Mathematics Association of America
Southern California-Nevada Section

Newsletter Fall 2009
Table of Contents

Message from the Chair:

Come join us for invited addresses on the Monty Hall Problem, hyperbolic space, and the mathematics of swarming!

Art Benjamin, Section Chair, Harvey Mudd College

Fall 2009 Meeting

You may ask, who has the time to come to a math meeting? For many of us, the school year has just begun and we are busily preparing and teaching classes. Or we are working on an interesting mathematical problem and we are trying to find the time to write up the results. So why should you go to a section meeting? Let me list a few reasons. It's an opportunity to:

Art Benjamin

Section Chair Art Benjamin presents the MAA Student Lecture “Secrets of Mental Math” at MathFest in Portland, OR, in August of 2009

    Hear great talks

    Give a contributed talk

    Make new friends

    Renew collaborations

    Discover new ideas

    Hear what's happening at other schools in our region

    Buy new and discounted books at the MAA book table

Our program committee has lined up some exciting speakers for the Fall Meeting. Andrea Bertozzi (UCLA) will speak about the mathematical biology of swarming. Jason Rosenhouse (James Madison University) is flying across the country to tell us about the Monty Hall Problem, its variations and applications. Curtis Bennett (Loyola Marymount U), our section's Distinguished Teaching Award winner, will show us a simple model for hyperbolic space. In addition, we expect lots of interesting contributed talks (perhaps given by you?), and Janet Beery (U of Redlands) and Bruce Yoshiwara (Pierce College) will hold a workshop on using the digital library resources of MathDL. More...

If you haven't come to a math meeting yet, the Fall Meeting is the time to do it. The food is good, and the talks and camaraderie are even better. And if you don't know anyone, just introduce yourself. It's a very friendly group. I look forward to “meeting” you there!

Photos from Mathfest

MAA FOCUS editor, Fernando Gouvea shares photos from the 2009 Mathfest in Portland, Oregon.

MAA MathFest in Portland, OR

And speaking of meetings, the MAA MathFest in Portland was a whole lot of fun. There were great talks, minicourses, exhibitors, and I enjoyed seeing lots of old friends. One of the highlights was the MAA Invited Address “Cryptography: How to Keep a Secret” by our own Alice Silverberg of UC Irvine, introduced by Ron Graham
 of UC San Diego. (Thanks to MAA FOCUS Editor Fernando Gouvea for his photos of MathFest.)

Future Meetings

Mark your calendars for the Spring Meeting, to be held at Harvey Mudd College on April 10, 2010. We have another great lineup of speakers planned for that event. And the annual Joint Meetings of MAA and AMS will be held in San Francisco January 13-16, 2010. With an expected attendance of 6000 math enthusiasts so close to us, how can you resist?

Message from the Governor: News and highlights from Mathfest

Ken Millett, Section Govenor, UC Santa Barbara

The 2009 MathFest in Portland, Oregon was the largest, attracting more than 1,500 attending. High lights and photos are reported in the October/Novermber 2009 Focus available at For me, the highlights were the wonderful series of lectures given by Ravi Vakil (Stanford) and Joan Ferrini-Mundy as well as the sessions and poster sessions. While this is my last year as your Governor (my term ends with the January 2010 meeting), I have agreed to chair the MAA’s Committee on the Mathematical Education of Teachers (COMET) through 2012.

For me, one of the most exciting news of MathFest is that The Board of Governors approved the creation of an all-electronic membership beginning in January 2010 providing members access to MAA publications without having to receive their print versions. This option will move the MAA to a greener operation and will eliminate the burden that many of us face in handling the print versions. These will, however, continue to be available to members who desire them. More information can be found at

I would like call your attention to the MAA Congressional Briefing on September 22, 2009 will stress the importance of diversity in undergraduate opportunities in mathematics. Speakers are MAA President David Bressoud (Macalester College), Sylvia Bozeman (Spelman College) and Carlos Castillo-Chavez (Arizona State University) for this congressional briefing organized by Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) and the MAA. More information can be found at

Mario Martelli

Mario Martelli explains “Chaos in the Solar System.” Photo by Ernie Solheid, CSU Fullerton

Annalisa Crannell

Annalisa Crannell delivers “Math and Art: The Good, the Bad, and the Pretty." Photo by Ernie Solheid, CSU Fullerton

Spring 2009 Meeting Featured a Salute to Mario Martelli

If we could use just one word to describe the Spring Meeting of the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section March 21, 2009, at California Lutheran University, it would be mARTelli.

