Mathematics Association of America
Southern California-Nevada Section

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What would you really like to see at MAA Section Meetings?

The SoCal-NV Section of the MAA would like to provide you with the events and opportunities you find most interesting.

Please complete the short survey.

The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. Your responses will be tremendously useful to us.

Newsletter Spring 2011
Table of Contents

Greetings from the 2010-2011 MAA Southern California-Nevada
Section Chair

Ivona Grzegorczyk, California State University, Channel Islands

Ivona Grzegorczyk

Our Section Chair, Ivona Grzegorczyk, is Chair of the Mathematics Department and Professor of Mathematics at Cal State Channel Islands.

Welcome to the spring with all the flowers in full bloom already. I hope to meet everyone in beautiful San Diego on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Point Loma Nazarene University is going to be the host of our section meeting on their scenic campus. Our invited speakers include Talithia Williams talking on media and statistics, Bernd Sturmfels introducing us to convex algebraic geometry, and Michael Krebs sharing secrets of communication networks. You should also visit the poster session where our students will present their research projects: share your comments and suggestions with them, and encourage their continued interest in mathematics. We will all have interesting conversations over lunch. You will also find new and discounted books and information about other mathematical events in our region.

Many of our section members have attended the Joint Meetings in New Orleans this January and enjoyed the French quarter, music, good food and excellent mathematics. From massive prediction models to self-organization in natural and artificial systems, from zeta-function to solitons – the talks included interesting applications as well as new ideas in pure mathematics. Educational talks included turning theorems into plays, sea battles, Benjamin Franklin's oil lamp, and jelly bellies. A truly comprehensive and rich program included presentations for all ages and levels of expertise, the Graduate School Fair, and the poster sessions for young mathematicians and undergraduate students. It was busy and it was lots of fun! MAA section chairs discussion revolved about current budgetary issues and section management. Our section board is discussing a few new ideas to be implemented in our section in the nearest future.

Please do not forget to mark your calendars for the Fall Meeting, to be held most likely in Orange County. We have another great lineup of speakers planned for that event. Note the registration and abstract submission has opened for the MathFest to be held in Lexington, Kentucky August 4-6, 2011. See you all at our events!

Spring Meeting Features Mathematical Connections

Meeting Web Site

Visit the meeting web site for a program, speakers' abstracts and bios, directions and information about registration.

The Spring Meeting of the Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA will feature three exceptional speakers on three exciting connections in mathematics:

  • Michael Krebs of CSU Los Angeles, on the connection between graphs and communications networks
    Abstract and Bio
  • Bernd Sturmfels of UC Berkeley, on the connection between convex optimization and algebraic geometry
    Abstract and Bio
  • Talithia Williams of Harvey Mudd College, on the connection between statistics and real life.
    Abstract and Bio

The meeting also will feature the popular Student Poster Session, organized by Cindy Wyels of California State University, Channel Islands, and a Career Panel, organized by Magnhild Lien of California State University, Northridge. 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. Even the Business Meeting promises to be exciting, with the highly anticipated presentation of the 2011 Section Distinguished Teaching Award and recognition of our section’s 25- and 50-year MAA members.

The Southern California-Nevada Section NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) will run a parallel program of activities for its members; new faculty members within three years of beginning their teaching careers who wish to participate should apply by Friday, April 8. Read more about SoCal-Nev Section NExT.

See you in San Diego!

What would you really like to see at MAA Section Meetings?

The SoCal-NV Section of the MAA would like to provide you with the events and opportunities you find most interesting.

Please complete the short survey.

The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. Your responses will be tremendously useful to us.

Great Books, Great Bargains at MAA Book Sale!

The 2011 Spring Meeting at Point Loma University in San Diego 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 in the MAA Catalog. Almost all of the books in the MAA Catalog will be available to order, including a number of brand new titles. Recent titles by MAA Southern California–Nevada Section members include:

  • 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.

Book Sale organizers are Michael Hoffman and Richard Katz of California State University, Los Angeles.

Message from the Governor: JMM and Other National MAA News

Magnhild Lien, California State University, Northridge

Mathnild Lien

With this bi-annual report, I hope to keep you informed about the latest news from the MAA. I would also like to hear from you. If you have questions or concerns that should be brought to the Board of Governors (BOG) please feel free to contact me via email at or by phone at 818-677-6424 or to catch me at one of the section meetings.

The Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) in New Orleans in January 2011 were a great success, with the highest meeting attendance ever – 6000 attendees! The JMM photo gallery captures some of the activities and ambiance there. The BOG met the day before the official starting date of the JMM and we had a full agenda with reports and discussions. One of the pleasures of being on the BOG is that we get to vote on the recommendations from the prizes and awards committees. Once again, members of our section were recipients of a teaching award. Congratulations to Alissa Crans, Loyola Marymount University, and Sarah Eichhorn, University of California, Irvine, both recipients of the 2011 Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member.

Help to Bolster MAA Membership

"I would like to encourage all active members to recruit new members."

"If we all look around in our departments, we may very well find a colleague who is doing work and has interests that fit well with the mission of MAA and would be amenable to becoming a member of the MAA, but just needs a little nudge."

-Maghnild Lien

The budget discussion took up a large part of the BOG meeting. The year 2010 was budgeted as a break-even year. However, final figures are likely to show deficits due to continued weakness in membership, journals, and advertising. The 2011 budget was revised cutting expenses to meet lower revenue expectations. We have seen a decrease in membership and non-member journal subscriptions, all contributing to the decrease in revenue. The Membership Committee presented a proposal to recognize an associate membership category offered to high school teachers. The annual fee for this category is substantially smaller than the regular membership fee and it also comes with some restrictions. For example, an associate member will receive the MAA Focus but does not have an option to add any journals. This membership category has been on the books for a few years and MAA currently has more than 400 active associate members but the category had never formally been approved by the BOG. To increase revenue, however, the number of members in this category, as well as in the regular membership category, needs to increase.

The e-membership option, which took effect January 2010, has been expanded to include student member groups (graduate and undergraduates). In the fall I reported that about 15% of the members opted for an e-membership. E-members are renewing at a high rate and are not returning to print versions of membership. Twenty-five percent of the members are now e-members.

For anyone interested in learning more about the finances of the MAA, the Treasurer’s page is available at: (for members only). It contains current and historical information about MAA’s finances.

American Mathematics Competition

The director of the American Mathematics Competition reported to the BOG on last year’s activities.

  • Almost 400,000 exams were taken at all grade levels. Colleges and universities can host contests and strengthen ties with high schools and bright students.
  • MAA co-sponsored participation of two 4-member teams of high school girls in the 2010 China Girls Math Olympiad held in Shijiazhuang, China, August 9-13, 2010. One team of 4 placed 2nd overall (1 Bronze, 1 Silver, 5 Gold total).
  • At the 2010 International Mathematical Olympiad held in Astana, Kazakhstan, the U.S. 6-member team placed third in the world. Team members individually won 3 silver medals and 3 gold medals.

MAA Outreach

MAA supports a variety of outreach programs for students. Here are some examples.

  • Tensor Grants for Women in Mathematics. Deadline: February 12.
  • Tensor – SUMMA Grants: Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement. Deadline: February 12.
  • Dolciani Mathematics Enrichment Grant (DMEG) program. Deadline: Feb. 12.
  • National Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program to broaden participation in the mathematical sciences. Deadline: February 25.
  • Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conferences. Proposals requested by May 15 for following academic year.

If you missed these submissions, look on the MAA Programs for Faculty page for solicitations again in Fall 2011 for 2012 funding.

SoCal-Nev at the JMM

Susan Montgomery Susan Montgomery of USC presents the AWM Emmy Noether Lecture, “Orthogonal Representations: From Groups to Hopf Algebras,” during the January 2011 Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans. Photo by Laura McHugh, MAA.

The Southern California-Nevada Section was well represented at the JMM. Several members gave talks both in the invited paper sessions and contributed paper sessions. Unfortunately, I was not able to see them all. I have a long list of names of people from our section who contributed one way or the other to a great program. Here I am mentioning only a few.

