Mathematics Association of America
Southern California-Nevada Section

Newsletter Fall 2010
Table of Contents

Local and National Events

Message from the Chair

Ivona Grzegorczyk, Section Chair, California State University, Channel Islands

Fall 2010 Meeting

Meeting Website

Sir Randolph Bacon III, cousin-in-law to Colin Adams, to speak at the Fall 2010 meeting at UCI.

Welcome to the new academic year. I hope your plans include attending our section meetings to discover new ideas and have fun with mathematics. This fall UC Irvine will host us and our lineup of distinguished speakers on October 16. Our program will begin with a scary tale of adventure on the high seas and life-saving knots by Colin Adams from Williams College. We will then ponder with Karl Rubin from UC Irvine how elliptic curves have aided progress on Hilbert's Tenth Problem, which asks for an algorithm to decide the solvability of polynomial equations. Erica Flapan from Pomona College will entertain us with topological symmetries of chemical molecules and related knots. Then we will improve our golf skills by applying mathematics recommended by Roland Minton from Roanoke College. You may also find our faculty and students’ short talks on their research and teaching activities to be of interest, and enjoy friendships and good conversation over lunch. You will also find new and discounted books and information about other mathematical events in our region.

MAA MathFest in Pittsburgh, PA

Many of our section members attended the MAA MathFest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this past August and enjoyed the updates on fractals, biomathematics, and mathematical applications, as well as talks on revitalization of Klein’s mathematics education program and other interesting topics related to pedagogy. Our section’s own Ami Radunskaya, of Pomona College, delivered the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)–MAA Etta Z. Falconer Lecture on “Mathematical Challenges in the Treatment of Cancer.”

The meeting of section chairs revealed that some sections attract as many as 500 participants at section meetings, hence we need to study some of their secrets. Other issues, such as section management, funding, web pages, visitors programs, and national speaker programs were discussed, and we may implement some of the proposed changes. Since the weather was fabulous, evenings were spent outside problem solving and conversing while walking across 446 of the city’s bridges over three rivers—the Konigsberg puzzle has only seven bridges!

Pittsburgh, PA

Two of the many bridges in Pittsburgh, PA

Photo by Florence Newberger, California State University, Long Beach

Future Meetings

Please do not forget to mark your calendars for the Spring Meeting, to be held at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, on April 16, 2011. We have another great lineup of speakers planned for that event and our annual student research poster exhibition as well. The registration has opened for the annual Joint Meetings of MAA and AMS, to be held in New Orleans, January 6–9, 2011.

Finally, on October 9, don’t miss the opportunity to hear Fields medalist and UCLA professor Terence Tao discuss “The Cosmic Distance Ladder” at 6:15 p.m. in Schoenberg Hall on the UCLA campus. Tao’s talk will be the Einstein Public Lecture offered in conjunction with the AMS Western Section Meeting Oct. 9-10 at UCLA. Please see the "Here's What's Happening" list on our home page for more information and for a list of upcoming conferences.

Message from the Governor:

Magnhild Lien, 2010-2013 Section Governor, California State University, Northridge

Hello and thank you

First I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for electing me Governor of the Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA. I am honored to serve in this capacity. As a member of the Board of Governors (BOG) I have a chance to learn the details about the organizational structure of the MAA. I will make every effort to keep you informed about the latest news from the Association. Additionally, I would also like to hear from you. If you have questions or concerns that should be brought to the BOG please feel free to contact me via email at, by phone at 818-677-6424, or by catching me at the section meetings.

MAA MathFest in Pittsburgh, PA

MathFest 2010 in Pittsburg was my first meeting as Governor. I attended an orientation for the new governors two days before MathFest, and a daylong BOG meeting the following day. A fellow section member, Francis Su, who is the First Vice President of the MAA, was also present at those two events. A milestone for the MAA was reached at the MathFest 2010 Business Meeting, by the passing of the revised Bylaws of the MAA, which can be found at

Ami Radunskaya
Ami Radunskaya (left) of Pomona College, who gave the Association for Women in Math (AWM)-MAA Falconer Lecture; AWM president Georgia Benkart; and AWM executive council member Silvia Bozeman celebrate Radunskaya’s splendid talk.
Photo by Laura McHugh, MAA

The Southern California-Nevada Section was well represented at MathFest. Several members gave talks both in the invited paper sessions and contributed paper sessions. The AWM-MAA Etta Z. Falconer Lecture was given by Ami Radunskaya, Pomona College. She gave a very inspiring talk on “Mathematical Challenges in the Treatment of Cancer.”