The meeting featured a presentation by internationally renowned origami artist and mathematician Robert Lang; talks by our own Mario Martelli and by his former student, Annalisa Crannell, on the geometry of art; a student poster session, an event long championed by Martelli at both local and national meetings; and a tribute to Martelli for his excellent and exemplary service to the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section, the national MAA, and the three Southern California institutions he has served during his career, Cal State Fullerton, Claremont-McKenna College, and Claremont Graduate University. Section Governor Ken Millett “unveiled” onscreen the brick the section has dedicated to Martelli in the MAA Carriage House River of Bricks in Washington, DC, and meeting participants donned red, green, and white “Italians make better professors, eh?” T-shirts.

Mario Martelli's Brick

Next time you are in Washington, DC, be sure to visit the River of Bricks at the MAA Carriage House! Photo by Michael Frantz, University of La Verne

Curtis Bennett of LMU Wins Section Teaching Award

Art Benjamin, Section Chair and Chair of Distinguished Teaching Award Committee, Harvey Mudd College

Pictures from the Spring Meeting

CSU Fullerton Professor Ernie Solheid shares pictures from the Spring meeting.

Curtis Bennett

The Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA is pleased to announce that Professor Curtis Bennett of Loyola Marymount University has received its 2009 Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Bennett's students describe him as energetic and enthusiastic, passionate, selfless, sincere, and patient. They often credit him not just for increased mathematical skills, but also for increased self-confidence.

Dr. Bennett's reputation as an excellent teacher extends well beyond the boundaries of LMU. He has gained national and international prominence as a two-time Carnegie Scholar, has led two PMET Workshops (Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers), and has presented the mini-course, A Beginners Guide to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Dr. Bennett received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1990 in the area of groups and geometries. Since then he has held positions at Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, and Bowling Green State University, and he is currently Professor and Chair of the Mathematics Department at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He has published over 30 articles in mathematics and in the scholarship of teaching and learning mathematics. Dr. Bennett was the co-editor of the book Starting Our Careers with Annalisa Crannell and was a founding editor of the Young Mathematicians Network.

Bennett will receive the prestigious Franklin and Deborah Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching, awarded to three MAA members each year, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Francisco in January of 2010.

Curtis BennettCurtis Bennett

Call for Nominations for 2010 Section Teaching Award

by Shawn McMurran, Section Secretary, Cal State San Bernardino

Preliminary nominations for the 18th 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 and a 1-2 page description of the candidate's qualities and teaching successes. 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 2010 Meeting of the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section. 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 Wednesday, November 4, 2009. 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

The CSU Channel Islands Mathematics Program welcomes two additional faculty members: Brooke Ernest, most recently of Modesto Junior College, and Delil Martinez, whose previous position was at the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Hidalgo. Jorge Garcia and Jesse Elliott have been awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor.

Ivona Grzegorczyk of CSU Channel Islands, in partnership with Honde Hu
 (CSU Monterey Bay) and Dale Oliver and Jeff White (CSU Humboldt), has been awarded a $899,670 Noyce grant from the NSF to increase the number of students interested in mathematics and mathematics education. The grant will provide funds for several scholarships for Noyce fellows, as well as for research and conference participation, educational network building among the three campuses, collaboration, visits and seminars.

California State University, Los Angeles, welcomes back new faculty member Melisa Hendrata. Hendrata earned her PhD at UC Santa Barbara in optimization and modeling of biological systems after completing bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics at Cal State LA. Also at Cal State LA, Gary Brookfield received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor and Andrei Verona changed his status from semi-retired to retired.

Harvey Mudd College congratulates Professor Darryl Yong for his promotion to Associate Professor with tenure. Congratulations also to Professors Dagan Karp and Talithia Williams for surviving their first year as Assistant Professors of Mathematics. Dr. Karp earned his PhD from University of British Columbia, and is interested in Algebraic Geometry. Dr. Williams earned her PhD from Rice University and is interested in Statistics. We
welcome Dr. Ursula Whitcher, who begins a 2-year postdoc at HMC, after finishing her PhD from University of Washington.

