Mathematics Association of America
Southern California-Nevada Section

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Newsletter Spring 2012
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 of 2012. Our section will meet at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, April 14 to enjoy mathematics for the entire day. Our invited speakers include Stephan Garcia from Pomona College on hidden symmetries in operator theory and complex analysis; Scott Annin from CSU Fullerton, who will discuss his work with students there; Judy Grabiner from Pitzer College on the history of optimization; and Kristin Lauter from Microsoft Research, who will share some secrets of elliptic curves and cryptography. We will also have our student-research poster session; there is still time to get the posters in! Additionally, all graduate students are invited to bring two copies of their resumes and/or research or teaching statements for faculty review. At our fall meeting, over 20 students participated in the review and were very happy with the comments and pointers for improvement they received.

Cindy Wyels
Cindy Wyels of California State University, Channel Islands, received the MAA Haimo Distinguished Teaching Award during the January 2012 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston. Here, she delivers a talk during a session featuring Haimo Award winners. Photo by Laura McHugh, MAA.

Many of our section members attended the Joint Mathematical Meetings, which took place in Boston during the month of January. Even though it was very cold, we stayed indoors in an impressive conference center! Talks were very interesting with an applied flavor: retiring AMS president George Andrews gave an overview of the current data deluge that mathematicians are facing, Stephanie Dick form Harvard explained efforts to teach machines to be intuitive, and Erik Demaine from MIT entertained us with puzzles and the mathematics of juggling. One could visit an impressive exhibition of mathematically inspired art. Among the MAA Haimo Distinguished Teaching Award winners was our section nominee Cindy Wyels from CSU Channel Islands. During the MAA Section Chairs Meeting, the discussion revolved about budgetary issues and on-line activities. The conference was busy and it was lots of fun!

I hope to see you in Fullerton, so we can share mathematical interests in fine company. Besides the four exciting talks and the always-enjoyable Student Poster Session, publishers will display their books and others will share information about mathematical events in our region.

Spring Meeting at CSU Fullerton

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 MAA Southern California-Nevada Section will be held in the new Mihaylo Hall at California State University, Fullerton. The meeting will feature four dynamic speakers on four exciting areas of mathematics:

The meeting also will feature the popular Student Poster Session, organized for the first time by our new Student Chapters Coordinator Ioana Mihaila of Cal Poly Pomona. 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 2012 Section Distinguished Teaching Award and recognition of our section’s 25- and 50-year MAA members.

Deadlines for the Spring Meeting

Here's the Meeting Website. See you in Fullerton!

Great Books, Great Bargains at MAA Book Sale!

The 2012 Spring Meeting at CSU Fullerton 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

This bi-annual report, I hope, will 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 818-677-7789 or to catch me at one of the section meetings.

The Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) in Boston in January 2012 were a great success, with a record attendance – 7200 attendees! The following site gives you the highlights of the meeting through videos and photos:

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. The announcement of the 2012 Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member was a repeat from last year in that, once again, two of the three recipients of the award were from our section. Congratulations to Kathryn Leonard, California State University, Channel Islands, and Susan Martonosi, Harvey Mudd College, for receiving this award. (Last year’s recipients from our section were Alissa Crans, Loyola Marymount University, and Sarah Eichhorn, University of California, Irvine.)

MAA Players

Do you recognize any of the “MAA Players” who performed at the January 2012 JMM in Boston in honor of retiring MAA Executive Director Tina Straley? At least four of the players have a Southern California–Nevada connection. (Photo by Magnhild Lien)

This was the first BOG meeting for Michael Pearson as the new Executive Director of MAA and Jim Daniel as the new Treasurer. The Budget Committee reported on the 2011 and 2012 operating budget. “The 2011 budget was forecast to have an operating deficit of $144,784. It appears we will come in reasonably close to that number. The staff did an outstanding job of adapting to changing conditions and implementing savings measures discussed by the Budget and Executive Committees in late 2010. The 2012 operating budget is quite a dynamic document. The change to a new Executive Director and some other departures from the senior staff will provide an opportunity for savings but also create significant challenges.”

We were reminded that even though the operating budget showed a deficit, the overall health of the organization is sound. It has permitted MAA to weather operating deficits several years in a row but it is a trend that must be reversed in relatively short order. For anyone interested in learning more about the finances of the MAA, the Treasurer’s page is available at: (MAA member login required). It contains current and historical information about MAA’s finances.

SoCal-Nev MAA Students at JMM

JMM Poster Session

Students Andrew Duhancioglu, Mounia Mardi, and William Sherman from California State University, Northridge, presented a poster during the Student Poster Session at the January 2012 JMM in Boston. (Photo by Magnhild Lien).

JMM Poster Session

Students Danika Lindsay, Rebecca Strawbridge, and Eduardo Reynosos from California State University, Channel Islands, presented a poster during the Student Poster Session at the January 2012 JMM in Boston. (Photo by Magnhild Lien).

