Grants provide opportunities for math scholar

Mathematics is more than a scramble of numbers for Yukihide “Yuki” Nakada, a senior who is a double major in mathematics and philosophy/religious studies.

It’s what makes the world go ’round for him.

“This organic feeling that there is a symmetry and simplicity that everything is related is just a wonderful thing about mathematics, which sets it apart as a discipline,” says Yuki.

Mathematics has interested him throughout his education, both at Allegheny and while growing up in Tokyo, Japan. “I liked numbers when I was very small, although I wasn’t good at it,” he says. “When I was in 11th grade, I tried math for the first time in an online high school and discovered I liked it. By the time I graduated, I was pretty sure that I was going to do math,” he says.

During his first year at Allegheny, Yuki became a math tutor and was presented with his first summer research experience. “It was unbelievably satisfying to discover your own proof. It was like your own idea,” he says.

Along with math, Yuki found philosophy to be an interesting subject.  “Both philosophy and math have very similar kinds of thinking, abstract reasoning, and critical analysis but in a very different context,” he says.

Looking for a new challenge, Yuki decided to study abroad during his junior year through a math program at the Independent University of Moscow/The Higher School of Economics. One of the great opportunities the program provided was encountering different professors.

“The variety in teaching opened up my perspective on different ways you can be a mathematician,” he explains.

In Moscow, the courses were taught in English with one three-hour lecture per week. Often, many classes involved active participation that made the learning process more stimulating. Studying and working with 14 other students who also were passionate about math made for a vibrant and enriching experience for Yuki.  “It made math feel like a social endeavor. It was the first time that I got to experience this in person. It added a new dimension to mathematical activity,” he says.

Moscow’s math program also offered a different kind of curriculum to Yuki. “Study abroad was a great example of what I can expect from graduate school,” he says.

These academic experiences have been made possible by generous donors: Yuki received the Steve Bowser Scholarship for 2015-16. He was a recipient of the Harold M. State Research Fellowship for summer 2015.  In 2013-14 and 2014-15 he received the de Lara Scholarship. In the summer of 2013 he was supported through the Dr. Barbara Lotze Student-Faculty Research Fellowship Fund.

After Allegheny, Yuki would like to pursue his passion in math through graduate school, as math has prepared him beyond what he has expected and offered him a new perspective of the world.

— Shu Yi Tang ’17  

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professor Barry Publishes in “Communications in Algebra”

Professor of Mathematics Michael Barry’s paper “On a Question of Glasby, Praeger, and Xia,” which he wrote during his Spring 2014 sabbatical, has appeared in the journal Communications in Algebra.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professor Barry Publishes in “Communications in Algebra”

Professor of Mathematics Michael Barry’s paper “On a Question of Glasby, Praeger, and Xia,” which he wrote during his Spring 2014 sabbatical, has appeared in the journal Communications in Algebra.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Three Allegheny Students Compete in Putnam Competition

Kelly Pohland ’16, Kyle Donnelly ’17, and Allison Ganger ’18 competed in the Putnam competition, a six-hour exam consisting of 12 extremely difficult mathematics questions, in December 2014. The students worked to prepare for the exam through weekly practice sessions overseen by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Craig Dodge. The exam attracts the best and brightest mathematics majors from across the nation. This year nearly 3,600 students competed, and Kelly and Kyle placed in the top 50 percent. Kelly placed in the top 500.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Three Allegheny Students Compete in Putnam Competition

Kelly Pohland ’16, Kyle Donnelly ’17, and Allison Ganger ’18 competed in the Putnam competition, a six-hour exam consisting of 12 extremely difficult mathematics questions, in December 2014. The students worked to prepare for the exam through weekly practice sessions overseen by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Craig Dodge. The exam attracts the best and brightest mathematics majors from across the nation. This year nearly 3,600 students competed, and Kelly and Kyle placed in the top 50 percent. Kelly placed in the top 500.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Senior Erin Brown Receives Honors from National Science Foundation and Stanford University

April 9, 2015 – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Allegheny College senior Erin Brown an honorable mention in the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which provides fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.

