«FALL 2012 NEWSLETTER A Message from the Chair Departmental Happenings Greetings to all of our 1200+ math alumni! I hope that this message finds each ...»
Dr. Qin (Tim) Sheng, professor of mathematics, has to be one of the most traveled mathematicians in the country. Tim has held an Air Force Research grant for seven years and, with this grant, travels frequently to Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio and Washington, DC working on various projects in computational optics. This past summer saw Tim visit several universities in the Far East, including the University of Macau, Hong Kong Baptist University, the National University of Singapore, and Sun YatShan University in China. Tim attended workshops and gave several colloquia during his visits.
Jon Harrison Spends Sabbatical Abroad
Dr. Jon Harrison spent the spring and summer semesters on research leave at Bristol University, UK. The research leave followed up on the discovery, with collaborators in Bristol, of new types of quantum statistics on networks that expand the Boson or Fermion statistics for particles in three dimensions. These results were discussed recently at a Royal Society conference at Chicherley Hall, UK and a network meeting in Bilbao, Spain.
Jonatan Lenells Continues His Collaboration with Cambridge Mathematicians
For each of the past three years, Dr. Jonatan Lenells, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, spent the summer months working with mathematician Professor A. S. Fokas at Cambridge University. Jonatan is part of a large grant from the UK funding agency EPSRC. This summer, Lenells and Fokas discovered new solutions to an important class of boundary value problems. Now that he is back at Baylor, Jonatan is enjoying the close interaction with students and the opportunity to serve on the Cross Cultural Ministry Team as part of Baylor's Spiritual Life department.
New Graduate Students Join Mathematics Ph.D. Program Five new graduate students joined our graduate program this semester. We are very pleased to welcome Josh Padgett, Jordan Courtemanche, Tiffany Jones, John Osborn, and Brian Brennan to our Ph.D.
Former Baylor Mathematics Student Earns Prestigious AMS Award
The Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship is organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It is a very competitive program Evelyn Lamb designed to improve public understanding of science and technology by placing advanced science, mathematics and engineering students in newsrooms nationwide. Fellows work with media professionals to improve their communication skills and increase their understanding of the editorial process by which events and ideas become news.
This program is available to college or university students (in their senior year, or in any graduate or postgraduate level) in the natural, physical, health, engineering, computer or social sciences or mathematics with outstanding written and oral communication skills and a strong interest in learning about the media.
The program has supported over 500 fellows over 30 years.
Record Number of Mathematics and Mathematics Education Majors
The Department of Mathematics now has 98 majors in its three flagship undergraduate degree programs.
Together with 53 mathematics education majors, this gives a total of 151 mathematics majors in the department, the highest total in recent memory. The department is hoping to increase these numbers even more in the coming years.
New Faculty Members The department is pleased to announce the following five new members of our faculty family.
Dr. Robert Kirby joins the faculty as an Associate Professor; he joins us from Texas Tech University where he had been a faculty member since 2006. Rob, who graduated from the University of Texas-Austin in 2000, began his professional mathematical career at the University of Chicago, where he was a Dickson Instructor and an Assistant Professor from 2000-2006.
Rob works in numerical and computational mathematics; specifically, he is interested in finite elements for partial differential equations, preconditioners for multiphysics problems, mathematical software, multicore computing. Rob currently has a $270K grant from the National Science Foundation.
Rob, and his wife Kara, are the parents of four children, Elizabeth, Bronwen, Caedmon, and Ransom.
Dr. Constanze Liaw is a new Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. She joins us after a three-year post doctoral visiting professorship at Texas A&M University. Conni earned her Ph.D. from Brown University in 2008 after coming to the US from Germany, where she studied at Universität Stuttgart.
Conni works in harmonic analysis, spectral theory, and mathematical physics. She is the current recipient of a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation.
She and her husband, Joe, have two children, Joanna and Calvin.
Dr. Jonathan Meddaugh is our new post-doctoral visiting professor in the department.
Jonathan joins us from Tulane University, where he earned his Ph.D. degree in 2011.
Jonathan is a 2004 graduate of Baylor University so it is exciting that he returns to our department. Jonathan works in dynamical systems and continuum theory and the interplay between these two areas. Jonathan is a significant addition to our topology and plans to conduct work with both Dr. David Ryden and Dr. Brian Raines.
Dr. Kyunglim Nam is a new part-time lecturer in our department. Kyunglim earned her Ph.D.
in mathematics, in applied mathematics, from the University of Georgia in 2005. She obtained her BS degree from Suwon University in 1994 and her MS degree from Yonsei University in 1997.
Dr. Nam is married to faculty member, Markus Hunziker, and they are the parents of two children, Toby and Hana. We‟re thrilled to have you on board, Kyunglim!
Dr. Pedro Morales is a new part-time lecturer in our department. Pedro earned his Ph.D.
degree from Baylor University in 2012, under the direction of Dr. Klaus Kirsten. Pedro works in mathematical physics. After graduating in applied mathematics and electrical engineering from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Pedro chose to come to Baylor, on advice from his Guatemalan friend and fellow Baylor mathematics graduate student, Jose Franco.
Pedro is an exceptional problem solver in mathematics; in fact, Pedro‟s abilities as a problem solver were noticed during his high school days in Guatemala. As a result, he has participated in three International Mathematical Olympiads (IMO). For the past couple of years, he has helped coach both the Guatemalan IMO team and their International Mathematical Competition (IMC) teams. One of his protégés, Esteban Arreaga, won a silver medal at the recent IMC in the Netherlands while another student, Alejandro Vargas, won a silver medal at the IMO in Bulgaria last August. We‟re thrilled to keep Pedro, and his multiple talents, for another year at Baylor.
