Mathematical Association of America
Southern California-Nevada Section

Newsletter Fall 2014
Table of Contents

Greetings from the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Chair

Herbert Medina, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA

Mike Krebs

Section Chair Herbert Medina at Machu Picchu, Peru

If you follow world events, there are no ifs and buts about it: it was a tough summer. There were conflicts (some flare-ups of old and others new); an outbreak of a merciless virus; an aviation tragedy; more gridlock in Washington; worsening drought in California; …OK, I’ll stop.

But twelve days before the unofficial end of summer (i.e., the start of the fall semester) came some of the most positive and inspiring news of the year: Artur Avila (Brazilian-French), Manjul Bhargava (Canadian-American), Martin Hairer (Austrian) and Maryam Mirzakhani (Iranian) had been awarded the 2014 Fields Medals! All four are of course outstanding mathematicians doing phenomenal work, but Avila and Mirzakhani receive special mention here as they are the first Latin American and woman respectively to ever win the Fields Medal.

Contrasting the announcement of the awards with the news of the summer made me realize how fortunate I am to be in the world of mathematics. A world in which deep, wonderful, peaceful work is done by individuals of all genders, nations and backgrounds. A world in which collaboration and admiration rule over egoism and envy. A world in which many of us feel that the greatest compliment that can be paid to our work is for someone else to come along and improve or extend/generalize it to a different space, domain, etc.

A great place to celebrate and appreciate that world is at the upcoming Fall Meeting of the Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA on November 1 at Pomona College. As usual, the fall meeting will have a contributed paper session and feature plenary talks by exciting mathematicians engaging in groundbreaking work:

Francis Bonahon from the University of Southern California,
talk title: Curvature: from mountain passes and summits, to soap films and the Internet;

Susan Horn from the Institute for Clinical Outcomes Research in Salt Lake City, Utah,
talk title: Mathematics can change the world (of medical practice; and

Shahriar Shahriari from Pomona College,
talk title: Problems with no right to be open.

The presentation by Prof. Shahriari is especially noteworthy as he is our 2014 MAA Section Teaching Award winner. I was fortunate enough to be on the selection committee for the award this year, and I honestly cannot remember ever seeing so much evidence of excellence in teaching nor reading so much heartfelt gratitude and praise from students for an educator. Congratulations Shahriar! I can’t wait to hear your talk at the meeting.

So, come out to Pomona College on November 1 to reenergize and remember how lucky we are to be part of the world of mathematics!

Herbert Medina, Section Chair
Medina in Muir Woods, California

Governor's Report

Perla Myers, 2013-2016 Section Governor
University of San Diego, San Diego, CA
Perla Myers

This is my second year as Governor of the Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA. The Board of Governors (BoG) of the MAA meets twice a year—immediately before Mathfest, in the summer, and immediately before the Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) in January. Here I will share some of the highlights of the two 2014 BoG meetings, the JMM 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland, and Mathfest 2014 in Portland, Oregon.

Please contact me with questions, concerns, suggestions, etc. at, (619) 260-4545, or in person at the section meetings. I am happy to bring any issues that are of interest to our section members to the BoG. Other SoCal-Nevada section members on the BoG are Jackie Dewar from Loyola Marymount University (Governor-at-Large for Teacher Education), Talithia Williams from Harvey Mudd College (Governor-at-Large for Minority Interests), and Francis Su, also from Harvey Mudd College (MAA President-Elect). In February 2014 Francis began a four year term—one year as President-Elect, two years as the 55th President of the Association, and one year as Past President.

2014 Board of Governors Meetings

The BoG is made up of 53 people. An agenda that includes minutes from the previous meeting, reports from MAA officers, staff members, editors, councils and committees, nominations for prizes, awards and positions, new business and old business is posted in advance of each meeting (89 pages for the January 2014 meeting and 152 pages for the August meeting). Some of the items on the agenda are decided prior to the meeting via electronic polls, including prizes and awards.

The meetings always begin with introductions. Then the minutes from the previous meeting are approved, and officers, staff, councils and committees give a short overview of their reports and answer questions. Some highlights from the 2014 governors meetings are below.