Alvin White

Professor Emeritus Alvin White (left) of Harvey Mudd College passed away on June 2, 2009. A program honoring his life will be held at HMC on September 23, 2009. The program for Alvin White Memorial can be found here. For information about White’s career, please see this article in the News and Events from Harvey Mudd College.

Loyola Marymount University welcomes two visiting assistant professors this year, Emek Köse Can and Natalie Rivetti-Ortiz. Emek Köse Can received her B.S. in Mathematics from Middle East Technical University, Turkey, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Drexel University. Her research area is Image Science with a focus on catadioptric sensors. Natalie Rivetti-Ortiz received her B.A. in mathematics and her M.A. in education from LMU.

Blake Mellor of LMU, Erica Flapan (of Pomona College), and Ramin Naimi (of Occidental College) received a 3-year NSF grant for their work on topological symmetries and intrinsic properties of graphs embedded in 3-space. Alissa Crans of LMU received a 2-year NSA grant for her work on categorified 2-quandles. Herbert Medina is the principal investigator for the Descartes Scholars program NSF grant at LMU, a grant that gives scholarships and other support to undergraduate students from underrepresented groups in math and science. Thomas Zachariah won the first annual LMU Seaver College Rudinica Teaching and Advising Award. In addition, Jackie Dewar, Suzanne Larson, and Zachariah were named national SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities) teaching fellows.

The University of Redlands welcomes Assistant Professor of Mathematics Joanna Bieri, who completed her PhD in Applied Mathematics at Northwestern University, and Lecturer Wendy Peske, a University of Redlands (BS) and Cal State San Bernardino (MS) mathematics graduate who last taught at Redlands High School.

Please send news from your institution to

Southern California-Nevada Section at Mathfest

Janet Beery, University of Redlands

CSU Fullerton Professor Scott Annin Wins Alder Award at 2009 MathFest

Scott Annin and MyViet

Alder Award winner Scott Annin and his student MyViet at Mathfest 2009

Scott Annin of Cal State Fullerton won the prestigious Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member at the MAA MathFest August 6–8, 2009, in Portland, Oregon. Meanwhile, other members of the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section were busy making presentations, leading sessions, and enjoying people and place at MathFest.

Annin has taught at CSU Fullerton since 2002, the same year he earned the PhD in Mathematics from UC Berkeley, and has received numerous teaching awards at both Berkeley and Fullerton. According to MAA Online, he received the MAA Alder Award for “his passion for teaching mathematics and his inspiration of students to major in mathematics.”

Alice Silverberg

Alice Silverberg presenting at Mathfest. Photo by MAA FOCUS Editor Fernando Gouvea

Presenters and Organizers

Alice Silverberg, UC Irvine, at right, gave an MAA Invited Address on “Cryptography: How to Keep a Secret,” and Kate Okikiolu, UC San Diego, delivered the AWM-MAA Etta Z. Falconer Lecture on “The Sum of Squares of Wavelengths of a Closed Surface.” Art Benjamin, of Harvey Mudd College, presented “Secrets of Mental Math” as the MAA Undergraduate Student Activity.

Jackie Dewar, Loyola Marymount University; Michael Orrison, Harvey Mudd College; and Art Benjamin led the minicourses, “A Beginner’s Guide to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Mathematics,” “Preparing Students to Communicate Mathematics,” and “Combinatorially Thinking,” respectively.

Janet Beery, University of Redlands; Art Benjamin, Harvey Mudd College; and Mario Martelli, Claremont Graduate University, organized Invited Paper sessions on, respectively, History of Mathematics, Gems of Combinatorics, and Research with Undergraduates. Janet Beery and Stacy Langton, University of San Diego, spoke in Beery’s session. Ali Nadim, Claremont Graduate University; Cindy Wyels, Cal State Channel Islands; and Ami Radunskaya, Pomona College, spoke in Martelli’s session. Ken Millett, UC Santa Barbara; David Bachman, Pitzer College; and Thomas Ferguson, UCLA, spoke in other Invited Paper sessions.

