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back to topics2018 Graduates and Awards

We had four graduates this year: Brendan Moore, Blake Fletcher, JoAnne Baranski and Charles McKenry. Brendan was recognized as this year's Outstanding Graduate in Mathematics, and Blake was the undergraduate student speaker at the Spring 2018 commencement ceremony.

As for future plans, Blake and Charles have enrolled in the UAS MAT Program for secondary school teaching in mathematics. JoAnne just accepted a job in the UAS Business Services Office, and Brendan plans to take some time off from school and continue working at his current place of employment.

back to topicsAY 2018 Students and their Activities

We are pleased to have a large group of new Mathematics majors coming up through the ranks. We also have a few who are coming up for graduation in the next academic year. Among these is Austin Tagaban, who having just received his Bachelor of Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Alaska Native Languages & Studies, will begin focusing on completing his BS in mathematics. Austin was also recognized as the Outstanding Graduate in his area of study at the 2018 commencement ceremony.

As is usual, most mathematics majors (and quite a few mathematically inclined science majors) have been helping out in the Juneau Campus Testing and Learning Center. This year Evan Carnahan assisted Dr. Jason Amundson on implementing numerical methods for glacier modeling. The mathematics behind this work formed his senior capstone research project.

In the area of student exchanges, Amy Jenson will be returning from her time in Italy, while Evan Carnahan will be heading out to MSU in Bozeman for a year to dabble in formal coursework in applied mathematics to strengthen his foundations for future plans in mathematical geophysics.

In addition to the usual mathematics senior seminar capstone presentations, three mathematics majors also contributed to the UAS Art Meets Science Symposium this year with presentations in the well-attended session on Visualizing Applied & Implied Mathematics which was moderated by Dr. Megan Buzby. The titles of the talks were: Evan Carnahan, Modeling Glacier Runoff in a Changing Climate; Blake Fletcher, An Introduction to Eisenstein Triples; and Austin Tagaban, The Basic Principles of Ethnomathematics.

In other areas, Blake and Jasper Soriano (along with Drs. Megan Buzby and Andrzej Piotrowski, see Faculty News) participated in the annual UAS Kids2College event on campus. At this event the mathematics representatives introduced 5th and 6th graders to interesting puzzles, with the intent of raising their awareness in mathematical thinking.

Finally, Blake, Marshall Johnson and Brendan represented UAS in the 2017 MAA William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition.

back to topicsThe Math Club and Alaska Alpha

This was an event-filled year for the UAS Math Club and the Alaska Alpha Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, we had three invited speakers visit UAS.

  • Dr. Charlie Biles, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics of Humboldt State University gave two public talks early in September: The Electoral College vs. a Popular Vote and A History of Congressional Apportionment.
  • Dr. Micaela Martinez gave an Evening at Egan talk titled The Clockwork of Epidemics, Health and Disease later in September. She is a UAS Biology/Mathematics alumna and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University. Micaela also chatted with mathematics majors at the UAS Math Club meeting earlier that day.
  • UAS Mathematics faculty member Chris Hay-Jahans talked to the Club and other interested students about the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance (See last section of this newsletter).
  • In February 2018 Evan Carnahan (UAS mathematics major) talked about the Mathematics of Glacier Dynamics, involving part of a glaciology research project he has been engaged in with Dr. Jason Amundson and part of his mathematics BS capstone project.
  • Dr. Olcay Akman, professor of Mathematics at Illinois State University visited UAS and gave two talks associated with Biomathematics that were open to the public. The first was at the Math Club meeting about the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance and the new Graduate Certificate Programs in Biomathematics that will be available to students from IBA institutional members (such as UAS). The second talk, titled Why Should Every Soccer Coach Know Mathematics, Statistics, and Biology, was about how applications of mathematics, statistics and biology appear in the most unexpected places.

Spring 2018 Math Club BBQ at Auke Rec

In addition to the bi-monthly meetings, the Math Club had its traditional end of semester BBQ gatherings at Auke Rec (Fall and Spring). These gatherings are open to anyone who wishes to join in, and are attended mostly by mathematics majors/minors, mathematics tutors, and others who enjoy the lively company. Both gatherings were well attended, with diehards staying late into the night engaging in a wide range of discussions (including, of course, mathematics). The weather was excellent for the Spring gathering, click here to see some more photographs by Jill Dumesnil (Mathematics Professor and unofficial Math Program Photographer), and we got to watch porpoises swimming around close to shore.

back to topicsNews of Past Graduates

If you are a graduate of the UAS mathematics program and in contact with other graduates, please forward the link of this page to them.Louie Also, if you have news you wish to share, please email Chris (or any other Mathematics Program faculty member).