Additionally, Brown, a physics and mathematics double major with an English minor, has received the 2015-16 Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education–in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (EDGE-STEM) Doctoral Fellowship at Stanford University. She was nominated for this award by the Stanford School of Engineering based on her record of extraordinary academic accomplishment and her potential to contribute to the diversity of her program and academic field.

The EDGE-STEM fellowship will provide Brown with a stipend and research and travel funds when she begins Stanford’s Ph.D. program in Computational and Mathematical Engineering in the fall. She hopes to someday teach and conduct research at the university level. 

“Receiving these recognitions is a great honor. Allegheny allowed me to become involved in research during my freshman year, which I believe helped me get all the opportunities I’ve had,” says Brown, who has researched “Mathematical Sciences – Computational and Data-enabled Science,” meaning she uses math and theory to develop new computational techniques, particularly for understanding the brain. “I’ve also benefited from active mentorship in the physics and math departments. I believe the College has prepared me well for my next chapter at Stanford.”

These are not the first honors for Brown. In 2014, she received a Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to only 300 students annually, from an applicant pool of 1,200 to 1,500. The prior year, she received a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention.

“Erin’s accomplishments say it all; she clearly has a first-rate scientific mind,” says Patrick Jackson, Allegheny national fellowships adviser and visiting professor of religious studies and history. Jackson works with students who are applying to external fellowships.

Brown, from Gainesville, Ga., has served as president of the Allegheny Society of Physics Students. She has worked on research projects with professors in the Allegheny physics department and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program.

In addition, Allegheny class of 2013 graduate Douglas Barber of Austin, Texas, received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Barber, who is studying geology at the University of Texas at Austin, was one of 2,000 individuals chosen for the Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program from among 16,500 applicants in 2015. He was a geology major and economics minor at Allegheny.

Allegheny class of 2013 graduates Colleen Friel and Michael Vlah also received NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program honorable mentions. Friel is studying biology at Michigan State University, and Vlah is studying environmental science at the University of Washington.

With its emphasis on support of individuals, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program offers fellowship awards directly to graduate students selected through a national competition. The program provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution) for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in science or engineering.

Former NSF Fellows include numerous individuals who have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering, become leaders in their chosen careers and been honored as Nobel laureates. A complete list of those offered this fellowship for 2015 is available on the NSF website. For general information about the program, go to nsfgrfp.org.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Senior Erin Brown Receives Honors from National Science Foundation and Stanford University

April 9, 2015 – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Allegheny College senior Erin Brown an honorable mention in the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which provides fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.

Additionally, Brown, a physics and mathematics double major with an English minor, has received the 2015-16 Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education–in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (EDGE-STEM) Doctoral Fellowship at Stanford University. She was nominated for this award by the Stanford School of Engineering based on her record of extraordinary academic accomplishment and her potential to contribute to the diversity of her program and academic field.

The EDGE-STEM fellowship will provide Brown with a stipend and research and travel funds when she begins Stanford’s Ph.D. program in Computational and Mathematical Engineering in the fall. She hopes to someday teach and conduct research at the university level. 

“Receiving these recognitions is a great honor. Allegheny allowed me to become involved in research during my freshman year, which I believe helped me get all the opportunities I’ve had,” says Brown, who has researched “Mathematical Sciences – Computational and Data-enabled Science,” meaning she uses math and theory to develop new computational techniques, particularly for understanding the brain. “I’ve also benefited from active mentorship in the physics and math departments. I believe the College has prepared me well for my next chapter at Stanford.”

These are not the first honors for Brown. In 2014, she received a Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to only 300 students annually, from an applicant pool of 1,200 to 1,500. The prior year, she received a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention.

“Erin’s accomplishments say it all; she clearly has a first-rate scientific mind,” says Patrick Jackson, Allegheny national fellowships adviser and visiting professor of religious studies and history. Jackson works with students who are applying to external fellowships.

