for Advisors of Student Chapters of the Mathematical
Association of America
2006 in Knoxville
Plan on participating in the activities planned for the Knoxville,
Tennessee, MathFest this summer, starting with the MAA-Pi Mu Epsilon
reception for undergraduates Wednesday evening, August 9, 2006, and a
new event, Math Jeopardy, immediately following the reception.
The activities for students will continue through Saturday, August 12,
and will include the MAA Student Lecture, the MAA Student Paper
Sessions, the MAA Student Activities Session (formerly called the MAA
Student Workshop), the presentations of the MAA Mathematical Contest in
Modeling winners, the Student Hospitality Center, and the Student
Problem Solving Competition. In addition, students and advisors
will likely be interested in the parallel Pi Mu Epsilon student papers
sessions, the PME banquet, and the PME J. Sutherland Frame
lecture. Information on these activities may be found inside in
the section ’What’s Next’in Knoxville.â?
Inside you will also find the new rules for the student papers sessions
and information about a new grant supporting regional conferences.
Student-Related Activities at the San
Warm and sunny weather and San Antonio’s famed River Walk welcomed
those who attended the JMM in January. Once again, a record
number of students participated in the MAA student poster session, a
large number of students and advisors attended the MAA student lecture
by Marc Chamberland, and many students and others enjoyed the
diversions offered at the Student Hospitality Center throughout the
meetings. At a special breakfast for Chapter Advisors and MAA
Liaisons, the MAA gathered information on activities their institutions
sponsor for their students. Find out more in the ’Sessions
in San Antonioâ? section.
in San Antonio
The Many Faces of Pi
At the Annual Joint Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, the Student Lecture
of Saturday, January 14, was received with great interest and
enthusiasm by a very large audience. The speaker, Prof. Marc
Chamberland from Grinnell College, spoke about ’The Many Faces of Pi.â?
Marc provided us with the following brief summary of his talk.
The number Pi is a rich subject for mathematical study and is perhaps
the only non-trivial number that the public would recognize. Archimedes
used regular polygons to show that 223/71
The early heroes of Calculus represented Pi with infinite series, or
infinite products and/or continued fractions. Later mathematicians used
infinite series that converge very rapidly. A recent class of series
(called BBP series) allows one to efficiently calculate digits of Pi
(base 16) without the knowledge of earlier digits!
Modern approaches to calculating many digits of Pi are based either on
quickly converging series or Machin-like arctangent formulas such as
Ï?/4 = 12 arctan(1/49) + 32 arctan(1/57) ’ 5 arctan(1/239) + 12
arctan(1/110443). The Japanese team led by Yasuma Kanada holds
the record of Pi digits with over one trillion digits!
Mathematically, Pi is ubiquitous. It wins an Oscar for its role in
analysis, number theory, and probability and statistics. It even makes
a cameo appearance in chaos theory.
Pi has made its way into popular culture with appearances in Star Trek
, The Simpsons
, the prize-winning novel Life of Pi,
and the movies Pi
and A Beautiful Mind.
The presentation was punctuated by interesting anecdotes and
images. The one-hour time passed faster than anybody could expect. Art
Benjamin and Jennifer Quinn attended the talk and asked Marc to write
an article for Math Horizons, of which they are editors. We are looking
forward to read more about Pi in this lively publication.
|CUSAC administers a grant
program, the Diversity Initiative, which
encourages undergraduate students from under-represented groups to
participate in the national meetings. The program, developed
years ago by Jean Bee Chan, awards small travel grants every year to
college and university faculty who bring women and students from ethnic
and racial minorities to the Joint Mathematics Meetings. The
usually begins by contacting schools that are relatively close to the
meeting site, so that we can help as many students as possible.
past two years, we have also worked closely with the NREUP program,
funding those students who have come to the meetings to present posters
or give talks about their summer research.
Seven institutions were awarded grants for the San Antonio meetings:
- Sam Houston State University
- Howard University
- California State University, Channel Islands
- Meredith College
- University of Texas, Arlington
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- Central College.
|Prof. Marc Chamberland (far right) poses
with Diversity Grant
students after his lecture.
