This is the web edition of the Iowa Section Newsletter. To receive a printed copy of the newsletter or to make suggestions/comments, please contact the editor, Al Hibbard,


Section Governor's Report

The MAA has not been immune from the effects of the economic downturn and the association has had to make adjustments. But because association has followed a moderately conservative investment strategy, its investments have performed better than those of many non-profits. At the January 2009 meeting of the Board of Governors, Executive Director Tina Straley reported on the steps being taken to meet the financial challenges. Because the MAA belt is already "tight" programs and services need to be trimmed to lower expenses and some modest price increases are necessary to increase revenues. At this time there are no plans to eliminate any programs or services.

MAA Focus will now be published 6 times per year rather than 9 with more pages in each issue. While the total number of pages each year will be about the same, this change in publication schedule will save the association more than $50,000.

The Board of Governors approved dues increases for 2010 of $2 to $6 depending on membership category and journal selection.

Strategic planning continues to be a focus of the MAA and the Board participated in strategic planning sessions at its meetings in both Madison and Washington, D.C.

There has been a change in dates for the January 2010 Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Francisco. The new dates are: January 13 through 16, 2010.

The national elections this year are being conducted electronically. As announced through MAA Focus and MAA Online, paper ballots were mailed out only to those members who specifically requested them. Members for whom the MAA has current email addresses received email ballots at the beginning of April. The deadline for casting votes is May 29, 2009. Congratulations to Jim Freeman (Cornell College) on his nomination for first vice-president.

Each year representatives of the MAA visit members of Congress to discuss how federal funding (such as NSF) has impacted progress in mathematics and science education. Certain state congressional delegations are targeted each year. Iowa was one of the targeted states this year and I invited Joel Haack (UNI) to represent the Iowa Section for the MAA congressional visit day in March. I am confident that Joel did a great job raising issues of concern with our senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill. While I am certain that Joel would be more than willing to represent us again in the future, there are surely other section members who would also make great representatives. If you would like to suggest someone (or volunteer yourself), please contact me.

The Committee on Committees is continually seeking the names of MAA members who would be interested in serving on one of the association's committees. If you are interested in serving on an MAA committee, please let me know so that I can forward your name, along with my recommendation, to the Committee on Committees.

My term as Governor is now two-thirds complete. In a few short months the Iowa Section will be seeking nominees for the next section governor. I will do my best to continue to represent the Iowa Section on the national board until June 2010. Remember that as Section Governor I am your representative. Please contact me with any questions or concerns that you would like forwarded to the Board of Governors or to the national office.

Respectfully submitted,
Calvin Van Niewaal
Governor, Iowa Section, 2007-2010

Section Chair's Report

We are in the midst of change. Following our vote last spring, the section meeting will be in the fall semester from now on, beginning next fall: October 9-10 at UNI. There will be an announcement on the section web page before too long, but mark your calendars now. We are looking forward to many excellent talks from section members, as well as two national speakers. Steve Dunbar, Director of MAA Competitions, will speak Friday night on the MAA competitions, and Louis Kauffman will give a Polya lecture on "Knot Theory and its Ramifications" on Saturday morning. We will elect a new vice-chair elect at the meeting. We also need to select a new liaison coordinator.

Larry Naylor
Section Chair

Section Treasurer's Report

One can view the report from the treasurer that was submitted to the MAA and will be presented at our next upcoming meeting in October.

Iowa Section NExT Announcement

Applications for Iowa Project NExT are due September 9, 2009. The form is available at The steering committee is Brian Birgen (Wartburg), Russ Goodman (Central), Theron Hitchman (UNI), and Jon White (Coe).

2009 Iowa Collegiate Mathematics Competition

The 15th annual Iowa Collegiate Mathematics competition was held on Saturday, February 28, 2009 at Iowa State University. See the contest page for further information. For questions or comment, contact:

Ruth Berger
Luther College

Dates of Importance

April 3-4, 2009 - Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium, Simpson College, Indianola.