Stacy Langton of University of San Diego, Silvia Heubach of Cal State LA, and Jenny Quinn of University of Washington, Tacoma, and formerly of Occidental College, enjoy the MathFest Opening Banquet in Portland, OR, in August. Photos by MAA FOCUS Editor Fernando Gouvea

Todd CadwalladerOlsker, Cal State Fullerton, helped organize a Contributed Paper Session on Fascinating Examples from Combinatorics, Number Theory, and Discrete Mathematics, and Janet Beery helped organize a CPS on History and Philosophy of Mathematics and Their Uses in the Classroom. Several MAA So Cal-Nev Section members presented talks in these and other CPSs.

Meeting attendees also found time to walk along the Willamette River, explore Portland’s famous rose gardens, and taste the local seafood and other specialties.

MathFest 2010 will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 5-7.

Students' Column

Cindy Wyels, Student Chapters Coordinator, Cal State Channel Islands

“A poster session – outdoors?!”

Here in the Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA we think nothing of scheduling our spring Student Poster Session for an outdoor venue, much to the amazement of a judge visiting from Ohio. While a fine mist did close out the hour-long session, it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the student presenters, judges, and other participants. Numbers were up slightly for the Spring ’09 edition, with 26 students teaming up to present 19 posters – some accompanied by physical models or interactive computer programs. The level of accomplishment was quite high, and seven posters were determined by the judges to be exceptionally distinguished; these won Meritorious Poster Awards. (See the list at the end of this column.) As always, the poster session relied upon the efforts of many dedicated organizers, judges, and faculty mentors: all are heartily thanked. (Thanks also to Ernie Solheid for photos of the 2009 Spring Meeting!)


Meritorious Poster Award winners Felix Ortiz and Eduardo Calles of Bakersfield College present their project “Bridge of Success” at the 2009 Spring Section Meeting at Cal Lutheran.

Consider a Conference

Many student members of our section of the MAA made a trip to Portland for MathFest in August. Students presented the results of their research projects and participated in or observed a variety of sessions. This year, a multitude of conferences appropriate for students are in the works. The Fall Meeting and Spring Meeting of our MAA section provide great introductions to conference-going, as each are relatively inexpensive one-day affairs, with programs guaranteed to educate and entertain. Gather a group from your school and attend! (This newsletter has all the news about the Fall Meeting; the Spring Meeting – April 10, 2010, at Harvey Mudd College – will be featured in the winter newsletter.) See the following list for other conferences to consider.

  • October 17, 2009: Fall Meeting of the So Cal-NV Section of the MAA, CSU San Bernardino (Meeting website)
  • November 21, 2009: Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), CSU Dominguez Hills (
  • January 13 - 16, 2010: The Joint Mathematics Meetings, San Francisco, CA (
  • March 13, 2010: Pacific Coast Undergraduate Math Conference, Pepperdine University, (
  • April 10, 2010: Spring Meeting of the So Cal-NV Section of the MAA, Harvey Mudd College in Claremont (

Other ways to enhance your education (and your career or grad school prospects)

Meetings and seminars, extra-curricular mathematics projects, the Putnam Exam and the Mathematical Modeling Competition, summer research opportunities, mathematicsrelated 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 paid summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), for lots of career information, and to learn about the Putnam Exam.


Jennifer Bonsangue of CSU Channel Islands answers questions about her poster, “Mathematics and Forgery Analysis: The Dutch GoldenAge,” for which she received a Meritorious Poster Award at the 2009 Spring Section Meeting at Cal Lutheran.

Student Poster Sessions: San Francisco (January) and Claremont (April)

Join 6000 mathematicians at the Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) … and share your research project by participating in the national Student Poster Session. (To enter see Deadline is Nov. 6, 2009.) The JMM also includes technical research presentations, survey talks, poster sessions, movie showings and musical performances, and much more. Information on all student activities will be posted in September at

Your research project isn’t quite ready to submit now? Enter it in the section’s Student Poster Session! You’re just thinking about starting something? That’s fine – you have until April 5 to enter. The So Cal-NV MAA section’s Spring Meeting will be held on April 10, 2010, at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont. Detailed information and abstract submission information will be in the February section newsletter. But start planning now: your poster could feature the results of any individual or group mathematics project. Need ideas? See below, and ask a professor.

  • 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.
Cynthia Wyels

Student Poster Session Organizer Cindy Wyels announces the award winners at the Spring 2009 MAA Section Meeting at Cal Lutheran.

