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

Math Majors and Grads Land Great Jobs for Summer and Beyond

Our math majors had an action -packed summer! Here are some of the internships students participated in:

Chris DiGangi, Kori Junghans, and George Gambrell had NSA-sponsored homeland security internships: DiGangi at CACI, Junghans at Kadix Systems, and Gambrell at Raytheon.

Andrea Haines had a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at NIST.

Kizza Nandyose participated in an applied mathematics REU (research experience for undergraduates) at UCLA.

Dorothy Kirlew participated in an REU at UMBC: the Interdisciplinary Program in High-Performance Computing.

Dubravka Bodiroga participated in a summer research project at Hood on the theory of equations. She presented her research at MA A MathFest, the national meeting for the MA A. Based on Dubravka' s talk, someone stopped Dr. Dunham to ask about Hood' s great students!

Jessica Jeffrey participated in an REU at Cornell in their bioinformatics group.

Dylan O'Connell participated in an REU at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Some of our 2011 graduates have landed amazing jobs:

Abby Boyle is a project manager at Epic in Madison, Wisconsin.

Chad Doremus is an I.T. consultant at Deloitte.

Jenny Harper is a software engineer at AAI.

Derrick Kuhn is working for Booz Allen Hamilton.

Two of our 2011 graduates are starting master's degree programs this fall: James Ledwell is studying education at Frostburg State University, while Dan Rocker will start his master's in mathematics at Georgia Southern University.


Help Reclaim our Title at CVMMC

The third annual Cumberland Valley Math Modeling Challenge (CVMMC) will take place at Shippensburg University on September 24th and 25th. Hood sent teams in 2009 and 2010, and we won the contest in 2009.

Each year, teams arrive on a Saturday afternoon and work through the night on a mathematical modeling challenge. In 2009, Hood's team studied the feasibility of a potential new government program like Cash for Clunkers that would encourage people to replace old appliances instead of old cars. In 2010, Hood's team worked on a proposal to improve the finances of the US Postal Service.

Each team competing writes a one-page executive summary and prepares a ten minute PowerPoint presentation on what its members figured out in their busy night. The panel of judges, which includes everyone from mathematicians to English professors, ranks teams' written reports and oral presentations, and finally the entire group of competitors picks the winners.

If you are interested, tell Dr. Parson. The competition is a lot of fun! For more information, see the CVMMC web site at http:// webspace.ship.edu/ bjgalluzzo/CVMMC.htm. If you are busy in September, but you are still interested in a mathematical modeling competition, keep the annual COMAP contest (February 9th – 13th, 2012) in mind.

Meet a Faculty Member: Prof. Gwyneth Whieldon


                   

How did you get interested in math? What made you decide to go "all the way" and get a PhD?

I read Black Holes & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy at around age 13 or so, and became deeply convinced that I was meant to be a physicist. Studying the shape of space and connecting that to the properties of matter was a mind-boggling concept to me as a pre- teen, and I really wanted to be a part of that -- even if I didn't quite know what that entailed. After heading off to college and starting a physics major (with a mathematics major almost as an after- thought,) I realized pretty quickly that what had really captured my imagination was the fact that we can mathematically describe our universe - as well as many even crazier things!

What made you decide to come to Hood?

I grew up here in Maryland, and did my undergraduate work at another Maryland liberal arts college. This place had such wonderful students and faculty, and it felt like coming home.

With which class or subject did you struggle?

Outside of math, I've always found language classes very difficult - I've taken Spanish on and off since I was 9 or 10, including a course as a graduate student, and definitely had a tough time of it the entire way. I'm still working on it though, since I love salsa, bachata and merengue, and would very much like to be able to understand the lyrics to many of my favorite songs.

What is your favorite class to teach and why?

I really enjoy teaching classes on mathematical puzzles and paradoxes, although I also very much enjoy combinatorics and algebra classes as well. I think that the first time a person hears about the Hilbert Hotel, Zeno's paradox, the Banach-Tarski paradox -- or pretty much anything involving how deeply complicated the idea of infinity can become -- is very mathematically transformative.

