Honoring Professor Sampson
Mount David Summit
Math Scholar-Athletes Awarded
Going to Nebraska
Budapest - and Lunch!
Brought to you by the Math Council!
Math Seminars This Semester
SWIMS - Afloat Once More
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Welcome to the fourth edition of the Bates College Mathematics Department Newsletter!

Honoring Professor Sampson   contributed by David Haines

Had you been a math major a few years ago, you would have spent a lot of time talking to and about Professor Richard Sampson, who passed away on April 1, 2004. Sampson began teaching at Bates over a half century ago and in many ways, was the spirit of the Mathematics Department during his career.

Students told many colorful stories about Sampson's classroom behavior, which included throwing chalk and erasers at sleeping students, screaming "Damn!" when he got stuck on a calculus problem, and sketching absurdly complicated pictures as he explained the connection between projective geometry and art. Sampson filled his classes with his own stories. He told one about using the Mean Value Theorem when he was an Air Force meteorologist in the jungles of British Guyana during World War II: His job was to calculate the average temperature over the last 24 hours, which he did by cutting along the temperature recorded by a pen on a piece of uniform density paper, then weighing it.

Another was about flying into hurricanes to measure wind speed. ("Damn, it was noisy when the plane got hit by lightning!") Still another was about throwing dry ice out of an airplane to punch a hole in a cloud so his partner on the ground could use the hole to measure the velocity of the cloud.

Sampson created our course 312 Geometry, which some of you have taken. We have him to thank for the fact that Bates is one of the few colleges with such a course. Because he was a sailor, he also created a Short Term Unit called Celestial Navigation, in which students used astrolabes, compasses, and sextants to transport themselves around an imaginary world.

The Richard W. Sampson Lecture honors his memory. You can go to to learn more about it.

Bates Now also published an article on Professor Sampson. It's available at

Mount David Summit   photos courtesy of Chip Ross and Meredith Greer

This year's Mount David Summit was held Friday, April 2. Math students presented posters on their senior theses and other projects. Click on any photo below to see a larger version.


Aimee Grimmelmann presents on her senior thesis, "Mathematical Modeling of the Influenze Pandemic of 1918". Jenn Hanley stops by.


Tory Peterson's poster tells about her senior thesis, "A New Twist: Different Models for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse".


Erica Dodd's poster "Bengal Tigers" shows her senior thesis model of the tiger population and effects of poaching.


Seamus Collins did an interdisciplinary thesis on "Mathematical Modeling of Molecular Evolution".


Lucia Tiererova tells passersby about the Watermark Initiative, a project she has worked on for two years. The book she is holding up dates from the fourteenth century.

Math Scholar-Athletes Awarded   contributed by Meredith Greer and Suzanne Coffey
Mike Lopez, Milt Lindholm, and Aimee Grimmelmann
(larger photo: Bonnie Shulman on the left, Meredith Greer on the right)

The Lindholm Scholar-Athlete Award honors those students who have achieved excellence in the classroom while balancing full participation in varsity athletics. It is awarded annually to the senior woman and senior man who have the highest grade-point average among those who have earned varsity letters, including one in his or her senior year. This year's awardees, Aimee Grimmelmann and Mike Lopez, were both math majors.

Adapted from the descriptions read when the awards were presented:

The female Lindholm Scholar-Athlete chose to compete in two of the most dangerous individual events in athletics. This math major began her athletic career at Bates starting as a diver on the swim team. She then traded the diving board for the pole vault as a new member of the track team. Our honoree has continued to seek out both athletic and academic challenges. She has competed in several marathons, half marathons and triathlons. She has been a tutor for the Math Workshop, a Bates Buddy at Montello School, and led an AESOP Trip. She spent her entire junior year off campus, living one semester on a farm in Australia and studying at the University of West Australia; and spending the other semester in Arizona studying Astronomy and Physics through Columbia University and helping to build a research telescope. Our honoree completed an Honors thesis in Mathematics, titled "Mathematical Modeling of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918". She presented her work at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics and also at the Mt. David Summit. She recently cleared her outdoor best of 8'0 in the pole vault, ranking her in the top 5 on the Bates All-Time list. We are pleased and proud to present the 2004 Lindholm Scholar-Athlete Award to Aimee Grimmelmann.
The male recipient of the Lindholm Scholar-Athlete Award was a State of Maine Rhodes finalist and a Bates Dana Scholar. Last fall he presented a paper on Babylonian Mathematics at the Mathematical Association of America’s annual meeting. He is a NESCAC All-Academic honoree and a three-time Stephen B. Ritter award winner. This athlete has had a tremendous impact on our football program and on his teammates both on and off the field. As an offensive lineman, he has been a major factor in the team rushing for an average of over 150 yards per game in each of the past two seasons. His perseverance through serious knee problems has demonstrated to his teammates what can be accomplished by sheer determination. Our honoree is also a Senior Staff Writer for The Student Newspaper and a member of the Athletes for Healthy Choices Program and the Bates Mock Trial Team. His 3.86 GPA and his willingness to be involved in a myriad of campus activities truly define the term Scholar-Athlete. We are pleased and proud to present the 2004 Lindholm Scholar-Athlete Award to Mike Lopez.

Congratulations to Mike and Aimee!

Never Ending Story (or: Going to Nebraska)   contributed by Lucia Tiererova

Friday the 6th February 2004, early in the morning, Aimee Grimmelmann (’04) and me – Lucia Tiererova (’06) started a long journey. Our destination was clear – the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Lincoln, Nebraska. However, as strange as it may seem, that day it was pretty hard to find an airplane without technical problems, crew who would have time to go to Nebraska, and most importantly – a pilot who could fly the plane. Despite bad luck, we somehow managed to leave Portland, and we didn’t even miss our flight from Chicago.
Coming on board we appeared in a different world, in a world of women mathematicians, because the plane was full of young women coming to the conference in Nebraska! Yeah, you don’t often see a plane with 80% women on board. But this was just a fraction of all the participants because there were more than 150 of them this year.
Right after we landed in Lincoln, we attended the registration followed by the first plenary talk by Nancy Kopell from Boston University. In the evening we had a fancy banquet including a group photo, and a panel discussion about the ways female mathematicians deal with problems like childbearing vs. career, or having a husband-mathematician.
The next two days were basically all spent in attending student short presentations, other panel discussions and a second plenary talk by Fern Hunt from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. In between, we had many opportunities to talk to other participants – female undergrads interested in mathematics – about their summer research, thesis topics, etc. There was also a number of female graduate students and professors (both female and male) pursuing career in mathematics.
But we are more than just math jerks! Don't think that we were talking only about math all the time, ready with a pencil in hand in case an important idea comes. Because we are all young, smart, motivated and friendly undergraduate women, we took advantage of being together and we did crusades into some good-food restaurants and good-ice-cream store. (But we also went to the gym because we didn't want to gain weight from the ice-cream.)
The atmosphere created by all these undergraduates going through the same experience of doing math while being a woman was very challenging and inspiring at the same time. I took away with me many ideas for possible summer research opportunities, or for areas of mathematics I would like to explore deeper. To summarize the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in short, I think I need just two words: women and math.
P.S.: Just to tell anybody who would be interested in attending this conference in future: Even though they say it’s a three-day conference, we have experimentally proved that it’s a four-day conference.
Information resources:

Budapest - and Lunch!   photos courtesy of Chip Ross
Greg presents getting food

Greg Jukins and Oliver Gjoneski spent their fall semester at the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program. This semester, they and the math department hosted a lunch to tell faculty and students about their experiences. They included several photos, along with a selection of the mathematics they had worked on in Budapest.

HRUMC   contributed by Chi Nguyen
Chi, Bonnie, and Jeff

Earlier this April, senior math major Jeff Kazin and I attended the annual Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (HRUMC) hosted by Mount Holyoke College. We were very fortunate and grateful to have with us the company of Professor Bonnie Shulman.

The HRUMC is only a one-day event but usually attracts a good number of students and faculty members. It is a nice opportunity for undergraduate math students like Jeff and myself to present senior theses, class projects, or even homework problems.