The grants supported the travel of 27 students, 15 of whom submitted
posters to the Undergraduate Poster Session ’ and some of whom won
For information about next year’s grants for the New Orleans meetings,
contact Kay Somers of the Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities
and Chapters: firstname.lastname@example.org.
|These students from the Rochester
Institute of Technology and supported by a Diversity Initiative grant
won one of the top prizes at the Undergraduate Student Poster Session.
|This year’s poster
session was a tremendous success, with over 130 posters presented and
judged by 140 professional mathematicians. The poster session was
well attended and continues to attract a large audience at the Joint
I attended my first poster session as an advisor in 1998. Fewer than 20
posters were presented. Since then the session has grown in size
to the event we see today largely owing to Mario Martelli (Claremont
McKenna College), who organized it from 2000 to 2005. Many changes came
with my first year as organizer. The submission of abstracts and
collection of judge information is now done electronically. This
would have been impossible without the time and effort of Hal Nesbitt,
Program Coordinator of the MAA. During this transition, I
received much needed support from Suzanne Lenhart, the Chair of the
MAA-CUPM Subcommittee on Undergraduate Research, Betty Mayfield, Chair
of the MAA Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters
(CUSAC), and Michael Pearson, Director of Programs and Services of the
A lot of time and
effort goes into the poster session, from evaluating student abstracts
to assigning judges to posters. Special thanks go to Suzanne
Lenhart (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) for arranging the prizes
donated by the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical
Association of America, the Association for Women in Mathematics, the
Council on Undergraduate Research, the Educational Advancement
Foundation, and the Society for Industrial and Applied
Mathematics. I also would like to thank Mike O’Leary (Towson
University) for assigning judges to posters. I’d like to also
thank the students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and
from Towson University for their invaluable help in setting up the room
and for their assistance in a variety of tasks on the day of the poster
The tremendous enthusiasm from past and new judges was very much
appreciated. A heartfelt thanks to all standby judges, whom I relied on
to evaluate posters on a variety of topics. Because of the large
number of poster presentations, we required many new judges. Past
judges helped spread the word to recruit new judges. As usual,
Project NExT came through with new recruits. Aparna Higgins was
especially diligent in obtaining judges at the last hour. Thanks
to all of you who do this wonderful service, and I hope to count on you
Finally, the poster session would not be as successful as it is if it
were not for the students and their advisors. Many past judges
and attendees commented on the exceptional quality of posters and their
corresponding presentations. Of special note was Truman State
University with two prize winners, Kensey L. Riley and Bach Quang Ha.
I hope to see the same large showing of students next year in New
Orleans. Save the date and apply early. A list of this
year’s prize-winners can be found at /students/undergrad/06winners.html.
News for next year’s poster session will be found on the MAA website at
|Michael Pearson presents Mario Martelli
with an award for
outstanding service to the MAA for all that he has done to make
the Undergraduate Student Poster Session a success.
||Diana Thomas, Mario Martelli, and poster
Outside the Classroom
|The MAA Contributed Paper
Session on ’Research and Other Mathematical Experiences for Students
outside the Classroomâ? was held on Friday, January 13, 2006, at the San
Antonio JMM. The session was jointly sponsored by the MAA
Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters and by the
CUPM Subcommittee on Undergraduate Research. Organizers
were: Kay Somers, Moravian College; Susan Morey, Texas State
University; Sivaram Narayan, Central Michigan University; and Jody
Sorensen, Grand Valley State University.
Speakers described activities and student research projects and
programs so that others would be encouraged to organize and run these
types of events for their students. The sixteen talks described
interdisciplinary seminars in mathematics and economics and
interdisciplinary research experiences in mathematics and biology, as
well as how to foster and advise undergraduate research projects at
your home institution. Outside-of-the-classroom activities
addressed included suggestions for celebrating ’Pi Day,â? descriptions
of math club activities that engage students and alumni, a report on an
’Integration Bee,â? and tips for organizing and maintaining an
undergraduate mathematics competition.
||Kay Somers introduces Steve Leonhardi at
Contributed Paper Session.
Richard Neal and John Holte
The Student Hospitality Center at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San
Antonio was organized and hosted once again by Richard and Araceli
Neal. More than 100 guests attended the special
opening reception Thursday afternoon. Throughout the days of the
JMM, many student visitors congregated and discussed the presentations,
socialized, and enjoyed the free refreshments offered them. The
students also enjoyed the challenge of trying to solve some of the many
puzzles distributed among the tables of the center.
The Student Hospitality Center is sponsored by the MAA Committee on
Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters. It has become a
place to keep up with the flow of the meeting, to leave messages, to
meet others and talk, or just to relax between
sessions. Please look for the Student
Hospitality Center at the summer MathFest and the winter Joint
Mathematics Meetings each year.
|Students thronged at the SHC reception.