What is your research area?

I study something called "Combinatorial Commutative Algebra. "Essentially, all that's saying is that if you're studying rings (for example, integers or sets of polynomials all form rings,) you can examine how complicated their structure is via combinatorial arguments -- so via counting, rearranging, subdividing into smaller structures, connecting to graphs or shapes, etc.

Describe your undergrad experience.

Lots of mathematics and physics, with a pretty strong bent on problem solving competitions and puzzles. My undergraduate mathematics department had meetings very much like Math Tea here every week, along with a weekly "Puzzles and Games" meeting to prep for the Putnam (which admittedly, for most of us, was spurred on by the promise of free pizza!) Outside of the math building, I spent a lot of time working in the coffee shop and radio station (my roommate and I had a radio slot on WSMC called "The Gwyn and Princess Tokar Show") or kayaking on the St. Mary's river.

Describe your grad school experience.

Ithaca's a gorgeous town (quite literally, as the gorges cut through the city itself and form a spectacular backdrop to student life there!) There were great people from all over the world living there - often with crazy interests which nicely complemented the math I was doing.

Many of my graduate student friends were interested in commutative algebra, topology, and combinatorics - and pretty soon, I was drawn away from analysis (which I was convinced, at the start of graduate school, would be my research field) and into problems involving polynomial rings and algebras. It just goes to show that the things you're interested in at 20 don't constrain what you'll want to work in for the rest of your life!

What do you like to do when you're not teaching or doing research?

Sleeping, occasionally. Cycling definitely -- I'm shooting to finish a century (a 100 mile ride in a day) sometime this season, and hopefully get in some bicycling touring recreationally. I also play go and dance salsa.


Join Us: MAA Fall Section Meeting

The Fall 2011 meeting of the Maryland-DC- to give you a ride. The Department (and perhaps the Math Club) can also help pay your expenses. Details about the meeting will appear soon at http://sections.maa.org/mddcva/ (and in the meantime, see how many Hood students and faculty you can identify in the photos there!). Speak to a Math Department faculty member before October 1st if you would like more information, or to sign up to go. Last fall eight Hood students attended this meeting; we would love to take twice that many this year! Virginia Section of the Mathematical Association of America will take place on November 4-5 (Friday evening and Saturday) at Christopher Newport University (http://math.cnu.edu) in Newport News, Virginia -- near Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Students are welcome and encouraged to attend. There will be a Friday night banquet and speaker and math talks all day Saturday -- short, long, fun, serious -- on all sorts of topics in mathematics. Hood math faculty will be driving down for the meeting and will be happy to give you a ride. The Department (and perhaps the Math Club) can also help pay your expenses. Details about the meeting will appear soon at http://sections.maa.org/mddcva/ (and in the meantime, see how many Hood students and faculty you can identify in the photos there!).

Speak to a Math Department faculty member before October 1st if you would like more information, or to sign up to go. Last fall eight Hood students attended this meeting; we would love to take twice that many this year!



Upcoming Dates

  • Sept. 14, 12:30 p.m. in Whitaker Center Multicultural Room
    I-FUND National Security Scholars Program Informational Meeting
  • Sept. 21, 6:30 p.m. in Carriage House DC
    Carriage House Lecture: Prof. Ezra 'Bud' Brown
  • Sept. 24-26, Shipensburg University
    Cumberland Valley Math Modeling Challenge
  • Sept. 26, 3:30 p.m. in Hodson 131
    Seminar by Dr. Alen Alexanderian
  • Oct. 29, 9-11:30 a.m.
    VA Regional Mathematics Competition
  • Nov. 4-5 in Newport News, VA
    MAA Fall Section Meeting at Christopher Newport University
  • Nov. 14, 3:30 p.m. in Hodson 131
    AWM Seminar by Cindy Merrick
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Hood College Department of Mathematics
401 Rosemont Ave.
Frederick, Maryland 21701
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