Spring 2009 Meritorious Poster Awardees

Frosh/ Soph Category
  • Eduardo Calles and Felix Ortiz, Bridge of Success, Bakersfield College, Advisor: Rebecca Head
Junior/ Senior Category
  • Jennifer Bonsangue, Mathematics and Forgery Analysis: The Dutch Golden Age, CSU Channel Islands. Advisor: Ivona Grzegorczyk
  • Sonia Chauhan, Bipartite at its Best!!!, Cal Poly Pomona. Advisor: Berit Givens
  • Benjamin Fogelson, Survival and proliferation of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in lymphoid tissue, Harvey Mudd College. Advisor: Lisette dePillis
  • Aileen Gaudinez, Lisa Brown, Michelle Creek, Derivatives and Gradients as Tools in Digital Image Processing, Chapman University. Advisor: Mohamed Allali
  • Kristina Klug, Rank Analysis of NASCAR, California Lutheran University. Advisor: Chris Brown
  • Sarah Lauff, Institutional Research – Freshmen Retention and Cafeteria Patterns, Point Loma Nazarene University. Advisors: Greg Crow and Maria Zack
  • Alana Nichol, PLNU Student Entry, Exit, and Reentry Points, Point Loma Nazarene University. Advisors: Maria Zack and Greg Crow
Masters Category
  • Brian Chen and Hernan Oscco, Angle Constructability on Lattices: Why a dog and cat lattice can make the same angles, Cal Poly Pomona. Advisor: Greisy Winiki-Landman


Click here to register on-line, and pay by credit card (deadline 5 pm, October 13th).

Click here to register by mail, and pay by check (deadline October 13th).

Fall 2009 Section Meeting

California State University, San Bernardino
Saturday, October 17, 2009

Meeting web site

The Fall Meeting of the Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA will feature three exceptional speakers on three exciting mathematical topics:

  • Jason Rosenhouse, who “wrote the book” on the Monty Hall Problem, revisits the famous problem;
  • Distinguished Teaching Award Winner Curtis Bennett explains Thurston’s simple yet elegant model of hyperbolic space; and
  • World-renowned applied mathematician Andrea Bertozzi explains how to model the natural phenomenon of swarming.

The meeting also will feature a Contributed Paper Session, organized by Min-Lin Lo of Cal State San Bernardino (call for Contributed Papers), and a workshop on the MAA Mathematical Sciences Digital Library (MathDL), led by Bruce Yoshiwara of Pierce College, Janet Beery of the University of Redlands, Robert Baker of University High School, and Kirby Baker of UCLA. The MAA Book Sale, offered throughout the day by Michael Hoffman and Richard Katz of Cal State Los Angeles, will have a large selection of new MAA books, along with almost all of the other titles in the MAA booklist.

See you at Cal State San Bernardino!

Meeting web site

Great Books, Great Bargains at MAA Book Sale!

The 2009 Spring Meeting at California Lutheran University will include the ever-popular MAA Book Sale. Book prices at the meeting will be about 10% less than the already discounted MAA member prices. Almost all of the books in the MAA Catalog will be on display, including a number of brand new titles. Among the new MAA books are A Radical Approach to Lebesgue’s Theory of Integration, by MAA President David Bressoud, Biscuits of Number Theory, co-edited by MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Chair Art Benjamin; and Uncommon Mathematical Excursions: Polynomia and Related Realms, by former MAA Southern California Section member Dan Kalman. Again, prices of books bought at the Spring Meeting are about 10% less than the already discounted member prices in the MAA Catalog. Book Sale organizers are Michael Hoffman and Richard Katz of California State University, Los Angeles.

Save these dates for future national MAA meetings

Winter 2010 San Francisco, CA January 13-16
Summer 2010 Pittsburgh, PA August 5-7
Winter 2011 New Orleans, LA January 5-8
Summer 2011 Lexington, KY August 4-6
Winter 2012 Boston, MA January 4-7
Summer 2012 Madison, WI August 2-4
Winter 2013 San Diego, CA January 9-12
Winter 2014 Baltimore, MD January 15-18
Winter 2015 San Antonio, TX January 9-12
Summer 2015 Washington, DC August 5-8
Winter 2016 Seatle, WA January 6-9
Winter 2017 Atlanta, GA January 4-7
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