2016 Graduates and Awards
This year we had only one graduate, John Heritsko, who will be followed by quite a few over the course of the upcoming year. Benjamin Malander was the recipient of the Ron Seater Mathematics Award in the Fall of 2015, and Ashlynn Kay received the Student Employee of the Year Award for her work at the Juneau Campus Learning Center.
Ten Years and Counting
The UAS Mathematics Program had humble beginnings, catering only to general education and service courses in the early days. For quite a while Ron Seater was the only full time faculty member, and he coordinated all things mathematics (and statistics) for UAS on the Juneau Campus. Along the way he was joined by Don Greenburg, who helped with mathematics and also managed physics offerings in Juneau. Soon after, Dean Web joined the team. At this point mathematics offerings were expanded to accommodate a mathematics emphasis for the Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree. The program then slowly evolved to what it is now. A timeline of noteworthy happenings lists the main events in the growth of the program.
UAS mathematics faculty have mainly been involved in activities of the Pacific Northwest Section of the Mathematical Association of America (PNW MAA). However, in addition to annual meetings of the PNW MAA, they participate in a other meetings, for example, Project NExT meetings, Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM), Annual Meetings of the Alaska Chapter of the American Statistical Association (AK ASA), International Symposium of Biomathematics and Ecology: Education and Research (BEER), and MathFest. Contributions at these meetings have included organizing special sessions, giving contributed and invited talks, offering mini-courses/workshops, and serving on panel discussions. UAS also hosted the 2011 Annual PNW MAA Meeting.
Where are they Now?
We were curious about the career paths that our graduates have chosen, and in response to a recent survey, many graduates wrote back with updates and advice for current and prospective UAS mathematics majors. Click here to see a compilation of responses, and last known news of those not heard from.
As will be evident, the career paths chosen by UAS mathematics graduates vary quite a bit. But, all of them offered equivalent responses to a question about how their mathematics BS contributed to their respective career paths, and each had some useful tips for current and prospective mathematics majors.
An Ongoing Affair ...
The mathematics services offered by the Juneau Campus Learning Center were conceived by Ron Seater many years ago as a way to get students to study math together and enhance student learning. Its growth from a modest student staffed and student run operation to what it is today is a testimony to the value UAS students place on the services it provides.
Most UAS mathematics majors spend some time during their "school years" tutoring, and/or grading, and/or proctoring at the Juneau Campus Learning Center. Being a math major is not a prerequisite to student employment positions at the Learning Center, in fact many math tutors are "math enthusiasts" as opposed to math majors. Still, almost all mathematics majors (and enthusiasts) use the Learning Center as their preferred space for studying and collaborative learning, and quite a few may have fond memories of time spent there. Mathematics majors and the Learning Center have always enjoyed a special and symbiotic relationship, click here to read more.
The Math Club and Alaska Alpha over 2015-2016
As in past years, the UAS Math Club (and the Alaska Alpha Chapter of PME) held regular meetings every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. This year the usual problem discussions were supplemented by two talks. In the Fall, Andrzej Piotrowski gave a talk on Long division like you've never seen before. In the Spring, Andrzej and Augie gave a talk on How John Wallis made his (half) Pi. There was also an excellent end-of-the-year BBQ at Auke Rec, where two math majors jumped into the frigid ocean and then warmed up by the fire!
A record number of mathematics majors represented UAS in the Putnam Competition this year - Michael Bushey, Ashlynn Kay, Jerry Stephens, and Zefeng (Felix) Xian.
With respect to the Alaska Alpha Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, Ben Malander, Ashlynn Kay and Michael Bushey will be continuing members. The Chapter is in the process of reviewing potential candidates to invite to the next induction ceremony, which will be held early in Fall 2016.
Faculty News over 2015-2016
Brian Blitz completed his four year commitment to the PNW MAA - 1 year as Chair-elect, 2 as Chair, and 1 as past Chair. Chris Hay-Jahans wrapped up three years of service chairing the UAS Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Both Brian and Chris look forward to being able to devote more time and energy to the UAS mathematics faculty's favorite part of the job, teaching and exploring ways and topics to best teach undergraduate mathematics (and statistics).
Brian and Jill Dumesnil both piloted Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) courses using public domain/free textbooks in Spring 2016. Brian's course was Advanced Calculus and Jill's was Introduction to Proofs. Their "feelings" about the method (and the free textbook) range from neutral to very satisfied. As for the students, the word on the street is that they enjoyed the classes and believed that they learned a lot from the IBL approach.
Andrzej Piotrowski co-organized an AMS special session on Distribution of Zeros of Entire Functions at the 2016 JMM in Seattle, where he also gave a talk on Multiplier sequences for the Legendre polynomial basis. The session drew participants from all over the contiguous US, Hawaii, Canada, China, and Russia.
Andrzej has also been awarded a one year sabbatical to engage in research in pure mathematics and to develop new teaching strategies for the UAS course on Complex Variables (MATH S410). He will be a visiting faculty member at Fresno State during the Fall 2016 semester and he plans to work with a mentor from the Academy of Inquiry Based Learning during the Spring 2017 semester.
Megan Buzby has been awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor. She was also voted in as President-elect of the UAS Faculty Senate for the upcoming year. Her next few years promise to be eventful (and maybe even challenging) in these changing times.
Joe Liddle earned his Ph.D. in Fisheries Science from the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Fall 2015. His study involved the application of population dynamics techniques to Humpack whales in the Sitka Sound.
Congratulations to Brian and Chris (for a much needed break), and to Andrzej, Megan and Joe for their noteworthy achievements and recognition.