May Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Bill Clark

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Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of spotlights on mathematics and statistics faculty. Dr. Clark is our Coordinator of Graduate Studies. He joined us in Fall 1966.

Do you have a hobby or collect something?

I like to visit or participate in Archeology digs and I also raise a few cattle.

Tell us about an adventure you had, or would like to have.

Camped in and traveled to 49 of the 50 US states. I couldn’t pull my camper to Hawaii. An adventure I would like is to travel to Madagascar.

What was one of your biggest successes or failures?

Biggest Success – Being selected by the Texas Section of the MAA as the recipient of the Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics award in 2002. Biggest Failure- Rodeo Bull Rider.

What kind of music, books, movies, sports, games, cars, etc. (pick one or more) do you like? Is there any particular reason?

Classical country first and most genres second. For example, I love “Für Elise” by Beethoven. Books- Historical Novels and/or Historical Adventure. Sports-Collegiate Football and Basketball.

What do you study?

Mathematical Analysis. Right now I am reading about current Integral Transforms. I also study the Bible.

What projects (academic or otherwise) are you currently working on?

Learning to fly a drone.

What is the closest you have ever come to dying?

Three times. As a 6 year old, falling off a cliff while climbing on Mount Rainer. As a Jr. high student being run over by a car. As an adult barely escaping with my life from a burning Oil Field Rig fire. The highly dangerous escaping gas caught on fire when a deck worker tried to light cigarette. Flames roared up into the upper rig and I was working the derrick job. My coat caught on fire but I shucked it and was lucky enough to get untied from my safety harness and ride the T-Bar escape trolley to the ground. The deck worker lost both hands.

What did you do to put yourself through school, or what weird job have you held?

I had all kind of jobs putting myself through college. Seismogrph crew member, oil field Roughneck, soda jerk, newspaper deliveryman, truck driver for Railway Express, selling firewood, working the wheat harvest in the summers, working hay fields , and a lot of other side jobs to make ends meet. I can’t leave out the fact that my wife also worked hard at several jobs while helping to put me through college.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

“Put things back where you got ‘em.” Best of all, “Trust in God.”

The thing that really makes you cool and unique is something that I would never have thought to list here. What is it?

I was President of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America in the 1980’s.

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April Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jacob Turner

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Editor’s Note: This is the third in a new series of spotlights on mathematics and statistics faculty. Dr. Turner joined us in Fall 2017.

Do you have a hobby or collect something? How did you get into that?

Bowling (yes I’m the guy who has in own shoes and ball) and the occasional video game. I like collecting Funko POP! figures as well as Transformers. Just swing by the office and you will see! [Editor’s Note: Shortly after this was posted, Dr. Beavers’ Transformers collection staged a pre-emptive strike on Dr. Turner’s Transformers collection. The battle rages on.]

Tell us about an adventure you had, or would like to have.

I really want to go to Japan and Sri Lanka. I have many friends from these two countries and I would love to visit some of the local places that they talked about during our conversation over the years.

What was one of your biggest successes or failures?

Besides marrying my beautiful wife and having kids, my biggest success was successfully defending my dissertation just two weeks after my first son was born.

What kind of music, books, movies, sports, games, cars, etc. (pick one or more) do you like? Is there any particular reason?

I really like Country and dabble in other genres as well. There is a special place in my heart for Imagine Dragons. Their concerts are a lot of fun and I relate to a lot of their songs.

What do you study? How did you get into that? Are there any real-world applications of your area of study?

I study statistics. I took a few statistics course during my undergraduate Math major and was hooked. Never really looked back. My areas of research currently hover around developing methods and analyzing large data sets derived from gene expression studies as well as clinical trials.

What projects (academic or otherwise) are you currently working on?

I will be working on this summer with a student to further develop my own research. My other project is getting my oldest son ready for school and baseball.

What is the closest you have ever come to dying?

Floating the Comal River in New Braunfels, Tx during my college years. Inner tube+”Soda”+Rough waters = a shakey situation.

What did you do to put yourself through school, or what weird job have you held?

I was a projectionist at the Cinemark movie theater in College Station. Worked late hours splicing the movie reels together and screening movies before they came out. Thursday nights were rough as we would stay up getting ready for Friday releases until about 3am. I would have 8am math classes sometimes that were rough. I don’t recommend it.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Think before you speak.

Colloquium 03/26: Dr. Timothy Trujillo on “Topological Ramsey Theory”

As part of the R. W. Yeagy Colloquium series, on Monday, March 26, at 3:30 PM in Math Building 357, Dr. Timothy Trujillo from Sam Houston State University will be talking about Topological Ramsey Theory. This talk should be interesting and accessible for students of all levels.

Abstract: The two-dimensional Ramsey theorem states that if the edges of a complete graph with countably infinitely many vertices are colored with two colors then there is a complete subgraph with countably infinitely many vertices all whose edges are monochromatic. The theorem can be extended to all finite dimensions. However, the naive infinite-dimensional Ramsey conjecture is false in ZFC. Nonetheless the collection of all sets that satisfy the conclusion of the infinite-dimensional Ramsey theorem form a sigma-algebra of sets. The Ellentuck theorem characterizes this sigma-algebra as the sigma-algebra of sets with the Baire property (that is, a symmetric difference of an open set and a meager set) with respect to a topology that extends the natural metric topology on the collection of infinite subsets of the natural numbers. We will discuss the historical development of the Ellentuck theorem and use it to motivate and introduce topological Ramsey theory and the abstract Ellentuck theorem. Time permitting, we will discuss some new examples of topological Ramsey spaces and their applications. (flyer in PDF form)

March Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Lesa Beverly

 

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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a new series of spotlights on mathematics and statistics faculty. Dr. Beverly joined us in Fall 2004 and currently serves as the chair of the department.

