Mathematics Departmental News for 2002

Anne Short ’02 wins Watson Fellowship (4/02)

Anne Short ’02, mathematics major, has been awarded a 2002 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study the cultural significance of food to peoples who produce their own food. During the next year, she will travel to Kiribati, Nepal, Mali, Thailand, and Paraguay as part of her project, “Living and Catching Your Food: Food Attitudes in Subsistence Communities”. She will receive $22,000 to fund her travels and research.

In her research, Short will look particularly at how attitudes toward food vary across generations in subsistence societies that are changing economically. In addition, she will explore her own thoughts about food as she lives and works in communities focused on food production.

Short is one of 60 Watson Fellowship recipients selected from 51 colleges. More than 1,000 students applied. The Watson Fellowships allow college seniors to pursue one-year independent research projects outside the United States after graduation.

Barbara Schade wins Mary G. Binder Prize (4/02)

Barbara Schade, Administrative Aide for the computer science (CS) and mathematics Clinics, has been awarded the 2002 Mary G. Binder Prize, given to a college staff member for extraordinary service. The prize is $500, awarded at the college’s year-end picnic. Barbara handles the administrative details related to the CS and math Clinic programs. She was cited for her “professionalism, and pleasant demeanor when interacting with outside visitors, staff and students during presentations, campus events and on an everyday basis.” We congratulate Barbara, and are very proud to have her with us!

Two NSF Fellowships and Two NSF Honorable Mentions among Math Majors (3/02)

Winners of this year’s National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships have just been announced. with seven HMC students winning fellowships this year. Among them were two math majors, Joshua Greene ’02 and Karl Mahlburg ’01. In addition, five HMC students won honorable mentions, including math majors Tim Prescott ’02 and Ian Weiner ’01. Overall, the twelve HMC seniors who won fellowships or honorable mentions represent about 6 percent of the entire senior class.

NSF fellowships provide three years of support over five years for graduate study leading to research-based master’s or doctoral degrees in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. NSF fellowships grant graduate students a $20,500 stipend for 12 months, plus a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance to their graduate schools.

HMC Putnam Team Finishes Tenth Out of 453 Schools (3/02)

The results of the nationwide William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition have just been announced, and HMC had another strong showing. Seventy-seven HMC students spent a Saturday in December (December 1, 2001) taking this very hard six-hour exam, which requires a unique blend of cleverness and problem-solving skills. Nationwide 2,954 students competed, and the median score was 1 out of a total of 120 points.

Our team of Joshua Greene, Steve Haas, and David Gaebler won an honorable mention in the team category, finishing tenth out of 453 schools.

In the individual category, seven HMC students made the top 200 List, twenty-five HMC students made the top 500 List, and only three other (much larger) schools could claim more winners in either category.

Special honors go to the following participants: Steve Haas and Micah Smukler, who tied for 47th place, winning honorable mentions; Joshua Greene who placed 66th; and Mark Dean, Andrew Iannaccone, Eric Malm, and Andrew Niedermaier who landed in the Top 200 List.

In addition, the following students all made the Top 500 List: Adam Bliss, Daniel Boylan, Grant Clifford, Nate Eldredge, David Gaebler, Robert Gaebler, Jeff Hellrung, Cam McLeman, Edward Miller, Jason Murcko, Markus Ong, Alex Popkin, Timothy Prescott, Jeremy Rouse, Jesse Ruderman, Andrew Schoonmaker, Philip Vegdahl, andMichael Vrable.

The breadth of our top 500 showing was extremely strong.

Top Schools by Numbers of Top-500 Finishers

  1. MIT (65)
  2. Harvard (35)
  3. Caltech (28)
  4. Harvey Mudd College (25)
  5. U. Waterloo (18)
  6. U. Chicago (14)
  7. Stanford, U. Toronto, UBC (11)
  8. Berkeley (10)
  9. Duke (9)
  10. Yale (8)
  11. Princeton (7)

After Princeton, all other schools nationwide had six or fewer students in the top 500. The statistics above are even more remarkable when adjusted for school size (MIT and Harvard have six to nine times as many students). Our students had the best per-capita showing in this category, and—with 77 of our students competing—the top participation rate in the country.

HMC Wins MCM Again (3/02)

A Harvey Mudd College team won an outstanding ranking (the highest possible) in this year’s international Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) contest, held February 7–11, 2002.

Worldwide, 522 teams from 282 institutions competed. Only ten team papers were awarded the outstanding ranking.

HMC’s team won for a paper discussing a model for airline overbooking. The members of the team were Michael Schubmehl ’02, Wesley Turner ’02, and Daniel Boylan ’02. This team also won the MAA award for their work, given to just two of the ten winning teams.

Harvey Mudd College has won more outstanding awards in the history of the competition than any other college or university.

Three other HMC teams won meritorious rankings.

Conference honors the work of Mel Henriksen (3/02)

The City College of New York hosted a conference on March 1–2, 2002, in honor of one of its alumni, Mel Henriksen, professor emeritus of mathematics at HMC. Professor Henriksen is well known in the mathematics community for his work on the study of rings of continuous functions, which involves the interplay of algebra and topology. The conference was entitled “Melvin Henriksen at 75: His Research and Coworkers”, and featured talks by Leonard Gillman, Ed Beckenstein, Arkady Kitover, Ralph Kopperman, Ken Magill, John Mack, Prabudh Misra, Larry Narici, and Scott Williams.

Mudd Math Majors Win Chess Tournament (2/02)

A team of math majors from Harvey Mudd College (Mark Dean, Andrew Iannacconne, Cam McLeman, and Wes Turner) won the “Best College Team” trophy at the U.S. Amateur Team Championship West chess tournament over the weekend of February 16–17, 2002, beating out opponents such as Stanford, UCLA, and UCSB.