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2004 - 2005 Academic Year

Abstracts & Biographies

Date: 9/23/2004

Speaker: Dr. Phillip Poplin
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
Longwood University

Title: Math Is Fun!

Abstract: Dr. Poplin will present several fun mathematics problems he has encountered over the years. The problems will make use of mathematical techniques from algebra, calculus, and probability. This presentation will be understandable to students interested in undergraduate mathematics.

Bio: Dr. Poplin received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from North Carolina State University. He has taught mathematics atNorth Carolina State University and Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh,North Carolina. He is currently in his second year at Longwood University.


 Date: 10/21/2004

Speaker: Dr. Michael Langham
Assistant Professor of Physics
Department of Natural Sciences (Physics)
Longwood University

Title: A Modest Tour of Symmetries in Physics

Abstract: The goal of this talk is to give undergraduates a brief introduction to the power of symmetries in physics. The introduction will include examples in Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. One of the main goals in theoretical physics is to understand why nature chooses certain symmetries over others. There may be a connection between mathematics and nature's symmetries. Real division algebra may play an important role in this connection. The talk is based on the speaker's attempt to learn new physics and "mathematics."

Bio: Dr. Langham grew up in Charlottesville and went to Mary Washington College for his undergraduate degree because he wanted to play tennis! While there he earned his B.S. in Physics and then received his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He recently joined the Longwood University faculty after serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Union College in Schenectady, NY for the past four years (it was cold!). His current research interests include applying real division algebra to theoretical physics. He is also very interested in physics pedagogy and physics education research.


Date: 11/18/2004

Speaker: Dr. Paul F. Hemler
Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Hampden Sydney College

Title: Blood Vessel Enhancement in Computed Tomography Images of the Liver

Abstract: The application of radio frequency ablation (RFA) to liver tumors is a new and promising therapy that has many advantages over the traditional surgical treatment including: minimal invasiveness, fewer patient complications, and improved morbidity. However, many challenges must be overcome to insure that proper regions are targeted and that adequate treatment of diseased tissue ensues. Heat is the method RFA uses to destroy tissue; therefore, it is fundamentally important that adequate and uniform heating occurs. This task is complicated in the liver because of the large number of blood vessels that provide a cooling effect on nearby tissue. The work presented in this talk is a first step in developing a computational fluid dynamics model to ensure proper treatment of liver tumors with RFA.

Bio: Dr. Hemler received a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University concentrating on signal and image processing. He was then a member of the technical staff at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory where he developed object recognition algorithms for synthetic aperture radar images of deep space objects. He then became a senior research scientist at the Stanford University School of Medicine where he developed computer tools to provide localization and visualization to Neurosurgeons during surgical procedures. Prior to moving to Hampden-Sydney College, Dr. Hemler was an Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering and Computer Science and Wake Forest University. Dr. Hemler continues collaborating on researching image processing and analysis of medical images with a group of scientists at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda MD. He also works with students in developing computer graphics applications including 3D computer games. 


 Date: 12/7/2004

Speaker: Dr. Gary Nelson
Professor of Mathematics Education
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
Longwood University

Title: A Demonstration of the TI Navigator System

Abstract: The TI Navigator is a wireless system that connects TI-83 or TI-83 Plus calculators to the teacher work station. Using the Navigator software, the teacher can design assessments to be used during class. Student responses to the tasks are stored in individual folders and aggregated data can be presented immediately for class discussion. Dr. Nelson will demonstrate the system's features during the colloquium.

Bio: Dr. Nelson has a Ph.D. degree in Mathematics Education and has been in teacher education for over 20 years. He has worked with K-12 teachers at all levels, both through workshops and conference presentations. Dr. Nelson is a constructivist, believing that children can build meaningful mathematical knowledge in their own unique, personal ways.


 Date: 1/27/2005

Speaker: Mr. Matthew Zimmerman
Ph.D. Graduate Student
Structural/Computational Biology and Biophysics
University of Virginia

Title: Bioinformatics in Structural Genomics: How Computer Science is Saving Modern Structural Biology

Abstract: Following the success of genome sequencing efforts such as the Human Genome Project, several "structural genomics" initiatives have focused on determining 3-D molecular structures of proteins on a large scale. Over 1400 structures have been solved over the past 5 years, and the rate at which new structures are discovered is increasing. Thus the size and scope of this effort demands sophisticated information technology. I will give a brief introduction on how biophysicists determine the molecular structure of proteins and will summarize a few areas in structural genomics where practical computer science methods have made this large-scale science feasible.

