Department News

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

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.


Math Modeling Competition at UCA

 2018  Student Competition Using Differential Equation Modeling  SCUDEM 2018) took place at the UCA Math Department on April 21, 2018. UCA is the host campus in central Arkansas for SCUDEM 2018. . Three student teams from UCA and UALR participated in the competition. Students built a mathematical modeling using differential equations and shared with others. Dr. Yinlin Dong organized this event and facilitated a faculty development workshop consisting of five faculty members from UCA, UALR, and University of Tulsa. Dr. Matthew Donahue , a math faculty member at the  University of Tulsa gave a talk on teaching and learning differential equations through modeling. The student competition culminated with an award ceremony. The team from UALR came in first place.


Cowboy/Western Math Night

On March 8, 2018, Dr. James Fetterly, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, organized a math outreach activity at Carl Stuart Middle School based on a Cowboy and Western theme. Dr. Fetterly’s two spring classes (MATH 4335: Concepts of Advanced Mathematics, and STEM 1301: Knowing and Learning Mathematics and Science) joined forces to involve parents and their children in activities that focused on mathematics and science. Carl Stuart faculty and UCA students dressed up for the Wild West. Hands-on and conceptual activities were presented to the community. Parents and children experienced mathematical activities that emphasized algebraic thinking and proportional reasoning. Science concepts were explored using probes and iPads.

Pi Day

This year our Pi-Day celebration included a panel discussion with working mathematicians (Matthew Tubbs; Rebecca Stage; R.B. Lenin) and a trivia competition. Eddie Gallarno won the trivia competition.



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

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


Faculty Corner – Dr. Yinlin Dong

This fall Dr. Yinlin Dong joined the mathematics department as an assistant professor in applied mathematics. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington.

(1) Please tell us a little about yourself.
I did my undergraduate in China, where I worked in industry for two years. After that I came to the States and have been at the University of Alabama, University of Central Florida, and the University of Texas at Arlington. I live with my wife and two sons, Charles and Allen, and am now excited to join the family here at UCA!

(2) Tell us a little about your research.
I study numerical methods and grid generation. For example, there are methods for discretizing partial differential equations and solving them numerically. This discretization requires working on a grid of some sort, and I study how these grids should be constructed. A good grid allows solution methods to adapt to complex structures: the grid is fine in regions of large variation to enhance accuracy, but can be coarse where the solution has little variation in order to achieve efficiency.

(3) Can you give us an example of an application of this research?
One great example is in airfoils. NASA designs many of these, and they need to determine exactly how to shape them. In order to find the best shape, they need to solve physics problems and use numerical methods. My research applies to identifying the appropriate numerical method and corresponding grid generation approach to these problems.

(4) When did you become interested in your research?
Throughout school I knew I was going to focus on some kind of science or math. I had a particular high school teacher that really helped inspire me; ultimately it was my Ph.D. advisor that helped guide me into the field of numerical methods.

(5) Tell us about the courses you teach.
I teach both numerical analysis and numerical methods. Though sometimes confused with each other, numerical analysis is more theoretical and focuses on why methods work, while numerical methods focuses more on how such methods work. Right now being my first semester I’ve tried to keep my courses straightforward. In the future I hope to be able to get students involved more in projects and presentations.

(6) What is your favorite part of your position here at UCA?
Teaching is one of the best parts! I enjoy the moments of sharing the beauty of math with students. The environment here is quite flexible, and I’m still exploring the surrounding area.

(7) What is the most challenging part of your position here at UCA?
I have high expectation in student learning in upper level courses. But some students do not turn in assignments on time and are reluctant to ask questions. How do they expect to learn without putting their skills to practice? I am learning our students and our course settings. I will figure it out as the semester goes.