New Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Whitehead

The Brigham Young University Department of Mathematics is excited to welcome Dr. Jared Whitehead as a new faculty member as of January 2014. Dr. Whitehead earned a BS in Mathematics from BYU and a PhD in Applied and Interdisciplinary Mathematics from the University of Michigan. As an undergraduate at BYU, Dr. Whitehead met his wife, Samantha. He was assigned to be her home teacher in their singles ward and the rest is history. The couple has one son and three daughters, from ages 18 months to 7 years, as well as one dog and two cats. Dr. Whitehead, a native of Mancos, Colorado, has lived in many places across the United States, including Nevada, Wyoming, Mississippi, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Dr. Whitehead’s hobbies include running and biking. He has completed one Olympic distance triathlon and plans to complete more.

“Math is a way of making sense and order of a very messy reality,” says Dr. Whitehead. He was attracted to math partly because he was told early on that “if [he] became an expert in mathematics, he would be able to do anything else that he wanted.” Dr. Whitehead encourages students to talk to their professors and get to the point where they are more concerned about what they’re learning than their grades. He is also a proponent of the ACME program.

As an undergraduate at BYU, Dr. Whitehead interned at both the National Security Agency and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. After his PhD, he served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. His current research interests include the analysis and computation of partial differential equations related to geophysical fluid dynamics.

What brings Dr. Whitehead back to Provo? “I feel like BYU’s math department has the best atmosphere for encouraging and promoting research by undergraduates. Also, it was sort of like coming home for myself and my family,” he says. Dr. Whitehead’s favorite thing about BYU is the quality of students, who he believes to be mature and grateful for the opportunities that have been given to them to study at such a high caliber institution.

Dr. Whitehead will be teaching the following classes.

Undergraduate: Calculus, Linear Algebra (313), Differential Equations (334, 447), and some ACME courses.

Graduate: Numerical Methods (510,511), Partial Differential Equations (547, 647, 648), and Methods of Applied Mathematics (521, 522).

Calculus: the Musical!

Calculus: The Musical! is coming to BYU on Friday, March 28! The show starts at 6:30 pm and doors open at 6 pm. Tickets are free, but must be reserved through events2@math.byu.edu.

What in the world is Calculus the Musical? Matheatre, the original Calculus the Musical performing company, describes it as “a comic review of the concepts and history of calculus.” A calculus teacher originally created the music to be used as a teaching tool for helping students learn and retain formulas and rules. The musical launched in 2006 at the Minnesota Fringe festival and was licensed in 2008 to the Know Theatre of Cincinnati, who continues the tour to this day. The 2014 tour locations range from coast to coast!

Calculus the Musical features musical spoofs of artists like The Beatles and Eminem and its parodies span genres from opera to hip hop. Even if you don’t like math, you will love this musical! Matheatre claims that “arithmophobes and rocket scientists alike” will enjoy the show.

Join the BYU Math Department in welcoming Calculus the Musical to the JSB Auditorium on March 28. For more information about Calculus the Musical, visit www.matheatre.com/calculus. Reserve your free tickets today by contacting events2@math.byu.edu or visiting 275 TMCB on BYU Campus.

-Annie Tyler, Department of Mathematics

Record-breaking Pi Day 2014

The BYU student body enjoyed another great Pi Day on March 14th in Brigham Square.  The sun was shining as students participated in activities such as the Pi Eating contest and Pi the Professor.  With over 44 pies eaten in the Pi Eating contest and nine professors and graduate students pied in the face, Pi(e) was definitely prevalent at this year’s Pi Day.  Other favorite Pi activities included Buffon’s Needle, Pi Frisbee, Pi Hoops, Pi Puzzlers and Plinko.

 

Clark Anderson, a Senior in Mathematics, recited a record-breaking 2448 digits of Pi in this year’s Pi Recitation.  Anderson held the department’s record from last year with 988 digits of pi recited.  A large crowd gathered to watch his recitation, which took over 30 minutes.

 

In its debut year, Pi Puzzlers was very popular among the students.  Out of about 180 students, only one student was able to complete the Ultimate Puzzle.  This unique puzzle with reversing negative and positive puzzle ends has over 250,000 wrong answers and only 120 correct answers.  In addition, there were only four students who were able to master the complex wooden circle puzzle.