August 6-8, 2009 - MathFest 2009, Portland, Oregon.

October 9-10, 2009 - Annual Meeting of the Iowa Section, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls.

January 13-16, 2010 - Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Francisco.

Departmental News

The following items have been submitted by the liaisons for the corresponding departments. If your department has news that is not included, please contact your liaison so that it can be included.

Central College
Al Hibbard

Russ Goodman was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor last spring. Wendy Weber started this past fall as the new chair for the department of Mathematics and Computer Science. Mark Mills guided the completion of a formalized Actuarial Science major for our students. Finally, we are pleased with the number of students that have been having success with a variety of REUs over the summer.

Coe College
Calvin Van Niewaal

While Coe fared better than its neighbors closer to the Cedar River in the June flood, a small portion of the campus was under water. However, all of the major academic buildings and residence halls remained high and dry. The flooding disrupted electrical, telecommunication and internet services at the beginning of the summer session and students were sent home until those services were restored. The generating station that supplied steam to much of downtown Cedar Rapids still remains offline and Coe is using steam from a temporary generating facility to provide heat and hot water to the campus. But the summer floods and the fall economic downturn have not put a damper on student activities and achievements.

Twelve students participated in the Midwest Mathematical Modeling Competition that was hosted by the University of Iowa in October, and the team including Jack Berkowitz('11) , Thomas Britton('09), and David Schroeder('09), placed first in the competition. That same team just learned that they earned a Meritorious Winner ranking in the 2009 MCM. Modeling contests aren't the only thing that Jack, Thomas and David spend their time on. Jack is making plans to spend the fall term participating in the Budapest Semester in Mathematics, Thomas presented a poster at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Washington, DC, and David was one of five semifinalists at the ACM Undergraduate Student Research Competition held in conjunction with the SIGCSE Technical Symposium in March.

Coe's women are also active. Seven women made the road trip to Lincoln for the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics where Sarah Behrens ('11) and Sara Voss ('09) presented some of their research. Sara and Tiffany Myers ('11) gave presentations at MUMS, and Sara was one of three prize winners in the ACM Undergraduate Student Research Competition, finishing in second place.

A third Coe student, Andre Mitchell ('09), was also selected to participate in the ACM research competition in March. Coe was the only school with more than two students in that competition.

Enrollments in mathematical sciences at Coe continue to climb. While computer science classes are showing moderate growth, mathematics and statistics classes are exploding, with 24 students pre-registered for the advanced Probability and Statistics class next fall. While it is impossible to accurately measure causal relationships, it is clear that a large number of past Lindsay Seminar participants continue to take courses in the department after their first year.

Last spring we instituted a weekly colloquium series. The colloquium events are a mixture of student and faculty presentations, workshops, and occasionally alumni or other outside speakers. The average weekly attendance is in the 30's. Occasionally it has been standing room only in the 60-seat lecture room.

The inaugural lecture in the Kelvin Visiting Lecture series will be given on Tuesday, April 21. Our hope is to have one or two such lectures each year. The first Kelvin Lecturer is T. J. Hitchman, from UNI. T.J. will be speaking about non-Euclidean geometries

Drake University
David Oakland

Daniel Alexander gave an invited presentation entitled "The Center Problem in Complex Dynamics" at the AMS Special Session on the History of Mathematics at the Joint Mathematical Meetings in Washington this past January.

Bernadette Baker attended the MAA PREP workshop "Active Learning Approaches and Visual Methods for Teaching the Foundational Mathematics for Elementary Teachers Courses" at Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR, July 21 - 25, 2008.

Alexander Kleiner is on sabbatical during 2008-2009. One project is the development of a course in game theory for students in mathematics and quantitative economics.

