North Central Mathematical Bulletin

The newsletter of the North Central Section
of the
Mathematical Association of America

Volume 6 Number 2 September 2003

Table of Contents

Governor's Report 2003 Section Meritorious Service Award 
President's Report Fall Meeting
Secretary's Report Campus News
Treasurer's Report

Conferences and Courses

Student Chapter Coordinator's Report

Future Section Meetings

2003-2004 NCS Project NExT fellows

Meetings of Other Sections

2003 Section Team Competition Information for Contributors
2003 Section Distinguished Teaching Award  

Governor's Report



The summer meeting of the Board of Governor's was held in Boulder, Colorado on July 30, 2003. Here are a few of the major highlights from the meeting:

1. My overall impression from attending the Governors meeting and the subsequent MathFest, is one of pride in being involved in an organization that is doing so much to enhance the mathematics profession and to support excellence in undergraduate mathematics education. If you haven't attended one of the national meetings lately, I encourage you to do so. They provide great opportunities for re-energizing one's intellectual batteries.

2. The Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by Beginning Faculty will be offered for the first time this year. The deadline for nominations is Dec. 1. Nomination forms can be found at It would be great for our section to have an Alder Award winner, so think of someone new in your department to nominate.

3. The MAA has started a new program titled "Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers" (PMET). The purpose of this program, which has been funded through the National Science Foundation, is to do as the title suggests, help faculty better prepare K-12 teachers. There are several workshops organized for next summer and more information can be found at In particular, there are mini-grants ($3-$5K) available to any department for the enhancement of its program for the education of future teachers of mathematics.

4. The MAA's switch to electronic balloting for elections was very successful. The Committee on Elections reported that there was a 22% increase in the number of votes cast in the last election as compared to the election of 2002.

5. The MAA was chosen at random for an audit of its grants management by the National Science Foundation. There were a few issues of concern which are being addressed. Overall, the MAA received a very positive report, and its finances are sound.

6. There are two new positions in the national office: a Mananger of Grants and Programs, and a Building and Conference Coordinator. These positions reflect the growth in the MAA's grants program (over $6 million this year) and the need for management of the MAA's new conference center.

7. The MAA's study tour to Greece in May was quickly subscribed and, by participant reports, both educationally exciting and communally congenial. Another tour is planned for summer of 2004 to England. Check the MAA's web site for details.

8. The Exxon/Mobil grant to Project NExT was renewed for $100,000. The program also has three new donors: The American Statistical Association, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and the Association of Symbolic Logic. Sections were again encouraged to start NExT-like programs for new faculty. This is something our section should seriously consider.

9. The next joint math meeting will be held in Phoenix on January 7-10, 2004. The next MathFest will be in Providence, RI on August 12-14, 2004.

See you all in October.

President's Report


Secretary's Report



The Spring 2003 meeting of the North Central Section was held at Macalester College on April 26-27.   Seventy people attended, including six undergraduate students.  The Fall 2003 meeting will be at the University of Sioux Falls on October 24-25 (see the call for papers and related information elsewhere on this site), and the Spring 2004 meeting will be April 23-24 at Winona State University.  Hosts for later meetings are needed, and institutions willing to have the section meeting should contact the chapter president.  Also, suggestions of ideas for future meetings are welcome and may be communicated to any section officer (names and addresses are listed elsewhere on this site).

Please continue to check this site periodically for new information, as it is now the main medium for communications with the section membership.  In particular, further information about this fall’s meeting (including the schedule) is now posted on this site.

Treasurer's Report


Our finances continue to be sound and the arithmetic not too daunting for me.  Actually, for a short time our finances are particularly rosy since the income from the Summer Seminar has come in, but few of the bills have.  I'm sure that will change before our section meeting.  In the meantime, I'd like to extend a big thank you to David Wolf from Gustavus for organizing a great seminar.  See you in Sioux Falls.

Tom Sibley
Math Dept.
St. John's University
Collegeville, MN 56321-3000

Student Chapter Coordinator's

2003-2004 Project NExT Fellows

Shawn Chiappetta -- University of Sioux Falls

Kris Nairn -- Saint John's University / College of Saint Benedict

(Any others?  Let us know!)

2003 NCS Team Competition

The seventh annual NCS/MAA Team Contest will be held on Saturday, November 15, 2003, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Colleges and universities are invited to enter as many teams as they wish, of up to three undergraduate students each.

An announcement and call for registrations has been sent by email in September to at least one person from each collegiate department of mathematics in the section. If you are unsure whether anyone from your department is receiving these announcements, contact Jerry Heuer at  More information on the contest can be found here.

