Allegheny News and Events

When Opportunity Knocks, Allegheny College Graduate Answers

Christopher Miller has always made the most of the opportunities presented to him. He just earned his bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College and will begin his career this summer at a New York City tech firm called Capgemini, a French multinational corporation that provides consulting, technology, professional and outsourcing services.

“I will be working as a technology consultant, assisting insurance companies to revamp or create new software to manage their clients. It’s a software engineering position,” he says.

In his pre-Allegheny life, Miller grew up in the urban neighborhood of Park Heights in Baltimore. As a sixth-grader, he was invited to attend the SEED School of Maryland, a college-preparatory, public boarding school where students from across the state receive a tuition-free education that prepares them for success in college and beyond. “Even then, I was interested in many different subjects like photography, Spanish, chess and much more,” Miller says.

He successfully completed seven years at the SEED School and, on the advice of a counselor, decided to apply to Allegheny, some 338 miles away from home.

“Going to Allegheny for me was terrifying at first. Coming from a city like Baltimore to a small town I’d never heard of with extreme weather conditions. I came to Allegheny on faith, faith that it would work out for me somehow,” Miller says.

And work out it did.

“When I arrived, I said that I would be the best person I could be,” he says. “I would try to treat people right, virtuous some may call it, and see what would happen. With that mindset, I have learned so much about the world, myself and how I want to live my life.”

“As a first-year student, Chris really stood out for his curiosity about and enthusiasm for mathematics,” says Tamara Lakins, chair of Allegheny’s Mathematics Department. “He connected in his second year with the professor of a pivotal required course for the math major, which led to his employment as an undergraduate summer research assistant to that professor, an impressive accomplishment for a second-year student. I was pleased that Chris was always comfortable stopping by my office to talk. He was eager to discuss with me his ideas for encouraging more students, and especially more students of color, to become math majors.”

Miller’s resume at Allegheny is impressive. He was a member of the Dimensions math club, the Chinese American Friendship Society, the Philosophy Club, the Chess Club, the Islamic Cultural Association, the Association for the Advancement of Black Culture, the African Student Association, Hillel, and the Nu Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma. His major was in mathematics and his minor was in Chinese.

He spent the summer of 2018 in China, immersing himself in Mandarin and authored a blog he called “Chasing the Tea Leaves: My Journey East” about the experience.

“I was determined that I would improve my Chinese. The only way to do that was by going to China,” Miller says. “I remember the visits to the International Education Office and the long hypotheticals Lucinda Morgan (the director) and I would go over. I had never been out of the country. I had no idea where the money would come from, but it was like the whole campus used its entire strength to get me halfway around the world. I think that really captures the Allegheny experience — community.”

“When Chris returned, it was wonderful to see him enthusiastically sharing his study away experience in China with other students on campus at both formal gatherings and informal conversations,” recalls Morgan.

One of Miller’s biggest thrills at Allegheny was winning the 2019 Zingale Big Idea Competition, his third year entering the funding-request presentation contest that is open to all Allegheny and visiting college students. Miller teamed with Natalia Buczek, another senior at the time, to develop Aid Memoir, a communication app and website for patients with verbal and memory impairments and their caregivers. They each took home part of the $6,000 grand prize.

“I participated in the Big Idea Competition every year but my first year. The first time I participated, my team didn’t get past the preliminaries,” Miller recalls. “The next year, my team came in second with Munchyum, a food-delivery service. This year, I was close to not competing, but my partner, Natalia, convinced me otherwise. It meant a lot to me. It was the culmination of my Allegheny education, and it felt great to see what perseverance could accomplish.”

Miller says one of his most valued experiences at Allegheny was his community service. “Interacting with the City of Meadville and seeing how people live was really interesting. Being able to help others achieve their goals was very rewarding. It made me realize that education is not just what you learn in the classroom but also what you learn in life. Doing community service gives you the opportunity to gain wisdom from the people around you. In my education, community service has been like a spiritual teacher.

“I just want to tell those following me to Allegheny to be open to new ideas, experiences and people,” says Miller. “You never know who or what may change your life or how you may change someone else’s.”

Photo Credit: Derek Li

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Recent Allegheny Graduate John Hughes Named Academic All-America

Recent Allegheny College graduate John Hughes has been named to the 2017–18 Google Cloud/CoSIDA Academic All-America Team.

Hughes becomes the 37th student-athlete in Allegheny College history to earn the prestigious Academic All-America laurel, and the sixth Gator men’s track and field/cross country student-athlete to do so.

A mathematics major and economics minor, Hughes graduated in May with a 3.90 cumulative grade-point average, and was previously recognized as Allegheny’s William Crawford Academic Achievement Award winner, the Allegheny North Coast Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete Award winner, and as the 2017–18 Allegheny Senior Athlete Achievement Award recipient.

