48th Annual Mathematics Conference
Students, faculty, and alumni gather in the Bachelor Hall courtyard for the 48th Annual Mathematics Conference in late September.
Message from the Chair
Anna Ghazaryan
Dear Alumni and Friends,
For many years, the opening remarks to our department newsletter were written by Dr. Patrick Dowling. In June 2022, Dr. Dowling decided to step down from the Chair position. Dr. Dowling played a critical role in shaping the Department of Mathematics in the areas of research, teaching, and service. We greatly appreciate all that he did.
It is my honor to address you on behalf of the Department of Mathematics, as the present Chair. A few words about myself: I joined Miami University in 2010; my PhD degree is from the Ohio State University; my area of research is applied analysis.
This issue of the newsletter contains many inspiring alumni stories, as well as inspiring examples of recent alumni engagement with our department. We will also share with you some of the achievements of our students and faculty as well as new developments in the Department of Mathematics.
The Department continues working on updating our curriculum to address the needs of our students in the changed environment in academia and industry. For example, the Department is offering Calculus for Business Majors, Introductory Mathematics for Science Applications, and a course in Applied Linear Algebra. To help undergraduate students to succeed academically, this fall the Department designated room BAC 106 as a no-appointment-necessary free Math Help Center, staffed by graduate students. Students “signed in” the tutor room more than 235 times. In the future, we would like to expand the hours of operation and be able to hire additional tutors. Ultimately, I envision an inviting space (let us call it the Math Learning Lab) where students meet to collaborate on a course project, or to work together or individually with the support of well prepared tutors.
Our faculty members continue to organize conferences, participate in research, produce cutting-edge results, and publish papers and books. Our undergraduate students have a rare opportunity to participate in some of these projects. We would like to expand the research opportunities for our students. We are currently working on organizing a center for enrichment of the undergraduate experience. Initially it will be an informational hub where students will go when they need to find an adviser for a research project, or learn about internships opportunities and summer research programs funded by the National Science Foundation. Ultimately, we would like to have funding for undergraduate student research positions and increase the number of students participating in research.
Please consider engaging with our students and the faculty and share with us any information that may be beneficial to our students: internship opportunities, projects that students or faculty may get involved in, job positions, in addition to your valuable career advice.
It would be very beneficial and exciting for the faculty and current students to know your story. Please reach out, send an email to either a faculty member that you remember, or to me, or just drop us a note through this form, and share your experience with us. We would love to hear from you!
We are extremely grateful for the financial contributions we receive from our alumni and friends. Your support to the department in general, or specific designated support for projects like the Math Learning Lab or Center for Enrichment of Undergraduate Experience in Math would be greatly appreciated.
Please keep in touch, and best wishes for the future.
Anna Ghazaryan
Chair and Professor
48th Annual Mathematics Conference
Doug Ward and Vahagn Manukian
Doug Ward and Vahagn Manukian
David Richeson, Gouvea, Suzanne Harper, Louis DeBiasio
David Richeson, Fernando Gouvea, Suzanne Harper, Louis DeBiasio
Andy Moawak, one of the student speakers at PME student conference
Andy Moawad
Chuck Holmes
Chuck Holmes
Glen Van Brummeln, Jane Keiser, Dave Kullman
Glen Van Brummeln, Jane Keiser, and Dave Kullman
The Department of Mathematics hosted Miami's 48th Annual Mathematics Conference on Sept 23-24, 2022, with a history of mathematics theme.
The Buckingham Scholar, David Richeson of Dickinson College, gave a pre-conference colloquium talk on the concept of dimension and conference lectures on Euler's polyhedron formula and the great geometrical construction problems of antiquity. The Bohn Lecturer, Glen Van Brummelen of Trinity Western University, spoke on spherical trigonometry and on the challenges of studying mathematics history across eras and cultures.
The conference also included 11 contributed talks, with speakers including current Miami faculty members Jason Gaddis, Suzanne Harper, and Dennis Keeler. Professor Emeritus Dave Kullman, who organized the first fall conference in 1974 and taught history of mathematics courses at Miami for many years, also gave a contributed talk.
The Pi Mu Epsilon student conference was well attended. The eleven talks included presentations by Miami students Leah Andaloro, Chris Guptil, and Dakota Skinner, as well as presentations by students from Bluffton University, Butler University, Centre College, and Northern Kentucky University.
Student Research Activities
Kevin Morrison
Kevin Morrison
Nathaniel Smith
Nathaniel Smith
Dakota Skinner
Dakota Skinner
Leah Andaloro
Leah Andaloro
Our students and former students have been very active in engaging in research activities with faculty members and presenting their findings at conferences and research forums.
