AY 2020 Graduates
There were two UAS Bachelor of Science in Mathematics graduates for the 2020 academic year:
Katy Price (Magna Cum Laude, GPA 3.90) and Amy Jenson (Magna Cum Laude, GPA 3.98), and both were recognized as Outstanding Mathematics Graduates by the UAS Mathematics Faculty.
Amy received a Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) Undergraduate Research Experience grant to conduct research for her capstone paper, titled Model of yellow fever among Aedes agypti vectors and human hosts: a SEIRV mathematical model. It is worth mentioning that her research exposed her to foundational ideas in mathematical modeling that lead to methods quite similar to those being used to model the current Covid-19 epidemic.
Both Amy and Katy begin graduate school in Fall 2020. Katy has been admitted to the Graduate Program in Mathematics at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Katy was awarded the Ramanujan-Hardy Fellowship for her first year of graduate studies.
Amy has been admitted to the Graduate Program in Mathematics with a Graduate Teaching Assistantship at Montana State University in Bozeman.
We wish Katy and Amy good times in their upcoming adventures in delving further and deeper into the fascinating world of the mathematical sciences.
The Ron Seater Mathematics Award
Due to a generous donation by Ron and Suzie Seater, the Ron Seater Mathematics Award (#86164) was officially endowed in March this year. The purpose of this award is to:
To provide an award of distinction for a student who is a major or minor in math at the University of Alaska Southeast. This award should be based on merit. This award shall not affect the recipient's eligibility to all other scholarships and awards for which they qualify.
Each year the Mathematics faculty have voted to grant awards to one or two mathematics majors. The most recent 2019-2020 recipient of this award was Nowielle Corpuz. See the Student Achievements page for a complete list of awardees, and directions on how to donate to this fund for future UAS mathematics majors.
News of Past Graduates
The latest news on 2019 graduates includes: Marshall Johnson spent the past year as a payroll technician, with some mathematics and physics tutoring on the side, saving up money for graduate school. He looks forward to continuing his studies in mathematics this Fall, possibly at Illinois State University; Jasper Soriano started work as the UAS Alumni Relations Manager; Felix Xian obtained his commission in the Army ROTC through OCS, and plans to go into medicine. Along the way, he briefly worked for the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), then went back to school to prepare for medical school. He plans to take the MCAT this July and apply to medical school. Currently, he is working for Capital City Fire and Rescue (City and Borough of Juneau) and is taking online premed classes, expecting to finish his prerequisite coursework soon. Come August 2020, he will be heading out to Texas for Phase II of his OCS training.
Updates on earlier graduates include: Jerry Stephens (2016) is currently working for the State of Alaska in the Permanent Fund Dividend Division; Matt Sperber (2015) earned his Bachelors degree in Engineering from UAF and secured an Engineer Assistant 1 position with the Alaska Department of Transportation in the SRD-Construction sub-agency. He is happy to be based in Juneau, and looks forward to the frequent traveling around Alaska that his job will require of him; Andre Bunton (2015) is continuing his Ph.D. program in Mathematics at the University of Oregon, Eugene; and Tony Gaussion (2010) took a year off after earning his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Montana State University, focusing on building a camper. The latest news is that he is waiting to hear about an application to a university teaching position.
Close to home, Gabe Wechter (2012) has returned to UAS to resume his post as the Testing Supervisor at the Juneau Campus Testing and Learning Center. He replaces Wanda Whitcomb who retired in January 2020, joining Auguste and Ben to encourage and support UAS students in their mathematical and statistical adventures. The Learning Center will benefit from Gabe's MS in mathematics, his background in teaching college-level mathematics, and his past experience working at the Juneau Campus Learning Center.
Finally, Alicia Hughes-Skandjis (2010) has been working as a Grants Administrator for the State of Alaska in the Department of Health and Social Services for the past several years. In addition to contributing to the local music and standup comedy scenes, and volunteering for the Alaska Folk Festival, Alicia recently got elected (and re-elected) as the District 1 representative to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly.
If you are a graduate of the UAS mathematics program and in contact with other graduates, please forward the link to this page to them. Also, if you have news you wish to share, please email Chris (or any other UAS Mathematics Program faculty member)
In November, 2019, Richard Ward of the Segal Group came to a UAS Mathematics Seminar/Math Club get-together to talk about Actuarial Science and his work within the The Segal Group.
It is worth mentioning that, as a consequence of this visit, Zach White, a current mathematics major secured an internship position at the brand new Juneau office of the Segal Group. Here is what Zach says about this opportunity.
The job is an intern position at 20 hours per week that transitions into a full-time position as an analyst once I graduate. I don't start for a couple of weeks but I'll share some of what I know so far.
Straight from the application: " Responsibilities include preparation of quarterly and annual financial reports; renewal analyses; benefit plan pricing; analyses of complex technical data with regard to health benefit plans; preparing budget projections; preparation of bid specifications; analyses of proposals"
I'll be the only employee for Segal that actually resides in Alaska, and will be working in a small office on Seward St that will just have space for me and the occasional visiting employee from down south. All of my responsibilities are communicated over the internet or by phone, and I will be flown down to Denver and Phoenix for three weeks each for training in the summer (they cover all travel expenses). I will also be flying down south every few months or so for additional ongoing training.
It seems like a great job and I'm really grateful that I was able to learn about Segal through our seminar this year. It was exactly the kind of work that I was going to be looking for after college and now I have a head start on my career plans.
In the upcoming year a new group of Mathematics majors with a wide range of interests will be taking Amy's and Katy's place. Some of these will be moving into the final stages of their program of study, which includes working on completing the two-year Mathematics Seminar sequence. Stay tuned for news about them and others.
