Newsletter, July 2019
From the Chair
Dear Alumni, Friends, Colleagues, and Students,
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics continues to grow, faster than WSU is growing. Many career rankings, based on factors such as working environment and salary, put mathematician, statistician, data scientist, and actuary near the top. Our department offers majors in all these areas. Beyond the career prospects, I believe that students continue to find mathematics fascinating and appreciate its utility and beauty.
Our Ph.D. in Statistical Sciences program was approved and we currently have 15 enrolled students. The number of applications for next year’s class is more than double the number of applications we received last year.
The Data Analytics program is in its second year. This is a university-wide collaboration; students in the program take core courses in mathematics, statistics, and computer science. The degree is completed with a number of courses in a specialization such as economics, biology, business, or agriculture. The newest area of specialization is data visualization, which requires students to take a number of courses on digital communication offered through the Department of English.
We continue to provide enriching, as well as extracurricular, activities for our students. A number of students are working on research projects with faculty members. Many of these students participate in the university’s research poster competition and some have presented at regional and national meetings. This past fall, we sent eight students to compete in the two-day Montana Mathematical Modeling Challenge at Carroll College in Helena. At the end of January, a team participated in the 100-hour International Mathematical Modeling Competition. This past October, seven future secondary school mathematics teachers traveled to the Northwest Mathematics Conference in Whistler, British Columbia. In November, and again during spring break in March, several students in the Actuarial Science Club spent a day visiting companies in the Seattle area to learn about the diverse opportunities, as well as the day-to-day work, of actuarial scientists in those firms.
The department now sponsors six student clubs: Math Club, Actuarial Science Club, Pre-service Teacher of Mathematics Club, American Mathematical Society graduate student chapter, American Statistical Association graduate student chapter, and a chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics. All of these groups, and students, are very active bringing in speakers and holding events and activities that include outreach and workshops to encourage and excite middle and high school students in mathematics and statistics. The department also helps to sponsor the university’s Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Chicana and Native American scientists.
I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. We would also like to know more about you. Please send us a note or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know of the recent, and even not-so-recent, events in your life and career.
We appreciate our alumni, friends, and all who are associated with the department in some way. In many ways you continue to contribute to the success of the department and the students we teach.
Charles Moore Professor and Department Chair
Department Offers New Courses and Major in Data Analytics
The wide availability of large and complex datasets, and the advent of big data analytics, is transforming our society in many observable ways. “We’re rapidly entering a world where everything can be monitored and measured,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Digital Business. “But the big problem is going to be the ability of humans to use, analyze, and make sense of the data.”
To provide students an opportunity to be a part of this exciting new field, the department, together with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has recently started to offer a major in data analytics. The program is currently being delivered by in-class and videoconferencing to the WSU Pullman and WSU Everett campuses, as well as online through WSU Global Campus. All students are required to complete 54 credits from a core, multi-disciplinary, and dynamic curriculum which draws from mathematics, computer science, data science, statistics, and philosophy, and is bracketed by introductory and capstone courses. The data analytics program is designed to provide hands-on experience using the latest tools and approaches to working with data - focusing on complex, unstructured, user-generated data sets. This program also provides valuable networking and applied research opportunities to students through several avenues such as the recently established Center for Interdisciplinary Statistical Education and Research (CISER).
To support the undergraduate program in data analytics, as well as the Ph.D. in Statistical Sciences program, the department has developed several new courses. These courses include STAT 419, 435, 437, 519, and 577, which are designed to provide a comprehensive view of the very latest statistical learning methods and expose students to the new frontiers and challenges of statistical sciences. These new courses encapsulate a broad, hands-on experience and provide students with a sound mathematical understanding of the necessary tools to hunt for meaningful patterns and insights in vast troves of data. The applications are as diverse as improving Internet search and online advertising or culling gene-sequencing information for cancer research. This exciting new program is expected to significantly expand the horizons of opportunities available to WSU graduates.
New Peer Mentoring Program Helps Both Students and Mentors
Helping students succeed in mathematics is a passion of Associate Professor Sandy Cooper, which is why, for the past three semesters, she has been developing a “peer mentoring” program in several of the department's foundational courses. The program, funded by a grant from Boeing, started with the pre-algebra course but has grown to include other courses such as college algebra and business calculus. It continues to evolve each semester in order to meet student needs.
A mentor helps in various ways with a course they have very recently completed. The mentor is an undergraduate student who has been nominated by previous math instructors and is then selected by Dr. Cooper. For example, a student who completed and excelled in pre-algebra may be nominated as a peer mentor for the pre-algebra course the following semester. Instructors are looking for mentors with strong communication and math skills.
Peer mentors meet regularly with course coordinators to discuss how to meet student needs and the program runs differently for each course. Some peer mentors offer extra review sessions in the Math Learning Center or in classrooms on campus. Students can receive extra assistance from peer mentors before an exam, have a peer mentor review their homework before it is submitted, or receive assistance on topics in which they may be struggling. In other courses, peer mentors attend class and help students work on activities during the class period.
Because they have recently taken the course themselves, peer mentors are able to relate and better understand the challenges students face. Added benefits include strengthening the mathematical foundation and skills of peer mentors and providing them with teaching experience. Although peer mentors aren’t paid, they receive a gift certificate for the WSU Bookie as a thank you for their hard work throughout the semester.
The Calvin and Jean Long Distinguished Lecture in Mathematics
Professor Lawrence Craig Evans, from the University of California, Berkeley, was the invited guest speaker for the October 2018 Calvin and Jean Long Distinguished Lecture in Mathematics. Professor Evans is considered one of the world’s leading experts in the field of differential equations.
Professor Evans discussed techniques for studying non-linear partial differential equations during the evening lecture attended by several hundred individuals. Such equations are notoriously difficult but are useful in the investigation of traffic flow and mass transport. In an earlier colloquium talk, he discussed a clever change of variables that makes certain differential equations more tractable.
Professor Evans has authored or co-authored over 130 publications and has served as Ph.D. advisor to 27 students. He is also well-known for his book “Partial Differential Equations,” and his book with Ronald F. Gariepy on “Measure theory and Fine Properties of functions,” both of which are used widely as graduate texts. He was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 1979 and in 1986 he gave an invited address at the International Congress of Mathematicians. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Calvin and Jean Long Distinguished Lecture in Mathematics brings internationally renowned mathematics scholars to the Pullman campus each fall. The lecture was established by former department chairman and professor emeritus, Calvin Long, and his wife, Jean. They arrived at WSU, then WSC, in the fall of 1956 and, after working in the department for 36 years, he retired in 1992.
The 38th Annual Theodore G. Ostrom Lecture
Frederick Adler, a professor in mathematics and biology from the University of Utah, was the 2019 invited lecturer for the 38th Annual Theodore G. Ostrom Lecture. Dr. Adler obtained his B.A. from Harvard in mathematics, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell in applied mathematics. His thesis advisor was Simon Levin. Professor Adler's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and private foundations.
The title of the lecture was: “An Ecological Perspective on Cancer.” A self-organized system is one in which more-or-less sophisticated behavior arises from local interactions between relatively simple parts. Dr. Adler takes the perspective that the body, like essentially everything in biology, is a self-organized system. Discussing a series of self-organized systems from ecology, ant colonies, viruses and cancer, he described the marvelous ways that they are regulated and how this regulation is susceptible to rare, but deadly, subversion and breakdown. Cancer arises through a series of mutations that enable rogue cells to hack the body’s regulatory machinery and grow uncontrollably. The success of immunotherapy on certain forms of cancer can be understood as switching on an effective immune response that the cancer has switched off.
The Annual Theodore G. Ostrom Lecture brings internationally renowned mathematics scholars to campus each spring. The lecture honors Emeritus Professor, Theodore G. Ostrom, who retired from WSU in 1981 after 21 years of service as a department faculty member.