JMM Poster Session

Students Erika Meza and Colleen Bouey from Loyola Marymount University presented a poster during the Student Poster Session at the January 2012 JMM in Boston. (Photo by Magnhild Lien)

The BOG approved an increase in membership dues for 2013 which will include a $5 increase to the regular rate. Hence the new regular rate would be $199 with The Monthly and $179 with either CMJ or Mathematics Magazine. The $194 e-membership stays the same. The regular discounted rates are 20% less than the regular rates and retired rates are 50% less than regular rates so those rates increased by $3 and $2 respectively. Undergraduate and graduate student rates increased by $2 and will now be $32.

The following Proposed Bylaw Revision for Article IX, Section 8 was approved by the BOG. This revision will be presented for a vote of the membership at the Business Meeting at MathFest 2012. The revision is the addition of the underlined part.

The Nominating Committee shall nominate candidates for President-Elect, First Vice President, and Second Vice President, which shall be submitted to the voting membership; and candidates for Governors-at-large, Chair of the Committee on Sections, and Council Chairs, which shall be submitted to the Board. In addition, the Nominating Committee shall be responsible for soliciting biographical materials and supporting statements for each nominee as required. Three nominees shall be selected for President-Elect, First Vice President, and Second Vice President, and at least two for each of the other positions. In cases where incumbents are eligible for reelection, the Nominating Committee may nominate only the incumbent.

As always, the JMM program was rich and full of interesting talks, panels, and fun activities, and the Southern California-Nevada Section was well represented. The only problem with such an extensive program is that it is impossible to get to see and hear everyone. I attended the Joint Prize Session where Cindy Wyels, California State University Channel Islands, was presented with the Haimo Distinguished Teaching Award. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to hear Cindy speak in the special MAA session for Teaching Award Recipients. A subgroup of the MAA players who presented the MAA Musical at MathFest 2011 performed at the reception for Tina Straley, the outgoing Executive Director of MAA. (See photograph on page 13 of this Newsletter.)

The California State Universities at Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Fullerton, Northridge, San Bernardino, and Pomona all had students presenting posters at the Student Poster Session, as did UCSB, UCLA, UCI, Harvey Mudd College, Pomona College, Pepperdine University, University of Redlands, and Loyola Marymount University.

Call for Nominations for Section Teaching Award

Kathryn Leonard, Section Secretary, CSU Channel Islands

Cindy Wyels

2011 Cindy Wyels

Erika Flapan

2010 Erika Flapan

Curtis Bennet

2009 Curtis Bennet

Bruce Yoshiwara

2008 Bruce Yoshiwara

More past recipients

Preliminary nominations for the 2st annual MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics will be accepted in Fall 2012.

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 2013 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 November 1, 2012.

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

Kathryn Leonard of California State University, Channel Islands, will receive the 2012 MAA Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member, and her colleague Cindy Wyels received the 2012 MAA Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching. Leonard and Wyels direct the NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at CSU Channel Islands. In 2012, 12–15 undergraduates will work with three faculty mentors on Pythagorean triples on the quaternions, matrix completion problems, and Young tableaux. An international component features a faculty mentor and students from Mexico. Application deadline was Feb. 18. For more information, see:

CSU Channel Islands (CI) has been awarded a 5-year $6 million grant with the goal of enhancing science, technology, and mathematics opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students while building institutional capacity to benefit all students majoring in STEM fields. The effort, named Project ACCESO (Achieving a Cooperative College Education through STEM Opportunities) will provide tutoring, peer led team learning, peer mentoring, a summer scholars program, research and employment oportunities, STEM equipment and facilities, outreach to local schools and agencies, analysis of STEM curricula and student performance, and collaborative efforts at CI and partner community colleges to attract, engage, retain, and graduate STEM students. Mathematics plays a key role: strengthening the mathematics preparation of incoming first-year students is the focus of the Summer Scholars program. Both the Student Success Director (Cindy Wyels) and the Student Success Coordinator (Victor Moreno) are mathematicians.

Our Section Governor, Magnhild Lien, of California State University, Northridge, has been named Executive Director of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), effective January 1, 2012.

The 2012 REU at California State University, San Bernardino, directed by Corey Dunn and Rollie Trapp, will feature projects in geometry and knot theory. Application deadline was Feb. 24; for details, see

The Claremont Center for the Mathematical Sciences (CCMS), founded in 2007 by Harvey Mudd College emeritus mathematics professor Bob Borrelli, will fund Summer 2012 research for nine students from the Claremont Colleges and three students from Claremont Graduate University with a grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation. In addition, the Giovanni Borrelli Fellowship, established by Borrelli in 2011, supports summer research and travel for a Harvey Mudd College mathematics major. Harvey Mudd College will host an 80th Birthday Bash for Borrelli on March 31, 2012.