Brown, from Gainesville, Ga., has served as president of the Allegheny Society of Physics Students. She has worked on research projects with professors in the Allegheny physics department and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program.

In addition, Allegheny class of 2013 graduate Douglas Barber of Austin, Texas, received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Barber, who is studying geology at the University of Texas at Austin, was one of 2,000 individuals chosen for the Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program from among 16,500 applicants in 2015. He was a geology major and economics minor at Allegheny.

Allegheny class of 2013 graduates Colleen Friel and Michael Vlah also received NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program honorable mentions. Friel is studying biology at Michigan State University, and Vlah is studying environmental science at the University of Washington.

With its emphasis on support of individuals, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program offers fellowship awards directly to graduate students selected through a national competition. The program provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution) for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in science or engineering.

Former NSF Fellows include numerous individuals who have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering, become leaders in their chosen careers and been honored as Nobel laureates. A complete list of those offered this fellowship for 2015 is available on the NSF website. For general information about the program, go to nsfgrfp.org.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Headed to Stanford

Faculty mentorship, research and fellowships help prepare Allegheny senior for the next chapter

With not one but TWO senior comps to finish (one in physics and one in math) before becoming an official member of the Bicentennial graduating class, one would think Erin Brown had enough on her mind at the end of the semester.

But in March, Brown, a physics and mathematics double major with an English minor, also learned that she had received two prestigious honors.

The National Science Foundation awarded Brown an honorable mention in the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which provides fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.

Shortly after receiving that news, she learned that she had received the 2015-16 Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education–in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (EDGE-STEM) Doctoral Fellowship at Stanford University. She was nominated for this award by the Stanford School of Engineering based on her record of extraordinary academic accomplishment and her potential to contribute to the diversity of her program and academic field. This fellowship will provide Brown with a stipend and research and travel funds.

But these are not the first honors for Brown. In 2014, she received a Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to only 300 students annually, from an applicant pool of 1,200 to 1,500. The prior year, she received a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention.

Brown, from Gainesville, Ga., has been accepted to Stanford’s Ph.D. program in Computational and Mathematical Engineering and will attend in the fall. We recently spoke to her about these honors and how Allegheny helped to shape her future:

How does it feel to receive these prestigious recognitions?
It is a great honor. Allegheny allowed me to become involved in research during my freshman year, which I believe helped me get all the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve also benefited from active mentorship in the physics and math departments. I feel like Allegheny has put me on an equal footing with larger schools and has prepared me well for my next chapter.

How did Allegheny help to prepare you to apply for these recognitions?
One thing I’ve benefited from at Allegheny is the ability to become involved in research early on. I started research during my freshman year with Assistant Professor Adelé Poynor in the physics department. I think that helped me get all these other opportunities I’ve had.

Also, I think that my English minor has helped me. A lot of academia and research is grant writing, publishing papers, etc. Plus I just love literature and the English department.

What kind of research have you done?
I had the opportunity to work on research projects with professors in the Allegheny physics department and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program. I started off studying the interaction between water and hydrophobic surfaces with Dr. Poynor. I’ve also worked with Professor Shafiqur Rahman on studying magnetic materials.

In addition, I have studied “Mathematical Sciences – Computational and Data-enabled Science,” meaning I have used math and theory to develop new computational techniques, particularly for understanding the brain. I really love this line of work. I initially wanted to do very pure theoretical physics, but my interest has morphed. I’m now really interested in complex systems and the brain, particularly.

How challenging was it to be a double major in math and physics?
I think any double major here is ambitious, but math and physics go together really well. It’s been a great combination for me. I’ve had such a positive experience with the physics and math departments. There’s some really impressive work going on there.

How do you balance it all?
It’s important that everything I’m doing is stuff I love to do. I’m really cut out for academia. I love learning. I love research.