Restructured Math 100 Increases Student Success
Thanks to the hard work of several faculty members, Math 100, Basic Mathematics, has seen a dramatic increase in student achievement. Instructors Emily Sablan and Justin Eld, together with Associate Professor Sandy Cooper, have spent the last several years changing and refining the course to identify and address the fundamental mathematical knowledge and concepts that students lack. As a result, the course has evolved each semester to better meet student needs and prepare them for success in future math courses.
In its latest form, the course is individually-based and students are often working on different modules at different times, pursuant to their progress in the course. This is a pass/fail course, where students complete 10 modules ranging in topics that include whole numbers, exponents, radicals, and solving equations. Students meet twice a week in a computer lab where an instructor, grader, and tutor are all available to give them individualized attention.
For each module, students complete an Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) component, turn in written exercises, and take a module test. This is an online-based, adaptive learning tool that assesses a student’s understanding of a topic and gives appropriate questions based on the student’s mastery of the material. The written exercises are similar to a homework assignment in a traditional math class. The exercises are returned to students with feedback but no grade. Students must then correct any mistakes and turn in the exercises again. Once the exercises are 100% correct, the student is ready to take a module test. Students can take this during class or during an instructor’s office hours. The test is graded and students must receive an 85% or higher to be allowed to begin the next module. If they don't pass, they work on extra practice problems and have the opportunity to retest twice.
During class, instructors are working individually with students to assist them with homework, review exams, and providing feedback or clarification of the material. A grader and tutor are also available during class time to grade homework and assist students. In addition, many students attend office hours or go to the Math Learning Center in Cleveland Hall on a regular basis to receive additional help, work on homework, or take tests.
Students who pass the course have a better understanding and grasp of fundamental mathematics and have learned new study skills and habits. This individualized approach has increased the pass rate from 60% to 90% over a period of four years. At the same time, corresponding fall semester enrollment has increased from approximately 200 to about 500 students.
Alumnus Publishes Successful Calculus Book
“It took us over seven years to write the first edition of the textbook. While working on the book, I would teach all day at school, then go home and work on the text well past midnight each night. It is satisfying to see all of our hard work and long hours lead to a successful text. We had a vision of writing a rigorous, yet geometrically-intuitive, text and it’s been exciting to see the text receive such wide acceptance among colleges and universities across the United States.”
Alumnus, Lyle Cochran, is coauthor of a popular calculus textbook with Bill Briggs (University of Colorado-Denver), Bernard Gillett (University of Colorado-Boulder), and Eric Schulz (Walla Walla Community College). The text is widely used by over 100 colleges and universities including: Washington State University, Oregon State University, University of North Carolina, University of Arkansas, and University of Wyoming, along with numerous community colleges across the nation. The first edition of the text received the Textbook Excellence Award from the Textbook and Academic Authors Association in 2011.
Although Lyle Cochran, Ph.D. '93, has had a successful career as a mathematics professor and textbook author, he will be the first to admit that a career in mathematics wasn’t even on the radar screen when he graduated from high school in Bend, Oregon, in 1980.
“I didn’t really love mathematics until I took Calculus I at Central Oregon Community College. At that time, I wasn’t confident of my math skills and I was especially intimidated by the prospect of taking calculus. I assumed that I would have difficulty understanding the material and I definitely didn’t think I would enjoy the course. To my surprise and delight, I found calculus to be both an elegant and powerful tool for studying the physical world around us. I was also fortunate to have some incredibly gifted instructors including Don Gallager at Central Oregon Community College. I earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and mathematics education from Oregon State University where I learned from another gifted instructor, Lea Murphy. Both Don and Lea were really good at explaining mathematical concepts and I think that is why I fell in love with mathematics."
After graduating from Oregon State University, Lyle taught high school mathematics for a couple years before beginning his graduate studies at Washington State University. He completed his dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Sandy Cooper and obtained his Ph.D. in mathematics in 1993. He then taught mathematics at Fresno Pacific University in California for two years before taking a position at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, in the fall of 1995. He loves teaching at Whitworth University where he plans to stay for the remainder of his career. He is a past recipient of the Whitworth University Academic Challenge Award – an award recognizing teaching innovation while maintaining high student expectations in the classroom.
“I feel blessed to be at Whitworth because I have the privilege and honor of teaching a variety of undergraduate mathematics courses including calculus, linear algebra, real analysis, complex variables, and differential equations. Spokane is also a wonderful place to live because the climate and ponderosa pine trees here remind me so much of Bend, Oregon, where I grew up. I have very fond memories of my graduate school days at Washington State University. I enjoyed my coursework, but I especially enjoyed working on my dissertation with Sandy Cooper. At first, researching and writing a dissertation seemed like a daunting task, but Sandy guided me through the process, teaching me how to extend and generalize mathematical ideas to discover new mathematical concepts. I am grateful to Sandy and to other faculty members in the mathematics department at Washington State University.”
Lyle’s fond memories of Pullman and WSU extend beyond his graduate student days – he and his wife Susan Wada ('92, WSU College of Veterinary Medicine) met at WSU. Lyle and Susan happily live in north Spokane with their two golden retrievers, three tortoises, and a large parrot.
Outreach to the Nespelem, WA, Colville Federated Tribes Indian Reservation
"The students were engaged and didn't want us to leave," said mathematics major and future teacher, Aaron Doull. At least twice each fall Clinical Associate Professor, Kimberly Vincent, travels with secondary mathematics education students to Nespelem School, a public school in the town of Nespelem on the Colville Federated Tribes Indian Reservation, to provide WSU students with additional teaching experience.
Students involve the Nespelem middle school students in a variety of mathematics activities and the experience often leaves a deep impression on both student groups. This year, prospective secondary teachers taught Nespelem students about proportions. The students first computed the average height of the students in the class. They then compared that height to the height of a doll to establish a ratio representing the average person's height to the doll's height. Students measured the arms, legs, and other parts of the doll, and used the ratio they had previously computed to determine the size of the doll parts if it were blown up to actual life size. The answers revealed how disproportionate the doll was in comparison to an actual human. It was such an interesting and enriching experience that some students, such as Aaron Doull, are considering teaching middle school rather than high school students. Read the article, "Future math teachers instruct, learn from rural school children," about Kim's work with Nespelem and her work with the Inland Northwest Mathematics Experience (INME), by Adriana Aumen, College of Arts and Sciences.
Professor Judi McDonald Co-Authors Best-Selling Textbook
The department's introductory linear algebra course, Math 220, uses the text Linear Algebra and its Applications (5th edition, 2015) by Lay, Lay, and McDonald. It is published by Pearson, one of the largest educational publishing companies in the world. The text is being used at many other institutions, is the top selling linear algebra textbook on Amazon's list of "Best Sellers in Linear Algebra," and has amassed many positive reviews.
David Lay, the original author, is a professor at the University of Maryland. On later editions, he was joined by his brother, Stephen Lay, a mathematics professor at Lee University in Tennessee. Professor McDonald came to the authorship team after working with David on the fourth edition. A new edition will be in press in January, 2020.
Mathematics and Stabilizing the U.S. Power Grid
Associate Professor, Dr. Bala Krishnamoorthy, has received a $200,000, three-year National Science Foundation grant to examine worst-case impacts of interrupted uncertainties to the United States power grid. His work will combine rigorous guarantees, algorithms, and the capacity to handle non-linearities so that the controllable assets of a system, such as traditional generators, can be kept at a minimum cost. "Knowing the limits of controllable assets could be critical to the ability to keep the lights on in your home at all times," he says. Although his research will be applied primarily to energy systems such as the grid, the mathematical methods he is developing will be general and scalable. As a result, they may be applied to problems in other areas, such as gas distribution networks. Dr. Krishnamoorthy is an expert in the field of non-linear systems and optimization and is developing new methods to approach optimal power flow problems. Dr. Krishnamoorthy's work began last year in collaboration with Krishnamurthy Dvijotham, who was then a research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and is now with Google LLC.