  1. Miami students Leah Andaloro, Chris Guptil, Dakota Skinner, and Nathaniel Smith presented talks at the Pi Mu Epsilon student conference held in conjunction with the annual fall conference in September 2022.
  2. Miami students Chris Guptil, Nathaniel Smith, and Dakota Skinner presented their research findings at the College of Arts and Science Discover the Sciences Day in October 2022.
  3. Miami students Chris Guptil and Nathaniel Smith will present their research findings in the upcoming joint meetings of American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America in Boston, MA in January 2023.
  4. Miami student Nathaniel Smith presented his research findings at the Miami University graduate student research forum in November, 2022. Another former Masters student Kevin Morrison, who is now a Chemistry Ph.D. candidate also presented his research findings at the research forum.
  5. Former student Sean Longbrake '22 will give an invited talk at the American Mathematical Society sectional meeting in Cincinnati in April 2023.
Alumni Engagement with the Department
Andrew Newman
Emily Buhnerkempe
Two former students, Andrew Newman and Emily Buhnerkempe, came back to Miami this fall to deliver two wonderful well-received colloquia.
In September, Andrew Newman gave the first colloquium talk of the school year (and the first in-person colloquium talk since March 2020) about a problem in combinatorial topology. Andrew completed his Master's degree from Miami in 2013, completed his Ph.D. at Ohio State in 2018, was a post-doc from 2018-2020 at Technische Universität Berlin, and is currently a post-doc at Carnegie Mellon.
Two months later, Emily Buhnerkempe gave a talk entitled "My Experiences Teaching Math through Interdisciplinary Projects and My Experiences Teaching Math with Standards-Based Grading." Emily (known as Emily Weber at the time) completed her Master's degree from Miami in 2010, then taught at Lake Land College until 2014, then Parkland College until 2017, worked for the Illinois Community College Board until 2019 and currently teaches at University of Illinois Laboratory High School.
Alumni News
Robert Doughty
Towards the end of September, alum Robert Doughty returned to Oxford campus for Miami's Fall STEM Career and Internship Fair.
Doughty is a 2016 graduate from Miami, and an accomplished one at that. As a student, Doughty was awarded the Provost's Student Academic Achievement Award in 2015. Upon graduation, Doughty began working at Epic Systems that fall. Epic is one of the largest software companies in the healthcare industries. Located in Verona, WI, a suburb of Madison, Epic is responsible for MyChart, which is used in hospitals and clinics across the country. Doughty is responsible for debugging code and working with customers.
"It's an interesting role where I get to do problem solving," Doughty said. As a Miami student, Doughty majored in Mathematics and Statistics and Integrated Math Education. Originally he thought he might teach high school, but did not pursue certification in teaching. "I like to teach people, but I don't want to teach people that don't want to learn."
But those skills came in handy for training sessions at Epic. On his dad's advice, Doughty also squeezed in a minor in computer science. This skill was invaluable in landing his current job. But, like many software companies, Epic uses a programming language that is used almost nowhere else.
"We hire smart people that we think can learn and we teach them what they need to know," he said. One of Doughty's most memorable experiences at Miami was his participation in undergraduate research. He did a project with Dr. Anna Ghazaryan which used differential equations to model the spread of malaria. He also worked with a group with Dr. Dan Pritikin.
Doughty said that learning to work with a group helped him prepare for this job, where collaborative projects are more common than in academia. "We had to divide and conquer, and brainstorm together," Doughty said of the project. Doughty said that mathematicians can market themselves as "creative problem solvers".
His advice to new graduates on the market is to know what they are applying for, and to be confident. He believes that pairing a math degree with some other skills, such as programming, can make students stand out on the market.
Faculty News
Olga Brezhneva
  1. Professor Olga Brezhneva (right) was awarded the president’s Prodesse Quam Conspici Medal by Miami University. The award is named for Miami’s motto “prodesse quam conspici,” which is written on its seal and means “to accomplish without being conspicuous.”
  2. Professors Anna Ghazaryan and Vahagn Manukian (coauthored with Professor Stephane Lafortune) published their book, "Introduction to Traveling Waves” (CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group) in October 2022.
Alumni Stories
Jack Graver '58
On news to share: At 86 I am still teaching full time at Syracuse University. It seems that I have been "in college" all of my life and still love it.
