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back to topicsAY 2019 Graduates

There were five Mathematics graduates over the 2019 academic year: Evan Carnahan, Marshall Johnson, Michael Bushey, Jasper Soriano, and Zefeng (Felix) Xian. Here are some notes on their awards, achievements, and plans.

Jasper was recognized as a UAS Student Employee of the Year for his work at the Learning Center.

Evan graduated with honors (magna cum laude) and received the Outstanding Mathematics Graduate Award. He will be pursuing graduate studies in the Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin starting Fall 2019. Evan also collaborated with Dr. Eran Hood and Dr. Jason Amundson of UAS on a research publication in the open source journal of the European Geosciences Union, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. This paper, titled Impact of Glacier Loss and Vegetation Succession on Annual Basin Runoff, was a substantial extension of his B.S. degree capstone project.

Marshall is contemplating graduate studies in mathematics or biomathematics, Felix will soon begin his career in the military, and both Jasper and Michael are exploring their options for the time being.

back to topicsNews of Past Graduates

Blake Fletcher (2018) earned his MAT for Secondary School Teaching from UAS in May. He will be heading back to Vermont to teach mathematics and very likely coach for one of the school sports teams as well. Good job Blake.

Niki Jacobs (2014) passed her candidacy exams and is continuing towards her PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry at UAF. She is studying seasonal cycles of atmospheric CO2 in the Boreal Forest, and exploring methods of quantifying regional diffuse CH4 fluxes from northern wetlands. This includes a focus on using data from passive atmospheric spectroscopy for satellite and model validation. Currently, Niki is drafting her first article on quality controls and biases in NASA OCO-2 satellite data over boreal forest regions. Great work Niki, this all sounds quite intense, relevant, and fascinating. Keep at it!

Outside of her studies, Niki is getting very into gardening and growing her own food, and she is on the UAF Community Garden Committee.

Andre Bunton (2015) completed his first year as an "official" graduate student working toward his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Oregon. Last news is that he is (still) having fun in the process.

Patti Gerdes (2014, Math & Biology) got her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UAF in May - Yay Patti. She accomplished this in three years living mostly in dry cabins (the Fairbanks college student experience), working as a barn manager for a local equestrian center, doing a semester of TA work grading dynamics homework, and spending one summer as an intern for a Discrete Element Method Simulation Software startup, Coupi. She will start working as a mechanical engineer at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Vessel Facility in Bremerton, WA. For relaxation Patti plans to find some good dog-hiking trails for her and her dog, and also find a community band to play in.

Matt Sperber (2015), who started working toward his B.S. in Civil Engineering at UAF in the Summer of 2017, is following closely behind Patti. He expects to graduate in Fall 2019. This summer he will be gaining valuable experience working as a Quality Control Technician for Secon Construction in the Juneau area, and possibly may be sent to other Southeast Alaska towns. Being an experienced volunteer firefighter, he also intends to volunteer for the Juneau Fire Department whenever his work at Secon permits.

Tony Gaussion (2010) just completed his PhD in Mathematics at Montana State University, Bozeman - Good job Tony. His dissertation was on Designing Pattern Formation through Anistropy. His immediate plans include some traveling and spending time unwinding.

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. Also, if you have news you wish to share, please email Chris (or any other Mathematics Program faculty member).

back to topicsCurrent Students and the Math Club

As in past years, the UAS Math Club (and the Alaska Alpha Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon) held bi-monthly get-togethers to socialize on matters mathematical. Austin Knull served as the student advisor for the Math Club and Katy Price as the President of the Alaska Alpha Chapter. Austin will be leaving UAS in the Fall of 2019 to begin work on his engineering degree, so his sharing of Math jokes from Maggie C. who is having fun in Barnard College will be missed.

The Pi Mu Epsilon Induction Ceremony was held in November 2018, and the Alaska Alpha Chapter got three new members, Amy Jenson, Katy Price, and Sarah Liddell.

Katy and Amy received the Ron Seater Mathematics Award, and they are about to begin their final year at UAS. We look forward to what they might choose to work on for their capstone.

Katy and Marshall represented UAS in the 2018 MAA William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition. Both scored on this! This is worth mentioning because the Nationwide median score on the Putnam Exam is typically zero.

In the area of service, Amy and Marshall volunteered with Andrzej Piotrowski at the Curiosity Unleashed event put on by the Juneau Stem Coalition. In the area of presentations Morgan Johnson, under Brian Blitz's guidance, gave a talk at the UAS URECA Symposium on Real Life Experience Through Building a Disc-Golf Course.

Aaron Lambert (Biology major and mathematics enthusiast) gave a talk to the club on his work from the Summer 2018 IBA CURE Workshop. The talk was titled A Mathematical Model on the Longevity of an Optimal Treatment to Swimmer's Itch. Jill Dumesnil (Math faculty) gave a talk along with some hands-on activities on Fun with Hexaflexagons.

Other activities of the club included selecting suitable mathematical problems and/or puzzles to be published in the UAS Student paper, the Whalesong, and designing a new UAS Math Club T-shirt.

