|OFF ON A TANGENT
|A Fortnightly Electronic Newsletter from the Hope
College Department of Mathematics
Congratulations go out to our
Another year, another great group of graduates. We highlight 16
mathematics majors that will soon graduate from Hope and a couple that
graduated last December. As they head off to graduate schools,
jobs, and the unknown, we wish them all well.
Alleman received a Fulbright Scholarship to
conduct research in biophysics at Semmelweis Medical University in
Budapest, Hungary. After his return he will pursue a career
Banu will be attending graduate school at the University of
Wisconsin to study mathematics.
Boerkoel will be attending the
University of Michigan to obtain a PhD in computer science.
Bramos has accepted a job teaching mathematics at Hamilton High School.
Crisman will be looking for a job teaching mathematics.
Dickinson will be looking for a job teaching mathematics.
Johnson will return to Hope in the fall to complete two more classes
and then will be looking for a job teaching mathematics.
Jongekryg will be looking for a job teaching mathematics.
Klunder graduated in December and now is teaching
mathematics at McBain Rural Agricultural School.
Krcmar will be looking for a job teaching mathematics.
Noll will be looking for a job teaching mathematics.
Pyle will be attending graduate school at Michigan State University to
Schwander will be looking for a job teaching mathematics.
Skoug will be joining the Peace Corps and will be heading
Weaver will be looking for a job in the area that will keep him
close to the beach.
Williams will be heading to South America to teach English.
Many awards are handed out at the end of the
During tomorrow night's honors convocation the
mathematics department will award the Albert E. Lampen Award in
Mathematics to a graduating senior in recognition of his or her
outstanding achievement in the study of mathematics at Hope. The
department will also give out the John H. Kleinheksel Award in
Mathematics to a number of students for their outstanding achievement
in mathematics and promise for future success. After these awards are
given out, there will be an announcement of the winners on the bulletin
board outside the mathematics department. Make sure you look for
Other awards in mathematics or to senior
mathematics majors include the following.
Phi Beta Kappa
Sunday, April 17, seven mathematics majors were initiated into the
Zeta of Michigan chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest
scholastic honorary society. These students are Brandon Alleman, Daniela Banu, James
Pyle, Jennica Skoug, Ryan Weaver, and Kyle Williams.
Pi Mu Epsilon
Many students were recently invited to join the
Michigan Delta chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon. The purpose of this
national mathematics society is to promote scholarly activity in
mathematics among the students in academic institutions. An
induction ceremony was held Saturday, April 15. After the
induction ceremony everyone enjoyed our tradition of eating pie.
Those joining this year are Julie
Allerding, Jill Bramos, Bill Buckman, Lynn Cargill, Courtney Clum,
Jennifer Crisman, Kim Harrison, Katie Hinkle, Brian Holda, Natalie
Hoogeveen, Brett Jager, Clinton Jepkema, Bryan Johnson, Rachel Keech,
Ustab Khadka, Chip Kleinheksel, Katherine Lynch, Nathaniel Makowski,
Patrick Mears, Allison Pautler, Julie Pollock, Abigail Rockwood, Joseph
Schwander, Chelsea Short, Jeffrey Shriner, Billy Statema, Emily
Wandell, and Luke Wendt.
On April 24 Sigma Xi awards were given to science and mathematics
students that maintained a high GPA and did scientific research.
Mathematics majors that received these awards were Brandon Alleman, Daniela Banu, James
Boerkoel, Jennica Skoug, Ryan Weaver, and Kyle Williams. All
these students also received awards for presenting their research
findings at conferences.
