seminars Archives

October 30, 2014 – Standing Out: Enhancing Your Undergraduate Experience While Boosting Your Resume

October 19th, 2014 by Eric Laflamme



Title:   Standing Out: Enhancing Your Undergraduate Experience While Boosting Your Resume

Date:  Thursday, October 30

Time:  4-5PM (refreshments at 3:30)

Location:  Hyde Hall, Room 316

Speaker:  Professor Emma Wright, PhD.  (Plymouth State University)

Abstract:  It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to do after you graduate! Have you ever considered why an employer should hire you over hundreds of other students with similar transcripts and similar degrees? You need to find ways to make yourself stand out, and the sooner you start, the better. In this seminar, we will discuss various opportunities available to undergraduates that can help you engage in your interests while preparing for life after graduation.

September 25, 2014: Why you should stop worrying about Ebola and get a flu shot.

August 30th, 2014 by Eric Laflamme








Title:  Why you should stop worrying about Ebola and get a flu shot.

Date:  Thursday, September 25.

Time:  4PM

Location:  Hyde Hall, Room 318

Speaker:  Professor Justin Wright, PhD.  (Plymouth State University)


There has been a significant amount of concern and media coverage about the recent outbreak of Ebola in western Africa. As of this writing, the CDC has said repeatedly that there is little to no risk of an outbreak in the U.S., but how do they know? Furthermore, the director for the CDC said in a recent interview that Americans should be much more concerned with seasonal flu than they should be with Ebola. Why should we be more concerned with a common illness than an exotic disease with a very high mortality rate?


This talk will largely focus on the methods employed by mathematical epidemiologists. We will examine several basic mathematical models for the spread of infectious disease and use them to explain why seasonal flu may be much more dangerous to the average American than Ebola.

April 5, 2012: Minimizing Business Risk in the Current Economy with a PSU Education

March 30th, 2012 by Dana Ernst

Title:  Singapore’s Innovative Mathematics Curriculum

Date:  Thursday, April 5 2012

Location: Hyde 314

Time: 4:00-5:00PM (Pizza at 3:30PM in Hyde 349)

Speaker: Scott T. Laine, M.S. (Towers Watson)

Abstract: The current economic environment has provided an opportunity for actuarial consultants to assist clients with evaluating their current levels of business risk and developing strategies to minimize such risk. In particular, our group assists clients with risk and solutions surrounding their pension liabilities. Actuarial consultants begin by defining the problem. Developing a sound solution starts with defining the current state of the pension plan in terms the impact on the financial status of the company. The current state analysis includes benchmarking their retirement program against market peers or defined competitors. The information will then drive the development of a solution or improvement that remains in line with the company’s goals while remaining competitive with their competitors. Once a solution is developed the company will monitor progress to ensure the desired outcome is attained.

The presentation will be presented as a personal perspective of the experiences found in the daily life of actuarial consulting.


  • Scott is a Senior Analyst in the retirement practice. With more than five years of experience in actuarial consulting, Scott has been involved in a broad range of assignments and responsibilities for a wide range of clients.
  • With an expertise in retirement plans, Scott assists a number of clients in the design, financial analysis, regulatory compliance, administration and funding of qualified and nonqualified retirement programs. He also works with clients on the design and implementation of retirement plan changes to meet organizational or compliance requirements. He has worked recently with Fortune 100 clients in integrating benefit programs post merger and acquisitions, as well supporting client needs on the day-to-day operation of their plans and programs.
  • Scott’s academic background includes a Masters of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Plymouth State University.

March 12, 2012: Singapore’s Innovative Mathematics Curriculum

March 5th, 2012 by Dana Ernst

Title:  Singapore’s Innovative Mathematics Curriculum

Date:  Monday, March 12, 2012

Location: Hyde 439D (this is a room change)

Time: 4:00-5:00PM (Pizza at 3:30PM in Hyde 349)

Speaker: Kevin Mahoney (Tenacre Country Day School)

Abstract: Singapore has led the world in mathematics achievement for almost two decades. “Singapore Math”, curriculum and teaching strategies from Singapore, is a hot topic in mathematics education, especially at the elementary and middle school levels. The Common Core Standards for Mathematics holds up Singapore’s curriculum as a model for American math programs.

Come find out how Singapore’s curriculum compares to that of a typical American program. Learn from a teacher who has implemented Singapore Math in his school. Pick up a valuable teaching technique for attacking word problems. Leave with a deeper understanding of some of the influences that will be shaping math curriculum in the United States for years to come.

Kevin Mahoney is a doctoral candidate at Northeastern University and the Math Curriculum Coordinator for the Tenacre School in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is a national presenter on Singapore math and is currently pursuing academic research on the effects of Singapore’s Model Method as an instructional strategy.

April 11, 2012: Math Teachers’ Circles and Triangles

February 15th, 2012 by Dana Ernst

Title:  Math Teachers’ Circles and Triangles

Date:  Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Location: Hyde 318

Time: 4:00-5:00PM (Pizza at 3:30PM in Hyde 349)

Speaker: Dr. Natalya Vinogradova and Dr. Larry Blaine (Plymouth State University)

Abstract:  We ask teachers: When it comes to problem solving, have you ever become frustrated? Do you struggle with How to start?

