WNAN Symposium 2021 Image

Greetings, fellow mathematicians!

Greetings, fellow mathematicians!


Due to continued impacts from the covid-19 pandemic, the Intermountain Section's executive committee decided to hold our annual Spring section meeting in a hybrid format to provide both in-person and virtual presentations. The meeting will be hosted by Utah Valley University (UVU) in Orem, UT, on March 25 and 26. This two-day event will include contributed talks, presentations from our distinguished invited speakers, and student presentations and activities (such as the Calculus Bee). Presentations cover topics across the field of mathematics with the goal to stir discussion and interest.

The program this year includes guest speakers:

Liz Copene (Sr. Director, Software Development, bioMérieux [formerly BioFire Diagnostics])

Catherine Hsu (Swathmore College)

Emille Davie Lawrence (University of San Francisco)

Ellen Veomett (Saint Mary's College of California)

We are excited that these guests have accepted our invitation! They are excellent speakers and experts in their individual fields. We will also have a workshop by Ellen Veomett on the theme: "Mathematics of Gerrymandering."

We sincerely invite you to contribute a talk to the meeting, and we strongly encourage student research talk submissions. The deadline for abstracts is March 18, 2022. 

We will also have a banquet on Friday night, a Section Business Meeting, Roots of Knowledge tours, and a hiking excursion on Saturday afternoon. For more information on contributing a talk or any other aspects of the meeting, please contact the local organizers. We also want to thank the host - UVU, especially the College of Science and the Department of Mathematics, for hosting and supporting the meeting.

We look forward to seeing you in March!


Vinodh Kumar Chellamuthu

Chair, Intermountain Section

Associate Professor of Mathematics

Dixie State University

Guest Speakers

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Dr. Emille Davie Lawrence
Term Associate Professor and Chair University of San Francisco

Title:  "Exploring Mathematics Across Civilizations"

Abstract:  Close your eyes and ask yourself, “Who are the greatest contributors to modern mathematics?” Do you have your answer? There is a good chance that one of Newton, Gauss, Euler, Galois, Cauchy, Cantor, or Noether appeared on your list. While these are indeed important figures in today’s mathematical landscape, what is largely absent from our mathematics education are the contributions of African, Indigenous, Oceanic, and people from other non-European cultures. The aim of this talk will be to provide thought-provoking insight into the mathematics of cultures that are often overlooked in American schools and universities. We will also highlight how these ideas can be presented in our own teaching as we work towards culturally responsive ways to engage students and towards presenting mathematics as a diverse human experience.

Emille Davie Lawrence is a Term Associate Professor and Chair of Mathematics and Statistics at the  University of San Francisco. She earned her B.S. in mathematics from Spelman College and her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Georgia. She has also been a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an Assistant Professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Her research focuses on topological properties of spatial graphs. She has been recognized for her work in the mathematics community as the 2021 Association for Women in Mathematics Service Award winner and was also elected to the Board of Directors of the Mathematical Association of America as Officer-at-Large. She is also a recipient of the 2021 Karen EDGE Fellowship for mid-career mathematicians. Emille enjoys speaking about mathematics to people of all ages and has been a lecturer at the National Math Festival (2017 and 2021) and has been featured on several math podcasts (My Favorite Theorem and Kids Math Talk) as well as many other outlets. She believes strongly that mathematics should be accessible to everyone, and her commitment to access is evidenced through her work with various national and local organizations, such as the EDGE Program, the National Girls Collaborative Project, the National Association for Mathematicians, and the Association for Women in Mathematics. She is also co-editor of the book Living Proof: Stories of Struggle and Resilience on the Path to Becoming a Mathematician. Her non-professional life is filled with music and other performing arts and spending meaningful time with her husband and two children.