One last colloquium is scheduled for this semester
- Friday, April 28 from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
- SciCtr 1118
Eleven groups of students from Math 310 will be giving brief
presentations of their research findings in a one hour colloquium this
Friday. Most of these presentations will be based on the results
of an April 2006 survey
of over 1200 full-time, degree-seeking Hope College students. All
to these should be accessible to all students. The following
topics are being presented
- Wiffleballs: A comparative
experiment of hit-ability, distance and
accuracy, Clinton Jepkema
- Trends in international student
enrollment at Hope College, Daniela
Banu and Kathleen Ludewig
- Comparing the GPA of athletes
and non-athletes at Hope
College, Courtney Clum, Robert Dody and Chip Kleinheksel
- Major changes among Hope
College students, Amanda Allen, Libby
Hammon and Kinsey Wethers
- Risk factors for alcohol
consumption at Hope College, Kyle Williams
and Alyssa Johnson
- Examining the relationship
between health and major at Hope
College, Julie Allerding, Neal Devoid and Alexander Wood
- Dude, where are the cars? The
effects of distance from home and
other factors on parking permit sales, Daniel Emmendorfer,
McConnelly and Matthew Paarlberg
- Investigating the relationship
between major and GPA at Hope
College, Stephanie Allen, Andrew Jarosz and William Statema
- Issues impacting driving
behaviors among Hope College students, Emily Campbell and
- Video games and GPA: Is there a
relationship? Justin Rieth, Chip
Spires and Ben Worrel
- Hope College students and their
pizza eating habits, Katie Hinkle,
Natalie Hoogeveen and Kim Mosely
From the Margins of My Textbook
A Math Major’s Musings
By JENNICA SKOUG
| Senior Staff Scribe
There are several reasons why I became a math major – the variety of
career opportunities, the down-to-earth nature of the field, and the
unencumbering ease of calc II were obviously all factors. Yet
strange as it sounds, I found myself asking many times what on earth I
was going to do with math, or how any of it might apply to what I
considered ‘real life,’ or moreover, how I was going to finish the
whole homework set when I was stuck on the first problem.
However, among my sometimes-surging sea of frustration or doubt, there
was always one unambiguous constant: the faculty. As the
end of the semester approaches and you sit scratching your head over
your exam while your professor sits smugly up front reading a book,
seemingly enjoying the struggle they have caused you, take time to
Reflect on how many times they have paused lecture or stayed late after
class to answer extra questions, or held extra office hours or review
sessions to the same end. Perhaps this is a phenomenon particular
to Hope College or to small colleges in general. If so, be glad
you are here. Be glad that your professors think you are brainy
enough to be challenged, but human enough to need help.
Discovering early that I was no math-genius – but was still strangely
attracted to the discipline – I have taken advantage of this extra help
quite often over the past four years. This meant spending a lot
of time in VanderWerf's “math hallway,” and uncovering another
math-professor trait (and this, I think, is true of a great number of
mathematicians): they are crazy. It is their willingness to throw
off the bench of normalcy and indulge in esoteric math jokes or
seemingly irrelevant topics of conversation that so endears them to
me. What I mean to say is, I enjoy spending time with people who
love what they are doing and are not afraid of the dorkiness that often
results, but who don’t take their work so seriously as to be unable to
have a bit of fun with it. I’ve often thought that perhaps this
is some sort of defense mechanism against the separation that math can
afford from the rest of society. Once you’ve gotten so engrossed
in a topic or project that most people will never hear nor care about,
well, you have to laugh about it – especially among people who also
understand it – or you might just go stark raving mad. (Which is
several steps above “crazy.”)
If you happened to see the Klein Four Group sing this week, a group of
math PhD students from Northwestern who sing about – well, what else –
math, you will know what I am talking about. I got a chance to
spend some time with the singers after the concert, where the
conversation switched from bits of homotopy theory to which
animals-sounds elicit the most natural response when used as a greeting
(we agreed on “moo”) as if these were the most natural things to talk
about. And I suppose, in a sense, they were. This is
the stuff that mathematicians are made of – a blend of puzzles,
speculation, and laughter.
There is one more thing that I genuinely appreciate about the Hope math
faculty: their humanness. So many times I think we see
professors, especially math and science professors, simply as agents of
information and are surprised when, underneath all that analytical
knowledge, we find a real person. (I suppose this is somewhat
akin to realizing that your elementary teacher does not really live at
school.) It’s this human connection that has many times kept me
from walking away from mathematics shaking my head in frustration or
defeat. So for all the times I have gone in for math help
and walked away instead with an encouraging word or good advice or an
interesting conversation…thank you, Hope math professors. To me,
at least, that really made a difference.
Problem Solvers of the Fortnight
Congratulations to Robyn Anderson, Jenny Birkenholz, Carrie Brandis,
Fletcher Carlson, Jeremiah Clements, Courtney Clum, James Daly, Robert
Dody, Jay Gibbs, Forrest Gordon, Mark Humberstone, Chip Kleinheksel,
Jackie Lewis, Dan Lithio, Karen Nordell, Matt Paarlberg, Stephanie
Pasek, Tim Pennings, Jennica Skoug, Chad Rector, Paul VanderVelde,
Linda Warner (Frost Center), Kyle Williams and Kristi Wu for
triangulating their way to the answer of the square root of 65 for the
of the Fortnight.
Thanks to all of you who submitted solutions this year. We
received an astounding 359 submissions throughout the year! The
Problem of the Fortnight will be on vacation until the fall.
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go.