Here are updates/news-bytes about some UAS mathematics graduates (in no particular order).

Louie Scott (2015) has been contributing to the UAS cause as the Ketchikan Arts & Sciences Outreach Advisor. He has also been helping Ketchikan students with their mathematics both as a teacher, and as a tutor at the Ketchikan Tutoring Center.

Three mathematics graduates are representing UAS (quite well) at UAF in Fairbanks. Niki Jacobs (2014) recently cleared her candidacy exams as she works towards a PhD in Chemistry. Patti Gerdes (2014, Math & Biology) is chipping away on her BS in mechanical engineering, and Matt Sperber (2015) is following closely behind for his BS in civil engineering.

BenBen Malander (2016)  wrapped up his first year giving Auguste and Wanda a hand at the Juneau Campus Testing and Learning Center. He is called the Testing & Mathematics Specialist, and he backs up both Auguste and Wanda whenever the need arises. He has definitely turned out to be a great addition to the TLC team. Word on the street is that he is having a good time, and is good at what he does. It probably helps that, like Auguste and Wanda, he enjoys his job and enjoys helping others learn how to learn (and enjoy) mathematics.


Aside from having fun climbing mountains, Gabe Wechter (2012) just completed his MS in mathematics at Western Washington University - you may remember him with shorter hair and/or no beard, he was Ben's predecessor at the TLC. Gabe was named the Outstanding Graduate Student in Mathematics at WWU. By the way, he was also named the Outstanding Mathematics Graduate at UAS - two for two! Gabe plans to spend some time teaching in the Bellingham WA area, and is contemplating moving on to a PhD at some point. He and Melissa plan to eventually move back to Alaska. Meantime, they are looking forward to becoming parents very soon. Congratulations to both of them!

Stephen Ellison (2011) is probably very close to completing his degree in medicine at UAA Anchorage through the University of Washington School of Medicine's WWAMI program. An inspirational 2017 article about him and his plans appears in the UW Medicine News Magazine.

Micaela Martinez (2009, Biology & Math) completed two years of post-doctoral research at Princeton University and, in the Fall of 2017, began as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University. As mentioned earlier, she came to UAS and shared her ideas and experiences with UAS students, and gave an Evening at Egan talk to the Juneau community. She has been quite busy with research since she left UAS, see Micaela's website to get an idea of all she has accomplished, and where her current interests lie.

Andre Bunton (2015) spent the year taking graduate level classes in analysis, topology, homology and differential geometry at the University of Oregon. He goes on to say:

When not hard at work attempting to visualize topological spaces, I like to spend my time running through the forests of around Eugene, social dancing, learning wilderness survival skills, and practicing AcroYoga. I am also in the midst of writing a yet to be titled book where I explore how mathematical thinking can empower us to better understand various perspectives and navigate our way through this time where humanity faces a multitude of unprecedented global-scale threats, only made more severe by ever growing political divisions.

I was recently admitted into the UO doctoral program in mathematics with a Graduate Teaching Fellowship, and eagerly await to begin teaching my own undergraduate math courses this Fall. For future endeavors, I am in the process of designing a Math and Skepticism class which I hope to teach someday. This will be a combination of math/logic, philosophy of science, and environmental philosophy. I would like to thank the UAS faculty and staff for the key role they played in supporting me on my journey to becoming a mathematics professor and a science communicator.

We wish him the best on his upcoming journey into the world of graduate studies in mathematics. 

TonyFinally, Tony Gaussion (2010, used to have pretty long dreadlocks!) is in the final phase of his PhD in mathematics at Montana State University, Bozeman. Here is what he had to say very recently about his work.

Things are coming along quickly. I'm at the all but defense stage... and hope to finish up at the end of the summer or early fall. I probably should be looking for jobs now, but I'm still buried under research. I ended up working with Scott McCalla. My thesis is on spherical self-assemblage and pattern formation in anisotropic particle interactions, and is a continuation of recent work by James von Brecht. Probably a lot of similar techniques to what you used when studying shallow water waves. Here is a picture of atonyres     patterned equilibrium state caused by a mode three instability:

The particles here are "monopolar" and their directionality component is depicted by the yellow bump. The modes of vibration are broken up using spherical harmonics. Of course there are a bunch of messy details since the evolution equations are nonlinear PDEs...

back to topicsFaculty News

The mathematics program faculty are still hanging in there: Megan, Andrzej, Jill, Chris and Brian (Program Coordinator) in Juneau; Colleen in Ketchikan (Ketchikan Coordinator); and Joe in Sitka (Sitka Coordinator). As usual, they have all been busy engaged in a wide variety of activities, including repackaging the UAS Mathematics BS Degree Program to permit further flexibility for students interested in multi-disciplinary studies (see the programs page of the UAS Mathematics Program Website).