Read the full story on the Allegheny Gators Athletics website.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Weir Gives Talk at University of Otago and University of Auckland

During her recent sabbatical trip to New Zealand in October/November 2017, Associate Professor of Mathematics Rachel Weir gave a talk entitled “The Changing Face of Undergraduate Mathematics Education: A U.S. Perspective” at the University of Otago and the University of Auckland. Weir also participated in the panel discussion “Promoting Numeracy Skills Across Disciplines,” which was organized by the Centre for Tertiary Teaching and Learning at the University of Waikato.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Holdener Examines Relationship Between Art and Math in Speaker Series

Mathematician Judy Holdener of Kenyon College will examine the relationship between math and art as part of Allegheny College Math Department’s Undergraduate Speaker Series on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of Quigley Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

In her lecture, “Immersion in Mathematics Via Digital Art,” Holdener examines her venture into digital art with the creation of a mathematical artwork titled “Immersion.” The surface patterns in the piece reflect Holdener’s day-to-day immersion in mathematics, depicting patterns that relate to the content of the courses she teaches as well as research she has conducted with undergraduates in the area of dynamical systems.

Holdener will describe how the patterns reflect the connection between two well-known mathematical objects — the Thue-Morse sequence and the von Koch curve — and how the formal mathematical meaning of “immersion” plays a role in the composition of the piece.

Since 1972, the Math Speaker Series has brought Allegheny students into contact with many nationally and internationally prominent mathematicians. Holdener’s talk is funded by the Leila Parsons Fund.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Leech Wins Mathematical Association of America Teaching Award

The Allegheny Mountain Section of The Mathematical Association of America has awarded its 2017 Section Teaching Award to Instructor of Mathematics Cheryl Leech `87. Each year the award is presented to an MAA member in the Section who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary success in teaching, who has an ability to foster curiosity and generate excitement about mathematics, and whose teaching influence extends beyond their own institution.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Students Compete in William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition

At he beginning of December 2016, Allison Ganger (’18), Keith Irvin (’19), Diptajyoti Mukherjee (19′), Jonathan Goodman (’19), Aubrey Collins (19′), and Christopher Miller (’19) took part in the 77th annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical competition. The competition itself is a six hour long exam consisting for twelve exceedingly difficult questions covering a wide range of mathematical concepts. This past year the exam was taken by 4,164 of the top undergraduate mathematics students in the nation. The students from Allegheny College prepared for the exam during weekly practice sessions throughout the Fall 2016 semester overseen by Professor Craig Dodge (Mathematics).

Allison Ganger, Keith Irvin, and Dipta Mukherjee represented Allegheny College as the official team for the school. There combined scores were ranked against the other school teams in the nation. As a result of their hard work, Allegheny placed 112 out of 568 schools that competed.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Peter Brooksbank: “What Do You Mean, It’s Hard?”

Peter Brooksbank, professor of mathematics at Bucknell University, will deliver his address titled “What Do You Mean, It’s Hard?” on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. in Quigley Hall’s Henderson Auditorium as part of the Spring 2017 Math Speaker Series at Allegheny College. The event is free and open to the public.

Brooksbank will discuss what is known as the “P ≠ NP Problem,” arguably the most important open problem in mathematics and computer science.

Since 1972, the Math Speaker Series has brought Allegheny students into contact with many nationally and internationally prominent mathematicians. Brooksbank holds a doctorate from Oregon University. His research interests include computational algebra, finite groups and combinatorics.

The address is sponsored by the William Beazell Memorial Fund.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Math Speaker Series to Feature Peter Brooksbank

Peter Brooksbank, professor of mathematics at Bucknell University, will deliver his address titled “What Do You Mean, It’s Hard?” on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. in Quigley Hall’s Henderson Auditorium as part of the Spring 2017 Math Speaker Series at Allegheny College. The event is free and open to the public.

Brooksbank will discuss what is known as the “P ≠ NP Problem,” arguably the most important open problem in mathematics and computer science.

Since 1972, the Math Speaker Series has brought Allegheny students into contact with many nationally and internationally prominent mathematicians. Brooksbank holds a doctorate from Oregon University. His research interests include computational algebra, finite groups and combinatorics.

The address is sponsored by the William Beazell Memorial Fund.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Weir speaks at Mathematical Association of America meeting

Associate Professor of Mathematics Rachel Weir gave a talk entitled “Highlighting Mindset and Self-Regulation in Calculus” at the summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America in Columbus, Ohio, in August. Weir also participated in the pre-conference symposium “Active Learning in Mathematics,” which was sponsored by the NSF and the Sloan Foundation.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research