Newsletter Masthead with 3 students studying

Newsletter June 2022

From the Chair

Photo of Department Chair Charles Moore

Dear Alumni, Friends, Colleagues, and Students,

Welcome to the 2021-2022 edition of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics newsletter.

Classes were back in-person starting in the Fall of 2021, and the campus is as active as before the pandemic. Much is as it used to be: student clubs are meeting in-person, students are participating in research projects with faculty, department meetings are in-person, graduations are being held on all campuses with family and friends, and we have been able to hold some department social events in-person.

Still, the effects of the pandemic linger on. Students have fallen ill or lost loved ones. Many students need to take care of friends or family. It has been hard for some to readjust to campus life after being away for a year. Both the freshman and sophomore classes were new to campus life. Throughout, the entire WSU community pulled together. We have been checking on each other and providing help whenever it is needed. I am thankful to be a part of such a supportive and caring community.

In this newsletter, you can read about some of the exciting things happening in the department. Faculty and students are pursuing interesting directions in their research. Several books authored by department members have appeared recently. Three faculty members earned promotions. In April, in Pullman, the department hosted the Pacific Inland Mathematics Undergraduate Conference. In May, the department hosted the Pacific Northwest SIAM conference on our Vancouver campus. Faculty and students in the department have continued to reap awards and honors. On a sad note, we lost three emerti whose significant contributions to the growth and development of the department led us to the world-class stature we enjoy today.

I hope you enjoy this newsletter. We would be very interested in hearing from you. Please send us a note or an email 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. You all have contributed to the success of department and the students we teach.


Charles Moore
Professor and Department Chair

June 2022
Pullman, WA

Newly Published Faculty-Authored Books

image of Application-Inspired Linear Algebra book cover

Tom Asaki is co-author of the book Application-Inspired Linear Algebra. Co-authors are WSU alumna Heather A. Moon and Marie A. Snipes.

image of Bio-Mimetic Swimmers in Incompressible Fluids book cover
Alex Khapalov is the author of a new book Bio-Mimetic Swimmers in Incompressible Fluids: Modeling, Well-Posedness, and Controllability.

image of Statistical Methods for Reliability Databook  book cover

Jave Pascual is co-author of the book Statistical Methods for Reliability Data published by Wiley. Co-authors are William Q. Meeker and Luis A. Escobar.

image of Pulling Rabbits Out of Hats book cover

David Wollkind is the author of a new book Pulling Rabbits Out of Hats with Gonzaga University Associate Professor and WSU alumna, Bonni Dichone.

DeFord Provides Expert Testimony

The 10 year U.S. Census determines the number of congressional districts to which a state is entitled, and if the census shows population changes have occurred since the previous census, then that state is responsible for redistricting, or redrawing its legislative map. When this occurs there is a concern that electoral districts might be manipulated to favor a candidate or party, which is called gerrymandering. As part of the 2018 Voting Rights Data Institute, Assistant Professor Daryl DeFord led a team to create an open source tool called GerryChain to help detect gerrymandering. Information about the tool may be found in the 2021 WSU Insider article, "Open source tool can help identify gerrymandering in voting maps."

After the 2020 Pennsylvania census, the state's allotted number of congressional representatives had declined from 18 to 17 and a new congressional district map needed to be drawn. But the redistricting process between the governor and the state legislature had broken down by February 2022, so the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was then tasked to redistrict the state's electoral districts. The process needed to be completed well before the May 17, 2022, primary so voters could be assigned to their correct district with enough time left if an appeal was made to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state Court found it difficult to redistrict Pennsylvania because metrics were varied and an agreement couldn't be reached on how many counties should be split. There was also concern over variations of standards used to evaluate partisan fairness based on the number of past elections included in the dataset. The Court asked Daryl DeFord to testify, in addition to experts from Stanford, MIT, and Tufts. In making its redistricting decision, the Court used DeFord's analysis and computations over others' saying, "Given these variations, we rely upon the analyses performed by Dr. Daryl DeFord, which evaluate all of the submitted plans using the same methods and data sets. We appreciate Dr. DeFord's efforts in this regard as it allows the Court to engage in an apples-to-apples comparision of the plans on each metric."

Information about the Pennsylvania redistricting case may be downloaded here:

DeFord's research focuses on applying algebraic and combinatorial methods to the analysis of social data with an emphasis on applications of discrete sampling techniques to political redistricting and social network models. Read more about DeFord's research.

