Off on a Tangent 18.01

Mathematics students attend MathFest and win an award

MathFest is an annual meeting of the Mathematics Association of America and this past summer the conference was held in Cincinnati, Ohio. Three Hope students presented papers during the conference. Jackson Krebsbach’s presented “Dunes and Drones: A Machine Learning Approach to Mapping Dune Vegetation Using Small Unmanned Aerial Systems and Ground-Based Photography,” Dane Linsky presented “A Model of Animal Movement with an Absorbing Interface,” and Eric Leu presented “Remote Identification of Cloud Forest Landslides: A Machine Learning Approach.”

Eric Leu won the Janet L. Andersen Award for Outstanding Student Presentation in Mathematical Biology during the conference. Eric’s win continues a tradition of Hope students earning this award and as well as others at MathFest.

Eric receiving the Janet Andersen award at MathFest

Mathematics professor wins best paper award

Dr. Brian Yurk is co-author of a scholarly paper that has been named the best of 2017 and 2018 by the Journal of Biological Dynamics.

The article, which Dr. Yurk wrote with Dr. Christina Cobbold of the University of Glasgow in Scotland and was published in the Journal in December 2017, presents equations to help ecological researchers better understand the population patterns of animals.  The article received the journal’s Robert May Prize, awarded every other year for the best paper in the journal during a two-year period.

Titled “Homogenization techniques for population dynamics in strongly heterogeneous landscapes,” the paper provides a way to model how long-term dispersal patterns of animal populations are shaped by how individuals respond to the variability they encounter in their environments from day to day.

Read more about the research here.

Statistics students win national award

A Hope College student research paper won third place in a biannual national statistics competition, continuing a tradition of strong finishes in the event by Hope’s statistics students. Sally Hakim and Aidan Piwnicki earned the award in the Spring 2019 Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition sponsored by the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education and the American Statistical Association. 

Hakim and Piwnicki were honored for their project “A Study on the Immediate Impacts of Product Placement on Consumer Choices,” which they pursued during the spring 2019 Introductory Statistics class taught by Prof. Todd Swanson.  The students examined whether or not seeing a product in a television segment had an immediate impact on individuals’ preference for that product.  While their study did not find a significant effect, they note in their paper that a larger and more random sample (they surveyed 34 students in one location) would be necessary to accurately determine what would likely be a small difference.

Hope students have been honored in the national competition eight times in the past three years.  In addition to Hakim’s and Piwnicki’s third-place award, past Hope groups earned three first-place awards, a second-place award, another third-place award and two honorable mentions.

Statistics professors win best paper award

The simulation-based approach to statistics instruction that was first piloted at Hope College has once again earned national recognition.

The Journal of Statistics Education presented its 2018 “Best Paper” award to Hope mathematics professors Todd Swanson and Jill VanderStoep and six colleagues from other institutions for a paper they co-authored that examines — and affirms — the effectiveness of a simulation-based curriculum for introductory statistics.  It is the fourth time that Swanson, VanderStoep and other co-authors have received national recognition for publications related to their work.

This latest award, named the “Jackie Dietz Best ‘Journal of Statistics Education’ Paper Award” in honor of the journal’s founder, is for the paper “Assessing the Association Between Precourse Metrics of Student Preparation and Student Performance in Introductory Statistics: Results from Early Data on Simulation-based Inference vs. Nonsimulation-based Inference,” published by the journal in August 2018.  It was presented during the Joint Statistics Meetings conference held in Denver, Colorado, on July 27-Aug. 1.  

Read more about the research as well as some background on their work here.

Students attend the Joint Statistical Meetings

John, Tyler and Prof. Koh at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Denver

(The following was written by John McMorris and Tyler Gast on their experiences at JSM 2019.)

During the final week of July 2019, we flew to Denver for the Joint Statistical Meetings of 2019 to present on the research conducted during summer 2018. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the hot, dry climate the city is known for. Denver was perfect for such an event. Streets and public transportation were readily available across the city, allowing us easy access to the eateries nearby the convention center.

I [John] flew in on Sunday to settle in before presenting the following morning. The presentation followed by a poster session on Monday was a great experience for speaking in a professional setting and presenting to people working in statistics. I spent the rest of the day around the convention center attending multiple other oral presentations and poster sessions and learning about more advances in statistics.

Monday, the first day I [Tyler] arrived, was filled with travel and preparation for my stay and presentation. Tuesday allowed us the full experience of the convention. We walked the grounds and listened in on hours of presentations and lectures regarding all the uses and results made from statistical research. It was an enjoyable experience to say the least and we used every bit of time we had to absorb the experiences the PhD’s and graduate students had as they presented on their life’s work.

My final day was my presentation day and I am proud to say that I did meet the fifteen minute mark on the presentation with ease, allowing myself the experience of presenting in a professional environment. Overall, the experience was a huge benefit in the ways of experience in travel, professionalism with others, and presenting in a serious and semi-formal manner.

Interested in being a tutor?

Hope’s mathematics department often gets requests from external people who are interested in hiring tutors (typically for a middle or high school student). As a service to the community, we collect names of students that are interested in being a tutor. If you would like your name added to the list of potential tutors please complete the following form located here. Note: If you want to be added to a tutoring list, your Hope College email will be given out to those that request it.

Internship opportunities in actuarial science

The Jackson National Life Insurance Company has internship opportunities available within their Actuarial Department in Lansing, Michigan for the Summer 2020.

An internship with Jackson’s Actuarial Department offers practical, hands-on work experience that enhances students’ academic, career, and personal development, while helping the company identify talented individuals.

Students who are interested in applying for an internship are strongly encouraged to apply at on their website. Students are encouraged to submit applications no later than October 1st, as selections for the 2020 intern class will likely be made before this year’s end.

Problem of the Fortnight

Two adjacent vertices of a regular 100-gon are labeled as P and Q. Line segments are drawn to join P and Q to each of the other 98 remaining vertices. How many bounded regions does this figure have? (The regular 7-gon in the figure below illustrates the idea of the problem and shows the 19 bounded regions formed by the process.)

Write your solution (not just the answer) on a regular n-gon of your own choosing, and drop it in the Problem of the Fortnight slot outside Professor Mark Pearson’s office, room 212 in The Werf, by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, September 13. As always, be sure to include your name and the name(s) of your math professor(s) — e.g. Ben Wundering, Professor Les Unh — on your solution. Good luck and have fun!

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