Lily Khadjavi, Gizem Karaali

Chuu-Lian Terng, UC Irvine, gave an AMS-MAA Invited Address on Curves, Surfaces and Solitons and the AWM Emmy Noether Lecture was given by Susan Montgomery, USC (see photo on page 13). Our newsletter editor, Janet Beery, University of Redlands, was one of the organizers of a panel on Writing the History of the MAA’s First 100 Years. I went to a very interesting panel discussion, Proving Hardy Wrong: Math Research with Social Justice Applications. Lily Khadjavi, Loyola Marymount University, in the center in the photo at left, and Gizem Karaali, Pomona College, on the right, were on the panel.

I was not able to attend the Joint Prize Session where Erica Flapan was presented with the Haimo Teaching Award. However, I had an opportunity to hear Erica give a delightful talk, The problem of how to be a good teacher is undecidable, in the session where the three Haimo Award recipients presented.

Erica Flapan Erica Flapan of Pomona College receives the Haimo Distinguished Teaching Award from MAA President David Bressoud at the January 2011 Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans. Photo by Laura McHugh, MAA.

CSU Channel Islands, Fullerton and San Bernardino all had students presenting posters at the Student Poster Session, as did Harvey Mudd College, Whittier College, UCLA, UCI, USC, Pomona College, Pepperdine University, Claremont-McKenna College and Loyola Marymount University.

Luis Davis Contreras

Luis Davis Contreras of CSU Channel Islands answers questions about his poster during the Student Poster Session at the January 2011 Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans.

Dylan Owen Marriner

Dylan Owen Marriner of Harvey Mudd College explains the project presented in his poster.

New Faculty: Join Southern California-Nevada Section NExT!

Magnhild Lien, CSU Northridge

New Faculty:
Join Section NExT!

Visit the
SoCal-Nev NExT website for more information.

To join Section NExT in time for the Spring Section Meeting, please complete an application form by Friday April 8, 2011.

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 is in its 9th year and has sponsored dynamic cohorts of participants at the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section meetings. SoCalNev Section NExT Fellows attend the 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 Spring 2011 MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Meeting on April 16 at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. 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 or university level. Project NExT Fellows within their first three years of full-time employment are encouraged to register and become members of Section NExT.

For more information, including a link to the on-line application form, please visit To join Section NExT in time for the Spring Section Meeting at Point Loma Nazarene University, please complete an application form by Friday April 8, 2011.

Call for Nominations for Section Teaching Award

Kathryn Leonard, Section Secretary, CSU Channel Islands

Erika Flapan

2010 Erika Flapan

Curtis Bennet

2009 Curtis Bennet

Bruce Yoshiwara

2008 Bruce Yoshiwara

More past recipients

Preliminary nominations for the 20th annual MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics will be accepted in Fall 2011.

The preliminary nomination consists of a one-page form (available at the Section's Teaching Awards Page) and a 1-2 page description of the candidate’s qualities and teaching successes. 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.

From the preliminary nominees, two to three semi-finalists will be chosen by the selection committee. Each nominator will then be asked to complete a full nomination packet for the semi-finalist. The full packet is required only for semi-finalists and will be due by early January. (Click here for full nomination requirements.)

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 2012 Spring 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 Awards for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. (Click here for greater detail on eligibility requirements for the Haimo Award.)

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 seven years experience teaching at the college or university level.

Preliminary nomination deadline is Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

Questions? Contact Kathryn Leonard or 805-437-3127.

Initial nominations may be sent electronically or mailed to:
Kathryn Leonard
CSU Channel Islands
1 University Dr.
Camarillo, CA 93012

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

Ron Buckmire
Associate mathematics professor Ron Buckmire of Occidental College has been chosen as the 2011 Educator of the Year by the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals. Buckmire was chosen for his "outstanding achievements in mathematics and education on race and [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] issues," said John Burke, a member of the organization's board of directors. Buckmire's research areas include computational aerodynamics, numerical analysis, and applying mathematics to "real world" situations. He joined the Occidental faculty in 1996. Buckmire was honored at a reception and dinner on February 20 during the annual conference in Washington, DC, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), with which the gay and lesbian scientists and technical professionals group is affiliated.

Kathryn Leonard of California State University, Channel Islands, received a grant award of $250,000 from the Keck Foundation to develop and implement a 4-year undergraduate stepladder for interdisciplinary research that will engage students in original research projects beginning in the freshman year, steadily increasing their sophistication until graduation.