Prior to joining the faculty at WSU, he completed a postdoctoral position at MIT in the Geometric Data Processing Group while collaborating with the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group on mathematical modeling of political geography and developing open-source software for detecting and combatting gerrymandering. DeFord completed his doctoral degree at Dartmouth College with a thesis evaluating dynamical models for complex networks.

Department Hosts Applied Mathematics Conference

group photo of WSU Vancouver SIAM participants in 2022

The third biennial meeting of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Pacific Northwest Section was held from May 22 to 24 on the WSU Vancouver campus. The conference had about 150 participants, drawing an array of researchers from universities and industry in the region and beyond.

The conference featured plenary talks by Tegan Emerson of PNNL, Jodi Mead from Boise State University, Jessica Stockdale from Simon Fraser University, and Jevin West from the University of Washington. Eleven minisymposia covered topics such as mathematical modeling of biological systems, imaging science, topological data analysis, and nonlinear waves. Additionally, there were four sessions for contributed talks and a poster session.

Among the members of the organizing team were WSU Vancouver faculty member Bala Krishnamoorthy, WSU Pullman faculty member Lynn Schreyer, and WSU PhD graduate Bonni Dichone of Gonzaga University. Several department graduate students assisted during the days of the conference.

The Pacific Northwest Section of SIAM comprises the states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington and the province of British Columbia. It is one of nine regional sections of SIAM in North America. In addition to the biennial meetings, the section organizes a virtual seminar series, and promotes SIAM related activities in the region.

Department Hosts Undergraduate PiMUC Conference

Photo of PiMUC speaker

On Saturday, April 9, 2022, the department hosted the Pacific Inland Mathematics Undergraduate Conference (PiMUC, also known as πMUC) on the Pullman campus. The conference, with participants from Eastern Oregon University, Oregon State University, University of Montana, University of Idaho, Gonzaga, and WSU, gave student researchers the opportunity to present their work through either a short talk or poster. Students showcased work done with faculty members, capstone projects, class projects, or original solutions to problems on math contests. The conference also featured a plenary talk by faculty member Daryl DeFord.

A box lunch was served so attendees could visit different tables to meet with graduate students in the department’s Association for Women in Mathematics student chapter. The graduate students offered mentoring and advice on different topics relating to graduate school, including the application process, serving as a teaching assistant, and what to expect in graduate courses.

Professor Amy Yielding of Eastern Oregon University and Professor Bonni Dichone of Gonzaga University, both PhD graduates of WSU, created this annual conference series in 2018. In previous years, the conference has been held on the campus of Gonzaga and on Zoom in 2020 and 2021.

Local organizers, Professors Will Hall and Sergey Lapin, ensured that everything ran smoothly. Thanks should also be given to the department’s staff who handled most of the arrangements.

For more information see the conference website at and read this WSU Insider article, "Math undergrads from four states meet to solve real‑world problems."

The next edition of PiMUC will be held at Gonzaga in April 2023.

New Student Learning Assistant Program

We are excited about the Student Learning Assistant Program that started in the department last year! The program creates space for students to gain confidence, enhance their study skills, and practice course material. It is funded through a grant from the WSU Office of the Provost to support instructors and students in large lecture courses. Learning assistants provide additional support to students in the following courses: Basic Mathematics, Pre-Algebra, College Algebra, Trigonometry, and Calculus I.

Professors William Hall and Kari DeBower redesigned the structure of Math 100 – Basic Mathematics and Math 103 – Pre-Algebra to provide more student support through the use of undergraduate learning assistants, and to better prepare these students for future courses. The structure for Pre-Algebra required qualifying students to take Math 100 as a co-requisite with Math 103. The objective for students taking these courses as co-requisites is to provide them with prerequisite material “just-in-time” for the upcoming material in their Pre-Algebra course. The student learning assistants provide help in and outside of the classroom, and attend the Basic Mathematics course regularly to assist students working on course material and in-class activities. Student learning assistants are available at the Math Learning Center and may also be assigned to students to offer individual support.

Professor Hall and graduate student Serena Peterson worked closely to develop a co-requisite course for qualifying students taking Calculus I. Students in the course met weekly with an instructor and student learning assistants. The goals included strengthening study skills, reviewing pre-requisite material, and providing study time for Calculus I. Students were expected to write reflections on their understanding of the material.

The student learning assistants were eager to provide their peers with an understanding attitude and support. They were able to network with other students and improve their own knowledge, confidence, and social and communication skills.