On Miami experience: I entered Miami knowing only that I wanted to study science. I was advised to list mathematics as a temporary major until I decided exactly what I wanted. I really enjoyed my first college math course, college algebra, taught by "Pop" Alberts (if I remember correctly). But then, I attended an evening lecture series on the foundations of mathematics given by Ernst Snapper and my fate was sealed! I have learned mathematics from many men and women, but I learned to be a
mathematician from Ernst. I went with him (as a graduate student) to Indiana, and later we were together at Dartmouth (he held a chair and I was a post doc). My career is still patterned after Ernst's. In particular, it is Ernst's close, caring and supportive relation with his students that has been my guide all of these years.
Rebecca S Fitzgerald '66
On news to share: Since my graduation from MU in 1966, I earned my MEd in Computers in Education and School Administration at the University of South Florida. I dedicated to over 37 years in public education, retiring as Principal of Newsome High School in Hillsborough County, Florida. Since retiring, my husband, Jim Fitzgerald, and I traveled extensively throughout Europe and the US. My heart remains at the math department of Miami University.
Stanley Reynolds '76
Stanley Reynolds '76
On news to share: I'll be retiring this year from my position as Professor of Economics at University of Arizona after a 40 year career in academia.
On Miami experience: My 4 years at Miami provided a wonderful experience and shaped the future course of my life. I had great teachers in math and economics at Miami who inspired me to pursue a career in academia. I went on to earn a doctorate in economics at Northwestern University, and then took a faculty position at University of Arizona, where I spent most of my career. I used the mathematics I learned at Miami extensively in my career as a research economist. This work relies heavily on mathematical modeling. My collaborator and former student, David Rietzke, is also a Miami alum.
Anne Shafer '89
On news to share: I am finishing my 33rd year teaching math in Mentor Schools. I first achieved my National Board Certification in Early Adolescent Mathematics in 2000, renewed in 2010, and just renewed in 2020. I have served as Department Coordinator in recent years as well as on our Building Leadership Team.
On Miami experience: Best math class memories - Dr. Johnny Hill. Best Campus Memories - living in Bishop Hall and Brunos Pizza!
Grant Bolling '92
On news to share: COVID forced me into semi-retirement where I partnered with a friend to form Reel Life Games. Our first game came out last October. It’s called Winfall in Paradise and can be played for free online. It can be played for money if you live in Europe.
On Miami experience: Not sure what I have shared before. I learned that finding the right job is very crucial when you have ADD. In 2004, I took a job in the casino gaming industry as a game design mathematician. I have since worked my way to a Senior Director’s position with over 70 games developed and 25 patents. Combinatorics has been important, but understanding Markov processes and being able to model them has put me a step up from most other mathematicians in this industry.
Walter Poelzing '96 
On news to share: Teaching students at Eagle Point High in southern Oregon geometry, algebra 2, and Intro to statistics. Also running a state high school.table tennis in March in Springfield on Mach 26. Table tennis is one of my major passions.
On Miami experience: Really was the best of times. Met one of my very best friends, Brett Cohen '96 there. learned so much that to this day, I have extreme confidence to understand and teach math to nearly anyone at the secondary and undergraduate level.
Sarah Pechan Driver '02
Sarah Pechan Driver '02
On Miami experience: I am so grateful for the math department at Miami! I loved all my professors - I appreciated how friendly they were. I felt the course material was so interesting. It was really helpful for me to be able to point to my math minor after I graduated as evidence of strong quantitative skills. I have gone into human rights and social policy work - both domestically and internationally - but I have always used data analysis, statistics, and math in my work. Thank you!
Matt Menickelly '12
On Miami experience: I got a PhD in industrial engineering in 2017 from Lehigh University. I’ve worked as a researcher in the Business Analytics and Mathematical Sciences department of IBM T.J Watson Research Center. I also did a postdoc at Argonne National Laboratory, where I’m now a computational mathematician. My research is in mathematical optimization, with special foci in robust, stochastic, derivative-free, and nonsmooth optimization. My application areas include nuclear physics and quantum computing.
Emmanuel Kofi Adjei '21
On news to share: Currently pursuing PhD in Mathematics Education at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
On Miami experience: My time at Miami has prepared me in several ways. A key one is surviving the pressure that comes with being in a PhD program elsewhere. I had a wonderful time with some amazing people in the program. The Mathematics department has a wonderful group of faculty. Dr. Pogan, Dr. Sarabi, Dr. Keiser, Dr. Pritikin, to mention a few, are all great people to work with and learn from. Love and Honor.
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Our faculty come from all over the world and have a strong commitment to both research and teaching.
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