Professor Judi McDonald Named Associate Dean of the WSU Graduate School
Professor Judi McDonald has been named associate dean of the WSU Graduate School, a position she began in March 2019. As a professor in the department since 2002, she has served as a committee chair and advisor to more than 20 graduate students, published more than 40 peer‑reviewed papers, and has co‑authored a successful textbook on introductory linear algebra. She has served in leadership roles in the Faculty Senate, which include Chair of the Faculty Senate in the 2017-2018 academic year and Faculty Senate Liaison to the Board of Regents in the 2018-2019 academic year. In addition to her work in the department and with the Faculty Senate, she has served on countless university-wide committees. Her responsibilities as associate dean will include acting as a liaison to the Faculty Senate’s Graduate Studies Committee and to the Provost’s Office on proposals for new and revised graduate programs. She will also take the lead on the evaluation and oversight of Graduate School policies and procedures.
Summer Conference on Geometry
Faculty members, Kevin Vixie and Bala Krishnamoorthy, together with graduate students, Laramie Paxton and Enrique Alvarado, teamed up with colleagues from Portland State University to organize a four-day conference, “2018 Seminar on Geometric Measure Theory, Varifolds, and Their Applications,” held on the campus of Portland State University last July.
Featured speakers were Professors Ulrich Menne from the University of Leipzig and Slawomir Kolasinski from the University of Warsaw. They team-taught a three-day, short course in the areas of geometric measure theory and varifolds (generalized sub-manifolds) aimed at analysis students and others interested in geometric analysis on varifolds. On the fourth day, eight 45-minute talks on current research topics were presented by experts in the field: Jean Taylor of Rutgers University, Robert Hardt of Rice University, William Allard of Duke University, Carol Downes of Rice University, Antonio De Rosa of New York University, Qinglan Xia of University of California at Davis, Yunfeng Hu of Emsi, and Sharif Ibrahim of Intel. Altogether, about 30 participants from across the United States and Europe attended the conference.
Inland Northwest Mathematics Experience - INME
2018 marked the 16th year of the annual Inland Northwest Mathematics Experience. In October, 2018, Dr. Kimberly Vincent arranged for a group of middle school students and their teachers to travel from the TriCities to the WSU Pullman campus. Faculty member, Dr. William Hall, prepared students enrolled in Math 330, Methods of Teaching Secondary School Mathematics, to teach the middle school students for the day.
The Math 330 students engaged the middle school students in three mathematics tasks. The first was an experimental exercise during which students sent balloons flying while collecting and modeling data. Stations were set up with butcher paper on the walls and students were given stop watches. After several trials, students came away with height and falling time data and then used this to create a poster of their results. Students and teachers discussed whether the relationship between height and falling time was linear or nonlinear. Above, mathematics major and Air Force ROTC student, Kyanna Byrd, helped students analyze their results. Another task involved the Hilbert Hotel, a famous hotel with an infinite number of rooms. Students were asked how they could fit more people into the hotel if it was already full. They had all kinds of interesting ideas - such as putting people into bathrooms! The Math 330 students had fun watching the younger students grapple with the concept of infinity. The last task had to do with exponential functions and how quickly they grow. Students were asked to fill in a large poster board with depicted exponential growth.
Associate Professor, Sandy Cooper, has received a WSU Access Center Award. “Dr. Cooper understood my disability and helped me work through basic math. She met with me every week and helped me understand math and I had no issues with taking tests at the Access Center. She sat down with me to work through problems and talk about life as well. She is my favorite professor since attending WSU for two years," said a student who nominated Associate Professor Sandy Cooper to receive the award. Meredyth L. Goodwin, director of the Access Center, echoed student sentiments by saying, "We so appreciate Dr. Cooper! She goes the extra mile to work with students who struggle in math. We have worked with her for several years and have honed the accommodation process for Math 100 and 103 courses. She has helped us understand and put in place procedures for when math waivers and substitutions are a reasonable accommodation. In all conversations, she thoughtfully balances the needs of the students with the importance and integrity of the course curriculum and University Common Requirements (UCORE) objectives."
Professor, Nairanjana (Jan) Dasgupta, has received the 2019 College of Arts and Sciences faculty teaching award for "Excellence in Graduate Advising and Mentoring." She is also a 2019 President's Award recipient. To read more about Dr. Dasgupta and the 2019 President's Award click here.
Associate Professor, Bala Krishnamoorthy, has received the 2019 WSU Vancouver Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence. The award is given annually to a WSU Vancouver faculty member whose research quality and quantity are exemplary and whose work has had a positive influence on the broader community. It is WSU Vancouver's highest research honor.
Clinical Associate Professor, Sergey Lapin, has received a 2019 Arete Outstanding Faculty Award from the WSU Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life. Each year, three WSU faculty are selected to receive the award. A student from one of the honors classes Dr. Lapin teaches says, "I have taken four of his math courses and they are always my favorite for the semester," adding that Dr. Lapin helps everyone and wants everyone to understand the material. “The Arête Awards are a great opportunity for our university administration, and the Greek councils, to recognize outstanding Greek chapters and members within our community,” said former Panhellenic President Ali Scott.
Professor, Judi McDonald, has received the 2019 College of Arts and Sciences faculty service award for "Excellence in Institutional Service."
Dr. Kimberly Vincent Appointed as Associate Director by Council
Clinical Associate Professor, Kimberly Vincent, has been appointed by the Board of the Washington State Mathematics Council to be the Associate Director of Region One. The Washington State Mathematics Council is a professional organization that promotes and influences mathematics education. Its membership is committed to developing, supporting, and encouraging opportunities leading to quality mathematics curricula and effective instruction. It promotes high professional standards and serves as a communication network for anyone interested in mathematics education. The territory of Region One includes Northwest Washington State and is comprised of the following counties: Adams, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Spokane and Whitman. As associate director, she will be responsible to the membership of Region One by: representing them at the meetings of the board of directors, recruiting new members, arranging for regional high school mathematics contests, and coordinating other council activities.
PreToM Students attend Northwest Mathematics Conference
Left to right: Kyanna Byrd, Aaron Doull, Miranda Cornille, Jaydon Troy, Whitney Hoddinott, Joshua Latella, Richard Zhao, and Dr. Hall.
Led by Assistant Professor, William Hall, a group of future secondary mathematics teachers and members of the WSU Pre-service Teachers of Mathematics Club attended the October, 2018, Northwest Mathematics Conference held in Whistler, British Columbia.
Students were able to learn about current educational issues within the Pacific Northwest and hear talks from professional area educators. They had the opportunity to attend a diverse set of sessions covering topics such as the intersection of mathematics and science, using Desmos in the high school classroom, using standards-based grading, facilitating student group work as a teacher, and many more helpful subjects.
Reflecting on their weekend experience, students commented on how useful it was to hear practicing teachers discuss concepts from the course texts they had studied. Attending the conference allowed these students to bond with each other, as well as with other students and teachers from the region outside of a regular classroom. The Northwest Mathematics Conference is a transformative experience that exposes students to the broader professional world in which they have begun to participate and attendance from WSU has become a long-standing, fall tradition. Travel was made possible by funding from the Washington State Mathematics Council Educator Support Fund and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Left to right: Richard Zhao, Miranda Cornille, Jayden Troy, Kyanna Byrd, Whitney Hoddinott, Joshua Latella, and Aaron Doull.
The Montana Mathematical Modeling Challenge
Three WSU interdisciplinary student teams named Primary Factorial, Irrational Proposition, and Derivators, particiated in the 24-hour Montana Mathematical Modeling Challenge October 20-21, 2018. The students traveled with department faculty members, Dr. Lynn Schreyer and David Hampson, on a beautiful fall weekend to Carroll College in Helena, Montana. For some of the students, it was their first time visiting Big Sky Country.
