Department News

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 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.

 

 

Faculty Corner – Dr. Kansas Conrady

Last fall Kansas Conrady joined the mathematics department as an assistant professor in mathematics education. She received her doctorate from Oklahoma State University and was previously working at the University of Oklahoma.

 

(1) Please tell us a little about yourself
I’m from Oklahoma where I was at the University of Oklahoma. Before that I taught middle and high school in the Fort Worth area. When I’m not working, I enjoy long distance cycling, Crossfit, and weightlifting.

(2) Tell us a little about your research interests.
I’m most interested in the mathematics teacher education pipeline. That is, identifying and preparing students that eventually decide they want to teach and pursue a career in teaching. More specifically I study informal learning experiences in teacher education that provide long term support for the transition that comes in early career experiences. Moreover, mathematical thinking is messy and rarely a simple polished process – I enjoy speaking and writing about how people actually think when they’re doing and learning mathematics, such as metacognition and discourse in mathematics classrooms.

(3) Why is your research topic important?
There is a high turnover rate in secondary mathematics teachers! When a teacher decides teaching isn’t for them, they must find a new career and society must train a new teacher. The first couple years in the classroom are not easy, and many times teachers enter “survival mode” to make it through the first few years to navigate the environment and established norms. My research can help teachers be true to their identity and not abandon the ideas and skill they’ve learned.

(4) When did you start becoming interested in teacher education?
I watched many new teachers, including myself and close friends, struggle with assimilation and survival in our first years. Through continued study I have looked for ways to make progress toward making it better.

Once I came to understand that there was a lot of messy thinking that happens inside the mathematicians head, I was better able to understand that it was not only okay, but normal, to have to work through problems and not just know them right away. Then as I continued to make sense of sharing rough draft thinking and started incorporating this in my teaching I saw changes to student attitudes, beliefs, and practices in regards to both teaching and the learning of mathematics. Thus I like to share understandings about the impact of this to others.

(5) Tell me about how you teach your courses.
Each course is very different, but with one common thread: they aren’t like many mathematics courses students have experienced before. I like to answer questions with questions that promote thinking and understanding. Rather than telling the student a specific step-by-step list of procedures to follow, I like to help students develop an understanding that will have a lasting effect.

I love to encourage thinking and talking and thus there is a great deal of collaborative work that is done in class: we all learn from each other and gain insights from the thinking of others.

(6) Who has influenced you most in life?
I can’t point to any one person – but more so my communities and networks. I always take in information about everything around me and process that information to learn more about not only myself and the people around me, but also the systems that are always at play around us.

(7) What is your favorite part of your position here at UCA?
The student, faculty, and staff are so incredibly friendly and helpful! With just a few questions I have filled both my recreational calendar as well as find places to eat out for the next several months. The physical campus is also a great place to be: the luscious trees across campus make for a wonderful atmosphere.

(8) What is the most challenging part of your job?
I would have to say balancing personal and professional life, but I’m pretty sure everyone has that challenge. So more specifically I’ll say that it is trying to grow relationships with the area schools while also being available and present on campus. Also, I’ve met so many people in the past two months, and I need to keep them all straight!

 

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.

 

Faculty Corner – Dr. Todd Abel

This fall Dr. Todd Abel joined the mathematics department as an assistant professor in mathematics education. He received his Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire.

(1) Please tell us a little about yourself
I’m from North Carolina and recently spent time at Appalachian State University before coming to my new home here at the University of Central Arkansas. My wife and three kids have been getting settled over the past few months and have really enjoyed the outdoor life in Arkansas. We’ve gotten to camp, hike, and float already and look forward to continuing to explore.

(2) Tell us a little about your research interests.
My research focuses on two areas. One is on the classroom implementation of mathematical modeling, and the other focuses on mathematical digital literacy: how to use digital tools for doing mathematics. Both of these are important topics for us to consider because the ways students use math is changing – it is essential to have creative and flexible thinking. And with many available tools, students need to be able to recognize what tools are useful for solving problems.

(3) Tell us about the courses you teach.
Right now I’m teaching three courses. Foundations of Mathematics is a graduate class for our M.A. program, which is targeted at preservice and inservice teachers. We look at mathematical reasoning, logic, set theory, number theory, the nature or mathematical work, and have a particular emphasis on what proofs are and how they work.
The undergraduate courses I’m teaching are History of Math, which covers a broad spectrum of topics from throughout time, and Project-Based Instruction. The latter course I am co-teaching with a faculty member from the STEMTeach program. This is a course in which students gain field experience in local schools before their fulltime internship.

(4) What is your favorite part of your position here at UCA?
I really enjoy facilitating students engaging with challenging math problems. It’s great to see students encounter meaningful problems to overcome and to watch them grow as they take on tougher and tougher challenges.

(5) What is the most challenging part of your position here at UCA?
There are a lot of programs and structures to learn, so figuring out what all the policies and procedures are has definitely been the most challenging part so far.

(6) Who has influenced your most in your life?
My family – my parents, brother, sister, and now my wife and kids. My parents taught me to appreciate learning; my teachers and Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Karen Graham, also influenced me professionally by helping guide me through my schooling and into my career.

(7) How do you like to spend your free time?
When not here I’m with my family at home, at church or somewhere in the woods.

2017 Spring Math Graduates.

Thirteen applied mathematics majors , two pure mathematics majors,  and a graduate student in  MS Applied mathematics received their degrees at the 2017 Spring Commencement. Among the undergraduate majors, three received teacher certification through UCA’s STEM Teach Program. Congratulations to all. Not all gradautes are seen in the picture shown below.