The Mathematical Association of America
Maryland-District of Columbia-Virginia Section
Fall 2011 Meeting at Christopher Newport University
The Fall 2011 meeting of the section was held on November 4-5, 2011 at Christopher Newport University.
The Friday afternoon workshop was Undergraduate Investigations in Graph Theory and Knot Theory, presented by Robin Blankenship from Morehead State University. Marjorie Senechal from Smith College presented the Friday evening banquet address Quasicrystals: a mathematical goldmine.
On Saturday our own Bud Brown from Virginia Tech presented The Many Names of (7,3,1) and the Unity of Discrete Mathematics and Robin Blankenship talked about her adventures in undergraduate research in her address, Exhilaration and Consternation: Adventures in Conducting Undergraduate Research.
Robin BlankenshipMorehead State University
Workshop: Undergraduate Investigations in Graph Theory and Knot Theory
Abstract: Come prepared to work collaboratively on explorations of my former research students; no prior knowledge of graph theory and knot theory required! We will begin by constructing graphs from Sudoku puzzles and Chessboards, and then attempt to create book embeddings of these graphs. Next we will move pebbles around these graphs, in an attempt to find minimal pebbling numbers for them. Finally, we will make puzzles out of hextiles, asking various combinatorial questions about creating hextile knot mosaics. These hands-on activities will serve as background for my talk on Saturday, where you may take on leadership roles in the brief moments I allow the general audience to explore the topics prior to revealing the conclusions obtained by my undergraduates!
Invited Address: Exhilaration and Consternation: Adventures in Conducting Undergraduate Research
Abstract: One day you are sitting in your office, chipping away at your responsibilities: preparing for class, grading papers, producing paperwork for committees, planning your next academic adventure into research, creating workshops for teachers, or whatever it is that you do to find and maintain your niche. There comes a knock at your door. "I need a research adviser to help me;" she says, "Are you willing?" Ah, the excitement, and...the fear. Being an adviser for research is as different from working on your dissertation as being a teacher is different from being a student. I will relate my personal story of entering this endeavor: the trials and tribulations, the excitement and revelations, as I carry you through the results my students have produced over the past few years. Come explore topics in graph theory and knot theory with me!
Biographical Sketch: Dr. Blankenship is an associate professor of mathematics at Morehead State University. She obtained her MA in mathematics at the University of North Carolina - Wilmington with thesis in chaos theory, her PhD in mathematics at Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge with dissertation in graph theory, concluding with a post-doctoral position in mathematics education at Appalachian State University. While a graduate student, her teaching was recognized through several awards, including receiving the LSU Alumni Association Teaching Assistant Award twice, and more recently receiving the Kentucky MAA University Teaching Award. Her interests vary, including conducting undergraduate research in graph theory and knot theory, providing workshops for teachers, touring elementary schools with her Math Mobile, and writing a play called "The Last Fraction Hero", which toured over 32,000 elementary students through The Little Company, a theater group at MSU.
Marjorie SenechalSmith College
Banquet Address: Quasicrystals: a mathematical goldmine
Abstract: The Nobel Foundation awarded its chemistry prize this year to materials scientist Dan Shechtman "for the discovery of quasicrystals." I will explain what quasicrystals are (and are not), and why mathematicians should thank him too.
Biographical Sketch: Marjorie Senechal, now Louise Wolff Kahn Professor Emerita in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology at Smith College, where among other things she was founding director of the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute which supports cross-disciplinary research by teams of faculty and students. Marjorie began mathematical life in number theory but migrated to discrete geometry early on. She is the author of "Quasicrystals and Geometry" (Cambridge University Press) and editor of "Shaping Space" (the second edition will be published by Springer next year).
Ezra (Bud) BrownVirginia Tech
Invited Address: The Many Names of (7,3,1) and the Unity of Discrete Mathematics
Abstract: In the world of discrete mathematics, we encounter a bewildering variety of topics with no apparent connection between them. There are block designs in combinatorics, finite projective planes in geometry, round-robin tournaments and map colorings in graph theory, (0, 1)- matrices in linear algebra, quadratic residues in number theory, error-correcting codes on the internet, and the torus at the doughnut shop.
But appearances are deceptive, and this talk is about the (7,3,1) design, a single object with many names that connects all of these topics. Along the way, we'll learn how Leonhard Euler was once spectacularly wrong, how P. J. Heawood was almost completely right, and what happened when Richard Hamming got mad at a computer.
Biographical Sketch: Ezra (Bud) Brown grew up in New Orleans, has degrees from Rice and LSU, and has been at Virginia Tech since 1969, where he is currently Alumni Distinguished Professor of Mathematics. Most of his research has been in number theory and combinatorics, but one of his favorite papers was written with a sociologist. During the summers, he does applied mathematics in the Washington, DC Area. He has received the Allendoerfer and Polya Awards for expository writing from the Mathematical Association of America. He has served the MAA's MD/DC/VA Section in a number of capacities, including Section Governor. He enjoys singing in operas, playing jazz piano, gardening, and kayaking, and he occasionally bakes biscuits for his students.