On Saturday morning students chose one of two, open-ended problems which had to be solved within 24 hours. They were required to submit a two-page, executive summary of their solution by 9 a.m. the following morning. Oral presentations to the entire group began at noon on Sunday.
The first problem was to determine whether a city should submit a bid to host the Summer Olympics Games. Students were to develop a mathematical model by identifying key variables and parameters that any city or metropolitan area could use and then identify 5 eligible cities. The second problem involved bike-sharing services in Seattle, Washington. The goal was to determine the location of 3 distribution centers where excess bikes could be returned at the end of the day before being redistributed the following morning.
The Primary Factorial team (pictured above, left to right) consisted of Richelle Thompson (applied mathematics), Dexuan Luo (business), and Gillian Gormley (mathematics). This team chose the bike distribution problem. They began by considering two different approaches – one using statistics and the other using a mathematical (non-statistical) approach. As Dexuan said, "After we overcame the communication and cognition barriers, this diversity became the most valuable asset to our team." They had fun when they noted that the provided data did not include Husky Stadium (Go Cougs!). Toward the end of the 24 hours, Gillian suggested: “Instead of changing our model to be better, let’s just come up with reasons why other models are inferior.” Their strategy worked and their team was evaluated as second overall for their approach and written summary.
Irrational Proposition (pictured above, left to right) consisted of team members Nik Steckley (theoretical mathematics), Tom McCutcheon (applied mathematics), and Patrick Morrell (computer science). This team also selected the bike distribution problem but to solve it they employed a Markov Chain strategy. When asked why they applied this modeling approach, Nik said, “I had heard of it only once before when a particularly passionate MATH 220 linear algebra instructor I had a few years ago exposed me to it as bonus material at the end of lecture one day; he used it to solve a similar problem for determining where taxi cabs would be distributed at the end of the day.” They first had to familiarize themselves with Markov Chains and their initial attempt was not exactly what they expected. Patrick contemplated, “Hmmm… why is one of the locations for the distribution center in the Pacific Ocean?” Tom then said, “If we’ve built the transition matrix correctly, all the columns should add up to one .. why is that one 3?” Eventually they worked everything out with the proper constraints and their results passed the “common sense” test. Their team was a finalist in the oral presentation competition, implying that other teams working on the same problem respected their work and explanation.
Team Derivators (pictured above, left to right) Grace Harris (electrical engineering) and Elyce Cederholm (chemical engineering) took on the challenge of developing the Summer Olympics bidding model. They immediately recognized that financial profitability could not be a motivator since every city loses money, so they looked at different factors. As other teams considered hotel space, airport capacity, and public transportation, the Derivators instead considered the environmental impact by incorporating a recycling rate, using renewable energy as a percentage of total energy consumed, and the land-loss effect due to new construction. They used a completely different approach than any other team and received the most creative modeling award.
Spring 2019 100-hour International Math Modeling Competition
Above, are team members: Wendy Wu, Wyatt Walls, and Rebecca Hsieh
A team of three undergraduate students represented WSU in a 100-hour (four days and four hours) International Math Modeling Competition against roughly 15,000 teams world-wide. The competition began on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 2 p.m. PST and ended on Monday, January 28, at 6 p.m. PST.
Each team in the international competition could choose to solve one of the following six, real-world problems:
- Analyze the ecological requirements and effects of the dragons from the popular show, Game of Thrones, based on the series of epic fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Develop an aerial disaster relief system to help deliver medical supplies to hard-to-reach areas using drones.
- Use synthetic opioid and heroin data obtained from the counties of five states to develop a model to identify locations where specific opioid use might have started and identify possible strategies for countering the opioid crises.
- Develop an evacuation plan for the Louvre museum in France.
- Develop a valuation model for the true economic cost of land usage such as building roads, sewers, and bridges.
- Develop a policy to identify the viability and effects of a global, decentralized, digital financial market such as bitcoins.
Mimicking real-world time pressure, the WSU team turned in a 20-page report explaining their assumptions, modeling approach, and results.
WSU was represented by team members: Wendy Yu (chemical engineering), Rebecca Hsieh (bioengineering), and Wyatt Wallis (physics). The team consisted of two first-year students and one sophomore. They chose problem a; to analyze the ecological requirements and effects of the dragons in the show, Game of Thrones.
Their first thought was of water and food requirements and the effect of dragon feces on the environment, but their biggest issue was a lack of data. Members spent one of the first nights skimming through all TV show episodes obtaining screen shots, such as the photo below, to determine the realistic size of an adult dragon. In this case, the dragon is Drogon:
By calculating the ratio between the height of the actor who played Jon Snow, Kit Harington, and the size of Drogon’s head, they estimated the head of Drogon to be approximately 1.62m (5.3 ft) tall. Similarly, they determined the total wingspan of Drogon to be about 44m.
The team discovered, and taught themselves, the predator-prey, ordinary differential equations model and used the sika deer population on Hokkaido Island, Japan, as a sample prey population. These deer have no natural predator and the population is isolated so it produced data for the model under assumptions that were reasonable for the predator-prey model. The question was whether the sika deer could produce enough prey to sustain three adult dragons. Assuming each adult dragon would need roughly 6000 deer per year to maintain its size, it was shown that on this island three dragons and the sika deer population will approach a natural equilibrium cycle (neither will go extinct), assuming the dragons’ weights are allowed to fluctuate with the availability of the food source.
Above, team members Rebecca Hsieh, Wendy Yu, and Wyatt Wallis, generate ideas on the first day of the contest.
Above, team members Rebecca Hsieh, Wyatt Wallis, and Wendy Yu keep their minds active with coffee.
Michael Schultheis - Mathematics, Art, and Music
A reception and performance with artist Michael Schultheis, was held on Thursday, January 24, 2019, at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at WSU Pullman to celebrate the exhibition of his work that runs from January 15 through June 29. His work blends mathematics, and the history of mathematics, with themes from the arts, music, and the humanities. These are represented in abstract paintings, sculptures, and musical works.
A native of Colton, Washington, Michael studied in the honors program at WSU, receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1990. During that time, he spent a year abroad in Siena, Italy. He studied mathematics in night school at the University of Washington and then economics in graduate school at Cornell where he earned a master's degree in 1993. He worked for a number of years after that in software development.
His works are parts of collections at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C., the U.S. embassies in Greece and Switzerland, the Tacoma Art Museum, the offices of Novo Nordisk, and the permanent collection of WSU. He has presented his work at over 60 solo exhibitions.
On March 28, he returned to Pullman to engage students from mathematics, art, and music, in a “Seminarium” – Latin for “the place where seeds grow.” Immediately before the Seminarium, Schultheis gave the students a private tour through the gallery, explaining in rich detail elements of each painting that were inspired by his life, mathematics, history, music, classical and modern artists, and the ideas and philosophy that linked these together. The Seminarium then continued, expounding on Schultheis’ explanations from the tour, with a discussion between the artist and students, and the students themselves. Students in the seemingly vastly different areas of art, math, and music realized their disciplines were intimately linked and grow from a similar creativity.
In his writing on his work, Schultheis once noted "Math has ties to art, music, dance,” adding “...math is music. A graph is art.” Schultheis expresses that he was captivated and inspired by the beauty of the half-erased chalkboards and whiteboards, with their many layers of mathematical formulas, equations and ghost-like erasures, and shapes.
You may see more examples of his work, and read more about his life and his views on mathematics and art, on his website at www.michaelschultheis.com.
