2014 Graduates and Awards
This year's graduates included Niki Jacobs (magna cum laude), Patty Gerdes, Samantha Jenkins and Ryan Wilson. Patty graduated with a double major in Mathematics and Marine Biology, and Sam graduated with a BS in mathematics and a BA in English!
Niki was named the Outstanding Mathematics Graduate for 2014. Louis Scott and Niki were both awarded the Ron Seater Award this year.
Sam will start in the UAS MAT program this June, and she is "super excited" about this. Patti plans to do some firefighting with the Juneau Fire Department, and Niki is moving to Colorado to consider graduate studies somewhere out there.
NREUP Paper Accepted for Publication
The paper resulting from the 2013 NREUP, entitled Non-Real Zero Decreasing Operators Related to Orthogonal Polynomials, by Andre Bunton, Niki Jacobs, Samantha Jenkins, Charles McKenry Jr., Andrzej Piotrowski, and Louis Scott was accepted for publication in the journal Involve. See the 2013 Newsletter for more about the NREUP.
Andre Bunton will be traveling to Portland, OR to give a presentation at the 2014 MathFest. He will talk about his favorite part of the NREUP paper: Simultaneous Generation of a Basis B and a Corresponding B-CZDS.
URECA Award to Math MajorNiki Jacobs received a URECA award for her project: Depiction of fractals through art. The intention of the project was to generate an appreciation for mathematics and its applications at UAS. She accomplished this by using her award to screen print stunning fractal images on t-shirts and on learning center vests.
Alaska Alpha Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon
On April 17 Colin Starr of Willamette University installed Alaska's first chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the Alaska Alpha Chapter, and also inducted the first UAS members of Pi Mu Epsilon. Charter members inducted into Pi Mu Epsilon's Alaska Alpha Chapter included Niki Jacobs, Patty Gerdes, Matt Sperber, Andre Bunton, Louis Scott, and Jill Dumesnil. Non-charter members included Megan Buzby, Andrzej Piotrowski, and Derek Eby. Here are some photographs of the installation/induction ceremony.
After a small and enjoyable ceremony attended, among others, by Dean Sousa and Chancellor Pugh, Colin gave a public talk in the Egan Lecture Hall on one of his favorite topics, The Nine-point Circle and Feuerbach's Theorem.
Pi Mu Epsilon is the National Honor Society of mathematics, and provides opportunities and support to undergraduate students in mathematics.
UAS Math Club News
The UAS Math Club is going strong, and expects to continue its regular monthly meetings. One of the guest speakers for AY 2014 was Steve Kocsis, who spoke to mathematics majors about non-academic careers in math.
This year John Heritscko sat for the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, continuing the annual UAS representation in this challenging competition.
There are rumors that Alaska Alpha Pi Mu Epsilon members and other members of UAS Math Club may be considering starting some sort of Math Awareness Month community outreach activities for next April.
An Update on Some Past Graduates
Lai Hinckle (mathematics BS, 2010) is still teaching at Thunder Mountain and appears to enjoy it very much.
Amanda Mosher (mathematics BS 2013) is having fun as a research analyst for the State of Alaska Department of Education in Juneau.
Anthony Gaussoin (mathematics BS, 2010) was awarded his Masters degree in mathematics at Montana State University, Bozeman, on May 3. He is now getting ready to begin working toward his Ph.D., also at MSU. Tony had the following to say about his experience in graduate school.
I will say that after talking with a lot of other grad students in regards to their math undergrad programs I am happy that I somehow ended up at UAS. Between the classes and seminar topics I felt well prepared. The smaller class sizes were also nice since some of the undergrad classes I teach here have 40+ students.
Micaela Martinez-Bakker (and co-authors Kevin Bakker, Aaron King and Pejman Rohani) made a splash in the national news with their article Human Birth Seasonality: Latitudinal Gradient and Interplay with Childhood Disease Dynamics. Micaela graduated from UAS with BS degrees in mathematics and marine biology in 2009. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Ecology & Evolution Department at the University of Michigan. Google "Micaela Martinez-Bakker" and you'll find plenty about the work she has been involved in. Additional news about Micaela is that she will be defending her dissertation in December 2014, and will then spend two years in a Post-Doctoral position in the Ecology and Evolution Department at Princeton University.