January Board of Governors Meeting,
Baltimore Hilton, January 14, 2014; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • The MAA Short Courses were discontinued. Short courses have created a deficit for several years—the amount of time and energy required from staff is large and the number of people served is small.
  • The total net assets remain stable and decisions are being made and steps taken to reduce the deficit and put MAA in sound financial shape in the not too distant future. The MAA has had nine consecutive years of annual operating deficits, with a total of $1,300,000. Steps have been taken to change this pattern of loss and it is hoped that within a year or two we will see operating surpluses. The operating budget of the MAA is negatively impacted by decline in membership. Several efforts are underway at the MAA to better understand how to market the MAA and to increase membership. Please suggest to your colleagues that they join the MAA. Departmental memberships are also important. Please make sure that your own departmental membership has been renewed. Membership dues remain the same for 2015 as for 2014, under the new membership dues structure put in place in 2014. A description of the membership dues can be found here.
  • The MAA is run by its members through committees. Please consider serving on a committee or recommending a colleague to serve on an MAA committee. Click here for more information.
  • Attendance at JMM and MathFest has seen increases lately. The attendance at JMM 2013 was 6672 and at MathFest 2013 was 1505.
  • The 2015 summer meeting will be the MAA’s Centennial Meeting and planning has been under way for several years. An ad hoc committee, chaired by Deanna Haunsperger and Stephen Kennedy, is planning the program. The plan is to expand the program with additional invited addresses and several other special events that commemorate the centennial.
  • Aparna Higgins, Director of Project NExT ends her term at the end of August, and the search committee for this position is interviewing candidates at JMM. Steve Dunbar, Director of American Mathematics Competitions, and Ivars Peterson, Director of Publications and Communications, will retire.
  • The Gung and Hu Distinguished Service Award regulations were revised. Click here for more information.
  • 2015 MAA Curriculum Guide: Martha Siegel, Chair of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (CUPM), launched a series of break-out sessions devoted to drafts of various parts of the a curriculum guide. This guide will come to the Board for approval at JMM 2015. The CUPM is charged with making recommendations to guide mathematics departments in designing curricula for their undergraduate students. Find them here. The last CUPM guide came out in 2004. The next one is scheduled for 2015.
  • The structure of the Board of Governors is being re-considered to make the most efficient use of resources and time. Jenny Quinn began a discussion of governance with an opportunity for all governors to discuss areas where the BoG is successful, areas that could be improved, things BoG should begin doing, and things BoG should stop doing. More work will be done to explore possibilities and a recommendation for action will be presented at JMM 2015.
  • A statement on qualifications for teaching Introductory Statistics, recommended by the ASA-MAA Joint Committee on Statistics Education, was approved. It appears here at the MAA website.

August Board of Governors Meeting,
Hilton Portland, August 6, 2014, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Prizes and awards to be given at the 2015 JMM were approved by the Board of Governors on June 19, 2014 (electronically). They include the Haimo Award winners, to be revealed in December of 2014, and the newest Polya Lecturers. Erica Flapan of Pomona College will be a Polya Lecturer during 2015 – 2016 and 2016 – 2017. Check out the MAA website ( for a list of awards and the nominating process for each award. Consider nominating a colleague who would be a good candidate for an MAA Award. Our section has many members who are worthy of recognition.
  • MAA chapter bylaws revisions were approved, including the Southern California and Nevada Section revised bylaws that our membership had approved. The most significant change in our bylaws is the implementation of a three-year rotation for the chair, so that in the third year, the previous year's Chair serves as Past Chair in order to provide guidance and continuity.

    As a point of interest, in reviewing bylaws, it was discovered that there are three counties in Nevada that are not part of the Golden or Southern California – Nevada sections. However, there are no obvious places of employment for mathematicians in these counties.
  • Since the Short Courses that used to take place before MAA meetings are no longer being offered, the Committee on Short Courses was dissolved. There is some investigation of alternative programs that might replace the Short Courses and support professional development for MAA members in a way that honors Bill Lucas.
  • Three new Project NExT leadership team members were selected: Dave Kung, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, serves as Project NExT Director. Our very own Alissa Crans, Associate Director of Diversity and Education at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and Associate Professor of Mathematics at Loyola Marymount University, is the Associate Director, and Anthony Tongen, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at James Madison University, is an Assistant Director. Read more here.
  • The MAA Board of Governors is large and it is expensive to hold meetings of such a large body. Discussions about restructuring the board to make it smaller continued at this meeting. A proposal will be presented at JMM 2015.
  • Check out the videos at the MAA website.
  • The MAA is still operating with a deficit but its financial situation is improving. Through hard work the MAA was awarded several grants and the projections are that by 2016, the MAA will eliminate the deficit.

