Current Abstracts

Below are the abstracts for talks submitted for the current section meeting. By default, these are sorted by last name. The data can be sorted by alternate means by using the links at the top right, each allowing ascending or descending orders.

Displaying 1-17 of 17 results.

Dan Alexander (Drake University)
Innovation through Blunder (or the Unexpected Virtues of Non-Intentionality)

"We all make mistakes." "There is no such thing as a dumb question." "You should embrace your mistakes and learn from them." These are all things that many of us tell our students. But do we believe it? More importantly, do we follow this advice in our own teaching? What I hope to do in this talk is explore the role of mistakes in teaching with the audience. In hopes of getting the conversation rolling, I will offer a few examples of mistakes, including several I have made. some of which have led to some drastic changes in my teaching.

Mariah Birgen (Wartburg College)
How to I keep track of classroom behavior in my IBL Classroom

I have been teaching IBL in my upper level classes for several years now, but have struggled with keeping track of participation during class. I want to give my students credit for quality questions and answers, but sometimes (often) things go so fast, or I am so involved with the argumentation, that I can't write things down quickly. Each class starts with the best of intentions, but . . . Today I am going to talk about one nearly fool-proof method that I have discovered that works for me, along with some other ideas that I haven't course-tested, but have strong potential.

Sean Bradley (Clarke University)
Intro Stats Project: Handwriting and Gender

Can you tell the gender of a writer from a sample of handwriting? A simple survey leads provides perhaps surprising answers. The resulting data set proves unexpectedly rich in terms of the number of questions students can ask. Most of the questions are suitable for a first course in statistics for a general audience. (Side questions: Many math departments are asked to teach elementary statistic courses. Is this math? Should it be?)

Christine Caples (University of Iowa)
Tangle Classification

A knot can be thought of as a knotted piece of string with the ends glued together. A tangle is formed by intersecting a knot with a 3-dimensional ball. The portion of the knot in the interior of the ball along with the fixed intersection points on the surface of the ball form the tangle. Tangles can be used to model protein-DNA binding, so another way to think of a tangle is in terms of segments of DNA (the strings) bounded by the protein complex (the 3-dimensional ball). Like knots, the same tangle can be represented by multiple diagrams which are equivalent under deformations (no cutting or gluing allowed). A tangle invariant is a value that is the same for equivalent tangles. Tangles can be classified into families which allows one to study properties of tangles that may be useful for solving tangle equations. This talk will be an introduction to knot theory and will investigate how tangle invariants can be used to classify tangles.

Marc Chamberland (Grinnell College)
Popularizing Mathematics with YouTube

How is mathematics being popularized with YouTube? We show various math channels, including the speaker's channel Tipping Point Math, and explain what goes into making such videos.

Susan Crook (Loras College)
Researching in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

This summer I attended an MAA minicourse focused on beginning to research in the area of scholarship of teaching and learning and would like to disseminate some of this basic information to our section. Several of the Iowa section schools use Boyer's model of scholarship, which includes SoTL, to evaluate scholarship for tenure and promotion. In this talk, I will give a brief overview of how SoTL research is structured and point to many references for faculty looking to begin research in this area.

Kevin Gerstle (University of Iowa)
Algebras and Coalgebras

While algebra is widely recognized as an important branch of mathematics, most people do not know how the objects called algebras play a vital role in our understanding of many commonly used number systems such as the real and complex numbers. In addition, the dual notion of coalgebras give us a way to introduce a new type of structure to these systems allowing us novel, exciting ways to talk about numbers. In this talk, we will explore the interplay between algebras and coalgebras, and I will show what information these algebraic structures give us about some of our favorite number systems.

Russ Goodman (Central College)
Experiences Teaching a Sports Analytics Honors Seminar

This talk will offer the presenter's experience designing and teaching an honors seminar on sports analytics. The seminar, offered in spring 2015, was designed for honors students in general and not necessarily for mathematics majors. The presenter will describe effective and not-so-effective aspects of the seminar, along with ideas for improving the seminar in the future. Feedback and input from the audience will be solicited.

