Mathematics Association of America
Southern California-Nevada Section

Newsletter Fall 2008
Table of Contents

Message from the Chair:

From MathFest 2008 on the Shores of Lake Monona to Fall Section Meeting 2008 at Scripps College

Michael Frantz, Section Chair, University of La Verne

It was my privilege this past summer to help represent the Southern California-Nevada Section at MathFest 2008 in Madison, in the capacity of newly elected Section Chair. I feel honored to have been elected to this position, and will do my best to promote the interests of the section and enhance communication between our section and other sections, as well as the national office.

MathFest 2008

Those of you fortunate enough to attend MathFest know how lovely the venue was, with the convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright providing floor-to-ceiling views out over Lake Monona, and its vibrant rooftop flower gardens, but the mathematics taking place inside was equally beautiful in its own way. Of special delight to me was the Earle R. Hedrick Lecture Series, given by Erik Demaine of MIT on three consecutive mornings. His delightful, passionate and amazing talks captured the hearts and minds of all as he drew his (very large!) audience thoroughly in with his demonstrations of puzzles, magic, art, origami, linkages, and hinged dissections, and just enough technical mathematics to convey the difficulty and surprising depth of the theory required. Additionally, after viewing George Csicsery’s documentary “Hard Problems” about the 2006 International Olympiad in Slovenia, I would highly recommend it for departments to share with their students, particularly in any type of Math Club. There were many, many diverse and interesting events for all, far too many to give any kind of reasonable summary, so I would simply urge everyone to consider taking a few days out of your August next year to enjoy the more laid-back pace of a summertime MathFest in Portland, Oregon, August 6-8, 2009.

Section Officers' Meeting

It was personally reassuring to attend the Section Officers Meeting in Madison and discover that other sections share many of the problems that we do and have had successes that we can learn from, and that we have been successful in our section in ways that can serve well as a model for other sections. It was an excellent way to communicate with and hear from all 29 different sections, and almost half of the two hour meeting was devoted to smaller focus groups to discuss what the MAA national organization can or should do to assist the sections, and conversely how the sections could assist the Washington office. Rather than attempting to summarize five pages of handwritten notes, I will simply highlight two items: (1) the announcement that by no later than next summer, the national office should be able to provide web hosting services in some form for individual sections to streamline information distribution and the archiving of section data, and (2) the generally shared concern that there is a need to get more local faculty involved in section meetings, and how sections might go about doing that.

Thanks to Section Officers

As I embark on my service as Section Chair for 2008-09, I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to the outgoing Section Chair Mario Martelli, outgoing Program Chair Florence Newberger, and outgoing Web Page Editor David Hunter, as well as my appreciation to those officers continuing on in their duties: Governor Ken Millett, Secretary-Treasurer Shawnee McMurran, Meetings Coordinator Ernie Solheid, Newsletter Editor Janet Beery, Student Chapters Chair Cindy Wyels, Section NExT Liaison Ioana Mihaila, and Las Vegas Liaison Satish Bhatnagar.

Welcome to New Officers

It is also my pleasure as Section Chair to welcome both our new section officers, and those officers who have advanced to the next level of their positions: Section Vice-Chair Art Benjamin, Program Chair Perla Myers, 1st Program Vice-Chair Michael Orrison, 2nd Program Vice-Chair Min-Lin Lo, and Web Page Editor Florence Newberger. The work of the section would be impossible were it not for the dedicated efforts of all these officers, and the section sincerely appreciates all that you do for it.

Message from the Governor:

2008 Mathfest Highlights and Governor’s Report

Kenneth Millett, Section Governor, University of California, Santa Barbara

The Southern California-Nevada Section was very well represented at the MathFest in Madison, Wisconsin, where we experienced one of the best meetings I have ever attended. Of course, for me, it was a very special occasion as I received my Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. There was an evening of free music on the Capitol Square and also a very interesting and well-attended farmer’s market there that weekend. Another of the highlights has to be the good Wisconsin beer, the free music, and the friendly atmosphere on the lakeside terrace at UW’s Student Union. Even Project NExT got into the Wisconsin spirit with their evening ice cream (produced by the Ag School students right there on the UW campus).