 

Katie-Anne Garrett won the Pi Guess Gumball Jar with her close answer of 736.  The total number of gumballs was 731.  Nicole Nelson won the Pi Guess Lemonhead Jar with her answer of 2536, with the correct number being 2622.

 

The PiKu contest had many fun and entertaining entries this year. Best Overall PiKu, written by Lance Holmes, was

your circle of friends

is not so fun without pi,

just a bunch of squares

 

Ben Everett won Best Japanese PiKu and Honorable Mention.

 

This year’s Pi Day t-shirt was a hit among the students and the public.  Free Pi Day t-shirts were given to several people in the crowd with a Pi Birthday.  Several contest winners also received a free t-shirt.  In addition to the Pi Day t-shirts, the Math Department for the first time sold baby onesies and toddler t-shirts.  All department apparel is still available for purchase online at www.math.byu.edu at our store.  They may also be purchased at the Math Department Office in room 275 TMCB.

 

At 1:59:26, the Pi Countdown began.  Horns, noisemakers, and candy celebrated the end of another fun and successful Pi Day.  Mark your calendars for next year’s once-in-a-lifetime Pi Day of 3-14-15!  We will be having several Pi Day events in addition to the main event at Brigham Square to commemorate this historic occasion!

 

Visit the department’s Facebook page, “BYU Math”, for pictures of this exciting and fun day!

Pi Day

What’s better than a day dedicated to your favorite math symbol? A day dedicated to your favorite math symbol and your favorite dessert. Mark your calendar for March 14! Pi Day is quickly arriving and the BYU Department of Mathematics is gearing up for the annual event, held in Brigham Square from 12-2 pm. This year’s event features the ever-popular activities: Pi Recitation, Pi the Professor, and a Pi Eating Contest.

Pi Day is an event for everyone, not just mathematicians! From a Pi-ku (haiku) contest for aspiring poets to Pi Ball (basketball) for athletes, there is surely something for all to enjoy. Pi Day will end with a bang with its usual Pi Countdown starting at 1:59 pm!

Did we mention free food and prizes? BYU Math sweatbands, water bottles, pencils, and more will be given out to everyone who participates.

Pi Day and other BYU Math t-shirts will be for sale at the event as well as in the TMCB lobby the week of Pi Day (March 10-14). For the first time in BYU Math history, toddler t-shirts and infant onesies will also be available in various pi-related styles. If you would like to volunteer to work at a Pi Day booth, please email marketing@math.byu.edu, visit 275 TMCB, or call 801-422-7894. Volunteers will receive a free Pi Day t-shirt.

We can’t wait to see you at Pi Day!

*In case of inclement weather, activities will be moved into the Wilkinson Terrace

New Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jared Whitehead

The Brigham Young University Department of Mathematics is excited to welcome Dr. Jared Whitehead as a new faculty member as of January 2014. Dr. Whitehead earned a BS in Mathematics from BYU and a PhD in Applied and Interdisciplinary Mathematics from the University of Michigan. As an undergraduate at BYU, Dr. Whitehead met his wife, Samantha. He was assigned to be her home teacher in their singles ward and the rest is history. The couple has one son and three daughters, from ages 18 months to 7 years, as well as one dog and two cats. Dr. Whitehead, a native of Mancos, Colorado, has lived in many places across the United States, including Nevada, Wyoming, Mississippi, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Dr. Whitehead’s hobbies include running and biking. He has completed one Olympic distance triathlon and plans to complete more.

“Math is a way of making sense and order of a very messy reality,” says Dr. Whitehead. He was attracted to math partly because he was told early on that “if [he] became an expert in mathematics, he would be able to do anything else that he wanted.” Dr. Whitehead encourages students to talk to their professors and get to the point where they are more concerned about what they’re learning than their grades. He is also a proponent of the ACME program.

As an undergraduate at BYU, Dr. Whitehead interned at both the National Security Agency and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. After his PhD, he served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. His current research interests include the analysis and computation of partial differential equations related to geophysical fluid dynamics.

