February 16, 2016

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Forcina Hall, Rm 408

*Date on flyer is incorrect

February 23, 2016

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Education Bldg Rm 212

*Reception to follow

**Abstract: **Many neural circuits are interconnected with remarkable precision, but others appear to be wired randomly. How extensive is randomness and how can randomly connected circuits perform useful functions? I will address these questions using experimental data and models.

**Biography:** Larry Abbott is the William Bloor Professor of Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University. He received his PhD in physics from Brandeis University in 1977, and worked in theoretical particle physics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, CERN, the European center for particle physics, and Brandeis. Abbott began his transition to neuroscience research in 1989, joined the Biology Department at Brandeis in 1993 and was the director of the Volen Center at Brandeis from 1997-2002. In 2005, he joined the faculty of Columbia University where he is currently a member of the Departments of Neuroscience and of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and co-director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Abbott is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a recipient of an NIH Directors Pioneer Award, and was awarded the Swartz Prize for Theoretical Neuroscience in 2010 and the Mathematical Neuroscience Prize in 2013. His research involves the computational modeling and mathematical analysis of neurons and neural networks.

February 2, 2016

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

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**Abstract: **Uncooled infrared detectors are used in the defense and security, firefighting, surveillance, border protection and other military applications. They are also used in biomedical applications such as breast cancer detection and driver’s aid. The performance of these uncooled detectors is limited by the degree of isolation between the sensing layer and the substrate among others. In this talk, I will present a spider web-like structure which will reduce the thermal conductance between the sensing layer and the substrate. I will also talk about current research and educational opportunities at Optical Science Center for Applied Research of DSU.

February 9, 2016

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

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**Abstract: **In this talk we will focus on a few specific counting problems. Some will be geometric or algebraic in nature using only polygons or graphs. Other examples will be purely combinatorial involving objects such as “Young diagrams” and “Young tableaux”. Along the way we will encounter one of the most well-known counts in this subject: the Catalan numbers. We will also discuss how some of these counts relate to some recent research in this field.

The Council of Student Teachers of Mathematics (CSTM) creates an inviting atmosphere for Math Education majors at The College of New Jersey.

President **Siddhi Desai** and Vice President **Amanda Soliman**, both from the Class of 2017, founded the Council to bring together math secondary education majors at TCNJ and form a network of future match teachers. Former math faculty member **Dr. Farshid Safi** and current advisor **Dr. Cathy Liebars** had encouraged Desai and Soliman to start the student organization and establish it as a chapter of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Dr. Liebars remembers, “When Siddhi and Amanda came to me and Dr. Safi with the idea of starting a student organization that would be an affiliate of NCTM on campus, I was thrilled! As a student affiliate, the organization gets a free membership in NCTM, which is the leading organization for mathematics teachers. It has numerous resources for pre-service and in-service math teachers to learn more about the profession and stay current on mathematics education resources,” says Dr. Liebars.

Shortly after its founding, the Council was indeed recognized as a student affiliate of the NCTM – the first in the state – at the 25th annual conference of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey (AMTNJ). The organization later received its official charter at the national conference in Boston in April 2015. “One of the best college experiences I have had was attending the NCTM Conference in Boston. In addition to receiving our official affiliate charter, it was pretty awesome meeting and attending sessions led by math educators whose journal articles I’ve read,” says Desai.

The club gives math education majors the opportunity to explore their interests as well as being part of an intellectual and vibrant organization. “As a senior math secondary education major, I was very interested in joining CSTM when it first came on campus because I knew it would be very helpful to me in pursuing a career in teaching middle or high school math,” says **Stavroula Kontogiannis ‘16**.

“CSTM being content-specific to math was what drew me towards the club,” says **Jessica Martin ‘16**. “I felt that the meetings and events would be not only beneficial to my career, but I also felt a sense of community among math education majors. I was extremely excited to be a part of the founding executive board because I felt that it gave me and my peers the opportunity to create something amazing for students. It is a support system that is beneficial to have when choosing classes to take, studying for the Praxis exam, or preparing for practicum experiences.”

The members take pride in community outreach and volunteering on and off campus. “We just began Praxis Tutoring which I am very excited about. I lead one of the Math Content Knowledge groups,” says Martin. Kontogiannis adds, “CSTM volunteers at math education conferences, such as the NCTM and AMTNJ events. I had the opportunity to volunteer at both and we were able to listen in on lectures and talk to many math education representatives there.” CSTM Community Liaison **Jennifer Stranz ’17** adds, “It was amazing to be surrounded by a group of people so passionate about math education. There were so many sessions available for future teachers of mathematics at any grade level. I have learned so much more about the profession since joining and have been exposed to great speakers and events.”