CSU Channel Islands will host an NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates in 2011: 12–15 undergraduates will work with four faculty mentors exploring the world of mathematical research in an eight-week residential summer program. An international component features a faculty mentor and students from Mexico. Cindy Wyels is director of the program and Kathryn Leonard co-director. Application deadline was Feb. 18. For more information see:

At California State University Northridge, Kellie Evans (PI) and Silvia Fernandez (co-PI) received an award of $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation to establish the CSUN NSF Teaching Fellowship Program. Encourage your seniors and graduates to visit for more information.

The 2011 REU at California State University, San Bernardino, directed by Rollie Trapp, will feature projects in geometry and knot theory. Application deadline was Feb. 25; for details, see

The Claremont Colleges 2011 REU will focus on knot theory and on statistics with projects led by Sam Nelson of Claremont-McKenna College, Gabriel Chandler of Pomona College, and Talithia Williams of Harvey Mudd College. Chris Towse of Scripps College will direct the REU. See for details. Application deadline was Feb. 15. In addition to this NSF-funded program, the Claremont Center for the Mathematical Sciences (CCMS), founded in 2007 by retired Harvey Mudd College mathematics professor Bob Borelli, funds summer research for eight students from the Claremont Colleges with a grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation.

Fred Feldon of Coastline Community College led a webinar titled, “Unleash the Power of Your Tablet PC,” on Feb. 16. Slides from his presentation are available from Facebook, Twitter, SlideShare, etc. Watch for other useful webinars sponsored by AMATYC throughout the year at the AMATYC website:

The El Camino College Compton Center Mathematics Department welcomes new professors Ruth Zambrano, Abigail Tatliloglu, and Patricia Stoddard, and offers its best wishes to recently retired professor Mohomad Shaikh.

Sid Kolpas of Glendale College is one of four 2010 winners of the Hayward Award, conferred by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. The award honors “outstanding community college faculty who have a track record of excellence both in teaching and in professional activities and have demonstrated commitment to their students, profession, and college.” Four winners representing four regions are selected annually from all disciplines.

The popular website, Math Fun Facts created by Francis Su of Harvey Mudd College is now available as a free iPhone application, also created by Su.

Judith Grabiner of Pitzer College published the book, A Historian Looks Back: The Calculus as Algebra and Selected Writings, in the MAA Spectrum series in October of 2010. The book is a collection of Grabiner’s articles and essays and will be available during the MAA Book Sale at the section’s April 16 meeting at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Bruce Yoshiwara of Pierce College is one of four 2011 winners of the Hayward Award, conferred by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges to “outstanding community college faculty who have a track record of excellence both in teaching and in professional activities and have demonstrated commitment to their students, profession, and college.” Four winners representing four regions are selected annually from all disciplines.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, congratulates Hongtao Yang for receiving tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2010, and Ebrahim Salehi (Graph Theory), Jichun Li (Computational Mathematics), and Arthur Baragar (Number Theory) for their promotion to full professor in 2009, 2010, and 2011, respectively. Satish Bhatnagar’s book, Scattered Matherticles: Mathematical Reflections, was published in November of 2010, with further volumes on the way. (Bhatnagar explains that “matherticle” is derived from the words “mathematical” and “particle” and that the blending is due to Paul Halmos’ influence, as he was Halmos’ student at Indiana University.) UNLV’s PhD program, initiated in 2005 to augment its longstanding MS program, has graduated four students and currently has 26 enrolled, with 60 graduate students overall. PhDs have been awarded in statistics (two under Melwane Anand), in PDE (David Costa), and in Computational Finance (Hongtao Yang). The undergraduate students have an active math club and Pi Mu Epsilon chapter under the faculty guidance of Michelle Robinette. The Putnam math competition is run annually by Gennady Bachman. The department chair during these tough economic times is Derrick DuBose.

Elizabeth Doolittle is the University of Redlands’ 2011 Mortar Board Professor of the Year.

Congratulations to 25- and 50-Year MAA Members!

Congratulations to the following members of the Southern California-Nevada Section who have been MAA members for 50 years!