What brings Dr. Whitehead back to Provo? “I feel like BYU’s math department has the best atmosphere for encouraging and promoting research by undergraduates. Also, it was sort of like coming home for myself and my family,” he says. Dr. Whitehead’s favorite thing about BYU is the quality of students, who he believes to be mature and grateful for the opportunities that have been given to them to study at such a high caliber institution.

Dr. Whitehead will be teaching the following classes.

Undergraduate: Calculus, Linear Algebra (313), Differential Equations (334, 447), and some ACME courses.

Graduate: Numerical Methods (510,511), Partial Differential Equations (547, 647, 648), and Methods of Applied Mathematics (521, 522).

 

Annie Tyler, Department of Mathematics

Lighting the Fire of Enthusiasm for Learning

Lighting the Fire of Enthusiasm for Learning

September 5, 2013

Mathematics professor Michael Dorff has made helping students succeed the focus of his career. Founder and director of the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics and the “Careers in Math” speaker series, Dorff was honored for his focus on student mentoring at the BYU Annual University Conference in August, where he received a University Teaching and Learning Fellowship.

“Teaching is great because you get to help mold people,” Dorff said, “as a teacher, you help light the fire of enthusiasm for your subject . . . but you also get to have a big influence in making your students into better people.”

During his undergraduate years as a math education major at BYU, Dorff wasn’t very excited about mathematics. He was good at math and liked the idea of being a teacher, but it wasn’t until he spent a few years teaching math at a high school that his passion for mathematics, and especially for teaching, was born.

“Having enthusiasm for what you’re teaching is one thing that helps make me a better teacher,” he said. “Even though I teach large calculus classes with about 250 students, I love to interact with the students to get them thinking.”

The Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM), which Dorff founded in 2007, is just one way Dorff is helping his students succeed. Based on BYU’s model of paying undergraduates to do research, CURM has grown into a $2.6 million National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored program. So far, Dorff and his team of co-directors have aided professors from 71 different universities to offer paid research opportunities to 226 undergraduate students, 203 of which have written joint research papers.

CURM students travel to BYU the same weekend as the Student Research Conference in March to present their findings. Of the undergraduate students that participate in the program, about 63 percent go on to graduate school as opposed to only about 18 percent of the non-CURM students at the same universities and colleges.

Dorff also began the “Careers in Math” speaker series that allows mathematics students to hear from workplace professionals, showing them the multitude of career options available to them.

Now in its sixth year, the series hosts about eight speakers each semester, including guests from Goldman Sachs, Raytheon, Google, and the Department of Homeland Security. Last year, the NSF expressed interest in funding a program to help prepare more STEM students for careers in industry, business, and government.

“We wrote a 2 million dollar grant proposal, and now it looks like they’re going to fund us.  It will be like the CURM program, but it will be more related to non-academic research problems and careers,” he said. “It says a lot about the reputation we have at BYU.”

As a part of his fellowship, Dorff will receive a stipend to fund research, which he plans to use to support students in undergraduate research.

“For me, it’s all about students,” he said, “I want to use [the award] to help students.”

—Meg Monk, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences

http://cpms.byu.edu/lighting-the-fire-of-enthusiasm-for-learning/

Winter 2014 Announcements

WINTER SOCIAL

All Mathematics undergrad and grad students are invited to attend the BYU Math Department opening winter social on Friday, January 17 at 6:30 pm. It will be held in the Math Lab in the TMCB. Pizza will be provided, along with games and announcement about what’s coming up for the math department in 2014! Professors will also be in attendance. Students may bring one guest with them. No RSVP is necessary. Contact events@math.byu.edu with any questions.

 

WOMEN IN MATH

Join Women in Math club for exciting talks and Q&A sessions by female mathematicians! Meeting dates and topics for Winter 2014 will be announced soon. Contact byuwomeninmath@gmail.com or marketing@math.byu.edu with any questions.

 

SAC

Student Advisory Council (SAC) is comprised of students who want to give feedback or to help implement changes within the Math Department. Every month, the SAC meets for one-hour to discuss some of the following:

Professor Review – this could include your thoughts on the professor’s teaching methods, the interaction between professor and students, the availability of the professor, etc. .