MICHAEL SCHULTHEIS Breath of Menelaus, 2018. Acrylic on canvas
"In his treatise Sphaerica (98 AD), Menelaus of Alexandria advanced trigonometry by developing a spherical triangle with three arcs of great circles on the surface of a sphere. In my mind, the spherical triangle forms as an enormous sail from the intersection of three different equators. This looks and feels just like the propulsive force of an exhalation, right after tacking into the wind on a sailboat, a billowing out with a full breath coming from the center of the earth, and the universal breath that connects humanity." –MS
MICHAEL SCHULTHEIS, Rings of Pythagoras, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
"Pythagoras said there is math in everything. I paint and sculpt where I see it. Pythagoras (b. 570 BC) was a Greek philosopher, mathematician, music theorist, and someone who inspires my love of the polar coordinate system. This painting came from a dream I had in which Pythagoras falls asleep and dreams of all the progenies of his original idea. This is one of the paintings he sees in his dream." –MS
Images reproduced courtesy of the artist.
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(B.S. '18, Theoretical Mathematics)
Graduating last fall with a degree in theoretical mathematics, minors in biology, chemistry, and molecular biosciences, and a cumulative GPA of 3.993, James (Joey) Whitbread is in his first year of medical school at John Hopkins School of Medicine and reports: "Medical school is everything I hoped it would be and more than I ever expected. After so many years of studying the sciences, I am now applying what I've learned. For example, in seven weeks of Human Anatomy class, I dissected a body head to toe, elucidating all aspects of macro-anatomy while learning the detail of human movement, innervation, vascularization, function, physiology, and much more. I'm learning to interview and partner with patients to diagnose illness, while at the same time learning treatment protocols for disease ranging from the molecular level, to the organ level, to the entire body. On a personal note, I feel a passion to provide exemplary care to improve the lives of my future patients and I know this is what I was born to do. I have never learned so much in so little time and I am treasuring every day at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine."
(Ph.D. '18, Mathematics)
Patrick Torres is a one-year visiting assistant professor of mathematics at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. The Mathematics Department at Carroll is known for its mathematical modeling-oriented program and unique "active learning" teaching approach, which has been supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation. At Carroll, Patrick has taught single and multivariable calculus as well as introductory statistics. He has modified his teaching style from lecturing to a more hands-on approach of having students solve problems on a board in class and utilizing mathematical and statistical software in their labs to increase learning and student engagement. He met up with Dr. Lynn Schreyer when she took WSU students to the Math Modeling Challenge at Carroll College in the fall of 2018 and said, "I miss the enthusiasm of the WSU math department faculty and staff and the camaraderie of my former fellow graduate students, but I like the small classes here and the support I am receiving." Patrick has recently accepted a full-time position at Bellevue College in Bellevue, Washington, as a tenure-track assistant professor of mathematics, which he will begin in the fall of 2019. While teaching keeps him busy, he plans to continue his research in matrix theory and explore other areas such as partial differential equations and topology.
(M.S. '17, Mathematics)
Osama Fakron is in his first year as a mathematics instructor for engineering students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a public land-grant research university in Blacksburg, Virginia. Osama earned a Ph.D. in engineering from WSU in 2014 and an M.S. in mathematics in 2017. "I appreciate the high quality of the education I received at WSU and the opportunities it has provided me. Virginia Tech is a great place for learning, for both students and instructors. I live in the town of Blacksburg, which is a little bigger than Pullman. The life and people in Blacksburg are somewhat different compared to Pullman, but it is a very nice and safe place to live and raise a family."
Abigail (Abby) Higgins
(Ph.D. '17, Mathematics Education)
Abby Higgins is in her first year as a tenure-track assistant professor at California State University, Sacramento. The university enrolls over 30,000 students and is one of the most diverse universities west of the Mississippi River. Although still new in her position, she has found several future research collaborators on campus and feels fortunate that the university supports early-career faculty in establishing a research program. She says the department is committed to exceptional teaching, the students are incredibly hard-working and kind, and she is proud to be affiliated with an institution committed to providing resources to support all students as they navigate their education. Being located in the capital city of the largest state by population also brings unique opportunities. "Through my proximity to the California State Legislature, I hope to be involved in educational policy-making in the future. Sacramento is a fun, happening city and I have really enjoyed exploring it and the surrounding area. There are lots of artsy things going on in the city and a seemingly-infinite amount of hiking and outdoor exploration here."
(Ph.D. '17, Mathematics Education)
Ian Lundholm is an assistant professor of mathematics at Milligan College near Johnson City, Tennessee. He teaches a wide variety of courses including a developmental math sequence course, math for elementary teachers, the calculus sequence, linear algebra, and modern algebra. His current research efforts involve redesigning developmental math courses using the emporium model and utilizing emerging technologies that aid math education. He and his wife, Kristy, have two children, ages 5 and 3.
(Ph.D. '16, Mathematics)
Thomas Cameron is currently a visiting assistant professor of mathematics and computer Science at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. He teaches courses on topics such as discrete structures, linear algebra, and real and complex analysis. His research is at the intersection of numerical analysis and linear algebra. Recently, his work on polynomial root solvers was published in the Numerical Algorithms Journal from Springer. His current projects include the rankability of data, householder sets for matrix polynomials, and compensated polishing techniques for approximate roots of a polynomial.
(Ph.D. '16, Mathematics Education)
Peter Klosterman is currently in his second year as an assistant professor at Central Washington University where he teaches future teachers, as well as general mathematics courses. This year, he became the program director for the Middle-Level Mathematics Teaching Program. Peter is married to Esther, who received her master's degree in mathematics from the University of Idaho in 2014, and subsequently instructed in the WSU Math Department. They now have three daughters, ages 4, 2, and 4 months. Peter and Esther are delighted to be raising their children close to family in the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
(M.S. '15, Mathematics Education)
Candace Chappelle is pursing a Ph.D. in mathematics and science education from the WSU College of Education. She has served with the Graduate and Professional Students Association for 2.5 years, advocating and speaking on behalf of graduate students to Washington State representatives and senators. She is a current co-chair of the Executive Policy 15 Work Group for five working groups that are creating a more inclusive and welcoming community at WSU campuses system-wide. Candace advocates for graduate students rights and will continue to do so upon completion of her doctorate degree.
(Ph.D. '14, Mathematics)
After completing his Ph.D., under the supervision of David S. Watkins, Jared Aurentz held a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Lloyd N. Trefethen. He is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institutode Ciencias Matematicas - Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Madrid, Spain. His main research interests are numerical analysis, specifically numerical linear algebra, numerical approximation theory, and high performance computing. He finds the most interesting problems are those that always involve matrices. Read the March 2018 SIAM news about Jared Aurentz, and his advisor Dr. David Watkins, who received an Outstanding Paper Prize.
(M.S. '12, Statistics)
Rhonda Crate is a senior data scientist/platform developer within Boeing's analytics and information management organization. As part of her work, she spends time investigating and testing new technologies related to analytics and makes recommendations to the enterprise platform. She helps organizations within the company use the platform and deploy projects. She also works on a variety of data science projects in Boeing's information technology, commercial, and defense programs. For these projects, she uses approaches ranging from text to regression to machine learning. She teaches R programming to other employees and is the Boeing Designated Expert for R technologies. Prior to working at Boeing, she worked as a data analyst in a small marketing company in Seattle called Catalysis. While there, she worked on projects such as optimizing web browsing behavior for the Microsoft Store, product placement for Seattle Central Co-Op, and segmentation analysis for GCI Alaska Telecom. She has a five year old daughter with her husband (another fellow Coug), who is also a data scientist at Boeing.
