Invited Speakers: MAA Seaway Section Meeting Spring 2018

Main Page Content

Banquet Speaker

Eugenia Cheng

Eugenia Cheng,
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

How To Bake Pi: making abstract mathematics palatable

Why does mathematics inspire love in some people and fear in others?  Why do some people think mathematics is important for everyone while others think it is a collection of gibberish touching little of the world beyond the brains of some rare geniuses?  Why do some think it is a creative art akin to poetry and music, while others think it is a boring tool for producing answers?  In this talk I will present mathematics as a way of thinking, and not just about numbers.  I will use a variety of unexpectedly connected examples including music, juggling and baking, as in the title of my recent book.  My aim is to show that math can be made fun, intriguing and relevant for people of all ages, by means of hand-on activities, examples that everyone can relate to, and peculiar anecdotes.  I will present surprisingly high level mathematics including some advanced abstract algebra usually only seen by maths undergraduates or PhD students, yet show how to make it accessible even to children.  There will be a distinct emphasis on edible examples.

Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician and concert pianist. She is Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and won tenure at the University of Sheffield, UK. She has previously taught at the universities of Cambridge, Chicago and Nice and holds a PhD in pure  mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Alongside her research in Category Theory and undergraduate teaching her aim is to rid the world of "maths phobia". Eugenia was an early pioneer of maths on YouTube and her videos have been viewed over 10 million times to date. She has also assisted with mathematics in elementary, middle and high schools for 20 years. Her first popular maths book "How to Bake Pi" was featured on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and "Beyond Infinity" was shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize 2017. She also writes the Everyday Math column for the Wall Street Journal, and recently completely her first mathematical art commission, for Hotel EMC2 in Chicago. She is the founder of the Liederstube, an intimate oasis for art song based in Chicago. Her next book, "Thinking Better: The Art of Logic in an Illogical World" is due out in 2018.

Gehman Lecture

Satyan L. Devadoss

Satyan L. Devadoss,
University of San Diego

The Shape of Associativity

Associativity is ubiquitous in mathematics. Unlike commutativity, its more popular cousin, associativity has for the most part taken a backseat in importance. But over the past few decades, this concept has blossomed and matured. We start with a brief look at how this has transpired, and then explore the visualization of associativity in the forms of polytopes, manifolds, and complexes.

Satyan Devadoss is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Applied Mathematics and Professor of Computer Science at the University of San Diego. He was a tenured professor at Williams College, and has held visiting positions at Ohio State, UC Berkeley, MSRI, Harvey Mudd, Université Nice, and Stanford. He is an inaugural Fellow of the AMS, and recipient of national teaching awards from the MAA, exploring the intersection of mathematics with origami, painting, architecture, genetics, and design.

Invited Lecture

Patti Frazer Lock

Patti Frazer Lock,
St. Lawrence University

Data Analysis in the Mathematics Curriculum

Statistics is one of the fastest growing fields nationally and globally. How does this growing interest in statistics and data science fit in with the mathematics curriculum? Should our math majors be exposed to data analysis? If so, what course or courses should they see? What should those courses look like? What recommendations do the national organizations make? And how can we meet those recommendations in a time of limited resources? We will discuss the recommendations, the current status in the field, and ideas for implementing the recommendations.

Patti Frazer Lock is Cummings Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics at St. Lawrence University. She is a co-author (with her family) of "Statistics: Unlocking the Power of Data" and she is a co-author (with Deb Hughes-Hallett, et al.) of textbooks on calculus, multivariable calculus, applied calculus, precalculus, and college algebra. She serves on the ASA-MAA Joint Committee on Statistics Education, is a past chair of the SIGMAA on Statistics Education, and is a past member of the MAA’s Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics. She was awarded the 2017 Dex Whittinghill Award for Best Paper in Statistics Education, and she was awarded the 2015-2016 Seaway Section Clarence F. Stephens Distinguished Teaching Award. She is passionate about helping students understand and succeed in mathematics and statistics.

Closing Keynote

Deanna Haunsperger

Deanna Haunsperger,
MAA President, Carleton College

Does Your Vote Count?

Are you frustrated that your candidate never wins? Does it seem like your vote doesn’t count? Maybe it doesn’t. Or at least not as much as the voting method with which you choose to tally the votes. Together we’ll take a glimpse into the important, interesting, paradoxical world of the mathematics behind tallying elections.

Dr. Deanna Haunsperger is a professor of mathematics at Carleton College in Minnesota. Since her own undergraduate days at a small liberal arts college in Iowa, Deanna has been interested in increasing the number of students who pursue advanced degrees in mathematics. That passion has guided her as a former co-editor for Math Horizons (the Mathematical Association of America’s magazine for undergraduates) and as co-founder and co-director of Carleton's Summer Mathematics Program for Women (a successful, intensive four-week summer program to encourage talented undergraduate women to pursue advanced degrees in the mathematical sciences). She has chaired the MAA’s Strategic Planning Committee on Students and the Council on Outreach. Deanna is now President of the MAA. Deanna is married to fellow mathematician Steve Kennedy, and together they have two grown children.