Students have responded in a positive way regarding learning assistants. One algebra student stated, “It is nice to have multiple perspectives for the same problem and very helpful to have more than one person explain the problem. There are more opportunities for help in class, and the wait is not that long with learning assistants and the instructor circulating the classroom.”

By taking courses such as Math 100 and 103 together, this shortens the number of semesters STEM majors will be taking math classes and allows them to more quickly finish math prerequisites for their fields of study. This shortening of course sequences has been shown to increase performance and decrease dropout rates.

Department Members Receive Awards

Department faculty and students were recognized this spring by a variety of awards.

Professor Krishna Jandhyala received the College of Arts and Sciences 2022 Outstanding Achievement in International Activities Award, honoring his worldwide research collaborations, his organization of international conferences, and his service to professional organizations in many countries.

Associate Professor Nikolaos Voulgarakis was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences 2022 Interdisciplinary Catalyst Award, recognizing his innovative work at the intersection of mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biophysics.

Mathematics graduate student Jessica Dickson won the College of Arts and Sciences Three Minute Thesis Competition for the presentation of her research “The overlays of Riordan Arrays”.

Mathematics graduate student Priyanka Rao took first place in the physical and social sciences category of the Graduate and Professional Students Association’s Research Exposition.

Scholarly Associate Professor Dean Johnson received the 2022 Outstanding Service Award from the American Statistical Association, recognizing his service on committees, organization of programs at the Joint Statistical Meetings, and leadership to create a journal dedicated to issues involved in consulting.

Teaching Associate Professor Eric Remaley received a WSU President’s Award for Leadership for his excellence in teaching.

Graduate student Paula Kimmerling received a WSU President’s Award for Leadership for exceptional leadership and service to students.

Professor Bala Krishnamoorthy received the Yang Liu Excellence in Teaching Award by International Programs, for his effectiveness and care in teaching international students.

Professors Judi McDonald and Eric Remaley were both nominees for the 2022 Global Excellence in Online Teaching Award.

Professor Nairanjana (Jan) Dasgupta received the WSU 2022 Woman of the Year Award for her work in statistics and her efforts to increase opportunities for women in the field.

Mathematics major Annie Lu was chosen as the department’s outstanding senior. Annie was also chosen as a 2022 WSU Top Ten Senior. Annie was a recipient of a Fulbright Award.

Gifts Benefit Students

The department offers a very sincere thank you to Robert S. Pharr and to Sam C. and Ruth Ann Saunders for their generous contributions to support our graduate program.

The Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Mathematics in honor of Dr. Tyre Newton was established in 2018 and complements the many other graduate fellowships Dr. Pharr has established in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. In Arts and Sciences, The Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Physics and Astronomy and the Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Chemistry both honor Percy M. Pharr, Dr. Pharr’s father and a 1936 WSU graduate in architectural engineering. In the College of Education, Dr. Pharr established the Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Honor of Dr. William McDougall and the Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Honor of Dr. James Hicklin.

Bob Pharr completed three degrees at WSU. In 1965, he earned his BA in general studies – science, and in 1970 and 1979, he earned his MA in education and his PhD in education, respectively. Bob taught physics at Pullman High School for over three decades before retiring and teaching himself graduate-level mathematics. Bob wrote the VecGraphs software program for teachers, students, and other individuals to use at no cost. The description at says: “This software allows you to study the relation between graphs and their equations, and provides a learn by doing approach to mathematics.”

The Sam C. and Ruth Ann Saunders Graduate Fellowship in Mathematics was established in the fall of 2021. The Saunders wish to support graduate students who are pursuing degrees in mathematics with applications in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Sam Saunders was born in Richland, Oregon, in 1931 during the Great Depression. In 1944, his family moved to LaGrande, Oregon. He attended Eastern Oregon University (at the time, Eastern Oregon College) and the University of Oregon. He graduated with a degree in mathematics as well as a Phi Beta Kappa key and a DeCou award. Sam then went on to the University of Washington to earn his PhD in mathematics. Afterward, he worked at Boeing until the early 1970s, at which time he became a professor of mathematics at WSU. Sam is known for fundamental contributions to reliability theory and fatigue life models of metals and materials.

Ruth Ann Saunders was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1932. She studied mathematics at the University of Washington. After graduation, she was a computer programmer and was among the first to work on IBM’s interpretation of a Turing Machine. In 1954, she and Sam were married.

Again, a very sincere thank you to Robert S. Pharr and to Sam C. and Ruth Ann Saunders for their establishment and continued contributions to these WSU Foundation Endowment Funds. Your gifts provide wonderful support and opportunities for our graduate students.