Angela Kohlhaas (Loras College)
Using Math to Create Music

In this talk I will present some of the activities my students engaged in and compositions they created in the math of music portion of my January-term course at Loras College. We will apply fractals to musical form, modular arithmetic to chords, transposition, and serialism, and function transformations to counterpoint. No musical background is needed for this talk.

Kristopher Lee (Iowa State University)
MATH 106X: A New Course at Iowa State

Last year, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State approved the creation of an inquiry-based mathematics course for the liberal arts. The course has begun this semester, and I will discuss my experience as the faithful guide to the intrepid explorers who so bravely signed up for this journey to discover mathematics.

Jonas Meyer (Loras College)
Starting a Math Teachers' Circle in Dubuque

Math Teachers' Circles are "professional communities centered on mathematics," in which professors and middle school math teachers come together to solve mathematics problems, discuss teaching, and more. The presenter worked with colleagues in Dubuque to start a Math Teachers' Circle this year. He'll provide an overview of what MTCs are, then discuss our Circle, including what we've done so far, our hopes for the near future, and examples of some of the problems and activities we've done.

Catherine Patterson (University of Iowa)
Modeling the Effects of Multiple Myeloma Bone Disease

Cancer is a lot like a hurricane; you can see it coming, but you don't know exactly where it will go or how much damage it will do. However, by combining a mathematical model with patient data, we can make predictions about the development of a patient's cancer. My research focuses on multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer that disrupts the bone remodeling process. In multiple myeloma patients, bone destruction outpaces bone replacement, producing bone lesions. This talk will describe the cell dynamics that regulate bone remodeling and explain how they are impacted by multiple myeloma. I will then discuss techniques used to model this system, including Savageau's power law approximations.

Dave Richeson (Dickinson College)
The Four Problems of Antiquity

We discuss the history of four of the most famous problems in mathematics-the so-called problems of antiquity: squaring the circle, trisecting the angle, doubling the cube, and constructing regular n-gons. We know the outcome-that they are all impossible to solve using compass and straightedge. But there is a long and fascinating history of mathematicians' attempts to solve the problems using the Euclidean tools and their success at solving them by other means (using marked straightedges, conic sections, transcendental curves, and mechanical devices). Like all great mathematical problems, they pushed mathematics forward.

Matt Rissler (Loras College)
Another College Football Ranking

Anyone who has followed D1A college football in the last two decades is aware that there computer rankings and probably has opinions on them. In this talk we will discuss my ranking which is a tweak of the Colley Matrix method, one of the former BCS rankings. My ranking uses a little bit of discrete probability, linear algebra, graph theory, and stochastic systems to arrive at its results.

Christian Roettger (Iowa State University)
Rashomon sculptures - reconstructing 3D shapes from inexact measurements

The art installation 'Rashomon' was displayed on the Iowa State University campus during summer 2015. It consists of 15 identical, abstract sculptures. Artist Chuck Ginnever posed the challenge whether it is possible to display the sculptures so that no two of them are in the same position (modulo translation/rotation). We investigated the related question of reconstructing such a sculpture from (ordinary tape-measure) inexact measurements. Mathematics involved are the Cayley-Menger determinant, and the gradient method / Steepest Descent. We'll explain the mathematics with some simple examples and then show the results of our reconstruction. We will only assume elementary linear algebra (matrix - vector multiplication, determinants).

Francis Su (Harvey Mudd College)
Voting in Agreeable Societies

When does a majority exist in a voting situation? How does the geometry of the political spectrum influence the outcome? What does mathematics have to say about how people behave? When mathematical objects have a social interpretation, the associated results have social applications. We will show how math can be used to model people's preferences and understand voting in "agreeable" societies. This talk also features research with undergraduates.

Julia Walk (University of Iowa)
Building a Model of the Effects of Multiple Myeloma on Kidney Function

Multiple myeloma is a type of plasma cell cancer associated with many health challenges, including damage to the kidney. When a patient's kidneys are damaged, waste builds up in the bloodstream and the body begins to shut down. We would like to model what happens as the cancer affects the proximal tubule cells in the kidney, to eventually create a model that doctors can use as a predictive tool to catch problems early. We will explore an initial model that captures the biology of the interaction between kidney cells and proteins produced by the myeloma cells. The discussion will emphasize the development of the model using power law approximations in a system of ODEs.