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 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.

 

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 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