NW Regional Conference

Secondary mathematics education students from the Pullman and Vancouver campuses attended the 60th Annual Northwest Regional Mathematics Conference in October 2021. The students were enrolled in Math 330, Methods of Teaching Secondary Mathematics, taught by Kristin Lesseig, an associate professor of mathematics education at WSU Vancouver in the College of Education.

The annual conference usually rotates between locations in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. This last year it was scheduled to be held in Vancouver, BC, but was switched online because of the pandemic. The conference registration fees were covered by funding from a faculty seed grant secured by William Hall, assistant professor of mathematics education in the department.

Students were able to choose which sessions they wanted to attend and were expected to write about their general and specific experiences. “After the conference, students shared their key takeaways and learning from the conference. Students were also required to individually reflect on the experience,” Lesseig said. Students were asked to consider the questions: How did this experience impact you as a preservice teacher? How did it impact you as a learner/future teacher/person/etc.? “All students reported it as a very positive experience and were able to make key connections to course readings and discussions,” Lesseig added.

Information on the conference may be found at:

Excerpts from written reflections reveal the impression the experience had on the students:

“I thought it was really cool to see that things we were discussing in my classes really do show up in the classroom when I am a teacher. I think the absolute biggest thing I am walking away from this conference with is my idea of social justice in the math classroom.”

“I really enjoyed this conference. I enjoyed hearing about different ideas and perspectives on what is important in mathematics in today’s world. Most of the conference reinforced ideas that I learned in the classroom.... I think everything I learned in the conference will help me become a better teacher, person, and even parent. The lesson plans I watched and listened to helped reinforce ideas that were brought up in class, like how to patiently encourage student discourse and how to use different perspectives to lead that discourse. I also learned that I know even less about the difficulty of executing ideas into an actual classroom. I think I have a better idea of how to make a flexible lesson plan, something that I now think should be part of every building of any lesson plan. Overall, this conference gave me a peek about what kind of lessons might work for my future classroom and how I will implement those lessons.”

“Overall this talk (keynote by Francis Su – author of Mathematics for Human Flourishing) tied in well with our class so far and I was able to take away new ideas on how to create interesting problems to bring joy and wonder into the math class. Overall the conference was a huge learning opportunity while simultaneously being inspiring and engaging. Previous to this conference I was feeling a bit burnt out and slightly unmotivated. However, getting to hear from Francis reminded me of why I chose math and why it’s fun again.”

“I really enjoyed listening to Nikki Lineham; she had a great talk about what culturally responsive teaching is, why it’s important, what it looks like, and how we can incorporate it into our classrooms. I also appreciated her acknowledging how we can have a narrow vision but we can widen our scope by listening to our students’ cultural experiences. It is something that isn’t talked about often in math classes, but I love that we are doing so now. She gave so many good examples of how to include everyone in number talks that I have written down to use in the future. Now I have extra resources to look into for this and more. Her talk felt so well researched, but what I loved the most was that she really seemed passionate about what she spoke about and it made me all the more excited and motivated to be a better teacher.”

Faculty Promotions

Three faculty members will receive promotions in August 2022.

image of Dean Johnson

Dean Johnson has been promoted to scholarly professor.

image of Emily Sablan

Emily Sablan has been promoted to associate teaching professor.

image of L. Rocio Sotomayor

L. Rocio Sotomayor has been promoted to teaching professor.

In Memoriam

Photo of David C. Barnes
David C. Barnes
(October 9, 1938 - December 14, 2021)

David (Dave) C. Barnes, associate professor emeritus of mathematics, passed away on December 14, 2021, as a result of longstanding severe heart difficulties. Dave was born in Wilbourn, Oklahoma, situated within the Choctaw Nation. His family moved to Sacramento, California, where Dave was raised. In 1961, he received a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from Sacramento State College. Continuing his education, he obtained a master's degree in mathematics in 1963 and a doctoral degree in mathematics in 1967 from the University of California, Davis. During his graduate school years he was the recipient of a prestigious NSF Fellowship.

In 1966, he came to the WSU Department of Mathematics and advanced through the ranks to associate professor in 1972. He retired in 1999. He published many articles in his research area of the mathematical theory of inequalities, and was instrumental in the development of the Mathematics Department Computing Center. As a teacher, he was well liked by students who appreciated his thorough knowledge of the subject matter, careful preparation, and classroom presentation. Students also commented favorably on his fairness and his availability.