Mathematical crooners Larry Lesser (left) and Art Benjamin (right)

But then, we were assembled to enjoy the comradely company of our mathematical colleagues and to learn new things that enrich our scholarly lives and strengthen and refresh our teaching. The opening evening’s mathematical music by Larry Lesser provided a great start. He even invited our former governor, Art Benjamin, to sing one of his songs. And Art agreed! It was an impressive and memorable performance. The meeting featured a series of three lectures by Erik Demaine, a computer science professor from MIT who received his Ph.D. in 2001 at the age of 20 and, we learned, has published more than 200 papers with as many coauthors. In addition, he projects a real sense of the fun of mathematical research and has an ability to make many extremely complex things seem quite reasonable. His lectures included magic, art, combinatorics, computer science, manufacturing, biology, origami, transformers, robots and one could go on and on. We were even treated to a movie that he and his father made to illustrate one of the problems on which they were working. Among the many other treats were John Conway’s lecture and an opportunity to talk with Tom Banchoff about his Flatland adventures. Mixed with jazz on the convention center terrace and a morning 5K run and so much more, it was hard to know what to do.

Governor's Report

Section Governor Ken Millett (left) and former Section Chair Mario Martelli (right) enjoy Mathfest

As your governor, I was also there to attend the BOG (Board of Governors) Meeting to help conduct MAA business. Many reports of committees and officers told us that the MAA is in good health and is working to improve both what it provides its members and to look toward what we must do to assure the good health of mathematics in the long run. The report of the strategic planning group on governance was discussed along with measures that should be undertaken to move ahead on insuring a wider discussion, possible adoption, and final implementation of its recommendations. We considered, as well, strategic planning reports on membership, on meetings, on periodicals and communications, and on the sections. There was an initial report from the STEM planning group as well. Among the many topics discussed, there are two that stand out in my mind. First, there is the need to strengthen the relationship between the work in our sections and that at the national and international level to advance our advocacy for the health of mathematics. Second, there were questions as to how to strengthen access, for members and non-members, to the resources that the MAA has developed and makes available on its web site. We heard much discussion of the difficulty in searching the MAA’s web site for help on matters for which one has an urgent need for high quality information and assistance. In addition, some felt that we should make these resources much more visible to those searching across the Internet in general. This would be an important strategy toward better communicating our community’s perspective on important issues.

More 2008 MathFest Highlights

Donald Saari, of UC Irvine, may have been one of the busiest MathFest participants, delivering an Invited Address on “The Chaotic Evolution of Newton’s Universe”, leading a Minicourse on “Mathematics and the Geometry of Voting”, and speaking on “A Qualitative Approach to Evolutionary Game Theory” in the Short Course on Game-Theoretic Modeling. Guershon Harel, of UC San Diego, gave the opening Invited Address on “Intellectual Need and Its Role in Mathematical Instruction”. The Invited Paper Session on Research with Undergraduates, organized by Mario Martelli of Claremont McKenna College, included two speakers from our section. Asuman Aksoy, of Claremont McKenna College, discussed “Compactness in Metric Trees,” the research project she conducted as part of the Claremont Colleges Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. The Claremont REU is organized by Jim Hoste (Pitzer College) and Mario Martelli (Claremont McKenna College). Michael Orrison, of Harvey Mudd College, described “The Applied Representation Theory Group at Harvey Mudd College.”

Other speakers included Annalisa Crannell, Franklin and Marshall College, “From Chaos to Colleagues;” Colin Adams, Williams College, “Knot Theory Research with Undergraduates;” Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Arizona State University, “Building Communities through REU Programs;” Jacqueline Jensen, Sam Houston State University, “How to Juggle Seven Undergraduate Projects without Dropping Any;” Aihua Li, Montclair State University, “Tracing n-dimensional Space Points;” and Marc Chamberland, Grinnell College, “Ramanujan’s Dream.”

Art Benjamin signs copies of his book, Secrets of Mental Math.

Shawnee McMurran, of Cal State San Bernardino, co-organized an Invited Paper Session on History of Mathematics and a Contributed Paper Session on Projects and Demonstrations that Enhance a Differential Equations Course. Magnhild Lien, of Cal State Northridge, organized a panel discussion on Teachers for a New Era’s Impact on Mathematics Education in which two of her colleagues, Joel Zeitlin and Jerrold Gold, participated. There were at least a dozen talks by Southern California–Nevada Section members in Invited and Contributed Paper sessions.

