Department News Archive
For the current year’s news, see the department homepage
Prize for Clara Drew (class of 2017)
Clara Drew has won 1st place in the Undergraduate Research Project Competition (USRESP) sponsored by the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE). Please see here for more details about this national competition: USRESP. Clara’s submission was entitled, “The Halo Effect in Politics: The association between appearance and political success of leaders after a coup d’état”, and was based on her Senior Honors Project (completed in Spring 2017). This marks the 4th consecutive USRESP competition in which MSCS students have won prizes, including 1st place in the past two competitions.
Danny Kaplan wins 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in Statistics
The Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) has awarded its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in statistics education to Danny Kaplan! The award was announced at Penn State University on Friday, May 19th at the Awards Banquet of the 2017 United States Conference on Teaching Statistics. This biennial award is presented to an individual who, over an extended period of time, has made lasting contributions with broad impact to the field of statistics education especially, but not limited to, the teaching and learning of college-level statistics.
News Blog from Karen Saxe, Director, Washington DC Office of the American Mathematical Society
1st Place Undergraduate Research Prizes
Student Awards at JSM
Congratulations also to James Meyerson and Zach Gilfix (both class of 2016) for their prize winning project, “Managerial Duration Across Professional Soccer Leagues”. James and Zach won the 2016 Joint Statistical Meetings Statistics in Sports undergraduate research competition. In their work, they found a nationality bias in Major League Soccer whereby American managers enjoy lengthened survival over their non-domestic counterparts (such an effect did not exist in the other leagues investigated).
Why are There So Few Women Mathematicians?
Article in The Atlantic highlighting recent work of Macalester MSCS professors Shilad Sen and Chad Topaz on the number of women mathematicians holding positions on editorial boards.
Andrew Beveridge wins the Midstates Janet Anderson Lecture Award
Congratulations to Andrew Beveridge, who has been awarded the 2016 Midstates Consortium for Math and Science Janet Anderson Lecture Award. This award is given to faculty members who have vigorous research programs involving undergraduates, who are exceptional mentors for undergraduate research students, who are engaged and skilled teachers, and who create interdisciplinary research opportunities for undergraduate students. Professor Beveridge will give the keynote address at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at Washington University in St. Louis, November 4-5, 2016.
Data Science Minor Recognized in SIAM News
The Macalester College MSCS Department Data Science Minor is the subject of an article Data Science in the Liberal Arts in the July 22, 2016 “Happening Now” column of SIAM News, the newsletter of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The article highlights Professor Karen Saxe’s minisymposium talk, “Data Science: A Natural Fit in the Liberal Arts Curriculum” at the SIAM Annual Meeting.
Student Poster winners at JMM
Hearty congratulations to Macalester students Esha Datta (’17) and Lucas Gagnon (’16), who each won an Outstanding Poster Prize at the 2016 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Seattle, the largest mathematics conference in the world. Esha’s poster, “The Topology of Systems of Coupled Oscillators” (joint with student Alec Dunton, Harvey Mudd College) and Lucas’ poster, “Linear Bases for McKay Centralizer Algebras” were in the award-winning poster group selected from a field of more than 300 entries.
(November, 2015) Bryan Martin (Class of ’15) won 3rd place in the Undergraduate Research Project Competition (USRESP) organized by the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE). Bryan’s project, “Machine Learning Algorithms for Predicting Mode of Transportation Using Smartphone Sensor Data” was based on his honors work at Macalester College. USRESP is a competition for undergraduate students for projects completed during activities like summer research, senior capstones, or independent studies. Some submissions to USRESP are applied projects using existing statistical techniques to solve real world problems, while others are involve methodological research. The competition is open to undergraduate students globally. Bryan’s work focused on classifying smartphone user mode of transportation, using GPS and accelerometer data, and employing techniques such as principal component analysis, recursive feature elimination, movelets, k-nearest neighbors, and random forests. As part of his prize, Bryan was invited to present a talk at the 2015 Electronic Undergraduate Statistics Research Conference in October.
The Sorting Hat Goes to Washington, D.C.
(August, 2015) A recent paper by Professors and Stan Wagon, “The Sorting Hat Goes to College,” which appeared in Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 87, No. 4, October 2014, pp 243-251, has been awarded the Mathematical Association of America’s Carl B Allendoerfer Award for expository excellence. Beveridge and Wagon will be presented with this award at MathFest in Washington, D.C. in August. Congratulations.
Budget Beowulf Clusters!