Congratulations to Erica Flapan, Pomona College, one of three recipients of the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. Erica received the MAA Southern California–Nevada Section Distinguished Teaching Award in spring 2010 and will be one of the speakers at the fall meeting on October 16.

Ami Radunskaya
Ceiling of the Grand Ballroom at the Omni Hotel
MAA Photo

What did I learn at the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting?

What did I learn at the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting? Much of the time was spent going over routine business and reviewing reports from various constituencies, including the MAA officers, the Washington office, and the editors. Here are some of the issues discussed or reported on during the meeting.

  • MAA’s work on the NSF-DRL REESE grant, Characteristics of Successful Programs in College Calculus, is continuing and on-line surveys will go to calculus course coordinators, instructors, and students this fall. Five hundred and thirty colleges and universities have been randomly selected to participate in the survey. If your institution happens to be one of them we hope you will take the time to participate.
  • Attendance at both MathFest and the Joint Mathematics Meetings has seen a steady increase over the last decade. At MathFest we have seen an increase in the number of both student and non-student attendees, whereas at the JMM the boost is mostly due to increased attendance by undergraduate and graduate students. While student attendance is good and should be encouraged, the downward trend for non-students results in pressure on the budget. With that in mind, please consider attending the 2011 JMM in New Orleans, January 6-9. You may also want to put MathFest 2011 on your calendar. The meeting will be August 4–6, in Lexington, Kentucky, where Laura DeMarco, University of Illinois at Chicago, will give the first joint AMS-MAA Invited Address at MathFest.
  • MAA is supporting numerous programs through grants from private and public sources In addition to the NSF-DRL REESE grant mentioned above, I would like to call your attention to the WeBWork project, an online mathematics homework system developed by faculty. Through this project, the MAA will partner with the developers to create a “home” for WeBWork. You can learn more about WeBWork on the website
  • The option of e-membership for MAA took effect January 2010 and nearly 15% of members have converted and are now receiving MAA publications electronically. (See for more details.) Some e-members have asked for the option of obtaining MAA Focus in print form. MAA may consider that option as a membership add-on for a nominal fee.
  • Each year, every MAA section is eligible to have one person from among the Association leadership attend and participate in a section meeting, with all travel expenses borne by the MAA. Sections are not expected to provide the visitor with an honorarium or stipend. The purpose of this program is to maintain close links between the MAA leadership and the sections. (See for details.)
  • MAA urges you to consider MAA publications when choosing textbooks for your classes. In the words of MAA Publications Director Ivars Peterson: “MAA Textbooks Are a Good Deal! MAA Textbooks provide very good value for the price. It is still the case that every one of our books, textbooks or otherwise, is priced well below $100.”

Erica Flapan Wins Section Teaching Award

Ivona Grzegorczyk, Cal State Channel Islands
MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Chair
2010 Teaching Award Committee Chair
Erica Flapan

The Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA is pleased to announce that Erica Flapan, Lingurn H. Burkhead Professor of Mathematics at Pomona College, has received the section’s 2010 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dr. Flapan’s gift for teaching has been recognized repeatedly, and her students praise her for her work in the classroom that emphasizes student participation. Her students report that she pours much thought and creativity into the design of her courses and that she is a superb and dynamic lecturer who also is great at leading discussions. She has received, among other awards, an Exxon Award for Mathematics Teaching, the Irvine Foundation Distinguished Faculty Fellowship for mentoring students of color at Pomona College, and the “Magna Cum Laude Teacher” title at Rice University. She has been awarded grants in mathematics education and in mathematics research as well. She is a tireless advocate and one of the strongest voices students have in support of diversity of all kinds.

Erica Flapan received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1983. She was a post-doc for two years at Rice University and for one year at UCSB. She joined the faculty at Pomona College in 1986. In addition to teaching at Pomona, Flapan has taught at the Summer Mathematics Program for Women at Carleton College, the Mills Summer Math Institute, the Canada-U.S. Mathcamp, and the Park City Mathematics Institute Undergraduate Program.

Flapan has done research in knot theory and the study of 3-manifolds. She is one of the pioneers of the study of the topology of graphs embedded in 3-space, and has published extensively in this area and its applications to chemistry and molecular biology. She has published three books that can serve as an ideal introduction to applied knot theory. The first, When Topology Meets Chemistry, was published jointly by the MAA and Cambridge University Press. Flapan co-edited the second book, Applications of Knot Theory, with Dorothy Buck, and co-authored the third, Number Theory: A Lively Introduction with Proofs, Applications, and Stories, with James Pommersheim and Tim Marks.