Richard Neal, Kay Somers, CUSAC
President Betty Mayfield,
and Araceli Neal are in
Jody Sorensen and Jackie Jensen
One of the areas of focus for the 2006 MAA strategic planning
initiative is student activities. To recognize this, the MAA
hosted a Combined MAA Departmental Liaison and PME/MAA Student Chapter
Advisor Breakfast at the Joint Meetings in San Antonio. This was a
lively and well-attended event, with short addresses from officers of
the MAA and PME. Andrew Sterrett mentioned that he is looking for
career profiles for the MAA student webpage, as well as for an updated
version of 101 Careers in Mathematics
The breakfast concluded with a questionnaire on student clubs,
activities, and conferences, as well as resources that the MAA could
provide to support involvement of students.
The participants were asked these questions:
- What activities do you use to increase participation?
- What math organizations do you have?
- What do students attend? And what do students get out of it?
The MAA’s Hal Nesbitt summarized the
responses, and the statistics given here are of course based only on
what the respondents reported. The answers to the first question were
varied, and included the following ideas for increasing student
- 4 schools have game nights
- 32 schools have talks, seminars, or colloquia
- 7 schools have lunch meetings with free food
- 20 schools have a math club
- 14 schools sponsor math contests
- 5 schools host undergraduate student conferences or workshops
- 2 schools have weekly newsletters
- 5 schools host weekly teas
- 12 schools have Christmas or pizza parties, barbecues or picnics
- 4 schools encourage students to take the Putnam exam
- 4 schools have a mathematics support room or tutoring
- 2 schools have an Undergraduate Research Program
- 4 schools have a bulletin board or math lounge listing
- 3 schools have a problem of the week, with prizes
- 2 schools celebrate pi day
- 3 schools sponsor field trips
- 3 schools have departmental awards ceremonies
- 4 schools have Undergraduate research projects or programs
- 4 schools have a Problem Solving Group
- 2 schools host student/faculty meetings
- 3 schools host movie nights
Other schools mention the following activities to increase the
participation of students:
- Host an ice cream social
- Provide free copies of Math Horizons
- Host a bowling contest
- Sell Pi tattoos
- Celebrate mathematics awareness day
- Staff a booth at Homecoming
- Employ students as supplemental instructors
- Send group e-mails informing students of opportunities.
Of the schools responding at this breakfast meeting, 30 had either a
Math Club or a Student Chapter of the MAA; 26 had a Pi Mu Epsilon
chapter; 14 had a Kappa Mu Epsilon Chapter; 5 had some other honorary
organization; and 16 had an inactive MAA or PME chapter. There
were 48 schools represented that had neither an MAA section nor any
In response to what activities are attended by students, the responses
- 23 schools had students attend undergraduate conferences
- 56 had students attend their local MAA Section meeting,
- 14 had students attend MathFest
- 15 had students attend the Joint Mathematics Meetings
- 14 schools had students attend all of the above
- 18 had students attend none of these events
- 10 schools said that students were rarely able to attend the
above due to lack of funds and/or travel time
- Some schools also had students attending the NCTM meeting and the
Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women.
Of the students who attended these conferences,
- 18 presented talks, posters, or papers
- 4 schools said that their undergraduates attended to network with
- 3 schools said that their undergraduates attend to see
mathematics on a new level.
MAA-NSF Grant for Conferences
The MAA is pleased to announce that the MAA-NSF grant DMS-0241090 to
support Undergraduate Regional Conferences in Mathematics has been
continued for academic years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009.
During the first three years of this grant, funding was provided to a
total of 71 conferences, and the MAA hopes to provide funding to 100
conferences during this continuation period. Proposals are now being
solicited for the academic year 2006-2007, with a deadline date of May
15, 2006, for fall 2006 conferences.
Grant DMS-0241090 is designed to provide a convenient way to obtain
funding for institutions that want to hold regional conferences for
undergraduate students. The overall goal of the program is to provide
opportunities for all undergraduate mathematics students to give oral
presentations, including research level, expository, and historical
Funding levels will be determined by the PI and Co-PIs of the grant
(Colin Adams, Doug Faires, Joe Gallian, Michael Pearson, and Dan
Schaal). These decisions will be based on the likelihood that the
proposed conference will significantly advance the goal of providing
all undergraduate students a presentation opportunity, especially in
regions of the country historically lacking these opportunities.
Conferences throughout the country will continue to be supported.
Grants are expected to be in the $1000 - $3000 range, although more or
less may be awarded in special situations. The grant money is expected
to be used to support activities directly related to the objective of
the grant, including modest direct student support (meals, travel, and,
if appropriate, lodging). Modest expenses for invited speakers may be
requested from the grant, but justification is needed to show that
these expenses directly enhance the objectives of the grant. No grant
money shall be used to support the awarding of prizes or gifts,
institutional support, or the support of activities that are not
directly related to attracting students to give talks.