Michael Rieck enjoyed about two weeks of sabbatical before returning to fill an unexpected vacancy. He will try again in 2009-10. Michael gave a talk titled "Quartic equations applied to 6-DOF Wiimote tracking" at the 2008 MathFest in Madison, last summer and published two journal articles in 2008 (both coauthored by Subhankar Dhar): (1) "Hierarchical routing in ad hoc networks using k-dominating sets", ACM SIGMOBILE Mobile Computing and Communications, v. 12., n. 3, 2008, and (2) "Constructing special k-dominating sets using variations on the greedy algorithm", Pervasive and Mobile Computing (2008, Elsevier), doi: 10.1016/j.pmcj.2008.09.009.

Jason Grout, mathematics Ph.D. 2007 from Brigham Young University, currently at Iowa State University, and Eric Manley, computer science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, will be joining the department in the fall as tenure-track Assistant Professors.

David Oakland will retire at the end of the current semester.

Iowa State University
Stephen Willson

1. Professor Wolfgang Kliemann was named Chair of the Mathematics Department in Fall 2008. He replaced Professor Justin Peters, who became chair in 2001, and who has returned to teaching and research in the department. Professor Kliemann brings administrative experience to the position. Recently he had been Associate Vice Provost for Research at ISU.

2. Professor Elgin Johnston has been very active in keeping students interested in math problems. He runs the Problem of the Week, in which undergraduate math students at ISU compete with each other on one hard problem each week during the school terms. His interest in the middle school program Math Counts has expanded into the high school level. Together with post doc Jason Grout, he regularly meets local high school students on Friday afternoons each week in Math Circles at Ames High School. He also currently participates in the Central Iowa Middle School Math Teacher's Circle, which meets in Ames to focus on ideas for problem-solving. For more information see

3. ISU is involved in a program called MORE2009 (Mathematics on the Road Experience). During 2009, approximately every month, the program presents informational meetings at various Area Education Agencies throughout Iowa. The presentations are intended to help students in grades 9-12, their parents, and their teachers negotiate the transition from high school to university-level mathematics. The programs include information on college-level expectations in mathematics for a variety of majors. The presentations also include a focus on a special topic, such as cryptography. For more information see

4. During Summer 2009 the ISU Mathematics Department will host a Mathematics and Computing Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Participants spend eight weeks working on research projects as part of active research groups at ISU.

Luther College
Ruth Berger

In 2008 we graduated 16 math majors, 4 of these were Math/Stat, 4 were female, and all except 3 were double majors. We also graduated 21 math minors. Luther had 10 Computer Science majors, 2 of these double majored with math.

In 2008 we had 4 modeling teams: one earned Meritorious, and three Honorable Mention.

In 2009 we had 3 MCM teams: 1 team earned Meritorious, and 2 teams earned Successful participant.

Joyce Becker is currently serving on the ICTM Board as NCTM Representative. She represented Iowa at the NCTM Delegate Assembly in Salt Lake City in April of 2008 and in Washington D.C. in April of 2009.
Ruth Berger is still coordinating the Iowa Collegiate Undergraduate Math Competition.

Richard Bernatz was awarded an Iowa Science Foundation research grant for a project entitled "Rainfall Model for Projecting the 1% Annual Discharge for Small Watersheds." A result of the work funded by this grant is Brittany Schwefel's student presentation entitled "A Neyman-Scott Model of Rainfall in Northeast Iowa" to be given at the 2009 NCUR Conference.

Reginald Laursen has finally completed his manuscript "Calculus Motivated Precalculus Transitioning to Calculus One". It is being class tested in Luther's integrated Precalculus/Calculus courses and will undergo further revision. Reg is retiring this year to devote more time to his many interests which certainly includes tennis and grandchildren.

Paul R. Savariappan presented a paper "Statistical analysis for a three station tandem queue with blocking and infinite queue infront of station 1" in the 7-th World Congress in probability and statistics, Singapore, July 14 to 19, 2008. In this paper we have obtained a MLE, CAN estimator and asymptotic confidence interval for the expected number of customers in the system.