CSTM also hosts panels and discussions on campus, which allow for interactions between faculty and students outside the classroom, creating a vibrant and intellectual environment for future math teachers as well as a warm community between professors and students. “CSTM is a great environment to collaborate with peers and meet other future teachers. We also host a variety of speakers and are always open to new ideas for topics or presenters that the members would be interested in,” says Stranz. Kontogiannis adds, “The goal of CSTM is to create a sense of community among all math education majors, which I believe they have done very successfully.”

Some of these events have provided very useful information about the Common Core, Math Anxiety, and the Use of Technology in Math Education. There have also been other panels such as the TCNJ Math Education Faculty Panel, the Administrative Panel, and the Junior Field Experience (JFE) Panel. Martin adds, “I love it when CSTM holds panels. As math majors we are required to attend colloquium talks prior to graduation. While they are always interesting, I feel that they are so much more geared towards applied and pure math majors. Our panels give math education majors so much information and so many ideas,” states Martin. While the CSTM panels are geared towards math secondary education majors, all math majors are welcome to attend. “My favorite event was a professor panel as it gave students the opportunity to get to know our professors on a more personal level. It’s great to see them outside of an academic setting and learn about things they enjoy doing and how they got to where they are today,” adds Martin.

The JFE panel was especially beneficial as it gave members of the club the opportunity to ask questions about experiences, expectations, and more. Martin, who had gone through JFE, recalls, “We walked the students through everything that goes into the experience – from school placement to lesson planning. The most exciting part of being on the panel was being able to share my experience at Trenton Central West with students who will soon be there too. It is a great feeling to be able to give them advice and answer their questions honestly that they might be afraid to ask a professor.”

The group meets and organizes events once a month and currently has around 30 members with an active executive board of six members. CSTM works with two other math department clubs on campus – the Mathematics and Statistics Club and the math honor society Pi Mu Epsilon – to host one event each semester to create community for all math and statistics majors as well as faculty and staff. The executive boards of all three of the math clubs collaborate to plan a holiday party in the fall and a department picnic in the spring. “These faculty-student interactions help us form a close-knit community within the department,” adds Desai.

TCNJ is known for its small class sizes and approachable faculty, which are especially beneficial to future math secondary education majors. Soliman adds, “I chose TCNJ because of its welcoming, dedicated professors, small class sizes, and above all, for its experience-based pre-service teacher undergraduate program.” These unique experiences for math education majors start at the underclass level. Sophomores begin participating in tutoring or research practicums and, in the spring, they begin observing inside a classroom looking at a teacher’s approach and classroom culture. By junior year, students start learning methods of teaching through field experience. This exciting opportunity is not offered at other colleges until graduate school. “CSTM is all about creating a network for the math education community. Whether it’s getting to know professors, networking at conferences, or working with fellow teachers, students learn the value of collaboration and are better prepared to confront the daily challenges of teaching,” says Soliman.

Clearly CSTM at TCNJ is leading the way for making math education inspiring for students. Kontogiannis says, “Other students should get involved in CSTM because of the great events, activities, and opportunities it provides. CSTM is a great club to be part of mostly because I have become friends with other members that share the same interest as me. We are able to come together at meetings and events and learn more about math education outside of the courses we take together. I would, without a doubt, recommend this club to anyone interested in math education.” Martin sums it up perfectly. “I strongly encourage all future teachers of mathematics in all levels – whether it is early education, elementary, or secondary – to come to our meetings and events so that we can better prepare ourselves to be the best teachers we can be.”

– Gabrielle Okun

**For More Information:**

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February 11, 2016

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

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**Abstract: **Nicolas Bourbaki is widely considered one of the most influential mathematicians of the twentieth century, and is arguably the most intriguing mathematician in modern history. Part of his intrigue comes from the fact that while Bourbaki was a prolific author and had a strong personality and sense of humor, he did not (unlike most mathematicians) have a birth certificate, a passport, or even a body, having been born instead as the collective enterprise of a radical group of French mathematicians in the 1930s. Despite these apparent limitations, Bourbaki tried twice in the late 1940s to join the American Mathematical Society, and was unsuccessful in both attempts. Examining the original application forms and the American Mathematical Society’s reactions to them, I will characterize Bourbaki’s life and times in the context of the rapidly transforming global mathematics community in the mid-twentieth century. A central question for all of Bourbaki’s interlocutors (including the AMS) in this period was Bourbaki’s status as an individual person, collective institution, or something (or someone!) in between, and the stakes of that status could be quite high. I will thus explain what it meant to take Bourbaki personally, and why that mattered to a changing mathematical discipline.