2003 Distinguished Teaching Award

The North Central Section of the Mathematical Association of America is honored to present the 2003 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics to Dr. Thomas Sibley of Saint John's University.

Thomas Sibley began his mathematical training at St. Olaf College in its alternative Paracollege. He graduated in 1973, leaving St. Olaf for two years of Peace Corps work at the Institut Sadisana, Zaire (now Congo), Africa. In 1975, he returned to the United States and entered graduate school at Boston University, earning a PhD in mathematical logic in 1980. After a short stay at St. Olaf, he returned to Africa at Cuttington University College, Liberia, Africa where he taught mathematics for two years. In 1983, he returned once again to the United States, first stopping at  Beloit College and finally settling in at St. John's University where he now a Full Professor of Mathematics.

Tom has published numerous articles on combinatorial algebra and is the author of The Geometric Viewpoint -- a Survey of Geometries, published Addison Wesley Longman Publishing. He is very active in undergraduate research, recently in mathematical biology. He and a student recently published work in the College Mathematics Journal in an  article entitled Taking the Sting out of Wasp Nests: A Dialogue on Modeling in Mathematical Biology,


2003 Meritorious Service Award

The North Central Section of the Mathematical Association of America awards its tenth annual certificate of meritorious service to Dr. Loren C. Larson of St. Olaf College.  Loren Larson has made and continues to make many contributions to both the MAA and the mathematics profession.

First, his MAA service: Loren has been a member of the MAA since 1959.  He served as President of the North Central Section from 1983 to 1985 and as Governor from 1989 to 1992.  He directed the section’s summer seminar on discrete mathematics in 1985.  Loren was editor of the Problems Section of Mathematics Magazine from 1985 to 1995.  He served as referee for The College Mathematics Journal, Mathematics Magazine and The American Mathematical Monthly.  Over the years, he wrote over 800 telegraphic reviews for the American Mathematical Monthly. 

Loren’s contributions to the mathematics community have centered on problem solving.  He wrote Problem-Solving Through Problems and The Wohascum County Problem Book (with George Gilbert and Mark Krusemeyer).  He was co-editor of the book The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, Problems and Solutions, 1965-84 and wrote the Putnam Exam solutions which appeared in Mathematics Magazine from 1983 to 1995.  He has served as Associate Director of the William Lowell Putman Mathematical Competition since 1983.  Between 1976 and 1986, he wrote the solution for the U. S., Canadian, and the International Mathematical Olympiads which appeared in Mathematics Magazine.  He was author of The Problem Spot, a section in the bimonthly newsletter of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics, for many years. 


Fall Meeting to be held in Sioux Falls!

The University of Sioux Falls will host the MAA/NCS fall meeting, October 24-25.  More information can be found by clicking here.  For more information on contributing a paper, click here.  Hot off the press...the Fall 2003 MAA/NCS Section Meeting program.

The MAA/NCS spring meeting will be held April 23-24, 2004, at Winona State University.

Campus News

Augsburg College

Mathematics Professor Nick Coult and Physics Professor Mark Engebretson have been awarded a $214,690 NSF grant to develop mathematical models of electromagnetic waves in Earth’s space environment. The proposal, titled “Multiscale Approach to Wave Propagation through Turbulent Regions of Earth’s Space Environment,” was granted under the new NSF program “Opportunities for Research Collaborations Between the Mathematical Sciences and the Geosciences". The project builds on Professor Coult’s previous work in applied and computational mathematics.

Ioanna Mavrea joins Augsburg’s Mathematics Department for 2003-4, replacing Professor Rebekah Dupont who is on sabbatical. Professor Mavrea is completing her dissertation in combinatorics and model theory at the University of Connecticut.

Tracy Bibelnieks and Matt Haines participated in the MAA:PREP workshop "Active Learning Approaches to Teaching Mathematics Content Courses for Elementary and Middle-School Teachers" as part of their project to revise the mathematics for elementary education courses.

Financial Literacy: Introduction to the Mathematics of Interest, Annuities, and Insurance, by Ken Kaminsky was published by University Press of America. Professor Kaminsky's cartoons are now available on the web:

Su Dorée returns as chair of the department after a sabbatical last spring in which to write a text on Applied (intermediate) Algebra with Professor Mathew Foss of North Hennepin Community College. (Submitted by Su Dorée)


Dakota Wesleyan University

On the student front, one of our students, Becky Swanson, has been selected for the MASS (Mathematics Advanced Study Semesters) program at Penn State University for this fall semester. The program is designed for talented undergraduate students who are preparing for graduate school, and has been running since 1996. The program includes courses offered exclusively to MASS students, as well as weekly seminars and colloquia featuring visiting and resident mathematicians. MASS is supported by Penn State and an NSF-VIGRE grant. For more information on the program, see

Dr. Mike Catalano is on sabbatical this year at Hope College in Holland Michigan. This means we do have another faculty member for the year, Brian Nix, who has just completed his master's from Illinois State University. Hopefully folks will get to meet Brian at one of the area meetings.

