*Dr. 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.

# Department News

## New Math Faculty for the AY 2016-17

## Journal Paper By A Math Graduate Student

A paper co-authored by Ms. Kaiyi Chen (a former masters’ student at UCA in applied mathematics), Dr. Ling He (Carmichael Professor Finance), and Dr. R. B. Lenin (Associate Professor of Mathematics) has been accepted for publication in the *Journal of Risk Finance. *The paper is based on Chen’s thesis “Time Variation Paths of Risk Sensitivities of Bank Stocks in Past Two Decades.” Dr. Lenin was the principle thesis advisor.

This paper incorporates the Flexible Least Squares (FLS) approach with a free statistical computing and graphics software *R* to estimate the three-factor model developed by He and Reichert in 2003 to trace time variation paths in risk sensitivities of bank stock returns during 1990-2014, one of the most serious financial crises period in the U.S. history. The results of the paper show that interest rate sensitivity of bank stock returns coincides with the dramatic changes in the bond market. It was significantly positive before the 2006 subprime mortgage crisis, reduced to insignificant between 2006 and 2008, and turned into significantly negative between 2008 to 2014. Further, the results of this study found that bank stocks negatively respond to changes in housing prices between1990-1994 and after that the sensitivity turns into significantly positive. The significant shifts in risk sensitivities of banks stock returns coincide alterations in long-term interest rates and monetary policy, especially, the enormously stimulative monetary policy after the financial crisis in 2008.

Ms. Chen is currently pursuing a master’s in statistics at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she plans to complete her Ph.D. in statistics.

## 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 4^{th} to 6^{th} 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 7^{th} to 10^{th} 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.

**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

## 2016 ACTM State Math Contest

On Saturday, April 23, 2016, the UCA Department of Mathematics hosted the State Mathematics Contest, which is sponsored by the Arkansas Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ACTM). Approximately 350 high school students from public and private school across the state of Arkansas competed in one of six content exams: Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus, Calculus, or Statistics. A list of contest winners in each category can be found on the ACTM page on the Department of Mathematics Web site at http://uca.edu/actm/.

Dr. Charles Watson, associate professor of mathematics, serves as the ACTM contest director. Dr. Linda Griffith, professor of mathematics, is the current president of ACTM. Several mathematics faculty members including Dr. Carolyn Pinchback, Mrs. Loi Booher, and Mrs. Crystal Spellmann and graduate students assisted with the contest.

## 2016 Student Awards in Mathematics

At the Math Department’s annual spring picnic held at the home of Uma and Ramsh Garimella on April 22, student awards for 2016 were presented. Each awardee received a gift card and a certificate of recognition.

**O.L. Hughes Award** was presented to **Jamie Mullins**. This award is presented every spring to a senior in mathematics who has an exemplary academic record. Jamie received her BS degree in pure mathematics at the 2016 Spring Commencement and will join the Department as a graduate student in Mathematics Education in Fall 2016.

**Dorothy Long Award** was given to **Diana Morales***.* This award is presented every year to a junior female mathematics student who has an exemplary academic record. Diana is active in undergraduate research and co-presented a poster in January at the national Joint Meetings of AMS & MAA in Seattle, Washington.

Graduate students **Haley Laffoon** and **Robert Habimana** were co-recipients of this year’s **Outstanding Graduate Student Award.** Haley received her MA degree in Mathematics Education at the 2016 Spring Commencement and will join the Episcopla Collegiate School in Little Rock as a mathematics teacher. Robert was mentored by late Dr. Clarence Burg and is currently finishing up his master’s thesis in applied mathematics with Dr. Danny Arrigo and is expected to receive his MS degree in August 2016.

## 2016 Spring Math Graduates

Seven applied mathematics, two pure mathematics, and two BSE mathematics education students and a graduate student in MA Mathematics Education received their degrees at the Spring Commencement held on April 30th, 2016. Congratulations to all.