New conferences may be funded at a rate higher than those that are
continuing in order to provide initiative for broader advertising.
Conferences that have been conducted without grant support are invited
to apply for funding, but must demonstrate that an award would increase
participation in a manner that is consistent with the goals of the
Conferences must not be exclusive or discriminatory in any manner,
except that modest reviewing may be done to ensure that presentations
are in line with the goal of the grant.
Any questions on the purpose of the grant or on any aspect of a
proposal should be addressed to Doug Faires (email@example.com
) or to
Michael Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org
Call & New Rules for Student Papers
Students who wish to present a paper at MathFest 2006 in Knoxville,
Tennessee must be nominated by a faculty advisor familiar with the work
to be presented. To propose a paper for presentation, the student must
complete a web form which is available at www.maa.org/students/undergrad/
The deadline for submitted abstracts is June 23, 2006. If you
have any questions or concerns please contact Edward C. Keppelmann at
the University of Nevada-Reno (775-784-6773) email@example.com
The MAA Committee for Undergraduate Student Activities has limited
funds to support travel to Math Fest by student presenters and the
rules have changed significantly this year’please see the accompanying
article, ’New Rules and Policies for MAA MathFest Student Papers.â?
Funds will be awarded on a first come first serve basis to those with
complete applications, so students are encouraged to apply early.
In addition to the MAA student paper sessions at Math Fest there are
also sessions sponsored by Pi Mu Epsilon. Pi Mu Epsilon student
speakers must be nominated by their chapter advisors. Application forms
for PME student speakers can be found on the PME web site at
or can be obtained from PME Secretary-Treasurer, Dr.
Leo Schneider firstname.lastname@example.org
Students making presentations at the Annual Meeting of PME are eligible
for partial transportation reimbursement. The deadline for receipt of
abstracts is June 23, 2006.
Rules and Policies for MAA MathFest Student Papers
At their committee meeting in San Antonio, CUSAC adopted the following
rules for MathFest student paper presentations. The guiding philosophy
behind these new policies and procedures is to provide equal
opportunities for students from all schools and to use the travel funds
and speaking opportunities for maximum benefit to expose students to
all the wonderful opportunities that MathFest has to offer. While we
view 2006 as somewhat of a transition year to these new rules, most
will go into effect right away.
- No two talks can share both the same advisor and the same subject
classification. Students who worked together, either at an
individual institution or in an REU experience, are welcome to give one
- Those who receive travel funding must be student MAA members; in
addition, preference for speaking slots will be given to MAA
members. [Note that you can often get a free 1-year student membership
by presenting at your local section meeting if your section has such an
- Funding is limited to one student per institution and one student
from each REU.
- Those who present in the sessions will be expected to attend all
three days of student activities at the meeting. No requests for
presentations on a particular day can be honored.
- Travel compensation will be based on current fares at an online
site such as Travelocity or Orbitz. Students may also drive to the
meeting but they will receive the lower amount of mileage or airfare.
There will be no support for lodging, food, or travel to and from the
- In order to enable audience members to attend both MAA and PME
student talks, the talks will be scheduled as 15 minutes with 5 minute
breaks. [This means we won't attempt to squeeze more talks in by
cutting down on the break as we have recently done.]
The decisions of the session organizers on scheduling and funding are
The Environmental Mathematics SIGMAA will provide a $40 subsidy for
students in the Knoxville MathFest short course on Environmental
Modeling on Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-9 August 2006. There are no
forms to be filled out’just a request from each student to Ben Fusaro, email@example.com
Special information for students can be found at MAA Online at
Next -- in Knoxville
Mu Epsilon Student Reception
Wednesday, August 9, 4:30 pm-5:30 pm
Invite your undergraduate students to attend this reception, sponsored
by the MAA and Pi Mu Epsilon.
John Harris, Furman University
Wednesday, August 9, 5:30 pm- 6:45 pm
This is an undergraduate team competition’a mathematical version of the
popular television game show. Come and watch an entertaining
round of answers and questions encompassing calculus, linear algebra,
differential equations, discrete mathematics, and mathematical events.
Student Hospitality Center
Hosted by Richard and Araceli Neal, American Society for the
Communication of Mathematics
Thursday, August 10, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday, August 11, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday, August 12, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
The Student Hospitality Center (SHC) provides a place for students and
other MathFest attendees to meet for informal conversation,
refreshments, and mathematical diversions. The SHC also provides
programs for the MAA and Pi Mu Epsilon student paper sessions, packets
for the MAA student presenters and information on MathFest
activities of interest to students.