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Dr. Ellen Veomett
Professor and Chair Saint Mary's College of California

Title:  "Mathematical Metrics and  Computational Techniques to Detect Partisan Gerrymandering"

Abstract:   When you think about Gerrymandering, you likely think about bizarrely-shaped districts like the "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck" district, the "Praying Mantis" district, or the "Upside Down Elephant" district. Perhaps this suggests that looking at the geometry of district shapes is the best way to determine whether or not gerrymandering has occurred. But with modern technology, partisan cartographers can draw maps without irregularly shaped districts that still exhibit irregular partisan bias. In this presentation, we'll explore the evolution of metrics intended to detect gerrymandering. We'll start with shape metrics, move to metrics that use partisan data (like the Mean-Median Difference and Efficiency Gap), and then on to metrics and techniques that combine both district data and partisan data (like the GEO metric and outlier analysis). We'll work together to mathematically evaluate these metrics, as well as computationally evaluate real maps. You'll leave with ideas, examples, and python code that you can bring to your classroom. .

Ellen Veomet is a Professor of Mathematics and Chair of the Math and Computer Science department at Saint Mary's College of California. Her background is in Discrete Geometry, and for the past 4 years her research has focused on using mathematical and computational techniques to detect gerrymandering. Her results showing how variations in voter turnout impacts the Efficiency Gap was published in the Election Law Journal and became one of the top three most downloaded articles of 2018. Her recent research with collaborators designing the GEO metric has garnered attention from North Carolina State Senators and staff, as well as the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. When not studying how to use mathematics and computational techniques to improve our democracy, Dr. Veomett likes to spend her time running outside or playing with her two kids.

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Dr. Catherine Hsu
Assistant Professor  Swarthmore College

Title:  "Projective and Non-Abelian SET "

Abstract:  Mathematicians love SET. On the surface, this classic game is a contest of pattern recognition, but it also presents an interesting way to visualize the geometry of a torus over a finite field. In this talk, we will discuss some of the mathematics connected to SET and then explore several new versions of the game, including one arising from projective geometry and one arising from non-abelian groups. In particular, we will see how these non-abelian variations on SET can give intuitive visualizations of abstract group structures.

Catherine Hsu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Swarthmore College. Her mathematical interests began as a penchant for logic puzzles and problem solving and grew into a love of abstract algebra and Galois theory while she was an undergraduate student at Rice University. Her research is now primarily in algebraic number theory, including projects related to modular forms and Apollonian circle packings. She also enjoys thinking about mathematical exposition, pedagogy, and unnecessarily complicated strategies for the card game Hanabi. Prior to joining Swarthmore in the fall of 2020, Hsu was a Heilbronn Research Fellow at the University of Bristol as well as an AAUW American Dissertation Fellow and a Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oregon. As a junior researcher, she has greatly enjoyed traveling and speaking at conferences around the world and is looking forward to meeting new mathematicians as part of the MAA-AWM Lecturer program.

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Dr. Liz Copene
Senior Director of Software Development at bioMérieux

Title:  "BioFire by bioMérieux; The Product, Problems, and People"

Abstract: Throughout my 14-year career at bioMérieux (formerly BioFire Diagnostics) I have been regularly asked the question “Why are you still working there?” and “What is your favorite part of the job?”. Depending on the day, I may answer the question slightly differently, but the answer is always basically the same; It’s all about the product, the problems, and the people. I began work on the product (a suite of multi-target PCR tests for rapid and accurate diagnosis of respiratory, blood, gastrointestinal and other infectious disease syndromes) in its early stages of development, and helped to grow the R&D teams to meet the market demand, especially during the current pandemic. Throughout this journey, there has been a never-ending supply of problems that we must solve as a team. In this talk, I will expand on these topics and provide you with examples where mathematics has played a role in enabling success.

Elizabeth (Liz) was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spent much of her teenage years focused on snowboarding. She then attended Westminster College in Salt Lake City, where she began to realize the joy of academics. After taking an entry level calculus course and a physics course in electricity and magnetism, she was inspired to advance her education in mathematics, receiving a B.S. degree in Mathematics with a minor in Physics. She went on to attend the Mathematical Biology Program at the University of Utah in the Department of Mathematics. Her academic career was focused on mathematical modeling the electrophysiology of cardiac cells. After obtaining a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 2008, she began her career working as a Data Scientist, learning industry standard best practices for software development, and working with cross-functional teams of engineers and scientists, to develop a molecular diagnostic platform for use in a clinical setting. Liz is currently in a senior directorship position for the development of software and analytics solutions for the BioFire products at bioMérieux.