    In addition to encouraging colleagues to be members, one way in which MAA members could help improve the budget of the MAA is to consider adopting MAA books for their courses. Here is a website that contains a list of MAA textbooks.
  • The next few meetings begin:
    • January 9, 2015 San Antonio, TX
    • August 4, 2015 Washington D.C.
    • January 5, 2016 Seattle, WA
    • August 2, 2016 Columbus, OH
    • January 3, 2017 Atlanta, GA
    • July 25, 2017 Chicago, IL
    • January 9, 2018 San Diego, CA

Joint Mathematics Meetings, Baltimore, Maryland, January 2014

The Joint Mathematics Meetings are the largest mathematics meetings in the world, and this was the 97th annual winter meeting of the MAA and the 120th annual meeting of the AMS. There were also sessions of the Association for Symbolic Logic (ASL), the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

Rachel Levy, Harvey Mudd College

Eitan Grinspun,
Columbia University

Some of the lecturers included Andrew Blake, Microsoft Research, Cambridge, Machines that See, Powered by Probability; Eitan Grinspun (left), Columbia University, Movie Magic: The Mathematics Behind Hollywood's Visual Effects; Dusa McDuff, Columbia University, who delivered the AMS Colloquium Lectures on topology; Jill Pipher, Brown University, The Mathematics of Lattice-based Cryptography; and Carl Pomerance, Dartmouth College, Paul Erdős and the Rise of Statistical Thinking in Elementary Number Theory.

Many mathematical achievements were recognized during the Prize and Award Ceremonies. There were also courses and minicourses, poster presentations, and invited and contributed paper sessions. Student activities included the Graduate School Fair for undergraduate students, and the “Who Wants to Be a Mathematician?” Competition for high school students. There were poster sessions for young mathematicians and undergraduate students, employment opportunities at the Employment Center, a Mathematical Art Exhibition which included works by artists in various media, and hundreds of exhibits of textbooks, hardware and software, professional organizations, and mathematics/scientific merchandise.

Several mathematicians from our section attended the Association for Women in Mathematics Reception, including those shown below.

Left to right, Amber Puha, Cal State San Marcos; Kristin Lauter, UCSD and Microsoft; Magnhild Lien, CSUN and AWM; Susan Friedlander, USC

Harold Stark, UCSD and Karl Rubin, UC Irvine

MAA Mathfest 2014 in Portland, Oregon

There was record attendance at MathFest 2014 in Portland, and it is expected that the next MathFest, the hundredth anniversary celebration, including one extra day of activities, will attract even more people. The meeting was wonderful, with many activities to choose from for students, faculty and all those interested in mathematics: invited lectures, short courses, paper sessions, contests, and presentations including student presentations, as well as social activities, including an ice cream social for students. A few highlights:

There were many engaging invited lectures including the Earle Raymond Hedrick Lecture Series, presented by Bjorn Poonen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; What is the Value of a Computer Proof in Research and Teaching?, by Sara Billey, University of Washington; Understanding Microorganism Swimming Using Mathematics, by Ricardo Cortez, Tulane University; Mathematical Models of the Retina and In Silicon Experiments: Shedding Light on Vision Loss, by Erika Camacho (below in the photo with Talithia Williams of Harvey Mudd College), Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Arizona State University; First Person Solvers – Using Video Games to Learn Mathematics and Solve Real Math Problems, by Keith Devlin, Stanford University.