## UCA Math Student Presentations at a Regional Conference

At the 78^{th} Annual Meeting of the OK-AR Section of Mathematical Association of America held at UCA during March 31 to April 2, 2016, three Mathematics majors Alma Malibekova, Diana Morales, and James Palmer ; a Physics and Astronomy major Douglas Roisen; and a Business major Macoe Austin Davis presented their research in student talk sessions. Also, mathematics graduate students Brandon Ashley, Seth Bloomberg, Thomas Deathrage, Robert Habimana, Haly Lafoon, and Rebecca Moody along with a graduate student in Leadership Studies Charlie Wood presented their work in the regular sessions of the meeting.

## OK-AR Section of the MAA Meeting at UCA

The Department of Mathematics at UCA hosted the 78^{th} Annual Meeting of the Oklahoma-Arkansas Section of Mathematical Association of America from March 31 to April 2, 2016. Dr. Ramesh Garimella, Chair of Math Department, was responsible for local arrangements for the meeting. Approximately 225 participants , which included 142 faculty members and students from Arkansas, and 72 from Oklahoma attended the meetings. There were 23 undergraduate talks, and 34 faculty presentations, a faculty workshop on *Math Pathways Project in Arkansas and Oklahoma*, and a student workshop on *Rational Tangles – A Math Circle Approach*. In addition, Dr. Allison Henrich of Seattle University presented the N. A. Court Invited Lecture on *Knotty Games*, and Professor Thomas Milligan of the University of Central Oklahoma gave the R. B. Deal Lecture on *Playing in Mathematics. *The meetings concluded On April 2 with a an hour-long *MAA Section Visitor Lecture* given by Dr. Jima Daniel on actuarial careers. Pre-meeting activities included Team Math Jeopardy Competition on the evening of March 31 with 17 student teams from both Arkansas and Oklahoma. A student competition known as Integration Bee was on held on the morning of April 2.

On April 1^{st }evening, a banquet was held, which was attended by about 130 students, faculty and guests. Dean Stephen Addison of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics gave official welcome to the participants. Awards were presented to top three student paper presentations, and top three Math Jeopardy Teams. Also, outstanding teaching awards for elementary, middle and high school teachers from both Arkansas and Oklahoma were given.

Overall, it was a great meeting with excellent math talks and exciting events. The next year’s meeting will be held on the campus of University of Oklahoma during the first week of April 2017.

## IN MEMORIAM

Dr. Clarence Burg, Associate Professor of Mathematics, passed away unexpectedly on March 23, 2016. Dr. Burg was a dedicated teacher and scholar, and an exceptional mentor for both undergraduate and graduate students. He joined the UCA Math Department in August 2005. Dr. Burg quickly gained reputation as an outstanding faculty member with boundless energy. Often he came to the office early in the morning and stayed late in the evening to help the students, and fellow faculty members, whether it was helping a student with a math problem or assisting a fellow faculty member with a computer related issue. He was very active in the math department’s summer outreach programs. Dr. Burg was well liked and admired by students, faculty and staff. He will be greatly missed. You may read Dr. Burg’s obituary at the Roller-McNutt Funeral Home website: http://www.rollerfuneralhomes.com/services.asp?page=odetail&id=41072&locid=14.

## ACTM Regional Math Contest

On March 5, 2016, approximately 100 junior and senior high school students in central Arkansas took part in the Arkansas Council of Teachers of Mathematics Regional Contest held in the Department of Mathematics at UCA. Competition was held in the categories of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Pre-calculus, Calculus, and Statistics. Mathematics Faculty members Dr*. Carolyn Pinchback *and *Mrs. Loi Booher *were co-directors organized the contest. Top three finishers in each category received trophies, and certificate were given to honorable mentions. Mathematics Faculty members* Dr. Charles Watson, Mrs. Crsytal Spellman, and Dr. Ramesh Garimella *and all graduate teaching assistants in mathematics helped in organizing the contest, grading the tests and presenting the awards. There were several such regional contests held through out the state. Top three finishers in each category form each region will be invited next month to UCA Math Department to participate in the ACTM State Math Contest.