2018 Summer STEM Academy @UCA

Nineteen students from Conway and Little Rock middle and high school students attended 2018 Summer STEM Academic at UCA from June 25 through June 29, 2018. The academy was organized by the Department of Mathematics and the UCA STEM Institute.   Students participated in three inter-connected activities in biology, statistics and computer coding. The activities started at 9:15 AM and concluded at 3 PM every day with 1-hour lunch break.

The Data Analysis & Visualization activity, taught by Dr. Mark Doderer from the Computer Science Department, helped students develop computer programming skills and tools to analyze and visualize the data.   Empirical Modeling Analysis, instructed by Dr. Todd Abel of the Mathematics Department, introduced students to statistical modeling and helped them utilize the tools to develop and carry out experiments.  Biology faculty Dr. Krista Peppers taught Toxicology & Microscopy to help students develop microscopy skills and implement their own investigation into whether ethanol impacts the heart rate for Daphnia magna, the water flea.

Students implemented the knowledge and tools gained over the course of the week, to conduct experiments and come up with resolutions based on the data found.  On the last day of research, the students divided up into groups and presented their findings to their peers, parents and faculty/staff.    All four groups agreed that the introduction of ethanol slowed the heart rate of the Daphnia magna and the higher the concertation of ethanol, the slower the heartbeat.  Once the water fleas were reintroduced into water without ethanol, the heart beat quickly recovered and returned to normalcy.

The students stated they had an amazing time and learned interesting things about water flea.  The students hope to use the knowledge, tools and experience gained from this program to help them in future discoveries.Math Admin Assistants Mrs. Jennifer Jones and  Mrs. Leitha Smith, and a  math graduate student  Eddie Gallarno provided additional support for the program.  For information about the future Summer STEM Academy or  similar programs, please contact the organizer Dr. Ramesh Garimella, Chair, Department of Mathematics at rameshg@uca.edu

State Math Contest Held on UCA Campus

On Saturday, April 28, 2018, the UCA Department of Mathematics hosted the annual State Mathematics Contest. It  was sponsored by the Arkansas Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ACTM).  There were 235 students from high schools across  Arkansas competed in one of six exam categories -Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trig/Pre-Calculus, Calculus and Statistics.  Dr. Charles Watson, Associate Professor of Mathematics, served as the director of the state contest  and was assisted by mathematics faculty members,Dr. Garth Johnson, Dr. Carolyn Pinchback, and Ms. Loi Booher, and graduate student Kayla Waters.  Exams were proctored by the UCA math graduate teaching assistants.

All students participated in the state contest  were top ten finishers in one of the 11 regional contests that were held in colleges and universities across the state on March 5, 2018. All students who placed in top three at the state level were awarded trophies.  Algebra I and Geometry winners received TI-84 calculators and the other contest winners received scholarship awards to a future college of their choice. Awards were presented by Dr. Watson and Ms. Kim Hughes, president of ACTM.


In Memoriam

Dr. Patrick Carmack

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) Department of Mathematics is saddened by the unexpected loss of Dr. Patrick Carmack on January 23, 2018.

Dr. Carmack joined UCA in August 2008 as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics. Over the years, he gained a reputation as a conscientious teacher, friend, colleague and an exceptional mentor for students. He was a very good statistician and an active researcher. Dr. Carmack received funding to develop spatial modeling techniques to have a better interpretation of data from MRI scans of Gulf War veterans.   He played an active role in developing the new data science track in B.S. Mathematics.

Dr. Carmack earned his doctoral degree in statistics in 2004 and a Master of Statistics degree in 2002 from the Southern Methodist University. Also he received a Master of Mathematics degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a B.A. Mathematics degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Carmack was well liked and admired by students, faculty and staff.  He will be greatly missed. A service will be held to honor Dr. Carmack on Saturday, January 27 at 2:00 PM at Bishop-Crites Funeral in Greenbrier.