(Ph.D. '11, Mathematics)
After graduation, Baha Alzalg worked as a postdoctoral research fellow on a dynamic optimization research project in the Computer Engineering Department at the University of California Davis and then as a visiting assistant professor of optimization in the Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. In 2013, he joined the University of Jordan's, Department of Mathematics, as an assistant professor. He was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2016. Upon this promotion, he was selected to be head of the department. "This has been the greatest experience and the finest skills of my professional life so far. The department is the only Ph.D. granting mathematics department in Jordan and contains 37 full-time faculty members, of which 17 are full professors." His research papers have been published in journals such as the Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, Computational Optimization and Applications, Optimization (A Journal of Mathematical Programming and Operations Research), Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications, Operators and Matrices, Applied Mathematics and Computations, and Applied Mathematical Modeling. He has given several invited and contributed research talks on optimization at international conferences in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, Italy, Singapore, Oman and Jordan. He has served as a reviewer for journals such as Mathematical Reviews, JOTA, Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, and Journal of Supercomputing. So far, he has supervised three graduate students and has been the principal investigator of a funded research project in optimization at the University of Jordan. He has recently begun a one-year, research visit at the School of Mathematical Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, where he will collaborate with colleagues on a research project in stochastic optimization in abstract spaces.
Corban (Corby) Harwood
(Ph.D. '11, Mathematics)
Corban (Corby) Harwood is an associate professor of mathematics in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Science at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. His research focus is in the area of numerical partial differential equations. He develops and analyzes algorithms, which can be used to approximate solutions to multivariable differential equations and are numerically stable and free of unwanted oscillations. Such equations can model various phenomena from the reaction and diffusion of chemicals to the propagation of waves. He contributed "Steady and Stable: Numerical Investigations of Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations" in the recently published, A Primer for Undergraduate Research: From Groups and Tiles to Frames and Vaccines, to guide undergraduate students in analyzing eigenvalues and von Neumann error growth factors for numerical methods to predict their long term behavior and seek optimal conditions for trustworthy and feasible solutions while decreasing error and computational time. Corby and his wife have two children and they live in Newberg, Oregon. They enjoy hiking in the Willamette Valley, camping on the Oregon coast, and strolling downtown with kids in tow. In his spare time, Corban likes to bike around Newberg and explore the gorgeous views.
Bonni (Kealy) Dichone
(Ph.D. '11, Mathematics)
Bonni (Kealy) Dichone recently received her promotion to associate professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. In spring 2018, Springer International Publishing released the textbook, Comprehensive Applied Mathematical Modeling in the Natural and Engineering Sciences, which was co-authored with David J. Wollkind, WSU Professor Emeritus. This spring, the textbook, An Introduction to Numerical Methods Using MATLAB, co-authored by Khyrudding A. Ansari, professor of mechanical engineering at Gonzaga, will be released by SDC Publications. In addition to teaching mathematics at Gonzaga, Bonni teaches and choreographs at Artistry in Motion Dance and Performing Arts Studio and can be seen in several short films and commercials. She and her husband, Paulo, enjoy living in Spokane and are thrilled and excited to have had their first child this spring.
Alice Tian (Ph.D. '11, Mathematics)
Alice Tian currently lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with her husband and two children. She works for Barclays Bank and is Vice President of Model Review and Model Risk Management. Prior to this, she worked for JPMorgan Chase risk management for five years, a job she took right after graduating from WSU.
Daryl Deford (B.S. '10, Theoretical Mathematics)
After completing his B.S. in theoretical mathematics summa cum laude from WSU, Daryl Deford
went on to complete a Ph.D. from Dartmouth in 2018. While there, he received college-wide awards for research and teaching. During the last three years, he volunteered at a local middle school coaching their math team to two state, MathCount wins. He also taught calculus, mathematical modeling and research ethics, and developed workshops on LaTeX for undergraduates and high school students in mathematics camps. He and his office mate compiled a 250+ book of solutions to written qualification exam problems. He is presently a postdoc in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT, associated with the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group. Their focus is on developing mathematical tools for detecting and combating gerrymandering, which includes academic research on foundational issues of redistricting related to Markov chain Monte Carlo methods for sampling graph partitions and geometric measures of compactness, in addition to practical involvement with court cases and citizen's initiatives. He is involved in open source data analysis efforts, providing tools for community organizations to engage with the redistricting process. He and his wife, Katie, celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary this summer. They, and their two cats, live in Somerville, MA, after living in Windsor, VT, Norwich, VT, and Lebanon, NH. They have loved living in the Northeast and have taken advantage of the wonderful scenery and enjoy visiting cute little towns in New Hampshire and Vermont. They've also taken several trips to see the historical sites in DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.
2017 Dartmouth Teaching Award
2018 Dartmouth Hannah T. Croasdale Scholar Award
Nathan Moyer (Ph.D. '10, Mathematics)
Nathan Moyer is an associate professor of mathematics at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He loves teaching at Whitworth and has had the opportunity to develop and teach new courses including his favorite, cryptography. He enjoys working with students on research projects and advising many into mathematics graduate programs. He and his wife have four children, ages 9, 7, 5, and 3. There is never a dull moment at their house as the days are filled with school, ballet and piano recitals, church activities, and sports. During the summer months, they love to go on camping trips to explore the Pacific Northwest.
(M.S. '09, Mathematics)
Andrew Stevens is the owner and chief scientist at OptimalSensing LLC (www.optimalsensing.com). From 2009 to 2017, he was a staff scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. While there, he completed his PhD in electrical and computer engineering at Duke University (May 2018). Andrew works on compressive sensing and machine learning problems, especially in scientific imaging and electron microscopy. He has developed several new algorithms and imaging approaches (five patents pending) that allow scientists to analyze materials and chemical processes at the atomic level. Many of the most important processes in materials engineering and biology/medicine occur by the movement of atoms—such as the storing of charge in Li-ion batteries and drug interactions with cells to cure disease. Understanding and controlling the way that atoms move will lead to new technologies that address the major global challenges of energy, defense, and human health.
His WSU graduate advisor was Dr. Sergey Lapin. Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=-_ADUHwAAAAJ
(Ph.D. '09, Mathematics)
Amy Yielding is an associate professor of mathematics at Eastern Oregon University (EOU). In 2016 she received the EOU honor of Distinguished Faculty Member (www.eou.edu/news-press/june-2-board-meeting-summary/), an award given to one faculty member each year. At that time, she also received recognition from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for work she and her students completed on Air Quality Alerts in Burns, Oregon (www.eou.edu/news-press/students-improve-air-quality-prediction-model/). Amy has a three year old daughter, a one year old doggie named Chewbacca Picard Adama Yielding, and an amazing husband (who is a stay at home papa). They enjoy backpacking trips every year in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, cross country skiing every winter in the Blue Mountains, and camping out each summer on the Oregon Coast. Each summer, Amy enjoys growing a vegetable garden and she enjoys daily yoga and a properly brewed coffee.
Daniel Forsman (B.S. '07, Mathematics)
Daniel Forsman has lived in the Olympia, Washington, area since graduating from WSU and is a credentialed property/casualty actuary working for the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. He achieved the rare distinction of passing each of the seven associate exams for membership in the Casualty Actuarial Society on his first try when the average pass rate is approximately 40%. He has recently taken a break from studying for further credentials to pursue a second career developing software and analytics for 6-4-3 Charts, an emerging company in baseball scouting. The company has approximately 75 clients and worked exclusively with Division 1 baseball programs during the 2018 season. They are preparing to expand to Division 1 softball, Division 2 baseball, and Division 3 baseball for the 2019 season. Dan became interested in mathematics as a 10-year-old-fan obsessed with baseball statistics and simulation. He is happily married to another Coug and they still make it back to Pullman for an occasional football weekend.
Michael Harbour (B.S. '07, Mathematics)
Since graduating from WSU, Michael Harbour has worked the last 11 years in various actuarial roles for the Office of the State Actuary in his hometown of Olympia, Washington. His efforts are primarily focused on the pension valuations for state public employees, teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. During this time, he earned his professional credentials as an associate for the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He particularly enjoys working with the Board for Volunteer Fire Fighters on their pension and duty-related injury plan, the Guaranteed Education Tuition program, and estimating the future obligations associated with retiree medical subsidies offered by certain public employers in Washington. In 2014, he married a fellow Cougar alumna who is a high school science teacher who also coaches cheerleading. Over the last year, they’ve spent most of their time building a home and chasing their 16-month old daughter around. "I love golfing with friends, mentoring my SigEp fraternity undergraduates, and making spreadsheets. My wife and I also love food and traveling the world. We return to Pullman regularly for football games and the annual Harbour family reunion over the 4th of July."