Flapan will receive the prestigious Franklin and Deborah Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College and University Teaching, awarded to three MAA members each year, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans in January 2010.

Call for Nominations for Section Teaching Award

Kathryn Leonard, Section Secretary

Preliminary nominations for the 19th 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 at 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 2011 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 who teach mathematical science courses at least half-time during the academic year and have at least five 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 1, 2010.
Questions? Contact Kathryn Leonard at

Include your news...

New hires, promotions, honors, awards, grants? Let us know!

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

News of the Section

Kathryn Leonard of California State University – Channel Islands has been awarded an NSF Career grant for $417,000, with 5 years of funding for her research, student research, and outreach activities. The goal of her project is to develop theoretical results establishing selection criteria for skeletal models and to apply these results to shape-dependent industrial projects.

At California State University, Los Angeles, two faculty members, Michael (Quimby) Krebs and Borislava Gutarts, received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. Sadly, Rodolfo Tamez, Professor of Mathematics, passed away unexpectedly on April 20, 2010. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1988, and became a faculty member at CSULA in 1989. He ran an NSF Young Scholar’s summer program for high school students for several years, and was also a program officer at NSF. His major impact was as a faculty mentor for minority students, many of whom he introduced to mathematics research and put them on the path to graduate school and beyond.

California State University, Northridge congratulates Bernardo Abrego, Kellie Evans, Silvia Bernardo, and Katherine Stevenson on their promotions to Full Professor.

Bill Lucas, Professor of Mathematics at Claremont Graduate University from 1984 to 1998, passed away on June 7, 2010, after a series of illnesses. He was 77 years old. A widely recognized expert in game theory, operations research, and mathematics education, Lucas left Cornell University to join the Department of Mathematics at Claremont Graduate School in 1984. During his career, he supervised 21 Ph.D. students, including four at CGU. In 2006, the MAA established the William F. Lucas Fund for a Short Course in his honor.

At Pepperdine University, Kendra Killpatrick has been promoted to Full Professor.

News from the University of California, Santa Barbara:

  • Maribel Bueno-Cachadina has been promoted to Lecturer with Security of Employment (equivalent to tenure).
  • Chris Ograin accepted a Lecturer position in Mathematics and Mathematics Education as part of the UC-wide Science and Mathematics Teaching Initiative. He will focus on teaching courses in our BA High School Mathematics Teaching track.
  • Professor Paul Atzberger received an NSF CAREER five-year $400K grant to recognize and support early career development activities for faculty members who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.
  • In June, we recognized Professor Adil Yaqub's 50 years of service teaching at UCSB. Students initiated a scholarship fund in his honor, naming it the “Adil Yaqub is My Hero” Scholarship.
  • Emeritus Professor Ky Fan died in Santa Barbara on March 22, 2010 at the age of 95. Born in Hangzhou, China on September 19, 1914, he received his BS from Peking University in 1936, his D.Sc under Frechet from the University of Paris in 1941, and joined the UCSB faculty in 1965. UCSB's Ky Fan Visiting Assistant Professorship recognizes his contributions to our department.
  • The Kozato Graduate Fellowship in Quantitative Biology will offer competitive multi-year support comparable to the NSF Graduate Fellowship for a graduate student with an interdisciplinary thesis project investigating a biological system using a combination of mathematical analysis and computational methods. The position is to begin in the Fall of 2011. The fellowship is funded by a generous donation from Hiro Kozato, a distinguished alumnus of the UCSB Department of Mathematics.
  • Scholarships for Transfers to Engage and Excel in Mathematics (STEEM) is an innovative and comprehensive academic enhancement program to increase undergraduate student success and improve graduate school and teacher preparation for community college transfers who major in math at UCSB. STEEM is hosted by the UCSB Mathematics Department in collaboration with the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships (CSEP) at the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI).

The University of Redlands congratulates Elizabeth Doolittle on her promotion to Senior Lecturer in Mathematics.