Gerald L. BradleyWilliam O. Alltop
Donald G. Saari Curtis N. Browne
Henry F. Bunch Charles T. Zahn
William MarguliesPaul H. Palmquist
Neil E. Gretsky

Congratulations also to the following members of the Southern California-Nevada Section who have been MAA members for 25 years!

Robert J. CornelisonKenneth K. Warner
David A. ShortUsher J. Rettke

These members will be recognized during the Business Meeting of our upcoming MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Spring Meeting, April 16 in San Diego.

The Students' Column

Cindy Wyels, Student Chapters Coordinator, California State Channel Islands

Section Meeting!

Plan to attend the Spring 2011 Meeting April 16 in San Diego! Enter a poster in the Student Poster Competition!

Present Your Work

Consider presenting a poster at our Spring 2011 Meeting on April 16, 2011, at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego! Student poster presenters receive free registration and lunch at the meeting (up to two presenters per poster). More importantly, they share their work with the wider mathematical community, receiving accolades, feedback, and further ideas. And they develop their communication skills and gain a resume item. Undergraduate and Masters students are invited to submit a poster. Deadline: Tuesday, April 5, 2011. Topic ideas follow.

  • Results of masters thesis, honors, senior, or independent study projects;
  • Results of classroom projects or modeling contests;
  • Results of REUs and academic-year research programs;
  • Historical investigations in pure or applied mathematics;
  • Solutions of problems from the Putnam Exam or from the American Mathematical Monthly, Math Horizons, or other journals.

Meetings and Conferences

Meetings are attended by people who share your interest in mathematics. There may be a variety of activities: talks on interesting topics, a book sale, career panels, other students presenting their research projects… Our section keeps students in mind when planning meeting events: give the Spring Meeting a try! It will be Saturday, April 16, at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego; details on the Spring Meeting web site.

Stretch Your Learning!

The MAA Undergraduate Page is a great resource.

Did you know you could spend several weeks this summer pursuing research under the guidance of a mentor near or far … while having your travel costs and room and board covered … and even receive a stipend to offset your usual summer job earnings? Check out the REU section of the MAA Undergraduate Page. (Don’t wait: most application deadlines are in February and March.) And spend some time with the other information on this page – opportunities to consider abound. Our own section’s webpage ( and this newsletter list many of the regional conferences that are relatively easy to attend. In addition to our Spring Meeting, consider attending an event tailored expressly to undergraduates: the Pacific Coast Undergraduate Math Conference, March 12 at Loyola Marymount University.

Southern California–Nevada Students at the 2011 JMM in New Orleans

The Southern California–Nevada Section was well represented by students at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans, Jan. 6 – 9, 2011. Many presented their work in the Student Poster Session; others gave oral presentations in some of the dozens (hundreds?) of sessions; and yet others attended graduate school fairs, panels, networking sessions, and many talks – and most enjoyed time in the French Quarter. Four regional students were recognized as having particularly excellent posters (see the list below). All who presented are worthy of congratulations: the facts that your advisor(s) approved your entry and it was accepted to be presented are in themselves accomplishments.

2011 MAA Undergraduate Poster Session Prize Winners

  • Bishop's Lemma and Boundaries of Lipschitz Function Algebras, Ann Kathryn Johnston, Harvey Mudd College and a co-author
  • 2-Dimensional Shape Modeling, Carlos Fernando Hernandez, California State University Fullerton and a co-author
  • Permissible Plane Embeddings of Ribbon Graph Blow-Ups, Sarah Jane Loeb, Harvey Mudd College

Special Interest Group of the MAA on Statistics Education Award

  • Rational Distance Sets on Conic Sections, Megan Danielle Ly, Loyola Marymount University and a co-author

Southern California-Nevada Conference Calendar

Saturday, April 16, 2011: Mathematical Association of America Southern California-Nevada Section Spring Meeting, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego.

June 20–24, 2011: 9th Annual Permutation Patterns Conference, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, featuring invited speakers Herbert Wilf from the University of Pennsylvania and Igor Pak from the University of California at Los Angeles. Follow the link for details on lodging, travel, and online registration. Submit one page abstracts by April 1, 2011, to Robert Brignall

Save these dates for future national MAA meetings

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 10-13
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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