Also, Dr. Rocky VonEye of our department is currently serving as Acting VPAA/Academic Dean for DWU.  (Submitted by Mike Catalano)


Gustavus Adolphus College

New faculty:  The department of Mathematics and Computer Science has added a third Ph.D. computer scientist to its faculty.  San Skulrattanakulchai earned his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2002.  He also holds an M.D. degree from Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.  In addition, we have two new mathematicians in one-year positions.  Preston Nichols, who obtained his Ph.D. in differential geometry at the University of Minnesota, comes to us from a visiting position at Cornell College.  Eugenia Skirta, who earned a Ph.D. degree in Mathematics and Physics at Kharkov State University in Ukraine, has held several visiting positions, most recently at Bradley University.

NCS Summer Seminar:  In August, Gustavus hosted this year’s North Central Section Summer Seminar, A Tour of Mathematical Games.  David Wolfe served as the local organizer and occasional lecturer, and Elwyn Berlekamp served as the principal presenter.  (David and Elwyn are the coauthors of Mathematical Go.)  Elwyn’s student Aaron Siegel and David’s students Garrett Kolpin and Adam Duffy assisted.  The twenty-plus participants learned about Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays and strategies for winning Dots-and-Boxes, and they enjoyed friendly evening tournaments featuring a variety of combinatorial games.  (Submitted by John Holte)


Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato, was chosen by the American Mathematical Society to receive one of eight awards this year from the Waldemar J. Trjitzinsky Memorial Fund.  Andrew Tackmann, a junior majoring in mathematics and minoring in statistics, will receive the $4000 scholarship.
Mr. Erik Sweet has joined our department in a fixed-term appointment.  He will be teaching developmental mathematics and pre-calculus replacing Ms. Janett Van Veldhuizen, who is currently teaching in the Dominican Republic.
Dr. Francis (Fritz) Hatfield, professor emeritus and past departmental chairman, died on August 19th at the age of 84.  (Submitted by Ernie Boyd)

Minnesota State University Moorhead

We are delighted to report that two faculty members at Minnesota State University Moorhead completed their doctoral work last spring. Jerry Stockrahm did his graduate work at North Dakota State University in the area of statistics, and Tim Harms completed his doctorate at the University of North Dakota in the field of mathematics education. Congratulations to doctors Stockrahm and Harms. With the completion of those degrees, the full-time membership of the mathematics department now is comprised entirely of doctorates. 

In other celebratory news, Dr. Lian Ng received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor.  (Submitted by Don Mattson)


Normandale Community College

Three faculty members have returned from full-year sabbaticals: Karen Rapp Anderson, Tom Kersten and Jim Polzin. The department welcomes Tom Sundquist in a one-year sabbatical replacement position for Cheryl Coulter.

Kevin Lee has contributed an article in the Springer-Verlag bookM.C. Escher's Legacy: A Centennial Celebration, published in 2003, ISBN 3-540-42458-x.  This collection of articles was presented at the M.C. Escher Centennial Conference held in Rome 1998 and is co-edited by Doris Schattschneider and M.Emmer. Kevin’s article is entitled: “Adapting Escher’s rules for Regular Division of the Plane to Create TesselMania”.  (Submitted by Peggy Rejto)

South Dakota State University

New faculty:

Dr. Guy Bernard, assistant professor, PhD from the University of Minnesota in partial differential equations. Guy is a native of Montreal and worked in industry for Pratt & Whitney for several years as an engineer before pursuing the PhD in mathematics and has taught at several universities in Canada and the U. S.

Matthew Biesecker, who is teaching at the rank of instructor until he defends his dissertation at Utah State University at which time he will move into the rank of assistant professor. His field is geometric methods in differential equations.

Dr. Dwight Galster, assistant professor, PhD in statistics from North Dakota State University. After completing the PhD, Dr. Galster worked for Noridian as a senior statistical analyst and then taught at Dakota State University for the past two years.

Warren Michel, instructor, earned the MS in math from SDSU last summer.

Daniel Springman, instructor, earned the MS in math from SDSU in 1998 and has worked as a computer support specialist at SDSU for the past five years.