In the Book Exhibit, John de Pillis of UC Riverside drew caricatures and signed copies of his book, 777 Mathematical Conversation Starters. Art Benjamin of Harvey Mudd College demonstrated techniques from and signed copies of his book, Secrets of Mental Math.

Tell the Governor what you think

I am certain that I missed out on many really super sessions at MathFest as well as questions and concerns you have that should be brought to the BOG. Please take a few moments to contact me at (805)893-3894 or at and let me know of your thoughts.

Teaching awards

Teaching awards web site

Bruce Yoshiwara Honored as 2008 Section Distinguished Teaching Award Winner

Michael Frantz, Section Chair and 2008 Teaching Award Committee Chair, University of La Verne

Bruce Yoshiwara's address at the Fall 2008 Section Meeting

Dr. Bruce Yoshiwara, Professor of Mathematics at Pierce College, has been selected as the winner of the MAA’s Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching for 2008 in the Southern California-Nevada Section. Professor Yoshiwara received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCLA. He has been teaching mathematics at Pierce for the past 18 years, including a year in England on a Fulbright Scholarship. The Selection Committee was impressed by his successful use of technology as both a content delivery tool and a pedagogical tool, which when combined with the “beautifully clear lecture notes and examples he provides” surely contributed to his being the frequent recipient of the “Golden Apple Award” given out each year by students to their favorite professors. Professor Yoshiwara motivates and inspires his students to pursue their education even farther than they may have originally planned, caring enough to expose them to such diverse areas as life sciences, history, and foreign language as woven into the fabric of mathematics, and skillfully using his knowledge and perspective on the history of mathematics to capture the minds of his students. His students value his classes not just for their educational benefit, but for the overall experience which includes Yoshiwara’s playful sense of humor, selection of (sometimes hilarious) classroom objects for visual aids to enhance the learning environment, and a striking energy level which communicates to his students that there is nothing else in the world he would rather be doing than teaching community college mathematics students. Examples abound of his inspiration of students to continue on in advanced work in mathematics.

Outside the classroom, Yoshiwara is a leader in curriculum development, and a knowledgeable and respected mathematician in the mathematics education community. He has co-authored a number of highly regarded algebra and pre-algebra textbooks with his wife (and principal author) Kathy Yoshiwara, is an associate editor for the Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications, and is actively involved in a number of different programs of the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges (AMATYC). He works with UCLA's Mathematics Content Program for Teachers, consults for Project NExT and Project ACCCESS (Advancing Community College Careers: Education, Scholarship, Service), is the L.A. Pierce Mathematics Department liaison for both the MAA and CMC3 (California Mathematics Council Community Colleges), and is on the board for the CMC3-Southern branch. Please join the Selection Committee in congratulating Professor Yoshiwara at the upcoming Fall Meeting Oct. 11 at Scripps College, when he gives the invited luncheon address, “The Weapon of Choice”, on his experiences with technology in the classroom.

The five members of the Selection Committee were Michael Frantz (Chair) of the University of La Verne, Mario Martelli of Claremont McKenna College, Jackie Dewar of Loyola Marymount University, Robert Brown of UCLA, and Satish Bhatnagar of UNLV.

Nomination Form

pdf file

This file includes a 1-page preliminary nomination form, which, together with a 2-page letter, comprises the initial nomination.

The file also includes instructions for the more extensive full nomination, required only for those selected to be finalists.

Call for Nominations for 2009 Section Teaching Award

Shawn McMurran, Section Secretary, Cal State San Bernardino

Preliminary nominations for the 17th annual MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics are now being accepted. The initial nomination consists of a one-page form (available here in pdf, first page only) and a 1-2 page description of the candidate’s qualities and teaching successes (not the more extensive full nomination described on the second page of the form). From the initial nominees, the selection committee will choose two to three semi-finalists. Each nominator will then be asked to complete a full nomination for the semi-finalist. Upon receipt of the full nomination, semi-finalists will automatically become finalists. Each finalist will receive an official letter of commendation from the Chair of the Section, which will be copied to the candidate’s department chair and dean. The selection committee will choose the winner from the pool of finalists. Finalists who are not selected will automatically have their full applications considered the following year for the Section award. The winner of the award will be recognized at the Spring Meeting of the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section March 21, 2009, at California Lutheran University. The awardee will also be the official Section nominee for the MAA Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

Successful nominees are individuals who are widely recognized for their extraordinarily successful teaching effectiveness and for teaching that has had influence beyond their own institutions.