MAA Student Lecture
Math at Top Speed: Exploring and
Breaking Myths in Drag Racing Folklore
Richard Tapia, Rice University
Thursday, August 10, 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
Either as participant, support individual, or involved spectator,
Richard Tapia has been involved throughout his life in drag racing, and
has witnessed the birth and growth of many myths concerning dragster
speed and acceleration. In this talk, he will use mathematics to
identify frameworks for the study of a particular popular belief and
then apply mathematics to better understand the belief at hand. Some
myths will be explained and validated, while others will be destroyed.
Included will be attempts to determine how fast dragsters are really
going as well as the maximum acceleration achieved by today's
dragsters. He will explain why dragster acceleration is greater than
the acceleration due to gravity, an age-old inconsistency. The talk
will also include a historical account of the development of the sport
of drag racing and lively videos.
Student Paper Sessions
Edward C. Keppelmann, University of
J. Lyn Miller, Slippery Rock University
Thursday, August 10, 2:00 pm - 6:15 pm
Friday, August 11, 2:00 pm ’ 5:00 pm
Mu Epsilon Student Paper Sessions
Angela Spalsbury, Youngstown State
Thursday, August 10, 2:00 pm - 6:15 pm
Friday, August 11, 2:00 pm ’ 5:00 pm
Undergraduate Student Activities Session:
and Weird Ways to Multiply
James Tanton, St. Mark’s Institute of
Mathematics/St. Mark’s School
Friday, August 11, 1:00 pm ’ 1:50 pm
What’s four times three? Twelve you might think ’ but no more! In a new
fun-filled action-packed system of arithmetic worthy of much
mathematical investigation, four times three is eighteen, the square
root of 100 is six, and two times five is ten. (Hang on. That’s not
weird!) Let’s spend an hour working out 5716 x 8945 together five
different ways. What could be more fun?
Student Banquet and Awards Ceremony
Friday, August 11, 6:15 pm - 7:45 pm
All undergraduate students and their supporters are welcome. See the
registration form for more information on this ticketed event.
Epsilon J. Sutherland Frame Lecture:
Circles? To Understand Voting Problems??!
Donald Saari, University of California
Friday, August 11, 8:00 pm ’ 9:00 pm
Why is it that whenever we put forth a carefully considered proposal,
somebody can put forth an "improvement"? Sure. Yet, attend
any meeting, even the MAA business meetings, and it happens on a
regular basis. Why? Insight is possible by using just the
geometry of circles. And then, to introduce a new game theoretic
solution concept, I will use the geometry of ellipses.
Problem Solving Competition
Richard Neal, American Society for the
Communication of Mathematics
Saturday, August 12, 1:00 pm ’ 2:15 pm
This is the finals of the Problem Solving Competition. Universities and
colleges that participate monthly on their own campuses by holding
problem solving contests are invited to send two contestants. Each
contestant will be required to solve a series of mathematical problems.
Based upon the outcome a champion and a runner up will be named.
Horizons Special Session
Arthur T. Benjamin, Harvey Mudd College
Jennifer Quinn, Tacoma, Washington
Saturday, August 12, 2:30 pm ’ 3:00 pm
Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) Winners
Ben Fusaro, Florida State University
Saturday, August 12, 3:15 pm - 4:30 pm
About 450 teams, each consisting of three undergraduates, took part in
the 2006 MCM in February. The contest consists of two real(istic)
scenarios (one discrete, one continuous) that call for analysis and
resolution. The teams have four days to deal with the challenge,
during which time they may use or consult anything inanimate’computers,
libraries, the Web, etc. MAA judges choose one continuous and one
discrete winner from the top contenders. The MAA subsidizes the teams'
travel to MathFest, where they will present the results of their
and Contact Information
Photographs: Liaisons-Advisors Breakfast and RIT Diversity
Initiative group’Darren Narayan; Poster winners and Mario’s service
award’Diana Thomas; others’John Holte; Knoxville schedule’Jim Tattersall
How to Reach the MAA
For Membership Information, Subscriptions, and Publication Orders
The MAA Service Center
P.O. Box 9112
Washington, DC 20090-1622
800-331-1522 or (301)617-9415
FAX: (301) 206-9789
For the MAA Headquarters:
The Mathematical Association of America
1529 Eighteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1385
800-741-9415 or (202) 387-5200
FAX: (202) 265-2384
to Contact the Chapter Newsletter Editor
Suggestion, concerns, and/or contributions of articles for the CUSAC
newsletter may be sent to:
Dept of Mathematics and Statistics
Sam Houston State University
Box 2206, Huntsville, TX 77341-2206