Course Review – this could include your thoughts on the course material, the textbooks used, testing, etc.

Department Review – this could include your thoughts on what could the mathematics department do better to help you in your selected major, usefulness of the office staff in the department, ideas on better student advisement, etc. .

Facilities/Resources – this could include anything from letting the department know about broken equipment, your thoughts on the classroom and what could make it a better classroom, the resources available for professors to use and is it working in the classroom, etc.

SAC will also help provide service and leadership for several department events such as Pi Day, To Be or Not to Be, and other social student activities.

One doesn’t have to be a major in Mathematics to be on this committee.in fact, all different majors are welcomed who take any mathematics classes. This is a great opportunity for resume building in areas of service and leadership by being on a Student Advisory Committee

Every month, SAC will meet for a one-hour meeting with myself, my assistant, Jennifer Maroney and a few other staff members to discuss new feedback, discuss implementation of recommended changes, event planning, and overall issues that need to be addressed.
To participate in SAC or to get onto the SAC’s emailing list, please contact sac@math.byu.edu.

 

CALCULUS THE MUSICAL

The Math Department is excited to present Calculus the Musical on March 28. More information to follow.

 

PI DAY

The countdown begins for the biggest mathematical party of the year! There are 67 days until Pi Day 2014 (March 14, 2014). Stay tuned for more information.

Math Camp

Most students are more than happy to retire their math textbooks at the end of the school year. But for 40 dedicated middle school students, this summer does not involve a break from learning.

“Math Camp is an opportunity to learn about more complex fields in math than you would learn in school,” said Jacob Grover, 12, a three-year veteran of this atypical summer camp.

Brigham Young University’s third annual Math Camp was held in June, attracting students across the Wasatch Front. For two weeks, BYU math professors led classes and activities designed to enrich student education in mathematics.

“Math Camp is not about acceleration but giving depth and understanding to what students have learned in the classroom,” said David Wright, BYU math professor and Math Camp director.

Students had many reasons for attending.

Rachel Gledhill, 11, said Math Camp helped her better understand concepts she learned in school. Some students, such as Lucy Ward, came to Math Camp to improve on tests, including American Mathematics Contest 8, a multiple choice examination given to middle school students to help develop their problem solving skills.

“Kids who come to Math Camp do much better in regular math classes,” Wright said. “They have a desire to understand concepts, not just to memorize.”

Students used the textbook, “Introduction to Number Theory,” which is part of the “Art of Problem Solving” series. Classes included discussion of divisibility rules, bases, factoring, and modular arithmetic.

At the end of the two-week program, students were tested on their new knowledge. One question from the test, for example, asked, “How many factors does 6,300 have?”

The advanced group was instructed by Hiram Golze, the top scorer on BYU’s nationally ranked 7th place Putnam Competition team. One of Golze’s pupils, Annie Yun, 12, said she enjoyed working with students who were just as motivated to do math as she is.

One goal of Math Camp is to teach students the expansive applications of mathematics outside of the classroom. For example, Jeff Humpherys shared a sample problem involving free throw shooting percentage in his afternoon talk on careers in math.

“Math is a vital piece of what we need to learn growing up. You can find math everywhere,” said Max Ricks, 10, the youngest student at Math Camp.

Beverly Ward said her daughter Lucy Ward had a positive experience.

“She has learned to think outside the box more, as a result of participating in the BYU Math Camp, and the look of joy on her face when she has an ‘aha!’ moment has been priceless,” Beverly Ward said. She also said she was pleased with Math Camp’s caliber of teachers, the students’ eagerness to learn, and the coverage of advanced math topics to enrich her daughter’s math education.

Other Math Camp students also had good experiences with the teachers.

“The teachers are amazing,” said Ben Stanford, 13. “They don’t make you feel embarrassed if you did something wrong.”

BYU’s Math Camp began three years ago with a Math Enrichment Grant from the Dolciani Foundation. For the past two years, the BYU Department of Mathematicshas sponsored the camp. Wright hopes to continue holding Math Camp for many years.