Do you have a hobby or collect something?  How did you get into that?

I love ORCHIDS!  My office is full of them, and I love showing them off, so come by and ask me about them.

What is the closest you have ever come to dying?

I am not sure that I was close to dying, but I thought I was.  I was flying to a job interview in Paducah, Kentucky.  When it came time to land, we noticed the plane was circling the airport really close to the ground, but we were not landing, and there was a stranger buzzer sound that kept going off in the cockpit.  (It was a small plane!)  There was quite a bit of chatter in the plane.  Finally, the pilot came on the intercom and explained that there was a problem.  A warning light in the cockpit was indicating that the landing gear was not locked into place.  Our landing gear looked like it was in the correct position (according to the observer on the ground who was watching us circle), but there was no way to tell if it was truly locked.  We had to land though because we were out of fuel, so there was nothing to do but give it a whirl.  The airport sprayed the ground with foam that is supposed to lessen flammability. We were told to put our heads in our laps, use our arms to cover our heads, and pray, if you were the praying kind.  I am.  I did.  All was well!  Needless to say, that was the strangest start to a job interview that I ever had.  Two days later, I had to get back on a similar plane and fly back home.  It was truly an adventure I hope never to repeat!

What did you do to put yourself through school, or what weird job have you held?

While I was in graduate school, I worked one summer as a telemarketer, selling headache balls for cranes and hoists.  A headache ball is a type of crane hook that is composed of a hook and a ball that connects to the crane’s cable.  I didn’t know that such a thing existed but now, whenever I see a crane, I always look to see if it has a headache ball.  Can you guess why it earned its name?

Colloquium 2/19: Dr. Ryan Jensen on Student Projects Involving Homology

As part of the R. W. Yeagy Colloquium Series, on Monday, February 19th at 3:30PM in Math Building 357, Dr. Ryan Jensen will be talking about Student Projects Involving Homology. This should be a great talk for all math majors and minors. (flyer in PDF form)

Abstract: We will talk about what the field of mathematics called algebraic topology. In particular, we will discuss bar-codes and how they can tell us information about spaces. Additionally, we will introduce problems involving bar-codes and algebraic topology in the following areas:

  • Polynomials
  • Pascal’s triangle
  • Pascal’s n-simplex
  • Shortest path connecting a set of points
  • Fourier series
  • Algebraic curves
  • Contour plots of complex functions
  • Sublevel sets of n-manifolds

February Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Brittney Falahola

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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a new series of spotlights on mathematics and statistics faculty. Dr. Falahola joined us in Fall 2017.

Do you have a hobby or collect something? How did you get into that?

My husband and I collect Christmas ornaments from all the places we visit together. We got our first ornament on our honeymoon and when we saw the same style of ornament in another location a year later, we decided it would be fun to try and find an ornament everywhere we went.

Tell us about an adventure you had, or would like to have.

One of the neat things about being in mathematics is all of the places it can take you (and most of the time for free!) As a student or professor of mathematics, I have visited Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, and (of course) Texas! I look forward to more travels in the future.

What was one of your biggest successes or failures?

I’d have to say that having my daughter in May 2017 has been my biggest success so far in life. She is a joy and I feel blessed to be her momma.

What kind of music, books, movies, sports, games, cars, etc. (pick one or more) do you like? Any particular reason?

My favorite type of music to listen to is contemporary Christian music; it helps to keep me grounded in all of the busyness life can bring about.

I have only ever driven Ford vehicles since my dad is a big fan of Ford. I even got my husband to “come over to the Ford side” recently. He’s a proud convert.

I love to play card and dice games with my family, but am extremely competitive so the emotional stakes are always quite high when I play.

Also, having grown up mostly in north Texas, I am a huge fan of football and can still be found cheering on my high school (Trinity HS, Euless, Texas), and undergraduate (Baylor) teams.

What do you study? How did you get into that? Are there any (real-world) applications of your area of study?

My field of study is commutative algebra, with an emphasis on characteristic p methods in homological algebra. I knew I wanted to study some form of abstract algebra after taking some courses in it in undergraduate and graduate school, and the specific topic came to my attention with the advice of my doctoral advisor.

I also have a budding interest in post-secondary mathematics education after being involved in a major pedagogical restructuring of precalculus courses at my previous university.

What projects (academic or not) are you currently working on?

I am currently in the contemplative stage of decorating my house. I look forward to finding the time to start and finish little projects all around the house.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Do your best and let God do the rest!

 

Colloquium 2/5: Dr. Nick Long on Some Favorite Math Problems

As part of the R.W. Yeagy Colloquium Series, on February 5th at 3:30 PM in Math Building 357, Dr. Nick Long will be talking about Some Favorite Math Problems. This talk will be aimed at all levels of students with the only prior knowledge required being the idea of a prime number and how to iterate a function. A substantial amount of time will be devoted to participants working on some known problems and open problems.

Abstract: We’ll look at a few really interesting problems that you can understand in a couple of minutes and make progress on with just a pencil and paper. Some of these problems have been solved before; some of these are among the most important unsolved math problems. The difference between the solved and the unsolved is usually just a really good idea. (flyer in PDF form)