Finally, there was the usual Spring semester-end BBQ at Auke Rec which was well-attended with die-hards staying late to see the fire burn down. The Fall BBQ (at Auke Rec) was not held because the weather was a little worse than it usually is at that time of the year. The idea being floated is to have future Fall BBQ near the start of the semester when the weather is "nicer."

back to topicsUAS, the IBA, and BEER

UAS has now been an institutional member of the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance (IBA) for two years. Briefly, the IBA is ...

... a consortium created to promote research and education in biomathematics. IBA strives to bring together institutions both academic and non-academic to build a collaborative academic community in the pursuit of advancing biomathematics, ecology, and related areas for the researchers, educators of the mathematical and biological sciences, and active scholars. In doing so, the IBA provides a wide range of expertise, resources, and opportunities that are only available when we work together as a community.

Students enrolled at IBA member institutions also enjoy additional benefits that would not otherwise be available. IBA offers undergraduate research workshops, a graduate curriculum, cross-institutional research opportunities for graduate students, and an expanded selection of courses thanks to the collaborative community of departments of the IBA family.

Last summer (2018) Aaron Lambert attended the IBA Cross-institutional Undergraduate Research Experience Workshop (CURE) held at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. At the conclusion of the workshop he elected to work under the mentorship of Dr. James Peirce of the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, on a research project about Swimmers Itch, a fairly common occurrence among people who choose to swim in any of Wisconsin's many lakes. A poster of his work was presented at the October 2018 Symposium on Biomathematics and Ecology: Education and Research (BEER) that was held at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

This Spring, Marshall Johnson became the first UAS student to take a course available through the IBA, and he will also be attending the 2019 Summer CURE Workshop as a TA to help student participants with R. Two other UAS students, Milagro Darby and Raymond Rice, will be attending the 2019 Summer CURE Workshop as student participants - their expenses being fully covered by BLaST and/or IBA funds. Like Aaron before them, Milagro and Ray will have an opportunity to work on a biomathematics research project under an IBA faculty mentor and then present their work at the 2019 Symposium on BEER to be held at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. They will also have the opportunity to submit their work for possible publication in the IBA undergraduate research journal Spora.

Note: BLaST stands for Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST). This is a University of Alaska program designed to enhance capacity for undergraduate biomedical research training and efficacy for engaging students from diverse, especially rural Alaskan, backgrounds in education and training for biomedical research careers.

back to topicsProgram and Faculty News

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.

After careful deliberation, the Mathematics faculty decided to make some changes to the UAS Mathematics B.S. Degree, as well as the Mathematics Minor (now called the Minor in Mathematical Sciences). Quite a bit of flexibility has been added to the B.S. degree making double majors (with other B.S. degree programs) and second (non-science) bachelor's degrees after earning a mathematics degree more accessible. The availability of additional courses toward the Minor will also make this more accessible to students who enjoy mathematics, but may not wish to pursue a B.S. degree in the subject.

On a wider scale, the mathematics faculty continue to dabble in a range of areas to keep themselves busy and at the same time enhance their courses. Megan Buzby, Jill Dumesnil, and Andrzej Piotrowski participated in the 2018-2019 Teaching Squares Program. The faculty are continuing their explorations in the use of open source textbooks in a variety of courses, including upper division courses. These efforts have received some positive comments from students and have had varying degrees of success. It is worth noting that the National trend in mathematics toward the use of open source textbooks continues to grow.

Jill has been using open source resources to develop material (video lectures and assessment tools) for online versions of Fundamentals of Algebra (MATH S055) and Intermediate Algebra (MATH S105). Her plan is to take advantage of these two products so that she is able to continue to contribute to teaching while she performs her important service as a member of the UNAC Collective Bargaining Committee.

Megan wrapped up her three year stint with faculty governance as Faculty Senate Past President. While she thoroughly enjoyed the past three years in Faculty Governance, she has indicated that she is looking forward to being able to devote more time to mathematics and teaching. To this end, she applied for and was accepted to the SIMIODE NSF MINDE Workshop this summer. This is a week-long workshop that provides the time and resources to incorporate mathematical modeling into a differential equations course as a way to motivate and apply concepts. Her plan is to take ideas from this workshop to possibly enhance her differential eqauations and/or mathematical modeling classes at UAS. Megan completed her first year as the Director of Pacific Northwest Section of Project NExT, organizing the annual meeting in Portland at the University of Portland in April 2019.

Andrzej was just promoted to the rank of Full Professor, was just elected Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences, and he continues to publish papers. For this academic year papers accepted for publication and/or published include: Polynomially Interpolated Legendre Sequences with M Chasse and T. Forgacs in the journal on Computational Methods and Function Theory; and On Zero-sector Reducing Operators with D. A. Cardon, T. Forgacs, E. Sorensen, and J. C. White in the Journal of Mathematical Analysis. He has also been invited to participate in the Summer 2019 Analysis Research Group at Brigham Young University.

Chris Hay-Jahans' second book on R, R Companion to Elementary Applied Statistics, was published in January 2019 by Taylor and Francis/CRC. He is continuing with his involvement with the IBA (see link above), annual Symposiums on BEER, and Summer CURE Workshops.


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