Andrew Fowler (B.A. '04, M.S. '06, Mathematics)
Andrew Fowler is a senior researcher at Nuance Communications. From 2007 to 2010, he worked as a data analyst at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, Washington, before joining Google as a software engineer. He joined Nuance in 2018 where he develops language models for speech recognition systems used in the automotive industry. Andrew is also working part-time on a Ph.D. in computer science at Oregon Health & Science University. His research interests include discriminative language modeling and speech systems for people with physical disabilities. In 2014, Andrew won the Three Minute Thesis competition for the State of Oregon (www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ-yb5NdE64). Andrew's advisor at WSU was Dr. Bala Krishnamoorthy, focusing on bioinformatics. His master's degree topic was Three-body Statistical Potential for Protein Discrimination.
(B.S. '06, Mathematics)
After graduating from WSU in 2006, David Koslicki obtained a Ph.D. in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University in 2012 under the supervision of Dr. Manfred Denker. David held postdoctoral positions at Drexel University and the Mathematical Biosciences Institute at Ohio State University before starting a tenure-track assistant professor position in the mathematics department at Oregon State University in 2013. David has also been a visiting scholar at UCLA and the University of Cambridge. In the fall of 2019, he will begin a position as associate professor, with tenure, at Pennsylvania State University in the computer science and engineering department, biology department, and the Huck Institute of the Life Sciences. David's wife, a physical therapist, and their border collie mix will join him on the move across the country to Penn State University. David and his wife enjoy traveling, having been to 45 different U.S. states and 14 different countries, and are active in their local church. David's current research focuses on developing efficient computational algorithms to extract insight from biological sequencing data and he has been funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. He mainly focuses on analyzing communities of microorganisms, a field referred to as "metagenomics."
(Ph.D. '06, Mathematics)
Since April 2013, Kent Griffin has been a software contractor developing programs (using C++ and Python) to help analyze and evaluate RADAR systems for the 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron (84th RADES) of the U.S. Air Force. This is a highly specialized unit of personnel who ensure optimal performance of radars and sensors used in the defense of North America, as well as in support of combat operations. In addition, they support federal and military agencies, including the U.S. Air Force Safety Center, by performing radar forensics on aircraft mishaps as well as search and rescue missions. Kent is currently employed by Resource Management Concepts, Inc. As of 2019, he is named on 19 issued software patents. Prior to his time as a software contractor, he established the first store of a leading national cell phone repair franchise in Utah from 2011 to 2013. From 2006 to 2011, he was with Symantec Research Labs in Culver City, CA, working the first three years as a senior principal software engineer to protect Internet Explorer from exploits. His solution was marketed as one of the top differentiating features of Norton Symantec's 2008 consumer Internet Security Solutions and he filed two patents during this period. He then became director of the Core Research Group of Symantec Research Labs and led a team of seven full-time researchers to develop new technologies for the commercialization of Symantec's next-generation security and storage products.
Andrew (Andy) Loveless (Ph.D. '05, Mathematics)
Andrew (Andy) Loveless has worked as a principal lecturer (the highest rank for this position) in the department of mathematics at the University of Washington since obtaining his Ph.D., a position he clearly loves. In his classes, Andy utilizes a strategy of gamification that emphasizes student engagement to mitigate math’s intimidating reputation as a challenging academic roadblock. “People like solving puzzles,” he explains. “If you can make the math just a puzzle, a game, and problem solving, usually it goes better.” Typically, he teaches eight large classes each year with approximately 150+ students per class from across the freshman/sophomore math curriculum. Being an avid tennis player he says, “I’m a guy who’s about practice, practice, practice. Just because you know how to do that problem, you still have to practice. You need to just hammer it into the ground until you get it. I tell my students the tests are the game.” In addition to teaching, he has developed a large number of free course resources and produces a weekly class newsletter that contains problems for students to review and gives them a look at classwork in the week ahead, along with words of encouragement. In his position, he also advises and mentors graduate students. His unwavering dedication to students earned him the University of Washington's 2012 Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as an Honors Excellence in Teaching Award, but for Andy, being in the classroom is a reward unto itself. “I get to interact with musical talents, with sports stars, with students that are traveling abroad — all doing fun things,” he says. “There aren’t many places like a university campus—all the opportunities, all the excitement.” He and his wife, who teaches middle school in Seattle, have three children. Their children are involved in basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis, which means they help run the local baseball league and coach many of the kids' teams. Formerly an all-conference varsity tennis player before attending WSU, he has recently returned to the sport by competing in "35 and over" open tournaments saying, "I'm enjoying pretending to be a kid again, despite the protests from my body."
Nag Parthasarathi (Ph.D. '04, Mathematics)
Nag Parthasarathi joined Black Hills State University in 2004 as an assistant professor in mathematics after receiving his Ph.D. During the next five years, he worked on various grant and research projects as both co-PI and PI, which included a grant from the National Institutes of Health. In 2009-2010, he became an associate professor in mathematics. During the following five years, he worked on various projects, including a Black Hills Math Circle to provide challenging math problems and topics for high school students. He also collaborated on a National Science Foundation grant regarding the application of algebraic geometry to electrical power system network problems with a colleague at North Dakota State University. In 2014-2015, he became a professor of mathematics, a position he currently holds. He is the undergraduate coordinator for research, which includes facilitating an undergraduate research conference each year in late March at Black Hills State University and arranging for students to participate in the annual National College Undergraduate Research program. He is a recipient of a Black Hills State University Distinguished Faculty Award and served as Faculty Senate President for three years. Recently he decided to make a lifestyle change and has taken up Crossfit workouts, as a hobby, along with some hiking and running.
(M.S. '01, Statistics)
Korash Hernandez has a passion for data-driven decision making that leverages cutting edge technology to better serve everyone. This passion and drive led him to found statusmoney.com (“Status”) in 2016. Status compares and analyzes members interest rates, spending, debts, and assets using machine learning algorithms to find opportunities for members to save and earn smarter. Prior to co-founding statusmoney.com, Korash spent six years at premier banks in New York, including a role as Vice President at Goldman Sachs where he was the eighth employee hired for “Marcus by Goldman Sachs.” He also worked at Citibank, serving as head of digital analytics for credit card acquisitions. Prior to Citi, Korash led fraud and credit modeling at T-Mobile for nine years. Korash holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Oregon and a master's degree in statistics from WSU.
(Ph.D. '00, Mathematics)
Andy Felt is professor of mathematical sciences at University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, where he has been since August, 2000. He teaches operations research courses, among others. In 2006, Andy started the university's, Center for Athletic Scheduling, a student-run group which creates schedules for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Division III Conferences, around the country. Most of his research is in collaboration with undergraduates. He has published and presented (mostly with students) on the following topics: voting systems, geodesic domes, assigning students to schools, academic course scheduling, athletic scheduling, math games for families, stochastic model predictive control, and prisoner's dilemma. He is the first recipient of the university's award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service. Andy has been president of the faculty/staff union since 2010. Andy and his wife have two sons (born in Pullman), both in college. Together, the family has published a children's mystery novel called "The Stolen Golden Violin." His wife teaches English at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has written several novels. His graduate advisor was Dr. Ari Ariyawansa.