Erika Camacho, MIT and Arizona State U.,
with Talithia Williams of Harvey Mudd College

The Leitzel Lecture, Research in Mathematics by Undergraduates: Past, Present, and Future, was presented by Joe Gallian, University of Minnesota, Duluth; the AWM-MAA Etta Z. Falconer Lecture, From Algebraic to Weak Subintegral Extensions in Algebra and Geometry, by Marie A. Vitulli, University of Oregon; the Pi Mu Epsilon J. Sutherland Frame Lecture, Fibonacci and the First Personal Computing Revolution, by Keith Devlin, Stanford University; The MAA Student Lecture, The Founding of Pi Mu Epsilon 100 Years Ago, by Jack Graver, Syracuse University; the NAM David Harold Blackwell Lecture, Markov Decision Processes, Turnpike Horizons and Blackwell Optimality, by Mark Lewis, Cornell University; and The Magic of Martin Gardner, by Persi Diaconis, Stanford University. Activities and receptions for students included student paper and poster sessions, “Math Jeopardy,” and many other opportunities.

Math Jeopardy
MAA President-Elect and Harvey Mudd faculty member Francis Su
participates in the Section Officers Meeting at MathFest.

Math Jeopardy
Aparna Higgins (below) and the other Project NExT leaders
finishing their terms were honored.

Photo credits: All photographs were taken by Laura McHugh, MAA, or by Perla Myers.

Fall Meeting at Pomona College, Claremont, California

Meeting Web Site

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

The Fall Meeting of the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section will be held at Pomona College. The meeting will feature three invited addresses and a contributed paper session:

    Francis Bonahon, USC, Los Angeles, California

    Susan Horn, Senior Scientist, Institute for Clinical Outcomes Research, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Shahriar Shahriari, Pomona College, Claremont, California
    Southern California-Nevada Teaching Award winner (read more).

The meeting also will feature a Contributed Paper Session, organized by Bruce Yoshiwara of Pierce College.

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. MAA members will receive a 35% discount on MAA books at the Fall Meeting.

Deadlines for the Fall Meeting

For more details and to register, please visit the Meeting Website. See you in Claremont!

Great Books, Great Bargains at MAA Book Sale!

The 2014 Fall Meeting at Pomona College, Claremont, will include the ever-popular MAA Book Sale. MAA members will receive a discount of 35% off the regular prices of MAA books, not only at the meeting, but also online at the MAA Bookstore for a two-week period and using a special code, both to be announced. Almost all of the books in the MAACatalog will be on display at the meeting and available to order, including a number of brand new titles.

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

News of the Section

By Janet Beery, University of Redlands

The CSU Channel Islands Mathematics Program welcomes new tenure-track faculty Selenne Bañuelos and Cynthia Flores along with lecturers Aidas Banaitis, Robert Ream, and Mamerta Santiago. They join AY13-14 arrivals Mike Williams and Phuoc Ho. Jesse Elliott and Jorge Garcia received promotion to the rank of professor effective AY14-15.

Robert J. Rovetti was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor of Mathematics at Loyola Marymount University. Rovetti combines stochastic processes, nonlinear dynamics, and medicine to model human physiology. Herbert Medina was awarded the 2014 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS) Distinguished Undergraduate Institution Mentor Award.

Amada Ruiz
Amanda Ruiz, USD

Judy Grabiner plans to retire from Pitzer College in May of 2016, after over thirty years at the College. Pitzer is in the process of hiring a replacement (as if that's possible!) in Judy's field, history of mathematics, or in philosophy of mathematics or ethnomathematics (application deadline: Nov. 7, 2014). The new faculty member will benefit from one year (2015-16) as a colleague of Judy's.

The University of Redlands is pleased to host visiting lecturer Deborah Huston during 2014-15.

The University of San Diego is excited to announce that Amanda Ruiz has joined the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. Ruiz is one of eight women professors in STEM disciplines joining the faculty at USD this year.

Shahriar Shahriari Receives the Section's 2014 Teaching Award

By Herbert Medina, Loyola Marymount University
Shahriar Shahriari

Professor Shahriar Shahriari of Pomona College is the winner of this year’s Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics and a nominee for the national MAA’s 2014 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

Professor Shahriari has been an educator for 27 years, the past twenty-five at Pomona College. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986. Before arriving at Pomona College, he had faculty positions at Oberlin College and Cal State Northridge.

Professor Shahriari has already been recognized with Pomona College’s Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching four times. This award is the highest honor that Pomona, one of the outstanding liberal arts colleges in the nation, confers on its faculty. His engaging classes are not only some of the most challenging courses in the Pomona College math department, but also some of the highest enrolled. His innovative teaching approaches include using the Prime Number Theorem to motivate several topics in Calculus II. Some of this work appears in his book Approximately Calculus (AMS), which won the Library Association’s Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title in 2007.