Dr. Carmack’s obituary may be read  on the Bishop-Crites Funeral Home website at http://bishopg.funeralplan2.com/obituaries/patrick-carmack.aspx

Math Students Presented Posters at A National Math Meetings

Three undergraduate math majors Madison Martin (also majoring in chemistry), Andrea Weaver, and Azaryah Wilson presented research posters at the 2018 Joint Mathematical Meetings (JMM) in San Diego from January 9 – 13. JMM is the largest mathematical meeting in the world. Madison’s poster entitled “Modeling Growth in Polymers.” She was mentored by Dr. Danny Arrigo (Math) and Dr. Rick Tarakka (Chemistry). Azaryah, mentored by Dr. Long Le (Math), presented his poster on “ Population Movement in an Epidemic.” Andrea’s poster was titled “Nonclassical Symmetries of a Power Law Harry Dym Equation” and she was mentored by Dr. Arrigo. All three students received travel funding from the Math Department and the CNSM Dean’s Office. Also, the Department of Chemistry provided travel funds for Madison.


UCA Math Faculty in Cost Rica

UCA faculty members Ms. Loi Booher (Lecturer of Mathematics), Ms. Michelle Buchannan (UCA STEMteach Master Teacher in the Department of Teaching and Learning)  and Dr. Carolyn Pinchback, (Professor of Mathematics)  traveled to Costa Rica in August, 2017 as part of a teaching team with Teachers-2-Teachers Global. T2TGlobal is an organization, which fosters collaboration, community and cultural exchange opportunities for teachers to work together to provide a high quality STEM-based education that transcends borders. The team worked in the primary and secondary schools in a rural town outside of San Ramon, Costa Rica. All three UCA faculty members partnered with local teachers, observed teaching techniques, and provided professional development in science and mathematics. The team enjoyed sharing teaching methods and comparing algorithms with local teachers. This was Mrs. Booher’s third trip with the non-profit company; she helped design the trip to the new location in Costa Rica and served as team leader.



2017 Calculus Tournament

Winning Team

The fourth annual Calculus Tournament was held in the afternoon of November 16, 2017 in the Math Resource Center in the Math and Science Building. The tournament was open to students currently enrolled in either Calculus I , II or III. Seven teams, with a total of 19 students, participated in the contest. The winning team is consisting of Presley Mullins (currently enrolled in Dr. Jeff Beyerl’s Calculus I), Alexia Ramick (enrolled this fall in Dr. Weijiu Liu’s Calculus III), and Anna Wolff (enrolled in Dr. George Bratton’s Calculus II) . Congratulations to all three students.

Dr. Jeff Beyerl organized the tournament. Many mathematics graduate students and faculty members provided support. Each member of the winning team will receive a gift card for $15. Also, the winning team will represent UCA at the Math Jeopardy competition at the OK-AR Sectional Meetings of the American Mathematical Society Spring meetings to be held in April 2018 at the Arkansas Tech University


Teams in Action


2016-17 Math GTA Orientation

A two-day Math Graduate Teaching Assistants Orientation was organized and conducted by Dr. Charles Watson, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Math GTA Supervisor on August 11th and 12th, 2016.    The Department of Mathematics has thirteen GTAs for the AY 2015-16, out of which 11 are pursuing the M.S. Degree in Applied Mathematics and the rest are in the M.A. Mathematics Education. There are seven new GTAs who have joined the department this fall and the others are in their second year. Several topics including lesson planning and assessing student progress, teaching resources, integrating technology and software in the classroom, were discussed. Mrs. Charlotte Strickland, Director of Professional Development, gave a 1- hour presentation on Sexual Harassment training during the orientation. Dr. Ramesh Garimella, Chair of the Math Department and Dr. Joan Simon, Interim Graduate Dean, welcomed the students. Each GTA in the program receives a 9-month stipend of $10,800 and a tuition scholarship of 9 credit hours per semester for the academic year. Inquiries about the graduate programs in Mathematics or financial assistance may be sent to rameshg@uca.edu.

L to R: Front row-Dr. Charles Watson, Innocent B. Sano (MS 1st year), Sarah Spellmann (MS 1st year),Chantelle Giles (MS 1st year), Christina Junkans (MS 1st year),Seth Bloomberg (MS 2nd year),Katie Burden (MA 2nd year), Dr. Ramesh Garimella Back row- Hamed Akkari (MS 1st year, Kayla Waters (MA 1st year), Eddie Gallarno (MS 1st year), Hung Lu (MS 2nd year), Edward Tawiah (MS 2nd year), John Harrelson (MS 2nd year)