To be eligible, nominees must

  • be current MAA members,
  • teach mathematical science courses at least half-time during the academic year, and
  • have at least seven years experience teaching at the college or university level.

If you have an eligible and qualified colleague in your department, we urge you to nominate her/him so that s/he may be considered for the award.

Initial application deadline is Monday, November 3, 2008. Questions? Contact Shawn McMurran at

Include your news...

Send email to our newsletter editor Janet Beery to share news from your department in the next newsletter.

News of the Section

At Loyola Marymount University, Ed Mosteig has been tenured and promoted to Associate Professor and Patrick Shanahan has been promoted to Full Professor.  Biomathematician Robert Rovetti joins the faculty this fall.  

Paolo Cascini, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has won a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Cascini won the award for his research in algebraic geometry, in particular the minimal model program. Cascini earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florence in 2000. In 2002, he earned his master’s degree at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, where he went on to receive his Ph.D. in 2004.  Carlos Garcia-Cervera, associate professor of mathematics at UCSB, has been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER award providing a minimum of $400,000 in support over five years. Garcia-Cervera plans to use the award to work on multiscale modeling of solids, in the context of density functional theory.

At the University of La Verne, Yousef Daneshbod (Ph.D. 2006, Claremont Graduate University) has joined the faculty as a new assistant professor, with primary interests in the areas of mathematical modeling in microfluidics and computational mechanics. He is also interested in mathematics education in a liberal arts setting.

At the University of Redlands, Lecturer Deon Garcia and Professor Steven Morics received Outstanding Teaching awards and Professor Janet Beery received the Innovative Teaching Award.

News for Students

Cindy Wyels, Student Chapters Coordinator, Cal State Channel Islands

Stretch yourself beyond the classroom. Meetings and seminars, extra-curricular mathematics projects, the Putnam Exam and the Mathematical Modeling Competition, summer research opportunities, mathematics-related internships: these are just a few of the ways you can broaden your thinking, put your classroom learning to use in new situations, enhance your resume, and learn new mathematics. Talk to more experienced students, recent graduates, and your professors, and look for information on the web, at your school’s Career Center, and anywhere you can find it. Online, start with for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), for lots of career information, and to learn about the Putnam Exam.

Another superb Student Poster Session

The So Cal – NV MAA’s Spring 2008 Poster Session was notable for the uniformly high quality of the posters presented: participating students and their advisors are all to be commended! The judges were particularly impressed by the many fine posters in the junior/senior category. Overall, 17 posters were presented by 21 students from Bakersfield College, California Lutheran University, CSU Channel Islands, Chapman University, Harvey Mudd College, Point Loma Nazarene University, and the University of San Diego. Topics ranged from the practical (waste management, chemical system kinetics, cryptography, and many more) to the beautiful (mathematical artistic expression) and the esoteric/theoretical (sudoku, knot theory). Thanks to the many individuals who volunteered their time and expertise to serve as poster judges. Information about the presenters and posters receiving Meritorious Poster Awards is listed at the end of this column.

Spring 2008 Meritorious Poster Awardees

Frosh/Soph Category
  • Lalo Calles, A Gallery of Artistic Mathematical Expressions, Bakersfield College. Advisor: Rebecca Head
  • Henry Gomez and Gerardo Gonzalez, Ready, Set, Simulate, Bakersfield College. Advisor: Liz Rozell
  • David Herrera, Waste Management Research Project, Bakersfield College. Advisor: Rebecca Head
  • Kelli Turner and Juan Saucedo, Matters of the Heart: The Marriage of Mathematics and Medicine, Bakersfield College. Advisor: Rebecca Head
Junior/Senior Category
  • Mutiara Sondjaja, Understanding Kakutani's Fixed Point Theorem, Harvey Mudd College. Advisor: Francis Su
  • Carolyn Yarnall, The Alexander Matrix and Genus of Central Braid Knots, University of San Diego. Advisor: Cameron Parker
Masters Category
  • Ryan Brown, Modeling of Chemical System Kinetics Under Mass Action, CSU Channel Islands. Advisors: Gilles Gnacadja (Amgen), Geoff Buhl (CSUCI)

