Math Council
  New Orleans
  Mathematical Seminars
  Math Camp



Welcome to the Bates College Mathematics Department Newsletter!

Math Council   photos courtesy of Laura Clarkson

The Math Council this winter/spring was amazing!

  • FIRST, there was a pizza party to welcome back the four Batesies (Emmanuel Drabo, Cassandra Kirkland, Becca Kunzendorf, and Binit Malla) who had spent their Fall Semester in Budapest studying math.
  • THEN, Math Council hosted two sessions for math-majors-to-be to learn about capstone options. In one session, faculty talked to students about the senior seminar and thesis. In the other session, faculty were *not allowed* and seniors told all.
  • AND TO TOP IT ALL OFF, there was a dinner for math students at DaVinci's. Photos above!

Many thanks to our hard-working and dedicated organizers.

Laura and Melissa's Adventures in the Cornhusker State   article and photos courtesy of Laura Clarkson and Melissa Geddes
In February we had the exciting opportunity to attend the Ninth Annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics (NCUWM). Although we may have been slightly nervous beforehand, it turned out to be an excellent and worthwhile experience. The conference began with small group discussions about graduate school, balancing family and career, and defining mathematical research. In these discussions we were able to begin meeting our possible future colleagues. Saturday was a long day of student talks and poster presentations. Laura presented her poster on her thesis research, "Wallpaper Groups: Art and Abstract Algebra" and Melissa gave a talk on her thesis research, "The Traveling Salesman Problem." It was a great experience to present our research outside of Bates to an interested audience. Throughout the weekend we were able to meet and speak with many students from around the country, as well as professors, grad students, and other professionals who use mathematics in their careers. We learned a great deal about the many paths that can be taken with a degree in mathematics, and we would recommend this conference in the future to not only seniors, but to juniors as well. If that is not incentive enough, you also get a snazzy red folder and keychain.
Laura and Melissa, adventuring
Laura at her poster
My Trip to the Mathematics Conference in New Orleans   article courtesy of Tobechukwu Okoye; photos courtesy of Bonnie Shulman
Tobe and Bonnie by Tobe's honeybee poster        Nikolay Silkin of Grinnell College is a poster judge

In January this semester (right before classes began) I got to travel to New Orleans for four days to participate in the 2007 Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans, Louisiana. The JMM is an annual event that brings mathematicians together for a grand celebration of math and the appreciation of its history. At the conference, the Bates Mathematics department was represented by Professors Bonnie Shulman, Caleb Shor, Meredith Greer, and Peter Wong. I merited the opportunity to participate in this prestigious event owing to my final project in the Mathematical Models in Biology class taught by Professor Shulman. Among the many applicants for the poster presentation, my project on the group decision making in honeybee colonies when finding a new home was accepted for a final exhibition. On hearing the news from the American Mathematical Society, I was extremely happy and even happier when Bates awarded me a Hughes grant to travel to New Orleans. Following my acceptance into the conference, I began to work even harder under the meticulous supervision of Professor Shulman until the final printing of the poster

The flight to New Orleans was an eight hour ordeal full of expectation and anticipation. Except for neighboring New England states, I had never being anywhere else in the US. Once in New Orleans, I was fascinated by the scenery of the French Quarter where I lodged for the duration of my stay. The Marriott, the hotel that I lodged in, was very welcoming of participating mathematicians. The room was top notch as I had two massive beds to myself as well as a first class bathroom, and the always crucial television set with cable to keep me sane. My experience got better when I opened the window to the most breathtaking sight I had ever seen. In my view was the Mississippi River surrounded by the happening streets of the city. However, I had to retire to my comfortable bed because I was so exhausted. Did I mention I had two comfortable beds to myself?

Prior to the day of my performance, I got the chance to attend a couple of presentations with Professor Shulman and her husband Don. One of the presentations was on bivariate coordinates, a digital strategy used in animated movies. Later in the day, I admired the French Quarter with Professor Shulman ending our tour with lunch at a seafood restaurant. Yet again I had to retire early to my room to prepare for the presentation and get a good night sleep.

Finally, the day of reckoning for the poster arrived and I was moderately nervous. It was not particularly sunny as I had anticipated; maybe I should have checked the weather update and not have relied on my spider senses. I had three hours to prepare, have breakfast and set my poster up at my station. It did not take long before the room was filled with over 200 people. I had three judges assigned to my poster. On average I spent 15 minutes explaining my poster to the judges. Basically, my ultimate goal was to convey to the judges that honey bees find a new home based on a quorum decision. This implies that given the potential new sites found by the dancing scout bees in the colony, the colony will migrate to the site with the most bees still dancing for its recommendation at the end of the time the colony has to make a decision. Usually, this is also the best site. Also, I sought to explain that my project uses computer generated Leslie matrices to study the change in the population of dancing honeybee scouts. Often times, some judges that have not been assigned to your poster also question you. I know what you are thinking-- why? Why do they tease one's eagerness to get it over with? Among the 187 participants, 15 are chosen as winners. Unfortunately, I narrowly missed the final fifteen, but that did not stop me from relishing the experience by making a lot of friends, and later having dinner with Professor Caleb Shor who treated me to a fantastic seafood special at a Forest Gump themed restaurant - Go figure.

Till today, words have not expressed how fortunate I feel to have been part of this experience. Let's just say that while I was there at the conference I had an everlasting grin of excitement and amazement on my face. It was an honor to be surrounded by such knowledge and intelligent individuals, and I thank God for keeping me alive for the entire trip, Bates for giving the opportunity to attend the conference, Professor Shulman for her motherly assistance in the project and Brian Pfohl who helped me adjust and print a highly ornate poster.

Mathematical Seminars   contributed by the presenters

Winter Semester and Short Term kept up a healthy pace with talks sprinkled throughout and several visitors speaking at Bates. Two highlights: we followed up a visit from Nic Koban last Fall with a visit from his wife, Lori Koban... AND... we hosted the CBB seminar for this semester. Read on for details!

January 24

Pallavi Jayawant: "Combinatorial Analogs of Topological Theorems"

February 7

Peter Wong: "Sangaku: Mathematical Tablets in Japan"

March 1

Lori Koban of The University of Maine at Farmington: "Using Gains to Lift Ternary Matroids"

March 14

Dan Look of The Indiana University of Pennsylvania: "Some Dynamics of a 3-Circle Inversion Map"

March 28

TJ Hitchman of Williams College: "Dyamical rigidity for lattices through geometry"

May 4

Rebecca Field of Bowdoin College: "Groups as twisted products of spheres", the CBB seminar talk, held this semester at Bates

May 23

Caleb Shor: "Introduction to Elliptic Curves"

Math Camp   photos contributed by Nyan Aung and Meredith Greer

Math Camp this year was intense as usual, but social events and getting outdoors helped to keep the mood light. We had movies in class, a barbecue with upperclass math majors, a field trip to Range Ponds State Park, and a softball game against the History Hell class. Looks like a great crew of math students for the next few years!

Chatting, and waiting for food     Tending the grill     Whiffleball at the barbecue
The Math Camp class on our trip to Range Ponds

This page was last updated May 24, 2007. Email the current editor if you have comments, suggestions ... or a submission for the next issue!