In this talk we will describe the Impact Center’s involvement with the national program Math Teachers’ Circles which was initiated by the American Institute of Mathematics. We will present a typical MTC problem that has been used in one of the recent sessions in New Hampshire.

Be ready to actively participate in problem solving!

December 7, 2011: The Futurama Theorem

December 3rd, 2011 by Dana Ernst

Title:  The Futurama Theorem

Date:  Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Location: Hyde 318

Time: 4:30-5:30PM (Pizza during talk)

Speaker: Dr. Dana C. Ernst (Plymouth State University)

Abstract:  In the episode “The Prisoner of Benda” of the television show Futurama, Professor Farnsworth and Amy create a mind-switching machine, only to afterwards realize that when two people have switched minds, they can never switch back with each other. Throughout the episode, the Professor, with the help of the Globetrotters, try to find a way to solve the problem using two or more additional bodies.  The solution to this problem is now called the Futurama Theorem, and is a real-life mathematical theorem, invented by Futurama writer Ken Keeler, who holds a PhD in applied mathematics.  In this talk, we will introduce the mathematics behind the Futurama Theorem and present its proof.

November 1, 2011: A Sampler of the Mathematics of Voting and Choice

October 25th, 2011 by Dana Ernst

Title:  A Sampler of the Mathematics of Voting and Choice

Date:  Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Location: Hyde 318

Time: 4:00-5:00PM (Pizza at 3:30PM in Hyde 349)

Speaker: Dr. Karl-Dieter Crisman (Gordon College)

Abstract:  We all know that there is some math when we hold elections – we have to add up the votes! But isn’t that it?  It turns out that there is mathematics at every turn when we choose things. We could be:

  • Deciding how to divide the rent in an apartment with unequal rooms.
  • Deciding which states get more representatives in Congress.
  • Choosing winners in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

In all these situations (and many more), logical thinking and basic mathematics play a big role in:

  • Unmasking spoiler candidates.
  • Preventing (or encouraging!) gerrymandering to protect incumbents.
  • Negotiating the perfect price for that closet-sized bedroom your friend is willing to take.

This talk will be a sampler of these topics, touching on a wide range of connections between mathematics and choice at an elementary level.

September 20, 2011: A President, A. Partridge, and Practical Mathematics

September 5th, 2011 by Dana Ernst

Title: A President, A. Partridge, and Practical Mathematics

Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Location: Hyde 318

Time: 4:00-5:00PM (Pizza at 3:30PM in Hyde 349)

Speaker: Dr. Dick Jardine (Keene State College)

Abstract: Who would have thought one of our founding fathers, who was also one of our young nation’s significant scientists, would carry on a mathematical correspondence about the measurement of the height of mountains? This talk discusses an episode involving our White Mountains, the state of applied mathematics as it was in our nation in the early 19th century, and an early application of an elementary differential equation to determine elevations long before the GPS.

April 8, 2011: From dynamical systems to Coxeter groups

April 5th, 2011 by Dana Ernst

Title: From dynamical systems to Coxeter groups

Date: Friday, April 8, 2011

Location: Hyde 349

Time: 3:00-4:00PM (Pizza at 2:30PM in Hyde 349)

Speaker: Matthew Macauley (Clemson University)

Abstract: In this talk, I will describe how a scientist studying discrete dynamical systems in a bioinformatics institute stumbled into the field of Coxeter groups. Central to these diverse fields are involutions, and what has a group-theoretic interpretation on one hand may lead to insight to the dynamics on the other, and vice-versa. I will highlight some of the central themes and common structures, as well as discuss some novel approaches to some open and open-ended problems.

March 31, 2011: Breaking up is hard to do: Investigations in integer partitions

February 20th, 2011 by Dana Ernst

Title: Breaking up is hard to do: Investigations in integer partitions

Date: Thursday, March 31, 2011

Location: Hyde 349

Time: 4:00-5:00PM (Pizza at 3:30PM in Hyde 349)

Speaker: Andrew Schultz (Wellesley College)

Abstract: One of the early mathematical puzzles you might have been asked as a child is to think of all the ways you can add up numbers to get 4.  Of course 2+2=4 is famous, but most children familiar with addition will also be able to tell you that 4 can be expressed as 1+1+2,  1+1+1+1, or 1+3.  If we throw in the less-than-thrilling equality 4=4, this gives us a total of 5 ways to write 4 as a sum of positive numbers.  Listing the number of ways to write 100 as a sum of positive integers will take you a little longer: there are almost 200 million different possibilities.

The function p(n) is the function which keeps count of the number of ways of writing an integer n as a sum of positive integers, and mathematicians have long been interested in its properties.  In this talk we will discuss a number of very interesting results for this seemingly straightforward function, and along the way we will meet some of the greatest mathematical minds in history.

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