L to R: Front row-Dr. Charles Watson, Innocent B. Sano (MS 1st year), Sarah Spellmann (MS 1st year),Chantelle Giles (MS 1st year), Christina Junkans (MS 1st year),Seth Bloomberg (MS 2nd year),Katie Burden (MA 2nd year), Dr. Ramesh Garimella
Back row- Hamed Akkari (MS 1st year, Kayla Waters (MA 1st year), Eddie Gallarno (MS 1st year), Hung Lu (MS 2nd year), Edward Tawiah (MS 2nd year), John Harrelson (MS 2nd year)


Summer 2016 PD Workshops for School Teachers Conducted by Math Faculty


IMG_1048Dr. Long Le, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Dr. James Fetterly, Assistant Professor of Mathematics who specializes in education, conducted professional development workshops for twenty middle and secondary school teachers in central Arkansas between July 11-15, and July 25 – 29, 2016. The workshops were primarily focused on concept and skill development lessons for several topics within Algebra. Among the topics covered were proportionality, quadratic and exponential expressions. In particular, by developing a thorough understanding of the scaffolding involved in each topic, teachers will be able to recognize and assess student’s current level of understanding and provide remediation skills, when necessary. The workshops were part of a $60,699 No Child Left Behind Grant grant project Algebra- Connecting Concepts funded by the U.S. Department of Education through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.IMG_1047 Dr. Umadevi Garimella, Director of the UCA STEM Institute is the PI and Dr. Ramesh Garimella, Chair of Math Department, is the co-PI. The main objective of the project is to provide long-term, sustained, and high-quality professional learning opportunities to strengthen teacher content knowledge in algebra.




IMG_1057The UCA STEM Institute in cooperation with the Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science offered professional development workshops titled Essentials of Computer Programming: Teacher Training and Support this summer. Attending were six middle and high school teachers planning to teach essential of computer science this upcoming academic year. The workshops were conducted by Dr. R.B. Lenin, Associate Professor of Mathematics, and supported by Mrs. Karen Thessing, Lecturer in Computer Science. This year-long PD is designed to provide teacher training to meet the requirements of Act 187. Training included a week long workshop from July 25 -29, 2016 held in the UCA Department of Mathematics the Computer Lab and ongoing teacher & classroom support via Google Classroom and Google Hangout/Skype. The workshops were focused on Java using Eclipse with an option to continue training during the upcoming academic year in advanced Java concepts. Dr. Uma Garimella, Director of the UCA STEM Institute, organized the event.




 Dr. Nesrin Sahin, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education, conducted Connecting Core Instructions (CCI) PD workshops for 25 elementary and middle school teachers in Arkansas on the UCA campus May 14, June 20-22 & July 19-21, 2016. The mathematics part of the PD lasted two hour each day. The topics covered were – understanding and interpreting graphs (qualitative and quantitative interpretation of graphs), types of graphs, linear and exponential growth, linear regression, dependent and independent variables, and probability. Teachers explored these concepts through hands-on activities, and group discussions. This was part of a $146,866 grant titled Connecting Core Instructions for Mathematicians and Scientists, funded by the U.S. Department of Education thorough the state MSP Program. Dr. Umadevi Garimella, Director of the UCA STEM Institute is the PI for the project.



 Dr. James Fetterly, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education, conducted PD workshops on June 20-23 and July 21, 2016 for 20 elementary teachers in Arkansas to enhance their content knowledge and teaching skills through development of a vertical team to integrate science, mathematics, literacy, technology, and embrace project-based learning. The workshops were part of a $146,866 grant titled, Excellence in Elementary School Science (ESSS), funded by the U.S. Department of Education thorough Arkansas State MSP Program. Dr. Umadevi Garimella, Director of the UCA STEM Institute is the PI and and Dr. Haihong Hu, Assistant Professor of Leadrship Studies is the co-PI for the project. The EESS project ‘s goal is to provide long-term sustained high quality professional development, which includes four one-day sessions during the 2015-2016 academic year, two one-week summer institutes, and two classroom visits to observe and/or mentor teachers for a minimum of 100 contact hours. Teachers will develop lesson plans and share via Google Drive.



New Math Faculty for the AY 2016-17

187Dr. Janet Nakarmi joins  the Department of Mathematics as a tenure-track assistant professor in Fall 2016. She was selected from a pool of 35 outstanding statisticians for the position. Originally from Nepal, Dr. Nakarmi is a freshly minted Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Mississippi. She received her M.S. degree in Mathematics in 2013 from the University of Mississippi, and a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Business from Randolph College in Virginia in 2010. Though Dr. Nakarmi’s doctoral dissertation focused on nonparametric statistics, her research interests span over time series analysis, robust statistics, and multivariate and survival analysis. She is expected to play an integral part in the new Data Science track that debuts this fall. A fitness enthusiast, Dr. Nakarmi likes to read books and listen to music in her spare time.