February 3, 2016

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

C-121

**Abstract: **The emergence of fragment-based screening as a vehicle for identifying novel chemical leads is challenging the current paradigm for lead optimization. When dealing with molecules with the chemical simplicity of fragments, one can no longer rely solely on potency. And while ligand efficiency (the binding energy per heavy atom) is becoming increasingly popular for evaluating the quality of hits, one often requires a more detailed understanding of the molecular interactions leading to the observed potency. This presentation will describe our efforts to create a “biophysical toolbox” for evaluating and prioritizing hits. The toolbox contains methods for examining a compound’s propensity to aggregate, its specificity of binding, assessment of reversibility, and thermodynamic properties. Combined with the mapping of receptor:ligand interactions at the molecular level that is afforded by structural studies, the approach provides additional information for selecting hits that are the most likely to progress at a critical point in early-phase decision, thereby facilitating the delivery of high quality leads.

A Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a GPA to put her on the Dean’s List consistently, presidency of the mathematics honor society Pi Mu Epsilon, and a genuine love of math are what make senior mathematics major Alana Huszar a force to be reckoned with.

What prompted Huszar’s infatuation with mathematics and all that encompasses it? It was none other than her first Calculus class in high school. “Calculus is what really made me fall in love with math,” Huszar raves, prompting her to pursue a career as a math teacher and led her to TCNJ, which is known for its stellar education program. When she came to the College and took a course called “Proof Writing through Discrete Mathematics,” she realized that “Math isn’t just calculus; it’s all of these other topics that are really fun.” While she became passionate about different types of math, in one semester she was faced with the decision to choose between two math courses because she had to take an education course for her double major. This is when she decided to switch to solely being a Mathematics major. “I definitely made the switch because I loved taking as many math courses as I could,” she explains.

Huszar thrived, as she was able to finally focus on everything mathematical. It’s not just the challenge that enthralls her. “Math is just like fitting pieces into a puzzle. Maybe you’ll prove something that helps someone else. Maybe someone will prove something that helps your ideas. I really like the connections that can be made and the collaboration that can occur between people.”

Even though men outnumber women in the mathematics workforce, Huszar has never felt intimidated or discouraged from sticking with her major. “I was really fortunate here because TCNJ has a large proportion of female math majors. In one of my 400-level courses, the class is split evenly between men and women, and my other course only has two men. Being here I never thought that was a huge problem.” She also had the opportunity to participate in the Institute of Advanced Study’s Women in Mathematics Program last summer and heard female professors, post-doctoral students, and graduate students speak about their negative experiences in male-dominated departments. It was then that she realized how different it was for women outside of TCNJ. “It’s really good that more women are going into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Fortunately here at TCNJ, everyone has been super welcoming to everyone.”

Huszar is constantly on the move. Last year, she won the Barry Goldwater Scholar award for her work in using graph theory to prove the Graceful Tree Conjecture, which has been unproven for 50 years. “What I do is a piece of a bigger puzzle. I took a different approach to the Goldwater project than people had been taking.” Even though she got the initial idea while at another campus on an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program, she says “a lot of the professors at TCNJ were really helpful by giving me feedback and challenging me to relate the research to the real world. The TCNJ math department has been supportive in everything I do even if it was based on research that was done somewhere else.”

She is also the current President of Pi Mu Epsilon, the mathematics honor society, and is constantly tutoring in her favorite subject. Pi Mu Epsilon hosted a Halloween costume party for the math department in which faculty and students dressed up, with Huszar donning a math-themed costume, of course. The honor society also hosted a game show “Are You Smarter Than a TCNJ Student?” in which math department professors will answer pop culture questions about sports, movies, and even TCNJ campus life, which Huszar looks forward to because “a lot of the students like to come see, so we try to do fun activities like that.” As for tutoring, Huszar has been doing that every day for 2-3 hours since her sophomore year, helping people from a diverse array of math classes ranging from pre-calculus, business calculus, abstract algebra, to real analysis. She hopes to continue helping others with math in graduate school as a teaching assistant for math courses.

While enthusiastic about math, Huszar still has hobbies outside of her major. “Unfortunately, I am also a nerd outside of math,” she admits with a laugh. She loves reading comic books and playing board games with her friends, her favorite being Dominion, a medieval card game with the objective of gaining as much unclaimed land as possible for your kingdom.

As for the future, Huszar is currently conducting research in algebraic geometry with her advisor Dr. Steffen Marcus in order to complete an undergraduate mathematics honors thesis. “I really like it. I also applied for the NSF (National Science Foundation) graduate fellowship program which will use extensions of that research, so I’m very excited for this upcoming year.”

What is her advice for incoming students interested in the math program at TCNJ? “Get involved with the department, because we have a lot of events going on with the students and professors. Don’t worry your first year about your specialization yet. See what you like, whether it’s discrete math or statistics. Don’t freak out. Go for tutoring if you need it because the math program is pretty hard; a lot of students struggle at first, but then realize that new, different way of thinking.”

– Kaitlyn Njoroge

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