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Community Connections: News and Notes from the Director of Residence Life.

Sonia Kovalevsky Day Returns

On the first day of Spring Break, the Hodson Science Center was full and buzzing with excitement. The Mathematics Department, along with 50 Frederick County high school students, their teachers, and many volunteers gathered for the 9th Sonia Kovalevsky Day. Sonia Kovalevsky Day is an event designed to teach young women about college-level mathematics and about careers involving mathematics, and to share some of the excitement we feel about math.

When they got off the buses, the students were greeted by our undergraduate volunteers (some of whom are pictured on the back) who distributed t-shirts, folders of information, and temporary tattoos. The students were then formally welcomed by Dean Olivia White and Gordon M. Cooley, the Regional President of PNC Bank, our sponsor.

The students then took part in the workshops, one of the highlights of SK Day. One workshop explored mathematics and music using a simple stringed instrument. Professor Ann Stewart, trained in both mathematics and music, explained how pitch works and what mathematics has to do with it. A second workshop, led by Dr. Nicole Close, taught students about the approval process for new drugs, and how a biostatistician leads this effort.

The third workshop, led by Professor Christy Graybeal, challenged the students to design a safe but exciting bungee jump for a Barbie doll (see pictures below.) This activity was almost as fun to watch as it was to take part in, as several Barbie dolls took the plunge from the third floor of the Hodson atrium.

The final workshop, led by Professor Gwyneth Whieldon, looked at optimizing the route (and the profit) for a traveling salesman. The students then tried out their routes to test which was the best.

Over lunch, everyone learned about the trailblazing life of Sonia Kovalevsky, the first woman to hold a PhD in mathemat-ics. The presentation was given by senior math majors Gina Bonomo and Dorothy Kirlew.

After lunch, we heard from a career panel of successful women who use mathematics. Dr. Nicole Close is the President and Principal Biostatistician at EmpiriStat, Inc. Kendall Dolly (Hood ’10) works as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent Office. Stephanie Tomasello Phifer (Hood ’08) is a software engineer at Praxis Engineering. Shea Moxley Smith (Hood ’04) is a budget analyst for the U.S. Department of Energy. The students got several perspectives about the utility of a degree in mathematics.

Sonia Kovalevsky Day was made possible by a generous grant from PNC Bank.


Pi Mu Epsilon Induction Features Math/Art Talk

This year’s Pi Mu Epsilon Lecture will be given by Professor Annalisa Crannell from Franklin and Marshall College, on “Math and Art: The Good, the Bad, and the Pretty.”

Abstract: How do we fit a three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional canvas? Answering this question will change the way you look at the world, literally: we'll learn where to stand as we view a painting so it pops off that two-dimensional canvas seemingly out into our three-dimensional space. In this talk, we'll explore the mathematics behind perspective paintings, which starts with simple rules and will lead us into really lovely, really tricky puzzles. Why do artists use vanishing points?

What's the difference between 1-point and 3-point perspective? Why don't your vacation pictures don't look as good as the mountains you photographed? Dust off those old similar triangles, and get ready to put them to new use in looking at art!

Dr. Crannell is the recipient of the MAA's most prestigious teaching award (the 2008 Deborah and Franklin Tep-per Haimo Award).

The lecture, which will also include the induction of sev-eral students into the honorary mathematics society, will be on Sunday, April 21th at 2:30 p.m. in Hodson 131. All are welcome!

Problem of the Month

Suppose three circles, each of radius 1, go through the same point in the plane. Let A be the set of points which lie inside at least two of the circles. What is the smallest area A can have? Two such arrangements are pictured below, with A colored in grey.

Submit your solutions to Dr. Whieldon!

Upcoming Dates

  • Thursdays 8 p.m. Hodson
    Least Squares Math Club Meetings
  • March 28 6:30 p.m. in Washington DC (see math faculty)
    Prof. Mary Lou Zeeman, MAA Lecture, "Harnessing Math to Understand Tipping Points"
  • April 13-14 Salisbury University
    MAA Spring Section Meeting
  • April 14, Hodson
    Hodson Research Colloquium
  • April 21 2:30 P.m. Hodson 131
    Pi Mu Epsilon Induction Ceremony and talk by Professor Annalisa Crannell
  • April 23 3:30pm Hodson 316
    Seminar by Prof. Amy Shell-Gellasch, “Mathematics of the Quadrivium”
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Hood College Department of Mathematics
401 Rosemont Ave.
Frederick, Maryland 21701
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