Art Benjamin on Backgammon

Art Benjamin was interviewed for NPR’s “All Things Considered” about his 2012 JMM mini-course on the mathematics of backgammon. (Photo by Laura McHugh, MAA)

Also at Harvey Mudd College, Susan Martonosi will receive the 2012 MAA Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member; Talithia Williams was elected to the Board of Directors of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS); senior Jennifer Iglesias was runner-up for the Association for Women in Mathematics Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman; an article by Francis Su appeared in Princeton University Press’s anthology of The Best Writing on Mathematics 2011; and Art Benjamin was interviewed for NPR’s “All Things Considered” about his 2012 JMM mini-course on the mathematics of backgammon. Listen to the pod-cast!

Bruce Yoshiwara of Los Angeles Pierce College reports that his college recently received the 2011 Chancellor’s Student Success Award (for significant progress toward achieving student equity goals and success for all students) for its Algebra Success at Pierce (ASAP) program.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, congratulates Kaushik Ghosh for receiving tenure and promotion to associate professor, and Hossein Tehrani for promotion to full professor. Satish Bhatnagar’s book, Vectors in History: Volume I, was published in January of 2012, with further volumes on the way. The Mathematics Department currently has 65 graduate students, with 25 of them working towards the Ph.D. In May of 2011, Vaijjean Elander became the first woman to complete the Ph.D. in Computational Mathematics (advisor: Jichun Li). The department currently supports seminars in computational mathematics, statistics, PDEs, and set theory. It has a joint masters program with economics and recently added a joint masters program with electrical engineering.

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!

Edwin BuchmanArthur P. Gittleman
Eugene C. Johnsen

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

Bernard W. Banks Geoffrey J. Iverson
Leonard J. Schulman John P. Boyd
Elliot M. Landaw Robert L. Smazenka
Richard N. Cornez Kim McInturff
Stephen J. Whitsitt Erica L. Flapan
David R. Morrison

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

Ioana Mihaila, Student Chapters Coordinator Cal Poly, Pomona

Section Meeting!

Plan to attend the Spring 2012 Meeting April 14 at CSU Fullerton! Enter a poster in the Student Poster Competition!

Plan to attend the Spring 2012 Meeting
Present a poster in the Student Poster Session!

Consider presenting a poster at our Spring 2012 Meeting on April 14, 2012, at California State University, Fullerton! 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: Monday, April 2, 2012. 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.
MAA Players

Students and faculty from California State University, San Bernardino, traveled to the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Fall 2011 Meeting at California State University, Los Angeles. Top row, left to right: David Gomez, Marcos Reyes, Veronica Chavez, Jessica Luna, Ahmed Kamel. Front row, left to right: Janna Newman, Min-Lin Lo, Michelle Lopez, Jose Lopez, Enedina Ramos, Jessenia Padilla. (Photo: Janet Beery)

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 14, at California State University, Fullerton; 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. Regional conferences that are relatively easy to attend are listed at our own section’s webpage. In addition to our Spring Meeting on Saturday, April 14, we’ll have a Fall Meeting in October of 2012. And watch for news of the March 2013 Pacific Coast Undergraduate Math Conference.

Southern California–Nevada Students at the 2012 JMM in Boston

The Southern California – Nevada Section was well represented by students at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston, Jan. 4–7, 2012. Many presented their work in the Student Poster Session there, others gave presentations in some of the many sessions of invited and contributed talks, while others attended graduate school fairs, panels, networking sessions, and many talks – and most enjoyed their time in a sunny but chilly Boston. Nine Southern California–Nevada students were recognized for having particularly excellent posters (see the list below). But all who presented are worthy of congratulation: the facts that your advisor(s) approved your entry and that it was accepted to be presented are in themselves accomplishments!

2011 MAA Undergraduate Poster Session Prize Winners

  • Calculating Call Blocking, Preemption Probabilities and Bandwidth Utilization for Satellite Communication Systems, Leah Rosenbaum, Scripps College (and a coauthor)
  • Characteristics of Non-Symmetric Edge Flames in Micro-Channels, Casey McGrath, University of Redlands
  • Application of Hill Climbing Algorithm to Parallelize Graph-based Genome Assembly, August Guang, Harvey Mudd College (and a coauthor)
  • Chaparral Population Models in Response to Wildfires, Garrett Johns and Wancen Jiang, Pepperdine University, and Yuezhao Yang, Cal Poly Pomona
  • A Combinatorial Approach to r-Fibonacci Numbers, Curtis Heberle, Harvey Mudd College
  • On Constructible Sets, Walter Morales, California State University–Bakersfield (and a coauthor)
  • Yelling in Circles: A Generalization of the Game “Look Up and Scream,” Sarah Warkentin, Harvey Mudd College

Southern California-Nevada Conference Calendar

Saturday, April 14, 2012: Mathematical Association of America Southern California-Nevada Section Spring Meeting, CSU Fullerton.

Saturday-Sunday, October 27–28, 2012: History and Pedagogy of Mathematics (HPM) West Coast Conference, University of California, Berkeley. The conference will include a visit to Berkeley's Bancroft Library to view rare books. Watch the HPM Americas website for more information.

Save these dates for future national MAA meetings

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
Winter 2018 San Diego, CA January 10-12
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