2016 Summer program in Computer Coding at UCA

The Department of Mathematics in conjunction with the UCA STEM Institute and the Department of Computer Science offered the 2016 Math and Science Summer Programs @ UCA during the month of June 2016. The summer activities were for elementary, middle  and high school students from central Arkansas.   Thirty-seven students from Conway, Greenbrier, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Nashville and Wooster participated in the program. There were activities in Algebra for Beginners, Advanced Algebra, Exploring Physics and three sessions on Computer Coding for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Algebra for Beginners was taught by Ms. Haley Lafoon, a former math graduate student of UCA, who received her masters in mathematics education in Spring 2016. Mr. Brandon Ashley, a math GTA, taught Advanced Algebra. Mr. Sudheer Kavi, Senior Solution Developer for Acxiom and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science was the instructor for all coding classes and Ms. Katie Burden, a graduate student in mathematics, provided support for coding activities. Dr. Debra Burris, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics conducted the Exploring Physics workshops. Dr. Ramesh Garimella, Chair of Math Department and Dr. Uma Garimella, Director of UCA STEM Institute, organized the event. For information on future summer programs in mathematics and sciences, please contact rameshg@uca.edu.

 Computer Coding for Beginner (June 6 to 10, 2016)  Nineteen 4th to 6th graders from central Arkansas were involved in this program. The participants had lot of fun learning coding concepts and hands-on projects. A coding tool known as Scratch was used to build computer games, stories, and much more. Each day the students were introduced to new concepts like lists, variables, loops, blocks and how they are used in real world applications. With this knowledge, students will be able to take it further, extend their skills by practicing more, and moving into further programming languages like Python and Java.




Intermediate Computer Coding (June 13 to 17, 2016). Twelve 7th to 10th graders from central Arkansas were involved in this program. Seven of the twelve students participated in the Computer Coding for Beginners session in the previous week. Students used Python language to write small pieces of code blocks to accomplish tasks. Each day they were made aware of new concepts, working with data types, variables, loops (nested), function blocks, import modules and practiced them in the classroom. How the above concepts can be used in real world applications was discussed. On the last day, everyone participated in a group quiz and scored 95%. Overall, the participants had positive impressions of the activity.



Advanced Computer Coding (June 20 – 24, 2016): Five high school students participated in this activity. They explored the basics of Java programming with hands-on-projects.




Exploring Physics (June 6 – 24, 2016): Fifteen middle and high school students explored how light was related to astrophysics and observational astronomy, and how waves were related to plate tectonics. Also they explored electronics and its application to robotics.  Students experienced a fun mixture of hands on activities and demos, and further the students built and programmed a robot for a maze competition during the last week of the camp.




Algebra for Beginners ( June 6 – July 1, 2016): Eleven middle school students students worked on problems that covered content from pre-Algebra and Algebra I. This included ratios and proportions, pattern recognition, linear relationships and functions, and exponential functions. Discovery-based learning method was employed for this activity. Students interacted by exploring and manipulating objects, wrestling with questions and controversies, or performing experiments. Several fun an dinteresting problems were pulled from Mark Driscoll’s book Fostering Algebraic Thinking. Problems included whether it is more cost effective to take a shower or bath, how far a camera was away from an exploding bridge, and how many times you would need to fold a piece of paper before it reached the moon. Students were encouraged to ask questions, write on boards, made use of manipulatives, and worked either in groups or independently.


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Advanced Algebra (June 6-July 1, 2016): Six middle school students explored basic algebra skills typically found in a first year college math course. Topics were introduced at a weekly pace beginning with linear functions and equations where students used linear regressions to estimate their heights based on the length of their arm as well as calculating the value of the number pi. During the second week, quadratic functions were introduced along with some introductory physics. Students timed the flight of a ball dropped from varying heights and were able to calculate the velocities and acceleration due to gravity of the ball. General polynomial functions were discussed in the third week. Students were taught how to find relative minimums/maximums, increasing/decreasing intervals, and zeros of various polynomial functions; students constructed boxes to maximize volume. In the final week, inverse functions were introduced along with modular arithmetic. Students used functions and their inverses to encode and decode ciphered message