Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen writes about his recent collaboration with other number theorists to create a computer package to solve a problem called the “S-unit equation.”
Using computers to crack open centuries-old mathematical puzzles
In mathematics, no researcher works in true isolation. Even those who work alone use the theorems and methods of their colleagues and predecessors to develop new ideas.
But when a known technique is too difficult to use in practice, mathematicians may neglect important—and otherwise solvable—problems.
Recently, I joined several mathematicians on a project to make one such technique easier to use. We produced a computer package to solve a problem called the “S-unit equation,” with the hope that number theorists of all stripes can more easily attack a wide variety of unsolved problems in mathematics.
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Wesleyan’s Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen teaches a math class Aug. 11 at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
This month, the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center is once again hosting its K-8 Math Institute for 29 school teachers from Vernon and Hamden, Conn. The 80-hour program aims to increase teachers’ mastery of math concepts as well as their confidence with math.
Sharon Heyman, a mathematics education specialist from the University of Connecticut, works with teachers at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.
Wesleyan Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen is teaching the institute along with Sharon Heyman, a mathematics education specialist from the University of Connecticut. This is the fifth time the pair has taught the course together. The institute includes the content-intensive, 80-hour Intel Math course over the summer as a foundation for teachers, several follow-up workshops during the school year for advancing teaching practices and arts integration strategies, and two professional learning community sessions a year in the form of Math Potlucks.
Green Street Director Sara MacSorley said this year’s course is going very well.
“As a group, the participating teachers are strong in math and really engaged in the material,” she said. On this particular day, a Friday afternoon with temperatures soaring into the 90s, “there are lively discussions about fractions at each table.”
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In its recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on eight faculty members, effective July 1, 2015. They are: Associate Professor of Sociology Robyn Autry, Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Amy MacQueen, Associate Professor of Music Paula Matthusen, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Rich Olson, Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen, Associate Professor of Economics Damien Sheehan-Connor, and Associate Professor of Classics Eirene Visvardi.
Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below:
Associate Professor Autry is a cultural sociologist with broad interests in collective identity, memory, and visual culture. Her research on the ways in which the past is constructed and represented at museums has been published in several journals. Autry’s book, Desegregating the Past: The Public Life of Memory in South Africa and the United States, analyzes clashes around the development of history museums in both countries as a window into the desire for particular personal and collective orientations toward the past (Columbia University Press, forthcoming). She teaches courses on comparative race and ethnicity, the future, and memory and violence.
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Assistant Professor of Mathematics Felipe Ramírez is teaching courses in probability theory and homogenous dynamics and diophantine approximation this fall.
In this issue of News@Wesleyan, we speak with Assistant Professor of Mathematics Felipe Ramírez, who joined the Wesleyan faculty this fall.
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On April 17, 30 senior and BA/MA students in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division presented their research to the Wesleyan community. Nearly 100 people attended the annual Celebration of Science Theses poster session, which was held in the Exley Science Center lobby.
The event was co-organized by Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, director of the service learning center; and Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy. (Photos by Dat Vu ’15.)
Dara Lorn ’15 discussed his research, “Progress to Biofunctionalized Rotaxanes.”
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Wesleyan students Selin Kutlu ’16, Jacob “Jack” Lashner ’16 and Aaron Young ’16 have been chosen for honorable mention by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program for the 2015-2016 academic year. The award is presented annually to U.S. sophomores and juniors for excellence in mathematics, science and engineering. This year’s recipients were selected from a field of more than 1,200 students nominated by faculty from more than 420 colleges and universities nationwide. Less than half the students nominated each year are selected as a scholar or for honorable mention.
Selin Kutlu ’16
Kutlu, a molecular biology and biochemistry and neuroscience and behavior double major, is interested in understanding not only biological mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level, but also how these mechanisms can alter human health and behavior. Working with Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, Kutlu combines her interest in both biochemistry and neuroscience through research on DNA mismatch repair, a process that corrects errors made during DNA replication. “These errors can cause mutations that can have deleterious effects on an organism’s health, including carcinogenesis and neurological disorders such as Huntington’s disease,” said Kutlu. Her career goal is to obtain an MA and PhD in molecular biology in order to teach at the university level and conduct biomedical research.
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