Other news:

Dr. Ross Abraham was successful in obtaining an NSF grant for $400,000 to fund scholarships for math, science, computer science and engineering students at SDSU. Ross is an associate professor who was granted tenure last year.

Dr. Kurt Cogswell, associate professor, also received tenure last year.

Dr. Wojciech Kosek, was promoted to associate professor last year and is on leave this year.

Rebecca Jungman, a math major at SDSU, presented a paper at the Mathfest in Colorado last summer. She has been selected to serve on the Math Horizons Student Advisory Group.

Dr. Tim Wittig, associate professor of statistics, died on September 15, 2003, after a battle with cancer for the past several months. He was 49 years old and had received his PhD in statistics from Michigan State University in 1981.  (Submitted by Ken Yocum)

St. John's University / College of St. Benedict

The mathematics department of the College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University said good-bye to two of its members who retired at the end of the 2002-2003 academic year.  Shobha Deshmukh was at CSB/SJU for 15 years, and Jerry Lenz for 38 years.  They are missed.  This year we welcome our newest colleague, Kris Nairn, who received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

While we have your attention, please mark your calendars for this year’s Pi Mu Epsilon conference, which will be on Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27 at St. John’s University.  Our featured speaker is Frank Farris of Santa Clara University, who will present two talks, “The Gini Index,” and “The Edge of the Universe—Hyperbolic Wallpaper.”  (Submitted by Marc Brodie)


University of Minnesota, Morris

Curtis Kunkel, UMM '03, presented his undergraduate research project, "Ramsey Numbers: Improving the Bounds of R(5,5)" at the National Joint Meeting of the AMS/MAA in Baltimore, MD in January 2003.

At UMM's Undergraduate Research Symposium in April 2003, math majors Curtis Kunkel, Joel Nelson and Jeanna Schultz presented their research projects. The titles of their projects and their math faculty advisors are as follows.

        Curtis Kunkel, "Ramsey Numbers: bounds of R(5,5)" (advisor: Peh Ng);

        Joel Nelson, "A new min-K-cut algorithm with applications" (advisor: Mark Logan);

        Jeanna Schultz, "Studying Pollution Trends in the Manuella-Stella Lake System: A Discrete Dynamical Approach" (advisor: Peh Ng).

Curtis Kunkel, Joel Nelson and Jeanna Schultz were awarded University of Minnesota-Morris' Scholar of the College award at the 2003 UMM's Students' Honors and Award Day.

In Fall 2003, we welcome 2 new tenure-track faculty members, Byungik Kahng (PhD, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign), and Xiaosheng Li (PhD, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign).  Byungik's research interests include Discrete Dynamical Systems while Xiaosheng's research interests include conformal and quasiconformal mappings, differential geometry and analysis in metric spaces.  (Submitted by Peh Ng)


University of North Dakota

Diana Wells and Glen Prigge retired from our faculty last year. 

Ryan Zerr is a new tenure track assistant professor. Ryan received his PhD from Iowa State University. We should point out that Ryan isn't completely new to us as he has an MS from our department.

Oleg Svidersky has a visiting assistant professorship in our department this year. Oleg did his PhD work at the University of Iowa.

Finally, Michael Simmers is a temporary assistant professor this year. Mike received a PhD in Education from the University of North Dakota. He has previously been a lecturer in the department. Mike is another of our former MS graduates.  (Submitted by Richard Millspaugh)


University of Sioux Falls

This year, USF welcomes Shawn Chiappetta, the most recent addition to our mathematics and computer science department.  Shawn is a Project NExT fellow who has just completed his doctoral studies at UW-Milwaukee while teaching at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  Shawn's research interests are related to numerical analysis; he will serve as director of the USF Math Center and will teach courses across much of the mathematics curriculum (especially the analysis courses).

The University of Sioux Falls is proud to host the MAA/NCS meeting this fall--for the first time in this institution's history, by all available reckoning.  (Submitted by Jason Douma)


University of St. Thomas


The Colloquium lineup is really strong this fall so please encourage your students to attend as many lectures as possible.  Our first lecture is on September 24 by UST alum Kevin Gross.  He is also giving talk on 9/25 on the connection between art and mathematics.  On October 22, Brian Loe (Lockheed Martin) will talk about Ocean Acoustics.  Elias Shiu from the University of Iowa will be the speaker on November 12 . Our final speaker is Mr. Jaymes Hubbell from Minnesota Mutual.  His talk is scheduled for December 3.  All talks will be given in the 3M Auditorium at 3:00 p.m..  Elias Shiu will also give a more technical talk for faculty and local actuaries on 11/13.