Maharishi University of Management
Catherine Gorini

Cathy Gorini has completed the second edition of Facts on File Geometry Handbook, which is due to be published in May.

Debra Levitsky has joined the department as Adjunct Assistant Professor.

Mirco Tontini has joined the department as Adjunct Instructor.

Eric Hart received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics. He continues to provide consulting to the Iowa Department of Education on the Iowa Core Curriculum in Mathematics. He published an NCTM book on discrete mathematics and two articles in NCTM journals. He will give the annual Hari Shankar Lecture at the University of Northern Iowa on April 14, 2009.

Paul Corazza has returned to M.U.M. after six months with Google. He will be teaching a special introductory course to entering students next fall on exploring the mathematics of infinity. This is in addition to his continued teaching in the M.S. program in Computer Science.

Northwestern College
Kim Jongerius

The Northwestern College math department currently has 42 majors. Tim Huffman has worked hard to build the actuarial science program in recent years: it has grown from 3 majors in 2005 to 10 or 11 in each of the past 3 years. Currently Tim is on a reduced load to allow him to work part-time for Great West Insurance, gaining experience that benefits our actuarial science students.

Wayne Westenberg was recently promoted to Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, and departmental growth has allowed us to hire Sharon Rosenboom into a half-time position starting next fall. Sharon will bring additional experience and strength to our mathematics education program, particularly in the area of elementary education.

University of Iowa
K Stroyan

We have had a busy and tumultuous year. Last June just after the start of our REU, run with our Heartland partners, the Iowa River flooded the Mayflower dorm where our students were being housed. Thanks to our friends at Iowa State, our students found temporary housing and went there with some dedicated teachers to continue work. I stayed here and tried to develop muscles on the sand bag lines. When the students did return, they happily endured cold showers for another week. Despite this, the workshops and projects they completed were excellent. (Our whole Arts Campus is still un-occupied, Hancher, Clapp, the Music Bldg, Art Museum, Theatre Bldg, new Art Bldg.)

Plans are set for this summer's REU ( with Paul-Hermann Zieschang, of Brownsville, TX (part of our Alliance partnership with minority schools), Christopher French, Grinnell, and Mariah Birgen, Wartberg running our workshops. Many Iowa faculty and grad students will run research groups.

We also ran a Midwest Mathematical Modeling Competition in October as a warm-up to the national COMAP competition in February. We had a good turn-out with many Heartland partner schools brining teams for the weekend. The students worked round-the-clock, grad students stayed up, and Murphy Waggoner even slept in my office. See:

We have also had a productive year in research with a revolving door of new and visiting faculty and postdocs.

University of Northern Iowa
Michael Prophet

1. At Section Governor Van Niewall's invitation, Joel Haack presented the MAA's legislative agenda (support for undergraduate mathematics education, a study of the transition from secondary schools to colleges, and teacher preparation) to members of the Iowa congressional delegation. He enjoyed it enough to be happy to do it again any time, but he also learned enough that he should encourage others to take advantage of such an invitation if it presents itself again in the future!

2. Joel Haack remains the chair of the Committee on Travel Study Programs and a member of the Committee on Professional Development. Anyone with a suggestion for either of these groups is encouraged to contact him (

Wartburg College
Mariah Birgen

The Wartburg College Math, Computer Science and Physics department has been busy this past year. Brian Birgen is taking 10 students to Germany this May term in the Historical Roots of Math and Physics course.
Charles Figura and Ben Bousquet partnered with the Chemistry Department to put on a Science Show in February. John Zelle has a new book out with David M. Reed , Data Structures and Algorithms Using Python and C++ . Terry Letsche finished is Ph.D. and was awarded Tenure and promotion to Associate Professor.

Our radical change to Calculus is going well and we seem to have preliminary data that our retention in students' first Calculus course has improved. Stay tuned for further information.