What other organizations were you involved in at Allegheny?
I served as president of the Allegheny Society of Physics Students. Last semester, I worked on instituting events to incorporate students in the major early on. For me, being involved in research at an early stage was so formative. I’d really like everyone to have that opportunity. We set up a series of lunchtime presentations where students who have done research came and presented. We tried to bring in people from physics, math and other departments. I think that early involvement in research is key to assimilation.

Why is it important for women to become involved in the sciences?
Throughout history, women have had a huge influence on the development of math, computer science – all the sciences, really. I think any kind of unequal representation is unnatural.

What is your goal after Stanford?
I want to stay in academia. I’d really like to be a professor. I’ve had some amazing influences and faculty mentorship while I’ve been at Allegheny. I’d like to carry that on.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Headed to Stanford

Faculty mentorship, research and fellowships help prepare Allegheny senior for the next chapter

With not one but TWO senior comps to finish (one in physics and one in math) before becoming an official member of the Bicentennial graduating class, one would think Erin Brown had enough on her mind at the end of the semester.

But in March, Brown, a physics and mathematics double major with an English minor, also learned that she had received two prestigious honors.

The National Science Foundation awarded Brown an honorable mention in the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which provides fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.

Shortly after receiving that news, she learned that she had received the 2015-16 Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education–in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (EDGE-STEM) Doctoral Fellowship at Stanford University. She was nominated for this award by the Stanford School of Engineering based on her record of extraordinary academic accomplishment and her potential to contribute to the diversity of her program and academic field. This fellowship will provide Brown with a stipend and research and travel funds.

But these are not the first honors for Brown. In 2014, she received a Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to only 300 students annually, from an applicant pool of 1,200 to 1,500. The prior year, she received a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention.

Brown, from Gainesville, Ga., has been accepted to Stanford’s Ph.D. program in Computational and Mathematical Engineering and will attend in the fall. We recently spoke to her about these honors and how Allegheny helped to shape her future:

How does it feel to receive these prestigious recognitions?
It is a great honor. Allegheny allowed me to become involved in research during my freshman year, which I believe helped me get all the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve also benefited from active mentorship in the physics and math departments. I feel like Allegheny has put me on an equal footing with larger schools and has prepared me well for my next chapter.

How did Allegheny help to prepare you to apply for these recognitions?
One thing I’ve benefited from at Allegheny is the ability to become involved in research early on. I started research during my freshman year with Assistant Professor Adelé Poynor in the physics department. I think that helped me get all these other opportunities I’ve had.

Also, I think that my English minor has helped me. A lot of academia and research is grant writing, publishing papers, etc. Plus I just love literature and the English department.

What kind of research have you done?
I had the opportunity to work on research projects with professors in the Allegheny physics department and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program. I started off studying the interaction between water and hydrophobic surfaces with Dr. Poynor. I’ve also worked with Professor Shafiqur Rahman on studying magnetic materials.

In addition, I have studied “Mathematical Sciences – Computational and Data-enabled Science,” meaning I have used math and theory to develop new computational techniques, particularly for understanding the brain. I really love this line of work. I initially wanted to do very pure theoretical physics, but my interest has morphed. I’m now really interested in complex systems and the brain, particularly.

How challenging was it to be a double major in math and physics?
I think any double major here is ambitious, but math and physics go together really well. It’s been a great combination for me. I’ve had such a positive experience with the physics and math departments. There’s some really impressive work going on there.

How do you balance it all?
It’s important that everything I’m doing is stuff I love to do. I’m really cut out for academia. I love learning. I love research.

What other organizations were you involved in at Allegheny?
I served as president of the Allegheny Society of Physics Students. Last semester, I worked on instituting events to incorporate students in the major early on. For me, being involved in research at an early stage was so formative. I’d really like everyone to have that opportunity. We set up a series of lunchtime presentations where students who have done research came and presented. We tried to bring in people from physics, math and other departments. I think that early involvement in research is key to assimilation.

Why is it important for women to become involved in the sciences?
Throughout history, women have had a huge influence on the development of math, computer science – all the sciences, really. I think any kind of unequal representation is unnatural.