Dave became the guardian of Alan and Dave Meyer in 1970 upon the death of their father, WSU Mathematics Professor Paul Meyer. Dave later adopted a son, Michael Milano. All three boys were, and remained, close to Dave and valued their association with him until his passing.

During his years at WSU he was a member in good standing of a small group of practical jokers who enjoyed playing pranks on each another, as well as on other members of the department. One of their better jokes involved the first U.S.A. space station Skylab. Skylab, launched in 1973, re-entered the earth's atmosphere on July 11, 1979 and disintegrated. Dave, with the help of others, welded together an assembly of pipes, angle iron, and car parts, and painted it black with the stenciled words, "Skylab, Part #_____." While WSU astronomers Tom and Julie Lutz were out of town during Skylab's re-entry, the fake Skylab part was placed in their yard. Tom and Julie were amazed to find it when they returned home. As part of the prank, the Pullman Herald was notified and a news story was written which included Tom's observation that "it is highly unlikely a part of Skylab would fall in Pullman."

Another joke involved "Yard of the Month." Every summer month during the 1980's, the City of Pullman selected one yard on each of its four hills as the best-groomed yard. Each selected home received a sign to be proudly displayed in their front yard that said "City of Pullman, Yard of the Month." When Professor Charles (Chuck) Millham and his wife returned home from a summer trip they discovered a sign in their yard saying, "City of Pullman, Yard of the Month Last Place." These are only a few examples of his funny and sly sense of humor.

Dave had many hobbies. He enjoyed outdoor activities including camping, fishing, and canoeing. He was an avid photographer with an in-home dark room and took many pictures of himself and his friends carrying out their practical jokes. He was also an accomplished musician and mastered the seven-string guitar. In his retirement, he took up woodworking and did many projects for his home and church. He also took time to perform extensive genealogy research of the Barnes family.

He was a caring and thoughtful individual with an easy-going disposition. Dave was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, and his wife, Virginia Hyde. He is survived by Alan and Dave Meyer and Michael Milano.

Calvin Thomas Long
(October 10, 1927 - March 25, 2021)

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Calvin T. Long, was born in Rubert, Idaho, and received his pre-college education there. He received a BS in mathematics from the University of Idaho in 1950, as well as a master's degree (1952) and a doctoral degree (1955) in mathematics from the University of Oregon under the direction of Ivan Niven. He worked at the National Security Agency in Washington, D. C. for one year, and in 1956 joined the mathematics faculty at Washington State College. He advanced through the ranks, becoming tenured in 1960 and professor in 1965. He served as chair of the Department of Mathematics from 1970 to 1978. Cal retired in 1992 and then spent several years at Northern Arizona University.

During his time at WSU, Cal authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and gave numerous invited talks in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United States. Throughout the 1960's and the early 1970's, Cal was director or associate director of many NSF-funded institutes for K-12 mathematics teachers. Cal also authored or co-authored several books on number theory, at least two of which are still in publication.

As a teacher, Cal had the respect of his students. Although a taskmaster, Cal had a good sense of humor, sound scholarship, and the ability to bring out the best in his students. He imbued students with his own enthusiasm for number theory, as well as his teaching of mathematics. In 1987, Cal received the WSU President's Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching. During his career, Cal was a thesis advisor for five doctoral students and advised 27 master's students.

Cal belonged to many honor societies and mathematical societies including the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), American Mathematical Society, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the Fibonacci Association. He served on the numerous local, regional, and national committees of these societies. In 1991, the MAA awarded him its Certificate of Meritorious Service. The Fibonacci Association dedicated one edition of the "Fibonacci Quarterly" in his honor for his meritorious service, which had included membership on its board of directors as well as serving as its president for fifteen years.

As chair of the WSU Mathematics Department, Cal oversaw the department's change of emphasis in research efforts from theoretical to applied. Cal made several hires of applied mathematicians and statisticians. This culminated in a three-year grant, in collaboration with Clemson University, from the National Science Foundation to rewrite the graduate program emphasizing applied mathematics. He was noted for his strong support, through time and money, for the development of research projects.

On a personal note, Cal was encouraged by his wife, Jean, who supported him in his endeavors, especially regarding the social life of the department. They had two children, Tracy and Gregory, of whom they were very proud. Cal was an avid fly fisherman. Every September before fall semester began, he could be found on one of many streams or lakes in Idaho casting his line. He was a member of his church choir and several singing groups, including the Pullman/Moscow Chorale and the Idaho-Washington Symphony Chorale.