IBL Special Session

Jim Matthews

Jim Matthews,
Siena College

Mathematical Treats for Inquiring Minds

In this workshop we will share engaging materials that can provide students from kindergarten through calculus with a learning environment based on inquiry. The materials are focused on mathematical problem solving. The problems (fairly) easily lead to students asking their own questions. And they connect to broad mathematical topics including patterns, counting, proportional reasoning, algebraic reasoning, and functional relationships. While we work through workshop materials, we will discuss not only how specific problems can be used but we will also emphasize ways we might encourage pre-service and in-service teachers to incorporate more inquiry based lessons in their teaching. This workshop should be of interest to mathematics teachers of all levels and to college faculty working with pre-service and in-service teachers. Dinner will be provided during the workshop. If you would like to attend, please send an email to Xiao Xiao ( and indicate if you have any dietary restrictions.  This event is organized by Margaret Morrow and Xiao Xiao and sponsored by UNYIBL.

Jim Matthews has been a faculty member at Siena College for 35 years. During his tenure at Siena, he has taught mathematics, computer science, and courses for the education department including supervision of student teachers. In recent years he has taught Discrete Mathematics, Analysis of Algorithms, Theory of Computation, and Methods and Materials for Teaching Mathematics.

Prior to joining the faculty at Siena he was a secondary mathematics teacher in Chatham, NY and he has taught mathematics for many years in kindergarten through 6th grade classrooms. He has also worked as a consultant for many school districts and educational associations, the majority of this work for urban and rural schools.

Jim has given hundreds of conference presentations and written articles based on ideas for improving the teaching of mathematics and computer science. He has conducted numerous workshops for mathematics educators, directed and consulted on many grant projects, and helped establish undergraduate and graduate programs for mathematics and science teachers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Currently, he is the principal investigator for a $1.2 million NSF grant project to prepare teachers for work in high needs schools.

Jim has served on and chaired committees for the New York State Education Department. He is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State AMTNYS), the National Leadership in Mathematics Education organization NCSM, the New York State Association of Mathematics Supervisors (NTSAMS), and the Seaway Section of the Mathematical Association of America, He has served on committees and boards for all of these organizations including a term as president of the AMTNYS. Currently, he is president-elect of NYSAMS and on the NCSM board of directors.

Jim has been recognized with a NYNEX award for Excellence in Education, with the Siena College Teaching Award and was an inaugural inductee into the New York State Mathematics Educators Hall of Fame. He was also the back-up keynote speaker for President Obama in 2011.

Other Special Events

Seaway NExT Workshop

Friday afternoon (2 – 5pm), Engaging the Students:  Using Clickers in Math Classrooms at all Levels, hosted by Patti Frazer Lock, St. Lawrence University

In this workshop, we will discuss different ways to use clickers in the classroom, impact on student learning, student reaction to using the clickers, and faculty investment of time. We will illustrate the (fun!) use of the clickers, and will share a wide variety of the types of questions that can be asked across all levels of the undergraduate mathematics and statistics curriculum. If you have ever thought about trying clickers in your classroom, come and join the fun!


Game Show

After the banquet speaker Friday night the Student Program Committee will host a game show/contest. All (students and faculty) are welcome to participate in round one. There will be prizes!


Workshop on Leadership in the Mathematical Sciences

Saturday (TBA), hosted by Mihail Barbosu, RIT. Topics: How to assess and support student success.


Discussing A New Inclusion-Exclusion Principle:  Just Include.

Saturday (TBA) Facilitation by Jennifer Biermann, Leah Bridgers (SUNY Oneonta), Deanna Haunsperger (Carleton College), Katelynn Kochalski (SUNY Cortland), Elizabeth Wilcox (SUNY Oswego)

How can the mathematics community be more inclusive of women and of traditionally under-represented groups?  Much progress has been made to include women and traditionally under-represented groups, but the process is not something that can be declared finished -- especially because much of that progress hasn't been brought home to the broad collection of individual programs, institutions, and schools but instead has been focused on summer programs or specific mathematics programs.  Inclusion continues to be big challenge to members of the math community individually and at a variety of levels -- and we all know that when faced with a challenging problem, the hardest part is figuring out how to start addressing the problem ourselves.    But we can't afford to be stymied into inaction:  too many people already have negative attitudes towards mathematics; let's work on this together! In this session, we will brainstorm ways to open the mathematics community doors even wider. Group discussions will focus on brainstorming steps that departments and our section can take to broaden inclusion.


Last Updated 9/14/18

Close mobile navigation