(March, 2015) At the recent SIGCSE conference in Kansas City, Professor Libby Shoop presented “Rosie,” a six-node parallel and distributed computing cluster built by professor Shoop and her students. More Details.
dsTRAIn Lab Starts Up
dsTRAIn stands for learning data science through Trying, Reading,Asking, and Incorporating. Professor Katherine Kinnaird’s dsTRAIN lab is up and running.
(June, 2014) Chad Topaz has been awarded a 3-year $219,000 National Science Foundation research grant, Applied Dynamics and Topology of Aggregation Systems, to support his work on the mathematics and biology of swarms. This grant will support summer research involving six Macalester students and three Harvey Mudd College students, and will fund them to present their work at national conferences.
2014 Department Awards
(April, 2014) Each year the MSCS faculty select students to receive department awards. This year’s Konhauser award recipients are Amy Janett (’14) and Eric Biggers (’14). This year’s Ezra Camp award recipients are Sara Staszak (’14) and Nathan Leech (’14). The Roberts award recipient is Christa Nilsen (’14), and the Wagon Competition Award is given to Jie Shan (’14).
Ezra J. Camp Endowed Prize, established and funded by colleagues and friends in memory of Dr. Camp, professor and chair of the Mathematics Department 1939-1970, is awarded for meritorious performance in one or more of the following areas: academic record, marked by improvement while at Macalester; work as a preceptor or honors work.Konhauser Achievement Award, established and funded by Fred Deschamps (’87) and family in honor of Dr. Joseph D. Konhauser, professor and chair of the Mathematics Department 1968–1991, is awarded to juniors or seniors majoring in mathematics or computer science in recognition of an outstanding academic record coupled with a demonstrated dedication to and interest in the field.
The A. Wayne Roberts Prize is given by the department to honor a junior or senior majoring in mathematics or computer science in recognition of a dedication to the education of youth. This dedication will be demonstrated by work tutoring K-12 students, a keen interest in education policy, or through commitment to service teaching K-12 mathematics or computer science after graduation. This prize is established by department colleagues in honor of Dr. A. Wayne Roberts, who worked at Macalester from 1965 until 2005, as professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and in service as provost of the College. Through his work with Macalester students and faculty, and with the Minnesota State High School Mathematics League, which he founded in 1980 and led until 2009, Dr. Roberts has played an enormously important role in mathematics education in Minnesota.
The Wagon Competition Prize is given by the department to honor a student majoring in mathematics or computer science who has demonstrated the spirit of teamwork, creativity, cooperation, and a striving for excellence that we try to foster through the many competitions in which we participate. This award is named in honor of Dr. Stan Wagon, professor of Mathematics at Macalester from 1990 to 2012, who worked enthusiastically and tirelessly throughout his teaching career, training, inspiring, rewarding, and in all ways supporting students in their problem-solving and competition endeavors.
(April, 2014) Math Professor Dan Flath has won the 2014 Distinguished College or University Teacher of Mathematics Award from the Mathematical Association of America, North Central Section.
A paper published in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports by MSCS professor Vittorio Addona and then Mac student Jeremy Roth (class of 2010) is cited in the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine. In his column, The Numbers, Peter Keating points to Addona and Roth’s paper as the only one he’s seen connecting performance-enhancing drug use to quantifiable on-field changes in Major League Baseball. Addona and Roth found that steroid use was associated with increased fastball velocities for pitchers of over 1 MPH.
(May, 2013) Karen Saxe was selected by the American Mathematical Society as its 2013-2013 Congressional Fellow. The AMS Congressional Fellowship provides a unique public policy learning experience to demonstrate the value of science-government interaction and to bring a technical background and external perspective to the decision making process in Congress. The fellowship is year-long and runs from September through August.
The Congressional Fellowship is one of several fellowships offered through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowships program. This fellowship allows the recipient an opportunity to work on the staff of a member of Congress or a congressional committee, working as a special legislative assistant in legislative and policy areas requiring scientific and technical input. The fellowship includes an orientation on congressional and executive branch operations and a year-long seminar series on issues involving science, technology and public policy. Learn more about the AMS Congressional Fellowship and read about some fellowship experiences. Saxe fellowship article
(April, 2013) Taylor Rasmussen (’13) is the first receipient of A. Wayne Roberts Prize. This newly established prize will be given each year to honor a junior or senior majoring in mathematics or computer science in recognition of a dedication to the education of youth, as demonstrated by work tutoring K-12 students, a keen interest in education policy, or through commitment to service teaching K-12 mathematics or computer science after graduation. This prize is established by department colleagues in honor of Dr. A. Wayne Roberts, who worked at Macalester from 1965 until 2005, as professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and in service as provost of the College. Through his work with Macalester students and faculty, and with the Minnesota State High School Mathematics League, which he founded in 1980 and led until 2009, Dr. Roberts has played an enormously important role in mathematics education in Minnesota.