In 1999, the Calvin T. Long Visiting Scholars Fund was created through the WSU Foundation in his honor. This established the annual Long Lecture to bring distinguished mathematicians to WSU for extended visits to provide an exchange between mathematics undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, educators, and industry. Professor Long was able to attend some of these lectures, and department members, guest speakers, and attendees highly regarded the time he spent with them.

photo of Julie Lutz
Julie Lutz
(1944 - 2022)

Julie Lutz died at the age of 77 on May 3, 2022, at her daughter’s home in West Sacramento, California. Julie earned a bachelor’s degree at San Diego State University and a PhD at the University of Illinois in 1972 in astronomy. Her research interests included planetary nebulae and symbiotic binary stars.

From 1971 to 1996, she worked at WSU - as the director of the planetarium, as the Boeing Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Science Education, and as the director of the Astronomy Program. She served as the chair of the Department of Pure and Applied Mathematics from 1992 to 1996 - a period during which enrollments grew by 25 percent. She also served as an assistant dean in the Division of Sciences and as associate provost. In 2000, she moved to the University of Washington.

Julie was nationally recognized for her efforts to improve K-12 science and mathematics education. She participated in a NASA program to increase astronomy understanding among middle and high school teachers and conducted workshops for teachers in these grades. She was a strong advocate of developing science career opportunities for women.

Julie was invited to serve on a NASA committee that studied the potential impacts of the discovery of extraterrestrial life and developed a class on that topic.

From 1990 to 1992 she served as director of the Division of Astronomical Sciences of the NSF, where her leadership was recognized with the Award for Management Excellence. She chaired the publications board of the American Astronomical Society and, from 1991 to 1993, served as president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Julie was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Julie was honored with the Alumni of the Year Award from San Diego State University in 1992 and the WSU College of Sciences and Arts Faculty Achievement Award in 1993.

Julie and her husband Tom, also an astronomer, have been permanently honored by the College of Arts and Sciences through the establishment of the Tom and Julie Lutz Science and Mathematics Teaching Excellence Award, given annually to a faculty member in the sciences or mathematics.

Julie and second husband, George Wallerstein, were awarded the President’s Award by the United Negro College Fund in 2004 in recognition of their fundraising activities.

Faculty member Krishna Jandhyala recalls, “She served as chair for a few years and was able to bring the faculty together with her friendly approach to all.” Faculty member David Slavit remembers, “Julie and her husband Tom were both outstanding astronomers and teachers (hence the Lutz Teaching Award). They loved hiking and the outdoors – were always finding new places to go.”

She was preceded in death by her first husband, Tom Lutz, and her second husband, George Wallerstein. Professor Lutz is survived by a daughter, Melissa Blouin, and several grandchildren and their families.

Alumni News

photo of Jordan Michael Culp

Jordan Michael Culp ('21 PhD Math.) holds a post-doctoral position in the Nicola Computational Neuroscience Lab in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the University of Calgary, funded by the Pacific Institute of the Mathematical Sciences. He researches novel techniques for analyzing inherent dynamics in the neural data from the McGirr lab at the University of Calgary. This involves many big data problems, so Jordan's current research involves first applying a variety of mathematical and statistical methodologies to decompose, approximate, and cluster the data in lower dimensional space before standard analytical approaches can be applied. When not working on post-doctoral research, Jordan likes to scour local record shops for new vinyl records to add to his collection as well as scour local pizza shops for his new favorite slice. He also likes to frequent Banff National Park for a good day-hike. After completion of this post-doctoral appointment in 2023, he would like to pursue a tenure-track academic position at a university in the United States or Canada. He was advised by Xueying (Snow) Wang.

photo of Debasmita (Deb) Das

Debasmita (Deb) Das ('21 PhD Statistics) has accepted a position as a Senior Scientist Biostatistician with Merck in Rahway, New Jersey. She was advised by Nairanjana (Jan) Dasgupta.

photo of Sylvia Madrid

Silvia Madrid ('21 PhD Math.) accepted a visiting professor position with Carroll College in Helena, Montana. She was advised by Sandy Cooper and Will Hall.

photo of Damilola (Dami) Omolola

Damilola Omolola ('21 PhD Math., '20 MS Statistics) is a senior scientist clinical pharmacometrician at Astrazeneca. When she isn't working she enjoys spending time with her husband and her dog Kai and exploring the New England area. She was advised by Xueyinjg (Snow) Wang and Marc Evans.

