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2010 News Releases

Longwood math student receives two first-place awards at regional conference

April 23, 2010

Yuri Calustro Longwood senior Yuri Calustro

Longwood University senior Yuri Calustro received two first-place awards for research he presented recently at a regional meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

Calustro's talk on his research project "Intersecting Cylinders at Arbitrary Angles" was judged the best talk at the spring meeting of the Maryland-District of Columbia-Virginia section of the MAA, held April 16-17 at Virginia State University. His poster on the same research project, one of 12 posters presented by undergraduates, was judged the best poster.

Calustro began his research project in summer 2009 and finished it that fall. "It was based on some Math Club talks given by Dr. Phillip Poplin (associate professor of mathematics and club adviser) on drilling a cylinder through a cube," said Calustro. "It's calculus with a little bit of geometry mixed in. It doesn't have any practical applications, which I'm often asked about. It was just a fun thing to do."

The research is "an extension of the calculus problem in which the volume of intersecting perpendicular cylinders is calculated," he wrote in his abstract. "Given that both cylinders are of equal radius and intersect at an arbitrary angle, the volume is determined by expressing as a series of shifting ellipses. This knowledge is then applied in determining the total volume of a chain of n cylinders in which two cylinders intersect at each joint. The figure created will resemble a regular n-sided polygon, represented by a series of pipes connected at various angles."

Dr. Poplin was his research adviser. "Yuri started this research as a 'fun' problem that I had mentioned the previous semester," he said. "He spent a lot of time working on this problem and came up with a very different solution from that which I had envisioned. The 'pipe' figures was also something that he developed. It was great to work with Yuri on this topic."

A paper Calustro wrote on his research project, with the same name, will appear in the fall issue of INCITE: Journal of Undergraduate Scholarship, published by the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences at Longwood.

In another recent accomplishment, Calustro was a member of a three-person Longwood team that earned the second highest designation in an international competition in which teams develop a math model to solve a difficult open-ended math problem. The Meritorious ranking was achieved by only 19 percent of the 2,254 teams from 14 countries that participated in the annual Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP) contest Feb. 18-22.

Calustro's COMAP teammates were Daniel Honey, a senior computer science major, and Nikole Varhegyi, a junior majoring in math and minoring in computer science. At the invitation of the MAA's Maryland-D.C.-Virginia section, Calustro and Varhegyi spoke about their solution to their COMAP problem at the group's recent meeting. (Honey was presenting at another undergraduate research conference.) Their talk was "To the Bat-Swing: An Impulsive Approach."

Also at the MAA section meeting, Calustro was part of a team that finished second in a math game based on the TV show Jeopardy! "Some of the problems were computational math problems, and some were just fun problems," said Calustro, whose teammates were sophomore math major Crystal Peoples and freshman math and computer science (double) major Jeff Anway.

Calustro, from Arlington, is majoring in mathematics and minoring in economics. He is president of the Math Club and senior class treasurer. He will give the invocation at Commencement, representing the senior class, and he gave the benediction at Convocation in September 2009. He plans to attend graduate school and study economics. He has been accepted to grad school at George Washington University, and he is waiting to hear from George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth universities. He is a graduate of Yorktown High School and is the son of Marina and Rene Calustro.