We want to welcome two new tenure track faculty to the University of St. Thomas Mathematics Department, Pavel Belik and Mikhail Shvartsman.

Pavel Belik was born in former Czechoslovakia and got his Master's degree in Computational Mathematics from the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. He was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Mathematics with a minor in Mechanics from the School of Mathematics of the University of Minnesota. He then completed three years of post-doc at the same institution and worked for one year as a Mathematical Simulation specialist for an oil-services company in France. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the University of St. Thomas, Department of Mathematics. He has two very curious and delightful sons of ages 3 and 1, and a wife who is a medical doctor. Among his hobbies, tennis and home beer brewing are the most important ones, complementing each other from an energetical point of view.

Mikhail came to the Twin Cities and started teaching at the University of St Thomas in 1998.  He worked as a material scientist after graduating from college in 1982. He did his graduate studies in Applied Mathematics at the University of Maryland (College Park) from 1988 to 1994 and his postdoctoral work at the Carnegie Mellon University from 1994 to 1998.  Currently he is involved in a joint modeling project in meteorology with the main focus on turbulence and its applications to modeling thunderstorms. He also works on a joint project in cancer growth modeling. His other interests include theory of phase transitions and mechanical fracture, and modeling the membranes of neurons.  (Submitted by Doug Dokken)


Conferences and Courses


Twenty-sixth Annual Pi Mu Epsilon Student Conference

26-27 March 2004

The 26th Annual Pi Mu Epsilon undergraduate mathematics research conference will be held at St. John's University on Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27.  The invited speaker is Frank Farris from Santa Clara University.  As always, undergraduate speakers will be featured; now is the time to start setting your students' sights on presenting a talk in March.

To submit a talk, or for further information, contact

Marc Brodie
Phone: 320-363-5867

or visit



Sixth Regional Workshop in the Mathematical Sciences

NOVEMBER 7-8, 2003

The sixth Regional Workshop in the Mathematical Sciences (mathematics, statistics and computer science) will be held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on November 7th and 8th, 2003. The aim of the workshop is to promote interaction among faculty and students at UNL and those at universities and colleges and in the industrial sector in the region. The workshop is designed to be of interest to undergraduate students who have begun to consider graduate school as well as graduate students and faculty in mathematics, statistics, and computer science.

This year the focus of the workshop has expanded to include a component on undergraduate research. In particular, a portion of the workshop on Saturday will be devoted to parallel sessions of talks by undergraduates on their own research projects, and we particularly invite contributions by undergraduates to these sessions.

The workshop will begin with registration at 1:00 pm on Friday, November 7, 2003, and will end by 3:00 pm on Saturday, November 8. Friday's schedule will begin with a series of plenary talks aimed at a general audience. After the plenary talks there will be a dinner, a panel discussion, and a social gathering after the panel discussion. The workshop will continue on Saturday with several parallel sessions devoted to a variety of topics in the mathematical sciences. There will be an opportunity for contributed talks at these sessions, again with the understanding that all talks at the workshop should be aimed at a level that enables access to advanced undergraduate students.

During the workshop, meals will be provided for all participants. In addition, we will provide lodging for the night of Friday, November 7. In some cases there may be limited funds available for transportation costs. There will be a banquet fee of $5 for students and $10 for other registrants.

The deadline for receipt of abstracts, registration and funding applications is October 29th, 2003. We have reserved a block of rooms at the Town House Motel in downtown Lincoln, and at the Holiday Inn Express, for the night of November 7th, and those wishing to secure accommodation there will need to notify us by October 29th at the latest.

We have set up a website for the workshop at

All participants are strongly encouraged to register via the website. Additional information about the workshop may be obtained via this website or by sending us an e-mail at

The workshop is funded by the NSF Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conferences program through the MAA, and the University of Nebraska Departments of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering, and Statistics.



MCTM 2003 Fall Conference

17 October 2003
Andover High School

For more information, go to

Future Section Meetings

Spring 2003 Winona State University
Fall 2003 TBA
Spring 2004 TBA


Meetings of Other Sections

Wisconsin Section Sep. 26-28   Bundy Hall Conerence Center, Menomonie
Iowa Section April 16-17   Central College, Pella
Nebraska / SE South Dakota April 2-3   University of Nebraska at Kearney


Information for Contributors

Submissions should be sent via mail to:

Jason Douma
Natural Sciences Area
University of Sioux Falls

1101 W. 22nd St.
Sioux Falls, SD  57105

Or (and preferably) by electronic mail to:

This newsletter was last updated October 15, 2003.