photo of Adebowale (Adebo) Sijuwade

Adebowale (Adebo) Sijuwade ('21 PhD Math., '21 MS Statistics) has accepted a position with the Energy Information Administration under the Department of Energy as a mathematical statistician. The position will allow him to work remotely from any location. His dissertation title is "Fractional Integral Operators," which serves as an extension of classical harmonic analysis and Calderon-Zygmund theory. His PhD advisor was Charles Moore and his master’s advisor was Nairanjana (Jan) Dasgupta.

photo of Mostafa Rezapour

Mostafa Rezapour ('20 PhD Math., '19 MS Statistics) earned a doctoral degree in applied mathematics, advised by Tom Asaki, and a master's degree in statistics, advised by Nairanjana (Jan) Dasgupta. He holds a position at Wake Forest University as a teacher-scholar postdoctoral fellow. He is interested in optimization, machine learning, deep learning and numerical linear algebra. He has served as a graduate committee member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Wake Forest University and is also an organizer of the Machine Learning Group, as well as a mentor in the National Math Alliance for Doctoral Studies in Mathematical Science. He is currently utilizing machine learning methods to analyze the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative effects on several communities including healthcare workers. Additionally, he is mentoring students in research. More information about Mostafa and his research may be found on his Wake Forest webpage at

photo of Ryan Lattanzi

Ryan Lattanzi ('19 MS Math.) "I had no idea where a master's degree would take me, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. What I have found to be vital is continuous learning both by myself and by seeking out solid mentor relationships. After graduating from WSU, I worked with Kevin Vixie for about 6 months on a really cool financial tech problem where I learned so much, in particular coding. From there, I went to Tampa, Florida, to work as a data scientist for the government. I realized that the power of data science was backed by data engineering, which is closer to software engineering than mathematics. Since I found that my passion for coding and software engineering was growing, I switched roles to become a data engineer. I have learned so many cool things and have been hired by the Detroit Lions. I thank WSU for the amazing program and people that catapulted me into industry and set me up for success!"

photo of Vlad Oles

Vlad Oles ('19 PhD Math.) holds a postdoc position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where he works primarily with data analytics, including the analysis on networks. In his spare time he tries to develop and continue his research about the Gromov-Hausdorff distances. Vlad moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, in August 2021, and enjoys the opportunity to wear summer shorts in the wintertime. He misses Pullman immensely. He was advised by Alex Panchenko.

photo of Henry Riely with his wife and two young children

Henry Riely ('19 PhD Math.) is a math lecturer in the Mathematics Department at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Although a pure mathematician, he will be pursuing a master's degree in computer science in the near future at Georgia Tech. He lives with his wife and two sons in Acworth, Georgia, and in his spare time he likes to play guitar and piano and study machine learning. He was advised by Charles Moore.

photo of Yunfeng Hu

Yunfeng Hu ('18 PhD Math.) works as a research scientist at Amazon Web Services (AWS) World Wide Revenue Organization (WWRO). His job focuses mainly on customer churn and recommendation systems, and he works remotely from home in Kirkland, Washington. He joined AWS in January of 2020, after working as a data scientist at EMSI in Moscow, Idaho. He was advised by Kevin Vixie and Bala Krishnamoorthy.

photo of Cameron Sweet

Cameron Sweet ('18 PhD Math., '16 MS Statistics) is a tenure-track assistant professor of mathematics at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, where he teaches courses in statistics, calculus, linear algebra, and the university’s core ethics curriculum. In the summer of 2019, he traveled to Langfang, China, to teach calculus courses at Saint Martin’s sister school, North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering, and returned to the program online the following two summers. His PhD advisor was Libby Knott and his master’s advisor was Nairanjana (Jan) Dasgupta.

image of Thomas Cameron

Thomas Cameron ('16 PhD Math.) is a tenure-track assistant professor of mathematics at Penn State Behrend. During the summer of 2022 he will visit the University of Sorbonne to work with Stef Graillat on the use of compensated arithmetic to perform high precision computations without the use of a higher-precision floating-point format. In his free time he enjoys playing hockey with his son who is now 6, riding horses with his daughter who is now 3, and backpacking with his wife, Katie. He was advised by Michael Tsatsomeros.

image of Stan Swierczek

Stan Swierczek ('16 MS Math.) defended his PhD in applied mathematics at the University of Arizona in July 2021. His graduate research concerned regional biogeochemical ocean modeling in the Southern Ocean. Prior to completing his PhD he completed a master's degree in applied mathematics from the University of Arizona in 2018. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi before taking a position this spring as an associate model risk analyst for M&T Bank. Although M&T Bank is located in Buffalo, New York, the position allows him to live anywhere and work remotely. His graduate adviser was Alex Panchenko.