Eric Keller (mathematics/marine biology BS, 2013) will be moving on from his position as Mathematics Specialist at the Testing and Learning Center to a position with ADF&G. He has some thoughts and experiences to share with future and current mathematics majors.
I've found that my mathematics education has definitely made me more competitive in the job market. It is always an advantage to have experience (and perhaps an ease of use) with a subject many people find difficult and intimidating. Perhaps more importantly though, Mathematics has influenced the way in which I observe the world around me and find solutions to problems. I like to think of mathematics as a process or even an art form more than a science. It is a way of gathering information and using it to inform us about the world we live in. From my perspective mathematics is a good compliment to basically any skill set; one which I'm sure will serve me well throughout my lifetime.
I'm about to start a new position with the Department of Fish and Game as a data processing technician. I will be responsible for managing the data in department's extensive mark, age, and tag database. I will most certainly spend much of my time entering and checking data, but I have also been asked to analyze their procedures - making/suggesting changes to improve the efficiency and accuracy of their data collection. I'm very excited about holding a position in which I am encouraged to be innovative.
I am also in the process of "lining up" graduate schools. I have taken the GRE exam and have been setting up a project with a UAF Fisheries professor. We are still working out the specifics of the project and where funding will come from, but I should start the program in a year or two. So I guess in short, I am all over the place. I'm not the slightest bit sure where I will end up, but I am definitely enjoying the journey.
Going back a bit further in time, Jon Bower (BS in mathematics and Environmental Sciences, 2006) got his Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from University of California, Davis in December 2012. Here's an update he sent on his recent/current involvements.
I graduated from UC Davis in Dec of 2012 and continued as a Post Doc for ~6 months before accepting a position with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in the Air Monitoring section. I've been here for almost a year now. Aside from operating a number of analyzers at a few air-quality stations, most of my time is spent programming. We're working on developing database applications to visualize and review data, and service-apps that act as an interface between different types of data systems. I'm currently also assisting with the development and deployment of a new data logging system for our field sites. I'm confident that my background in mathematics was key to my quick ramp up time in programming; which (once you understand the syntax) is just functions and logic puzzles. The work is dynamic and fresh, and has a nice blend of math (programming) and environmental science (air-quality). It's keeping me really busy and I'm loving it.
If any other past graduates out there wish to share their experiences/thoughts/advice to up-and-coming math majors, please drop Chris a line.
MAA Related News
Brian Blitz has just completed his first year as Chair of the Pacific Northwest Section of the Mathematical Association of America (PNW MAA). He has been having so much fun that he is looking forward to one more year.
Megan Buzby will be traveling to Missoula, MT to attend the PNW MAA 2014 Section Meeting. At this meeting she will be running a Project NExT round-table discussion on a recent MAA CUPM report which provides a vision for the role of statistics in the undergraduate curriculum as well as recommendations for implementing changes.
Andrzej Piotrowski will be attending MathFest in Portland and will be giving a talk entitled Linear Operators, Zeros of Polynomials, and Orthogonal Polynomials.
A STEM Course for Alaska Teachers
Portions of the NASA Space Grant and NSF Math & Science Partnership Grant funded the development and implementation of a graduate level education course at UAS, STEM in the K-8 Classroom. Megan Buzby (Mathematics), Chip McMillan (Education), Colin Osterhout (Computer Programming and Educational Technology) and Lori Sowa (Engineering) developed and taught the course.
This course combined instruction on concepts from all STEM disciplines with place-based problem solving to address the advancement of a frozen debris flow currently moving toward the Dalton Highway and Trans-Alaska Pipeline, incorporating the modeling/gaming platform of MinecraftEdu. The goal was to improve STEM content knowledge for current K-8 teachers in mostly small school districts of southern and southeast Alaska.