Bio: Matthew Zimmerman is a senior graduate student at the University of Virginia, completing his Ph.D. work on data management and analysis of protein crystallization experiments. He received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Juniata College in 1998, where he took one CS course (CS 121) that he hated. Since then he has seen the error of his ways: he is fluent in Perl and proficient in several other programming languages, and is involved in the development of Parrot, the open-source virtual machine for Perl 6.


Date: 2/15/2005

Speaker: Dr. James F. Epperson
Associate Editor
Mathematical Reviews
American Mathematical Society

Title: Mathematics and Politics: Voting Systems and Apportionment Problems

Abstract: This is a survey talk on voting theory and apportionment problems. Dr. Epperson will outline some of the paradoxes which can occur and state a couple of theorems which (somewhat depressingly, alas) characterize what is known, mathematically.

Bio: Dr. Epperson was born in the fifties, in Detroit, Michigan and spent his childhood in Kentucky and Connecticut. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Michigan (Engineering, 1975), and he received his PhD at Carnegie-Mellon in (Mathematics, 1980). He has been a mathematics professor in Georgia and Alabama, and is currently an Associate Editor for Mathematical Reviews which is published by the American Mathematical Society. Dr. Epperson has published 20 mathematics journal articles and 1 book. He is happily married, the proud father of two children, and a delighted owner of two dogs.


Date: 3/8/2005

Speaker: Dr. Rob Harger
Associate Professor of Mathematics and Department Chair
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
High Point University

Title: A Second Look at Two Important Theorems from Number Theory

Abstract: In this talk we will revisit (or perhaps visit for the first time) two important theorems in number theory, Fermat's Little Theorem and The Prime Number Theorem. We will be considering a generalization of Fermat's Little Theorem and an interesting property, at least interesting to the speaker, of the ratio of x to pi(x). The ideas to be discussed arose from senior mathematics projects and the talk will be accessible to undergraduate students.

Bio: Rob Harger grew up in Eden, NC. He received his B.S. in mathematics from Appalachian State University, his M.A. in mathematics from Wake Forest University, and his PhD in mathematics from North Carolina State University. He has been a member of the faculty at High Point University since the fall of 1996, serving as the department chair for the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science since the fall of 1998.


Date: 3/24/2005

Speaker: Dr. Claudio Morales
Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematical Sciences
University of Alabama in Huntsville

Title: A First Look into Monotone Operators in Hilbert Spaces

Abstract: Some basic concepts from calculus will allow us to explore the notion of monotonicity for Hilbert spaces. An interesting connection between a classical result studied in calculus and the theory of monotone operators will be established. This talk will be understandable to undergraduate students who have studied calculus.

Bio: Dr. Morales earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1980 from the University of Iowa. His research is basically in the area of Nonlinear Functional Analysis. However, more than half of his professional time is devoted to mathematics education. He firmly believes that teaching and creative work must be jointly exercised. He also directs the UAH Mathematics Club in order to inspire young people and to spread the love of mathematics.


Date: 4/19/2005

Speaker: Mr. Stanley J. McCaslin
Lecturer in Computer Science
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
Longwood University

Title: Exploring the Mandelbrot Set with Java

Abstract: "The Mandelbrot set broods in silent complexity at the center of ... the complex plane." (Scientific American, Aug 1985, p16) The work to be presented was done first to see if Java's virtual machine had sufficient speed to produce visualizations of the set in reasonable time (it does), and second to get some practice in Java programming before teaching Java in CS 204 for the first time last fall. What is the Mandelbrot set (and why is it brooding)? This talk should be accessible even to non-majors. It will consist of:

a) The definition of the Mandelbrot set (and the quadratic Julia sets), and a summary of the mathematics needed for the computation.
b) Some pretty pictures.
c) An overview of the Java Program used to explore the Mandelbrot set.
d) Lots more pretty pictures.

Bio: Stan McCaslin started off studying physics, so he appreciates the potential of seemingly simple equations to explain (or generate) complex situations. He has a B.A. in physics (Macalester College 1969), an M.S. in physics (Caltech 1971), and an M.S. in computer science (University of Nebraska 1985). He taught physics and computer science for 28 years at Peru State College in Nebraska before joining the faculty of Longwood as a Lecturer in computer science. He wrote his first computer program in 1964, and first attempted to explore the Mandebrot set (on an Apple IIe) in 1985.