photo of Jared Aurentz

Jared Aurentz ('14 PhD Math.) met a lovely young Spanish woman while working at the University of Oxford and left his postdoc position early to move with her to Madrid. They were married in 2017 and are happily expecting their second child. He holds a tenure-track position with the University of Huelva in the south of Spain, and recently began advising graduate students of his own which "makes me think back to those four wonderful years I spent at WSU." He was advised by David Watkins.

photo of Pietro Paparella

Pietro Paparella ('13 PhD Math., '03 MS Math.) is an associate professor of mathematics (2020–present) in the Division of Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Washington Bothell (UWB). From 2013 to 2015, he was a visiting assistant professor of mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at the College of William and Mary (WM). He held the position of assistant professor of mathematics at UWB from 2015 to 2020. His research interests include combinatorial matrix theory; the geometry of polynomials; matrix analysis; and nonnegative matrix theory. He has worked extensively on the nonnegative inverse eigenvalue problem with frequent collaborator Charles R. Johnson (WM). His Erdős number is 3 (Erdős & Cameron, Cameron & Johnson, Johnson & Paparella). He was advised by Judith J. McDonald and Michael Tsatsomeros.

Information about other alumni may be found on the News About Our Graduates page.

News Briefs

  • The American Statistical Association Student Chapter at WSU hosted a department Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition last fall. 3MT is a university-based competition for graduate students to present their research within three minutes to a lay audience with the help of only a single static slide. Several graduate students competed in the competition to challenge themselves to present an elevator pitch of their research. A panel of department judges awarded first place to Rachel Perrier and second place to Jessica Dickson, with Blake Nelson and Ryan Whitehead tying for third place.
    • In March, Rachel Perrier presented on “Third-degree Analogs to Continued Fractions” and Jessica Dickson presented on “The Overlays of Riordan Arrays” at the College of Arts and Sciences 3MT. Jessica Dickson was awarded first place in the college.
  • Swarnita Chakraborty participated in the Johnson & Johnson HealthTek Hackathon, and her team took second place. The Hackathon allows students to leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, and time series forecasting. It's also an opportunity to hear keynote addresses from Johnson & Johnson business and technology leaders, as well as engage in cutting-edge workshops. Her team used natural language processing (NLP) to extract key information from 'Individual Case Safety Reports' to identify whether there were adverse cases for any mentioned Johnson & Johnson drug. Team members had roughly 48 hours to assemble into teams, get a problem and dataset, and provide a presentation of their findings. More information about the Johnson & Johnson HealthTek Hackathon may be found at
  • Discuss, Discourse, Disseminate with Data (D4) is a new joint seminar series with faculty and scientists from WSU and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that takes place every second and fourth Wednesday. The seminar provides a short synopses of data work and hosts an open discussion to encourage research collaboration. The series will end in mid-June 2022 with a WSU-hosted Data Science Day. Among those featured in the series are Professors Bala Krishnamoorthy, Daryl DeFord, and Xiongzhi Chen. Read more in this WSU Insider article, "WSU and PNNL host joint seminar series to foster research collaboration."
  • Daryl DeFord gave the fall 2021 WSU School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs (PPA) research colloquium talk.
  • Dean Johnson co-edited a special issue of Stat, the International Statistical Institute (ISI) Journal. Stat is an online, rapid communication research journal that publishes articles in all facets of statistics and related interdisciplinary areas. The special issue welcomed submissions of original works on innovations in statistical collaboration and consulting.
  • Daryl DeFord's computational redistricting tool, the GerryChain, was used by an independent bipartisan commission that voted to approve a new map for Colorado’s congressional districts, which would divide the state into eight territories with roughly equal populations. The commission relied on the results of the GerryChain, to provide a fair outcome. Read more about this in the University of Colorado Boulder Today article, "Can math make redistricting more fair?"
  • Will Hall received a four-year $1.12 million dollar NSF grant with colleagues from the College of Education. The grant will help WSU recruit and retain preservice secondary mathematics teachers. Read more in this WSU Insider article, "New NSF grant to increase math teacher diversity."
  • Finance and Budget Manager Debbie Brudie, Associate Professor Jave Pascual, and Scholarly Associate Professor Kimberly Vincent retired spring 2022.