry major, Justin Peters, received the Barry Goldwater scholarship that supports studies in the fields of mathematics, engineering, and the natural sciences for college seniors.

Our students have taken two trips this term. First, Kappa Mu Epsilon sponsored a trip to Kansas City to visit a copy of Newton's Principia. Second, twenty mathematics seniors traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, to attend the Eighth Annual regional workshop in the mathematical sciences.

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