What is your goal after Stanford?
I want to stay in academia. I’d really like to be a professor. I’ve had some amazing influences and faculty mentorship while I’ve been at Allegheny. I’d like to carry that on.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Come One, Come All

Allegheny's food co-op group.

By Heather Grubbs and Nahla Bendefaa ’16

Everyone loves a home-cooked meal.

But when you’re away at college, enjoying grandma’s homemade lasagna is often a sacrifice one must make.

Or is it?

One student-organized group is aiming to change that. The Food Co-op began two years ago as part of Class of 2014 graduate Taylor Hinton’s senior comp titled “Activism through Food: Creating a Housing and Dining Cooperative at Allegheny College.” Hinton says she initially intended for the co-op to “address inequalities in access to cooking spaces, account for a range of dietary needs and food cultures, share cooking knowledge, and provide students with local, cheap, home-cooked food.”

Hinton’s comp then expanded upon her vision by seeking to:
• Create a sustainable organizing structure for the dining cooperative.
• Expand the population that the group was serving as a cooperative.
• Acquire a house that would both support the dining cooperative and provide a second space in which students can live and cook together.

Cara Brosius ’16 helps to cook one of the food co-op group's Friday night dinners.

Cara Brosius ’16 helps to cook one of the Food Co-op group’s Friday night dinners.

Current students Cara Brosius ’16, Stephanie Latour ’16, and Hawk Weisman ’16, who live in what is now known as the Co-op House on North Main Street, are carrying on Hinton’s vision by hosting Friday night homemade dinners on campus. The dinners seek to accomplish Hinton’s goals, as well as allow students to share family recipes and cultures and enjoy each other’s company.

“Whether you want to share an ethnic meal or your family’s apple pie, this is a welcome space to do that,” says Weisman, who is double-majoring in computer science and environmental studies. “Cooking and eating meals together was something I always did with my family, so this is a way to continue that.”

According to Weisman and Brosius, students sign up to participate in each week’s dinner. Two students are then assigned to the “head chef” role – meaning they are responsible for planning the meal – and two other students are assigned as sous chefs to assist with preparation.

For those students who prefer to stay out of the kitchen, they still can participate by serving as grocery shoppers, by volunteering to clean up, or by simply enjoying the food.

“Everyone here is very friendly, and there is definitely a sense of community since everyone helps out either cooking or cleaning,” says Catherine Schnur ’17. “Also, the food is always delicious!”

“Co-op is a great way to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet. It’s also a very welcoming environment,” adds Kara Van Balen ’17. “My first time here I felt like everyone was immediately my friend.”

Hawk Weisman ’16 and Cara Brosius ’16 work together in Carr Hall to prepare a homemade meal.

Hawk Weisman ’16 and Cara Brosius ’16 work together in Carr Hall to prepare a homemade meal.

The dinners are prepared and consumed in Carr Hall, with about 20 to 30 students attending. The group asks for a suggested donation of $2 to $3 to help cover shopping costs, or students can pay $20 up front for the entire semester.

“We represent a wide variety of majors and backgrounds on campus, which leads to a diverse menu,” Weisman says.

“We’ve had everything from lasagna to soup to Mexican food, and we really try to purchase fresh ingredients when possible, especially from the on-campus garden, the Carrden,” adds Brosius, an economics major and astronomy and mathematics minor. “We’ve also had other groups on campus like Edible Allegheny and the Green Living House volunteer to cook during certain weeks. We’d like to expand this concept by having other groups on campus participate, too.”

Just like Hinton’s original vision, the group stresses that its “come one, come all” approach applies to those with dietary restrictions, as well.

“We have a number of students who are vegetarians or vegans or those who eat gluten-free or have allergies, so we always make sure there are a lot of options,” Brosius says. “Personally, I like co-op because I have problems digesting certain foods, so I like knowing how each meal is prepared. Knowing that it’s homemade is comforting to me. Co-op is kind of like our home away from home.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research