Brian has been busy keeping the UAS mathematics program running smoothly, and working with our colleagues at UAA and UAF on the recent push for "UAnification" of mathematics and statistics courses; Colleen and Joe have been holding down the fort in Ketchikan and Sitka.

In addition to taking a UAF iTeach professional development course on developing an e-learning course, Jill has been busy with taking care of the UAS Mathematics Program Assessment. She is implementing the new and improved program assessment plan for its second cycle.

Chris gave talks at two mathematics meetings this year, and attended a mini-course on flipped classes at a third meeting. He will also be participating in a biomathematics undergraduate research experience workshop in early June along with Dave Tallmon (Biology) and one mathematically inclined UAS biology major (Aaron Lambert). Also, a book on R that he has been working on for a while was just accepted by Taylor & Francis/CRC for publication later this Summer or early in the Fall.

Megan just completed her year as UAS Faculty Senate President and moves into the Past-President post starting Fall 2018. She looks forward to being able to focus more time on teaching. Megan has the distinction of being the first UAS faculty member to teach two IBA students out of Illinois State University who took UAS's Statistical Computing with R course (which is offered by distance delivery). Her contributions to Project NExT include participating in two panel discussions at the 2018 Project NExT Meeting in Seattle. She has also accepted the position as the Director of the Pacific Northwest Section Project NExT. Her outreach activities this year included talking to 5th graders at the local Kids 2 College event about Math and the Tidal Cycle, and also to participants of an event at the State Museum, Bright Girls Program: STEM Professionals Speed Dating, designed to encourage high school girls to pursue careers in STEM disciplines.

Andrzej has been quite busy on many fronts. In addition to serving as the UAS Math Club and Alaska Alpha PME Chapter Adviser, he has: submitted two papers for publication; had a third paper accepted for publication; and a fourth paper has been published. In the Summer of 2017 he was an invited participant at the Brigham Young University Analysis Research Group. This summer (2018) he will be attending a Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences workshop on Hausdorff Geometry of Polynomials and Polynomial Sequences at the Mittag-Leffler Institute. He also: presented a paper at the 2018 Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Diego; refereed articles for three mathematics research journals (Complex Variables and Elliptical Equations; Journal of Difference Equations and Applications; and PUMP Journal of Undergraduate Research); and has become a faculty mentor in the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences. To wrap things up, Andrzej also contributed to the local music scene by participating in the 2018 Alaska Folk Festival as member of the band Jacks in the River, "Featuring Doug DeMaster, Shannon DeMaster, Brandee Gerke, Andrzej Piotrowski, Auguste Stiehr, and Dave Tallmon with a new twist on folk/rock/blues."

back to topicsUAS and the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance

With the support of Dr. Karen Carey (UAS Provost), UAS became an institutional member of the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance (IBA) on September 1, 2017. With this membership, UAS faculty and students now have access to the resources and opportunities available to IBA members. This consortium was created to promote research and education in biomathematics.

It was the popularity and success of annual symposiums on Biomathematics, Ecology: Education and Research (BEER) that inspired BEER organizers to establish the IBA, centered at Illinois State University in Normal, IL. In line with the philosophy of BEER symposiums, the original goal of this alliance was to bring together institutions, both academic and non-academic, to form a collaborative community in the pursuit of advancing biomathematics, ecology, and related areas for researchers, active scholars, and educators of the mathematical and biological sciences. Over time, the IBA Board of Directors envisioned (and implemented) opportunities for member-institution students to take courses from IBA institutions, and attend annual Cross-institutional Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) summer workshops. With undergraduates and professionals in mind, the most recent (and exciting) development in the IBA occurred over the 2017-2018 academic year, and was approved by the IBA Board of Directors and Illinois State University. Effective Fall 2018, IBA members and undergraduates from IBA member-institutions will be able to enroll in one-year biomathematics graduate certificate programs.  These certificate programs are available through distance delivered courses (online and/or streamed), and undergraduates can enroll in these while they are working on completing their undergraduate degrees. One of the options offers a 4+1 opportunity to undergraduates planning on graduate studies in biomathematics related fields, and another offers a professional development opportunity to professionals wishing to enhance their understanding and qualifications in biomathematics.

The UAS mathematics program contributed to the IBA this Spring through Megan, two Illinois State University students took her STAT S400: Statistical Computing with R this Spring. Additionally, at the 2018 CURE workshop in June, Chris will be running an R Bootcamp for student participants, and Dave Tallmon will be giving a Faculty Mentor presentation (by WebEx). UAS's first student participant in the IBA CURE summer worshops will be Aaron Lambert, a biology major.


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