The Student Column

Cindy Wyels, Student Chapters Coordinator, Cal State Channel Islands

Make Yourself Stand Out

“What are you going to do with your degree?” It seems it’s never too early for relatives and acquaintances to pose this question of students. And what with all the gloomy news about an economic recovery without corresponding job growth, and about reduced funding for higher education, the allegedly blissful years of undergraduate study can be marred by worries about the future. The advice of all the employment counselors and even your faculty regarding grad school? “Make yourself stand out!” Below you’ll find a plethora of ways to learn and stretch yourself – and even have fun – beyond the classes you take for your degree.

Conferences, Conferences, Conferences

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! Better yet, if you have a research project, consider presenting at a conference. Our Fall Meeting (Oct. 16 at UC Irvine) has a great list of invited speakers scheduled. See the list below for conferences to consider.

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, 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 REUs, for lots of career information, and to learn about the Putnam Exam.

Report on the Spring 2010 Student Poster Session

An outdoor poster session on a pleasant spring day at Harvey Mudd College featured 40 students presenting 33 posters at the Spring Meeting in 2010. Undergraduates and masters students were joined by a high school presenter this year; poster topics ranged from sharing the results of very technical senior and masters theses to a visually edifying poster on crocheting hyperbolic planes and the more playful “Dancing Integrals.” Rather than attempt to distinguish between many fine posters, the organizers opted for an “interactor” approach: the faculty and community members who served as interactors are heartily thanked for their involvement. And of course, the poster session wouldn’t be possible without the students – and their faculty advisors – who produced such excellent work! For the listing of posters, see

Upcoming Student Poster Sessions:
New Orleans (January) and Point Loma (March)

Join 5000 – 6000 mathematicians at the Joint Mathematics Meetings … and share your work via the national Student Poster Session. (To enter see; deadline is Nov. 9.) The JMM also includes technical research presentations, survey talks, poster sessions, often movie showings and musical performances, and much more. The list of activities geared specifically to students keeps growing!

If your research project won’t quite be ready by November, enter it in our section’s Student Poster Session! (You have until April 2, 2011 to enter.) Detailed information and abstract submission information will be in the March 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 American Mathematical Monthly or other journals.

Local and National Events


Visit the meeting web site to

register on-line, and pay by credit card, or

register by mail, and pay by check.


Fall 2010 Section Meeting

University of California, Irvine
Saturday, October 16, 2010

Meeting web site

The Fall Meeting of the Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA will feature four exceptional speakers on four exciting areas of mathematics. Abstracts and bios can be found on the meeting web site.

  • Colin Adams, Williams College
    Blown Away: What Knot to Do When Sailing (by Sir Randolph Bacon III, cousin-in-law to Colin Adams)
  • Erica Flapan, Pomona College
    Recipient of the 2010 So Cal-Nev Sectional Teaching Award
    Topological Symmetries of Molecules
  • Roland Minton, Roanoke College
    G.H. Hardy, Bill James, and the Mathematics of Golf
  • Karl Rubin, UC Irvine
    Elliptic curves and Hilbert's Tenth Problem

The meeting also will feature the Contributed Paper Session, organized by Christopher Towse of Scripps College. Call for contributed papers.

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 UCI!

Meeting web site

Great Books, Great Bargains at MAA Book Sale!

The 2010 Fall Meeting at UC Irvine 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. Among the new MAA books that will be for sale at the meeting are:

  • A Historian Looks Back: The Calculus as Algebra and Selected Writings, by Judy Grabiner of Pitzer College, and
  • Biscuits of Number Theory, co-edited by Art Benjamin of Harvey Mudd College and Ezra Brown of Virginia Polytechnic University.

Tao to Deliver AMS Einstein Public Lecture at UCLA

AMS Einstein Public Lecture in Mathematics: “The Cosmic Distance Ladder”
Speaker: Terence Tao, 2006 Fields Medalist and UCLA Mathematics Professor
Saturday, October 9, 2010, 6:15 p.m.
Schoenberg Hall, UCLA campus

Poster announcement

Please RSVP for the reception afterwards.

Hosted by the UCLA Department of Mathematics as part of the AMS Western Section Meeting, to be held Oct. 9-10, 2010, at UCLA.

Southern California and Southern Nevada Conference Schedule

See our, "Here's what's happening" list on our home page.

Save these dates for future national MAA meetings

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
Summer 2013 Hartford, CT August 1-3
Winter 2014 Baltimore, MD January 15-18
Summer 2014 Portland, OR August 7-9
Winter 2015 San Antonio, TX January 9-12
Summer 2015 Washington, DC August 5-8
Winter 2016 Seattle, WA January 6-9
Winter 2017 Atlanta, GA January 4-7
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