But Prof. Shahriari’s outstanding contributions go beyond undergraduate students at Pomona College. The Pomona Academy for Youth Success (PAYS) program that he founded is now in its ninth year of successfully working with 10th-12th graders from groups historically underrepresented in higher education. Many program alumni never would have considered applying to college and now are walking the halls of Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkeley and many other elite institutions of higher education. Pomona College considered the program so successful that it built a center for community partnerships around it.

Professor Shahriari is the inaugural faculty mentor in Pomona College’s partnership with the Posse Foundation, which aims to bring exceptional high school students who may have been overlooked by the usual admissions process to elite colleges and universities throughout the nation. The list of accomplishments of Pomona College Posse alumni is quite impressive, and Professor Shahriari played a significant role in their success.

Professor Shahriari has many more teaching accomplishments, which were detailed in strong, wonderful letters of support contained in his nomination. These accomplishments are all the more impressive when one considers that his excellence in the classroom has been partnered with an excellent research record. Indeed, Prof. Shahriari has published eight peer-reviewed articles in mainstream journals with 24 student co-authors, with two more forthcoming. This is in addition to his three edited volumes and 40 articles, conference proceedings, and other publications.

Perhaps it is apt to close with a quote from one of the hundreds of students whose lives he has touched: “Over the years, this close mentor of mine has become one of the most respectable and trustworthy people at Pomona College. I can’t put in words all of the strengths of his character and pedagogy, but to mention a key point, I have always felt like Shahriari has shown the utmost interest in my personal well-being and success after college.”

Teaching Award

Shahriar Shahriari

2014 Shahriar Shahriari

Perla Myers

2013 Perla Myers

Francis Su

2012 Francis Su

More past recipients

Call for Nominations for Section Teaching Award

Melinda Schulteis, Section Secretary, Concordia University, Irvine

Nominations will be accepted now through Nov. 7, 2014, for the 2015 recipient of the Southern California-Nevada Section Teaching Award. The winner will be recognized at the 2015 Spring Meeting of the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section. The awardee will also be nominated by the Section 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 seven years experience teaching at the college or university level. Because the Section Award winner will be nominated for consideration for the national Haimo award, successful nominees will have an extended record of teaching success. (For greater detail on eligibility requirements, please see:

Preliminary nomination deadline is November 7, 2014.

Click here for the full Call for Nominations for the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Teaching Award.

What Else is Happening in the Mathematical Community?

Upcoming Math Conferences, Exhibits, and Events

October 11, 2014: CMC3-South Fall Conference, Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, California. Visit for more information.

January 10-13, 2015: AMS-MAA Joint Mathematics Meetings, San Antonio, Texas. Click here for more information.

February 26-28, 2015: 2nd Annual MidSchoolMath National Conference, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Visit for more information.

March 12-15, 2015: International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM), The Venetian/The Palazzo, Los Vegas, Nevada. Visit for more information.

March 13-14, 2015: California Mathematics Council Community Colleges South (CMC^3-South) Spring "Super-Pi" Conference, Anaheim, CA. Watch for more information.​

March 14, 2015: MAA SoCal-Nev Section Joint Spring Meeting with the Pacific Coast Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (PCUMC), California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California

Join us on Pi Day as we celebrate the 10th year of the PCUMC and the MAA's Centennial!

April 18-19, 2015: AMS Spring Western Sectional Meeting, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

August 5-8, 2015: MAA MathFest and Centennial Celebration, Washington, D.C. Visit for more information.

October 24-25, 2015: AMS Fall Western Sectional Meeting, California State University, Fullerton

Save these dates for future national MAA meetings!

Winter 2015 San Antonio, TX January 10-13
Summer 2015 Washington, DC August 5-8
Winter 2016 Seattle, WA January 6-9
Summer 2016 Columbus, OH August 3-6
Winter 2017 Atlanta, GA January 4-7
Summer 2017 Chicago, IL July 26-29
Winter 2018 San Diego, CA January 10-12
Summer 2018 Denver, CO August 1-4
Winter 2019 Baltimore, MD January 16-19
Summer 2019 Cincinnati, Ohio July 31-August 3
Winter 2021 Washington, DC January 6-9
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