(April, 2013) Each year the MSCS faculty select students to receive department awards. This year’s Konhauser award recipients are Meg Naminski (’13) and Phuong Vu (’13). This year’s Ezra Camp award recipients are Brandon Maus (’13) and Colin Jarvis (’13). We instituted a new Roberts award this year; the recipient was Taylor Rasmussen(’13) (see article above). The competition award, renamed to honor Prof. Stan Wagon, was given to Junyi Wang (’14). Four students received Capstone Awards for outstanding Capstone Day presentations: Yacoub Shomali, Kyle Rosenberg, AnnaLeigh Smith, and Jacob Rath.
Tom Halverson Receives Simons Foundation Grant
(April, 2013) Tom Halverson has been awarded a 5-year $35,000 Collaboration Grant from the Simons Foundation for his research in combinatorial representation theory. The goal of this program is to support the “mathematical marketplace” by increasing collaborative contacts in the community of mathematicians. The grant supports travel for the awardee and for Macalester students and provides departmental funds for seminar and colloquium speakers. The Simons Foundation is a private foundation whose mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences.
Capstone Day 2013 WAs great!
(April, 2013) Capstone Day 2013 took place on Wednesday, April 17. Our seniors presented their capstone projects! On Thursday, April 18, David Liben-Nowell will speak for our Senior Banquet. Schedule of Capstone Talks Capstone Project Titles and Abstracts David Liben-Nowel Talk
Mathematics students win four prizes at national meeting
(February, 2013) Four posters contributed by Macalester summer research students received an Outstanding Presentation Award at the 2013 MAA Undergraduate Student Poster Session last month at the Joint Math Meetings in San Diego. The awardees include seniors Hossein Alidaee, Mike Reeks,and Maxray Savage, who, along with seven other undergraduate student researchers, developed their mathematics research last summer. They were mentored by Macalester Mathematics professors Andrew Beveridge, Dan Flath and Tom Halverson. Alidaee and Reeks did independent research at Macalester, while Savage was part of MAXIMA, a 12-student REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) that is co-hosted by Macalester and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota. JMM Prizes article
Faculty, Students, and Alumni meet at Annual Math meeting
(January, 2013) Faculty, students, and alumni met for dinner at the 2013 Math Meetings.
Math Jeopardy Team Defends its title
(December, 2012) Macalester’s Math Jeopardy team successfully defended Macalester’s title at the Math Jeopardy tournament.
David Bressoud Named Fellow of the American Mathematical Society
(November, 2012) DeWitt Wallace Professor David Bressoud has been named to the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. David Bressoud AMS Fellow details
Karen Saxe speaks at the MAA Distinguished Lecture Series
(November, 2012) Professor Karen Saxe will speak at the MAA Distinguished Lecture Series on Nov. 1 in Washington, DC. The title of her talk is “A Mathematical Adventure through the Census, Reapportionment, and Redistricting.”
Students enjoy Math pumpkin-carving day
(October 2012) Students carved pumpkins into math-inspired jack-o-lanterns.
Alumni published in ESPN: The Magazine
(October, 2012) Kwame Fynn ’13 (Accra, Ghana) and Morgan Sonnenschein ’12 (Overland Park, Kansas), both Applied Math and Statistics majors, had part of their research, “An Analysis of the Career Length of Professonal Basketball Players,” published in ESPN: The Magazine (10/1/12).
Chad Topaz speaks at Chinese-American Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium
(August, 2012) Professor Chad Topaz has been invited to speak at the prestigious Chinese-American Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium in October of this year. The symposium, co-sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, is the Academy’s premiere activity for distinguished young scientists. Topaz Kavli article
Taylor Rasmussen ’13, named M Club’s Male Athlete of the Year
(April, 2012) Congratulations to applied mathematics and statistics major Taylor Rasmussen ’13, who has been named M Club’s Male Athlete of the Year! Rasmussen article
Kaplan Wins Statistics Education Award
(January, 2012) At the national Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston, Danny Kaplan from the MSCS Department was given the annual award for the Outstanding Contributed Paper in Statistics Education. The award is for Kaplan’s 2011 paper, “Confounding the Introductory Statistics Course,” which describes the motivations behind Macalester’s Math 155, Introduction to Statistical Modeling, taken by approximately 150 Mac students each year.