UAS Math Club and Alaska Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon
The UAS Math Club (and the Alaska Alpha Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon) held its usual bi-monthly get-togethers to socialize on matters mathematical. Often, these meetings involved selecting mathematical puzzles for the UAS student paper, the Whalesong. Another activity, that was a great success and guided by Megan Buzby involved "Making Origami Valentine's Day Cards."
While the annual end of the year Auke Rec. get-together was not held because of COVID-19, some other noteworthy events did take place in the Fall.
Amy Jenson, Josh Walsh, Katy Price, and Nowielle Corpuz participated in the MAA William Lowell Putnam Competition and scored well enough to place UAS at a ranking of 264 out of 488 participating colleges and universities. We were also very happy to receive a Pi Mu Epsilon Prize Grant in the amount of $100, which was matched by Pi Mu Epsilon Alaska Alpha faculty members. We awarded $150 to the top-scoring student from our school in the Putnam competition and we awarded $50 to the runner-up. Both awardees, Amy and Katy, are members of the Alaska Alpha chapter.
By request, Dr. Carrie Eaton-Diaz, Associate Professor of Digital and Computational Studies from Bates College, came to UAS early in September and gave two talks. One of the talks was for the Evening at Egan Lecture Series, titled Finding Community to Advance STEM Education; and another, also for the UAS and Juneau community, titled Interdisciplinary Relationships Through Data Science. She also joined the UAS Math Club at their bi-weekly meeting where she answered questions from UAS students and faculty and talked about her work and experiences in the data sciences. Carrie is an active member of the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance and, among many other notable activities, leads the INQUIRE Lab at Bates College.
The Pi Mu Epsilon Induction Ceremony was held in November 2019, and the Alaska Alpha Chapter got one new member, Joshua Walsh.
Early in the Spring, the UAS Math Club held a viewing of Navajo Math Circles, a documentary by George Csicsery. The plan was to hold viewings of other documentaries (by George Csicsery) of notable mathematicians during Math Awareness Month later in the Spring. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis quashed this plan. The hope is that these showings can be done sometime in the upcoming academic year.
IBA, CURE, and BEER
UAS has now been an institutional member of the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance (IBA) for three years.
Last Summer (2019) Ray Rice and Milagro Darby attended the IBA Cross-institutional Undergraduate Research Experience Workshop (CURE) held at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois - their expenses were fully covered by BLaST and IBA funds. Marshall Johnson (BS in Mathematics, May 2019) also attended the workshop, but as the workshop R Teaching Assistant.
Unfortunately, the 2020 Summer CURE Workshop, to be held at the University of North Carolina in Ashville North Carolina was postponed to the Summer of 2021.
All things going well, there is the possibility that UAS may host an IBA CURE workshop in the not too distant future, as well as the 2023 Symposium on Biomathematics, Ecology: Education and Research (BEER).
We all battled through budget chaos, expedited program reviews, and the sudden switch to online teaching. The good news is that we are still standing and along with our seasoned (and new majors), we are ready to overcome another year of challenges.
Brian Blitz continues to hold things together, ensuring the UAS Mathematics Program continues to run efficiently and smoothly, and Colleen Ianuzzi and Joe Liddle continue to represent the Program at the Ketchikan and Sitka campuses. This year Brian was recognized for his efforts in student advising through the Faculty Excellence Award for Advising. Congratulations Brian!
Megan Buzby presented a talk, titled Mathematical Modeling in Precalculus, Calculus I, and Modeling Courses, at the 2019 Symposium on BEER at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Megan has also been awarded Sabbatical Leave for the 2020-2021 academic year. Congratulations Megan! During her year off from teaching, she will be focusing on completing an open-access textbook on mathematical modeling as a co-author with Dr. Sheldon Lee at Viterbo University, La Crosse, WI. In addition, she looks forward to developing open-ended modeling scenarios that incorporate problems in other disciplines to highlight the use of differential equations, linear algebra, statistics, calculus, and pre-calculus concepts. Folks interested in collaborating on this project can contact Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrzej Piotrowski became the Chair of the UAS Department of Natural Sciences in Fall 2019. In spite of his increased service requirements, Andrzej continues his active research program. He was invited to speak at the AMS Western Spring Sectional Meeting which, unfortunately, was canceled. He was also an invited participant for a focused research workshop at BYU in Provo, Utah. Locally, Andrzej led a Block Stacking Challenge at the Juneau STEM Coalition's Curiosity Unleashed family night.
Jill Dumesnil is continuing in her efforts using open source resources to develop material (video lectures and assessment tools) for online versions of Fundamentals of Algebra (MATH S055), Intermediate Algebra (MATH S105), and Trigonometry (MATH S152). Jill used these platforms quite effectively over the past year and plans to continue with them this Summer and the upcoming year. Still, a member of the UNAC Collective Bargaining Committee, she and her fellow committee members have had to wait for better circumstances to complete their important work.
Chris Hay-Jahans is continuing his explorations into the world of (pseudo) flipped classes, as well as hybrid and remote access/distance classes. Recently, and as part of his responsibilities as a member of the IBA Board of Directors, Chris took on the task of coordinating the IBA Community Course Offerings. The plan is to enhance course offerings in areas applicable to the field of biomathematics. These Community Course Offerings will include courses from member institutions and will be available to degree-seeking students from IBA member institutions. Chris also attended the 2019 BEER Symposium where he was a panelist on a panel discussion on Stayin' Alive in Mathematical Biology: Opportunities, Strategies, and Experiences in Undergraduate Research in Mathematics.
In closing, a subject of frequent discussions (and mirth) at the start of many a Mathematics Seminar has been the subject of Andrzej, Brian, and Megan playing on the faculty basketball team for UAS Intramurals (mercifully, it is said, the games were canceled mid-season).