(M.S. '04, Ph.D. '97, Mathematics)
Scott Wilde is currently in his 15th year of teaching calculus, business calculus, linear algebra and differential equations at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He teaches 11 classes each year (including summer) and serves as the Baylor Math Club advisor. Scott, along with his wife and their two younger children, live in a modified dorm room in a Baylor Residence Hall where he serves as a faculty-in-residence. "I really enjoy teaching mathematics and I enjoy getting to know the students. I'm thankful to be 'working' at something I love. Helping students inside and outside of the classroom is extremely rewarding." After a mission trip to Germany in the summer of 2016, Scott began studying German and has just completed his fifth semester of German language courses. In addition to learning German, he recently finished a half-marathon. Since he isn't a gifted linguist or runner, both of these undertakings have brought home the difficulty many students encounter as they're trying to learn mathematics. "There have been plenty of times I've wanted to quit, but instead I've worked hard and persevered and this is what I encourage my students to do with mathematics." Although he lives in Waco, he admits that he doesn't know Chip or Joanna Gaines of "Fixer Upper" and has never been to the Magnolia Silos.
Richard R. Drake
(Ph.D. '95, Mathematics)
Richard R. Drake received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics in late 1995 under advisor, Dr. V.S. "Mano" Manoranjan. In 1996, he moved to Panama City, Florida, to take a postdoctoral position at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Armstrong Laboratory, where he worked on modeling ground water transport of contaminant releases and compared the results to data from a release experiment concurrently taking place. In early 1998, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to take a job with Sandia National Laboratories as a computational scientist in a Research & Development Science & Engineering position. Sandia is one of the National Nuclear Security Administration's enterprise locations and its primary mission is maintaining the safety, reliability, and security of the nuclear stockpile. Richard joined a team of physicists, engineers, and computer scientists developing a high energy, high deformation, solid mechanics code named, The Arbitrary-Lagrangian-Eulerian General Research Application (ALEGRA), whose niche was a coupled electromechanics capability. The code is part of the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative, in response to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and is a high-performance computing application running on one to many thousands of home-sized computers connected by very fast networks (commonly known as a super computer). He has been a project lead on a handful of significant projects at Sandia and was promoted to principal member of the technical staff in 2004. He is currently the project leader for development and operations of the Sierra Suite of physics simulation codes, which consist of millions of lines of code and tens of thousands of tests and is distributed to the National Nuclear Security Administration and Department of Defense labs across the country. He has been happily married to his wife for over 18 years, with three wonderful children and three grandchildren. His wife is a New York Times bestselling author who has published over seven books in the young adult fantasy genre.
(Ph.D. '93, Mathematics)
After earning his Ph.D., Lyle Cochran taught mathematics at Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, California, from 1993 to 1995 before joining the faculty at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, where he continues to teach and do research. He is coauthor of a calculus text with Bill Briggs (University of Colorado-Denver), Bernard Gillett (University of Colorado-Boulder), and Eric Schulz (Walla Walla Community College), which is used widely across the nation including Oregon State University, Clemson University, and Washington State University. He is the recipient of the 2010 Whitworth University Academic Challenge Award. "The year 1995 was both a scary and exciting year for me. I had surgery for thyroid cancer and, three weeks later, I married Susan Wada ('92 WSU College of Veterinary Medicine) who has been practicing veterinary medicine ever since she graduated." In his spare time, he enjoys fly fishing and has fun practicing dog training on their golden retriever, Emi. His graduate advisor was Dr. Sandy Cooper.
- Assistant Professor, Leslie New, has been appointed to a three-year term on the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel. Read more.
- Mathematics graduate student, Ralph Chikhany, has been elected president of the WSU Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) for the 2019-2020 academic year.
- Graduating mathematics major, Kayla Rhodes, was chosen to carry the College of Arts and Sciences banner (also known as a gonfalon) at the WSU 2018 Commencement Ceremony. Kayla graduated with a double major in math and computer science. She completed internships at Disney, HP, and CDK Global and has since returned to Disney to work on a machine learning project.
- Professors' Judi McDonald and Michael Tsatsomeros, along with K.C Sivakumar of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - Madras, are the recipients of a Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration grant awarded by the government of India. The grant ($100K) will support visits to IIT and WSU by the investigators, the exchange of two graduate students per institution for one semester, and the organization of workshops.
- Clinical Associate Professor, Kim Vincent, recently answered the Dr. Universe question, "How many peas would fit in the sun?"
- The department recently held its annual end-of-the-year barbecue. View barbecue photos.
- Spring commencement was held on May 4th at 3:00pm in the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. Click here to see department photos of our graduates.
- Instructor Emily Sablan, and her husband Matt, had a baby girl on February 21, 2019.
- Former graduate student, Thomas Cameron, and his wife had their second child, a baby girl, on December 21, 2018.
Degree Recipients Academic Year 2018-2019
Bachelor's in Mathematics
|Logan Wayne Coleman||Dylan Curtis Jones||Kayla Rhoades|
|Miranda Rae Cornille||Eleanor Grace Jones||Jingwei Su|
|Iris Lauren Garalde||Jikun Li||Miranda Reina Tomuro Leavens|
|Christyna Stella Georgejjkj||Nathan Oldenburg||Wenbo Wang|
|Joseph Hanley||Zhenhao Qin||Patrick Williams|
Master's in Mathematics
|Valerie Cheathon||Eric Foley||Jillian Morrison|
Master's in Statistics
|Kuan-Ju Chen||Mikhail Gongadze||Xi Gu|
|Boris Houenou||Sarah Morton||Yiran Wang|
- Shan Li - Thesis: Computational Rheometry of Viscoelastic Materials Using Lagrangian Mesh Methods. Major Advisor: Robert H. Dillon
- Wei Li - Thesis: Penalized Optimization for R-Vine Copula Model Selection. Major Advisor: Hongbo Dong
- Laramie Paxton - Thesis: Boundary Measures and Cubical Covers of Sets in Rn. Major Advisor: Kevin Vixie
- Saranah Selmi - Thesis: Hybrid continuous-discrete models for reaction-diffusion processes. Major Advisor: Nikolaos Voulgarakis
- Cameron Sweet - Thesis: High School Student Representational Adaptivity and Transfer in Multiplying Polynomials. Major Advisor: Libby Knott
- Jie Zhao - Thesis: Mathematical Modeling and Bayesian Parameter Estimation in Cancer. Major Advisor: Robert H. Dillon
Bachelor's in Mathematics
|Umar Abdullah||Lindsey Hage||Brian McIlvaine|
|Jacob Bansberg||Jaron Hamlick||Sarah Moore|
|Ally Carrigan||Maximillian Hart||William Moore|
|Andrew Caughell||Gabriel Henneman||Gator Newell|
|Christian Chamberlain||Devon Holze||William Riande|
|Katherine Crow||Catherine Lindner||Samantha Simpson|
|Aaron Doull||Jiawei Ling||Kylie Sosky|
|Nelson Fuentes||Ronald Lorimer||Daniel Tomko|
|Serene Ghazi||Daniel Malone Buoy|
Master's in Mathematics
|Nick Cowan||Chaitre Hande||Yu-Yu Liu||Ryan Lattanzi||Nathaniel Saul|
Master's in Statistics
|Jiayu Li||Silu Lyu||Mostafa Rezapour||Yuanhong Song||Robert Stancil|
- Mashael Albaidani - Thesis: Extension of Nonnegative Matrices. Major Advisor: Judith McDonald
- Yufeng Cao - Thesis: Experiments in Medical Image Segmentation. Major Advisors: Kevin Vixie and Yuan Wang
- Ziyi Chen - Thesis: Non-nested hypothesis tests for vine copulas and statistical learning techniques in process monitoring. Major Advisor: Jave Pascual
- Henry Riely - Thesis: A modified Chang-Wilson-Wolff inequality via the Bellman function. Major Advisor: Charles Moore
- Yan Xing - Thesis: Mutual Information of Vine Copulas. Major Advisor: Haijun Li