Future Student Poster Sessions: Washington, DC (January) and Thousand Oaks (March)

This year the largest annual math conference in the U.S. – probably in the world – takes place in the country’s capital just before the inauguration. The Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM), to be held Jan. 5 – 8, 2009, include technical research presentations, survey talks, poster sessions, movie showings and musical performances, and much more. The Student Poster Session has become one of the highlights of the JMM (abstract deadline: November 7, 2008). Information on all student activities will be posted in September at

Meanwhile, it’s never too early to start thinking about presenting a poster at the 2009 Spring Meeting of the So Cal-NV Section of the MAA. This meeting will be held at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks on March 21, 2009. Detailed information and abstract submission information will be in the Jan./Feb. newsletter. But start planning now: your poster could feature the results of any individual or group mathematics project. Consider

  • Results of honors, senior, or independent study projects;
  • Results of classroom projects or modeling contests;
  • Results of REUs or other summer research programs;
  • Historical investigations in pure or applied mathematics;
  • Solutions of problems from the Putnam Exam or from the Monthly or other journals.

An Incomplete List of Conferences Welcoming (or For) Students

1. Oct. 11, 2008: Fall Meeting of the So Cal-NV Section of the MAA
2. Nov. 22, 2008: Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), Cal Poly Pomona, and
3. Jan. 5 – 8, 2009: Joint Mathematics Meetings, Washington, D.C.,
4. March 14, 2009: Pacific Coast Undergraduate Math Conference, UC Riverside,
5. March 21, 2009: Spring Meeting of the So Cal-NV Section of the MAA, California Lutheran University (info to appear in Jan./Feb. at

What’s (SoCalNev Section) NExT?

Magnhild Lien, CSU Northridge
Ioana Mihaila, Cal Poly Pomona

Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) is an MAA program for new and recent PhDs in the mathematical sciences that addresses the full range of faculty responsibilities, including teaching, scholarly activities, and service. Since its inception in 1994, the national Project NExT program has grown tremendously, and sections of the MAA have been encouraged to organize regional NExT programs.

The SoCalNev Section NExT program has just completed its sixth year, and has sponsored dynamic cohorts of participants at the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section meetings. SoCalNev Section NExT Fellows attend both the Fall and Spring meetings of the MAA Section and participate in special activities. These activities involve practical information about implementing effective pedagogical and professional strategies, including topics such as teaching methods, directing undergraduate research, and writing grant proposals. In addition, SoCalNev NExT provides a venue in which its participants can meet informally and discuss issues relevant to new faculty. Unlike the national Project NExT program, Section NExT includes community college faculty.

SoCalNev NExT is now recruiting applicants to participate in activities at the 2008-2009 MAA Southern California-Nevada Section meetings. The fall meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 11, 2008, at Scripps College, and the Spring Meeting for Saturday, March 21, 2009, at California Lutheran University. Section NExT will accept applications from faculty with Master's degrees or PhDs who are within the first three years of beginning full-time employment with significant teaching responsibilities at the community college, college, or university level. For more information, including a link to the on-line application and a list of past activities, please visit and follow the link to SoCalNev NExT. To participate in the Saturday, October 11, 2008, Fall Section Meeting at Scripps College, please apply by Monday, September 29, 2008.


Click here to register on-line, and pay by credit card (deadline 5 pm, October 7th).

Click here to register by mail, and pay by check (deadline October 6th).

Fall 2008 Section Meeting

Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meeting web site

The MAA Southern California-Nevada Section has assembled a stellar quartet of speakers for its Fall Meeting, to be held Saturday, October 11, 2008, at Scripps College in Claremont. The meeting also will feature a Contributed Paper Session with presentations by both faculty and students and the MAA Book Sale, run by Richard Katz and Michael Hoffman of Cal State Los Angeles. Southern California-Nevada Section NExT will run sessions for new faculty members. Please see Join SoCalNev Section NExT!, page 5, to find out how to apply to participate. See you at Scripps!

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