Jeff’s talk was on his senior thesis and titled “The Wiles of Fermat: What’s all the fuss about?” It was a challenge to present such a year-long thesis in 15 minutes, but Jeff did a good job in delivering it. I chose to talk about the Monty Hall problem from my probability class. I was a bit nervous to speak in front of a large audience but once I started my presentation, the enthusiasm nicely took over the anxiety. In addition, the fact that the majority of the audience shared a common interest in math made the atmosphere a lot friendlier and more encouraging.

We also had the chance to attend several presentations by other fellow students (this year’s conference registered a record number of students’ talks – 170). There were also a talk by a keynote speaker and a career plan during lunch break.

Overall the HRUMC was a very positive experience. I would highly recommend it to other math students at Bates. Attending talks and meeting math people at the conference were interesting, and it could also be more fun if you chose to present.

Brought to you by the Math Council!   contributed by Bonnie Shulman

Many people don't realize that the Math Department has a group that organizes social events. It's called The Math Council, and while you may not know it by name, you probably know of (and may even have attended) events sponsored by The Math Council.
For instance, this past Fall students attended a performance of the play PROOF! in Portland, and had dinner. All paid for by The Math Council.
We also had a lovely dinner at Frye St. Union and watched Fermat's Last Tango, a film version of a musical (yes, I did say musical) play about the proving of Fermat's Last Theorem. Again, paid for and organized by The Math Council.
Remember those meetings with yummy pizza where profs and current seniors discussed the Capstone Experience? Yep, you guessed it, sponsored by The Math Council.
And "Lunch in Budapest" -- Oliver Gjoneski and Greg Jukins talking about their experiences in Semester Abroad in Budapest, the math and the fun of it all -- the event was organized and the un-Commons lunch provided by -- The Math Council!
In previous years the Math Council has brought in speakers, organized panels of Bates math (and other science) majors to talk about life after Bates, and hosted a reception for seniors during senior week. There's also a special surprise for graduating math majors (sorry, you have to wait until the senior reception to find out what!) sponsored by The Math Council.
Some suggestions for future events include: Make (and eat) pies and watch the movie Pi; go candlestick (or regular) bowling; a talent show (with prizes).
Do you have ideas, energy, enthusiasm, organizational skills? Then become a Math Council leader. Each year a couple students write a letter in the beginning of the Fall semester to the Dean of Faculty in order to raise funds for the coming year. Then they organize events. See the faculty advisor (this year, Bonnie Shulman) if you are interested.

Math Seminars This Semester   contributed by the presenters

April 8:

Lisa Sattenspiel, visiting from the University of Missouri-Columbia to serve as the outside examiner for Aimee Grimmelmann's ('04) honors senior thesis, speaks on "Why Canadian fur trappers should stay in bed when they have the flu".

April 16:

Thom Pietraho of Bowdoin College gives this semester's CBB Mathematics Lecture at Bates: "Group Representations: Everything That I Needed to Know in Life I Learned From the Symmetric Group".

SWIMS - Afloat Once More   contributed by Bonnie Shulman and Meredith Greer

The Society for Women in Math and Science (SWIMS) has existed at Bates for over 10 years. However, in recent years, SWIMS has been somewhat dormant. Not so anymore! SWIMS has recently shown that it's here, and it is going strong.

We kicked off the Winter Semester with a dinner at Thai Dish in Auburn. We had a fantastic turnout of 30 people. We carpooled and used a campus van to get there; once at the restaurant, we enjoyed yummy Thai food and listed goals and activities for future events.

Ideas for the future include discussions on compiling materials for job searches and graduate schools; going as a group to help in community events such as helping to judge entries in the Science Fair at Lewiston High School (thanks to Gabby Voeller '06 for helping to implement judging this year); and of course, holding regular social activities so students and faculty across Mathematics and the Sciences get to know each other. The Thai dinner was followed up by a Short Term gathering at the Multicultural Center, with food contributed by several SWIMS members.

Thanks to Chrissy Anderson '06 for beginning construction of the new SWIMS website. To see it, go to We plan to add much more as we hold more events next year.

This page was last updated May 19, 2004. Email the current editor if you have comments, suggestions ... or a submission for the next issue!