Undergraduate Profiles Westin King is a senior University Scholars student at Baylor with a concentration in mathematics.
Westin King: My father was a math major and teacher, so I grew up learning various concepts, such as negative numbers and binary, several years before I was taught them in school. I always enjoyed math, partially because I was good at it, though during high school I never truly considered math as a potential career path. I wanted to be a medical Westin King doctor. I was good at both biology and chemistry and I wanted to help people. Baylor‟s strong science program and the outstanding acceptance rate into medical school that the University Scholars program boasts drew me to apply.
I travelled to Maastricht, in the Netherlands, during the fall semester of my sophomore year on Baylor‟s pre-med trip. There, I realized that being a medical doctor was not right for me and that I missed the excitement and satisfaction I felt when I completed a difficult math problem. I switched my major to mathematics at the start of the following semester and I have been playing “catch up” in math classes for the past year.
Despite being slightly behind in math courses, I have had some opportunities for research experience. I worked at Texas A&M University using Fourier and Wavelet analyses to write a program that could recognize guitar chords the summer before my junior year. This last summer, I took a graduate course in linear algebra and an advanced analysis course in order to prepare myself for graduate school. Hopefully, I will be working this year with a new faculty member, Dr. Constanze Liaw, on a mathematical investigation of the Anderson Localization Conjecture, a problem that is believed to be solved by physicists, but still lacks a mathematical proof.
I have found the math faculty to be wonderfully helpful with everything from confusion over a concept to advice for graduate school. I am especially grateful for the time, effort, and advice that Dr. Arnold and Dr.
Littlejohn have given to me since I have become a math major. For the future, I plan on attending graduate school and earning my Ph. D. I am undecided on where I would like to work afterwards, or even what field I would like to specialize in during graduate school, but these will come with time.
Ryan Warnick is a senior mathematics major at Baylor.
Ryan Warnick: I did not start college with an interest in mathematics. I had not taken any calculus classes in high school, and when I began college I wanted to study chemistry. However, when I took my first calculus class I fell in love with it, and I thought that studying mathematics might be more interesting.
This turned out to be a great decision, and studying both the more practical math as well as the abstract side has been a good experience for me. It has opened me up to a way of looking at things that I had not considered before and given me a new appreciation for logic and reason. This is in part due to the great faculty in the math department, who are always supportive and willing to help out whenever you need it.
They are always happy to talk about mathematical ideas; this piques my interest in new areas to study and sheds light on the concepts I thought I had already understood. The great environment for studying mathematics has fostered my passion in the material, and I‟m grateful to the department for introducing me to the subject.
Attending Baylor has also opened my eyes to the role that faith can play in academics. I came to Baylor mainly for the scholarship opportunities, and the Christian community of the campus was not a primary factor. However, interacting with the students and professors here has changed my outlook on the place of faith in both academics. The humility and work ethic shine through in the students and professors at Baylor, and this has shown me that faith can support and enhance the academic experience. Dr.
Beauregard, especially, in his willingness to highlight his own evolution with respect to faith, was influential in changing my perspective in his area.
Ryan Warnick Over the summer I have been working with Dr. Kahle in the Statistics Department; programming tutorial applets for the statistics students. Figuring out how best to express a concept in a tutorial has shown me how many ways there are to look at an idea, and has highlighted some of the weaknesses in my own intuition. At the end of the summer I will be giving a presentation on the work, which I hope goes well, and then we can start publishing the programs for use by the statistics students. I hope that the statistics students find that these applets offer something to them in their studies.
This is my last year at Baylor, and I would like go to graduate school in statistics to study machine learning. However, I am still open to the possibility of going to graduate school to study mathematics.
Whichever option I choose, I feel like studying mathematics at Baylor was a great decision, and I‟m thankful to have had the opportunity to be here.
Profiles of Current Mathematics Graduate Students Jordan Alexander: Growing up as the son of a math teacher, who also happened to be a great father, I studied a lot of math at home. To me it was more like playing games with my dad – he coached me in baseball, in soccer, in football, in basketball, and he coached me in math. I truly delighted in learning new mathematical techniques and in pleasing my dad.
When it came time to decide on a university and on a field of study, my school‟s career counselor recommended engineering. She said it was a good fit for people who do well in math and science, and she said it made good money. Everyone else I talked to seemed to agree, so that made the decision easy for me – I was going to be an engineer. It seems strange when I think about it now, but no one ever mentioned mathematics as a possible field of study. In fact, at the time I didn‟t even realize that people still do research in math! Anyway, I began at Oklahoma Christian University as an electrical engineering major, somewhere in the next few years rediscovered my delight in math, and ended up graduating with a B.S. in the subject. But in all my years of study, I had never really developed any relationships with other people who shared my joy in studying upper level math.
Upon coming to Baylor for graduate school, I was quite shocked at the high level of difficulty in my classes. I‟ve taken classes with many of the professors in the math department, and though they‟ve been rigorous, I‟ve honestly enjoyed each professor – even Dr. Sepanski, whose classes were, due to my own lack of preparation, especially painful! I think of Dr. Littlejohn‟s fluid style of presentation, Dr. Lenells‟ illuminating drawings, Dr. Dugas‟ helpful metaphors, Dr. Raines‟ and Dr. Kirsten‟s witty interaction with students, Dr. Stanke‟s attention to detail and genuine care for students, Dr. Beauregard‟s inspiring joy, and many other traits of the faculty I‟ve enjoyed during my time here. I had heard about the pleasant atmosphere of the department before I came to Baylor, and I found it to be an accurate description. Dr.