Student and Instructional News


From left: Man-Kin Yau, Geir Helleloid, Maureen Donahoe, Suzy Reichel, Adam Loeffler, Brian Yablon

At the Annual Student Awards Ceremony on May 10, 2000 in the 9th floor lounge, the following awards were presented to undergraduate students:

R. Creighton Buck Prize for Creativity in Mathematics ($500): Nicholas Sterling

Mark H. Ingraham Scholarship ($750): Matthew McGinley; Nicos Savva

Mark H. Ingraham Scholarship ($500): Keng Ao; Brian Yablon; Adam Loeffler; Man-Kin Yau

Frank D. Cady Scholarship ($500): Maureen Donahoe; Suzy Reichel

The first David & Janet Kirkbride Scholarship was also presented to Geir Helleloid at this ceremony (see the next feature).

Geir Helleloid is first recipient of the ``Kirkbride Scholarship''

From left: J. Kirkbride,
G. Helleloid, D. Kirkbride

Geir Helleloid, currently a third-year undergraduate student, was awarded last year the first David and Janet Kirkbride Scholarship, a semester's tuition worth about $1800. Geir hails from Eau Claire and is double-majoring in mathematics and computer science. The award was presented at our Annual Student Awards Ceremony in May of 2000. Attending the ceremony were David and Janet Kirkbride, who treated Geir, the Chair, Alejandro Adem, and Undergraduate Advisor, Dan Shea, to dinner at one of Madison's best restaurants. Geir has also been awarded a two-year Goldwater Scholarship, based on a national competition; only about 300 one- or two-year awards are given each year. This past summer Geir participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates at Cornell University and worked on algebraic combinatorics. He has been an enthusiastic worker in our Math Lab tutorial program.

In November, 2000 Professor Dan Shea and Geir went to the annual Pi Mu Epsilon Conference at St. Norbert's College where Geir gave a wonderful presentation of the spring semester work done by the participants in the Spatial Systems Laboratory, directed by Professor James Propp. Geir reported on the progress made by the group on the so-called chip-firing problem. As Dan Shea has remarked, part of the pleasure of trips to student-research conferences is the opportunity to discuss mathematics and student life with our students.

Because of his special accomplishments and abilities, this semester Geir, although still an undergraduate, is a Teaching Assistant, our first undergraduate TA. According to Dan Shea, Geir is managing his student and TA responsibilities very well. Geir, who plans to get a PhD in mathematics, is already taking a first-year graduate course.

Matthew McGinley Selected for Budapest Semesters in Mathematics

Matthew McGinley participated in Budapest Semesters in Mathematics this past fall. Budapest Semesters in Mathematics is an overseas study program for math students from North American colleges and universities. Study-abroad programs abound in the humanities and social sciences, but this is one of only a few in mathematics. The program was begun in the mid-1980s at a time when Hungary's Communist government was more liberal than that of its neighbors. Open to students in their junior and senior years, the Budapest program offers a broad selection of math courses - in a country with an exceptionally strong math tradition.

Talent Search Honors Day

From left: D. Kane, Y. Zhang,
C. Moore, M. Isaacs

Once again the winners of the 1999-2000 Talent Search for Wisconsin High School Students were invited to an Honors Day Program in Madison. Twenty-five students from high school, middle school, an even elementary school this year, were invited to the program on May 9, 2000. The elementary school students were Matt and Nick Wage of Janet Berry Elementary School in Appleton, Wisconsin. They were accompanied by their parents one of whom is Michael Wage (PhD 1976, M.  Rudin). Michael is now a practicing opthamologist.

The program consisted of a talk by Professor Clint Sprott of the Physics Department on The New Science of Chaos and one by Professor Richard Brualdi of the Mathematics Department on Let Me Count The Ways: Putting painted balls in painted boxes, painted balls in unpainted boxes, unpainted balls in painted boxes, and unpainted balls in unpainted boxes. There was also a tour of the Astronomy Department.

The prizes were given out by Professor I. Martin Isaacs at a luncheon in the 9th floor lounge. Included among the prize winners were three members of the Loh family from Madison, Po-Ling, Po-Ru, and Po-Shen. Each year, top Wisconsin performers in the Talent Search are eligible to compete for the Van Vleck Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The scholarship pays $6,000 per year for four years. This year's winners were Daniel Kane, Chris Moore, and Yian Zhang, all from Madison West High School. All three of them finished in the top 25 in North America to qualify in the USA Mathematical Olympiad, as did previous Scholarship winners Howard Liu, Po-Ru Loh, and Po-Shen Loh. Po-Ru Loh, Po-Shen Loh, and Yian Zhang were all among the top twelve finishers, with Po-Ru Loh and Yian Zhang selected to compete with seven other students for the six positions on the team representing the USA in the International Mathematical Olympiad (Taejon, South Korea, July 19-20, 2000). Po-Ru Loh was selected as a team member and was a Silver Medalist for his team which placed third.

Here is a problem from this year's Talent Search.

Sixteen numbers are put into the boxes of a four-by-four array so as to form a magic square. This means that the four row sums, the four column sums, and the two diagonal sums are equal to the same number s. Show that s is also the sum of the four numbers in the corners of the array. (Do not assume that the sixteen numbers are the integers 1,2,3,,16.)

Eight Undergraduate Math Majors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

This past year eight undergraduate mathematics majors were inducted into the honorary society Phi Beta Kappa. They are: Daniel Drake, Jonathon Giffen, Geir Helleloid, Sarah Knoop, Matthew McGinley, Clayton Nall, Nicholas Rasmussen, and Chad Sundell. Among the second majors of these talented students are computer science, physics, and political science.

Hilliard Gift to the WES Program

UW-Madison alumnus Wallace (Wally) J. Hilliard announced last April the establishment at the UW Foundation of The Wallace J. Hilliard Fund for the purpose of supporting undergraduate students in the College of Letters and Science, and expressed his desire ``to support the Wisconsin Emerging Scholars Program". Each year the Foundation "will advise the chair of the Department of Mathematics of the total amount available for distribution in support of the Fund's objectives." The Fund was initiated with a gift of $100,000. Wally now lives in Naples, Florida, but the gift comes from the Hilliard Family Foundation, which is run by Wally's son, Daniel Hilliard, who lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin. WES Coordinator Melinda Certain hopes to meet Daniel, and possibly Wally, some time next summer and update them on the WES program.

As described in last year's Newsletter, the main goal of WES is improved success in calculus for minorities and other groups of people which historically have been under-represented in advanced mathematics, science, and engineering. The program is open to all qualified students, and recruits minority and rural students.

The WES program was begun in the Fall of 1993 with 2 sections of Math 221. Most semesters there are 4 or 5 WES sections; for example, last Spring there were 2 sections of Math 222, and 1 each of Math 221 and Math 234. WES sections usually have GPAs well above the lecture average. Last spring the GPAs in the WES sections of Math 222 were 3.88 and 3.53, whereas the lecture GPAs were 2.88 and 2.43.

This past Fall the WES program introduced a section of Math 171 for the first time. Math 171 is a combination of pre-calculus and calculus and is followed the next semester by Math 217. Offering a WES section for these two courses is compatible with the WES emphasis on providing first-year students with a ``friendly but challenging" math experience. Also in an experimental stage is a WES section of Math 211 followed by one for Math 213. This is a sequence designed primarily for business and finance majors. The fall WES section of Math 211 was a great success, earning a GPA of 3.60.

The Hilliard gift offers the WES program the chance to try new things, but also the means to keep the quality of the program high and assure the ongoing success of the program.

Contributed by Melinda Certain.

Recent Math 222 WES Program Participants

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