CWUNews FeedNews Feed Math Student Enthused about Graduation and What Lies Beyond, 14 May 2018 06:10:25<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 200px; height: 300px; margin-left: 4px; margin-right: 4px; float: left;">Lisa Charron, a soon-to-be Wildcat alumna, doesn’t just talk about math—she <em>enthuses</em> about it. According to her professors, she is an exceptional student who has taken on every challenge the actuarial science program has to offer, with a gusto that is infectious not only to her fellow students but also to her instructors.</p><p>Actuarial science is a discipline that assesses financial risks in the health, insurance, and finance fields, using mathematical and statistical methods.</p><p>“I first got into math in the Running Start program [at Yakima's AC Davis High School],” Charron said. “My teacher, Carolyn Schut, suggested that actuarial science might be a good career choice."</p><p>Charron, who transferred here from Yakima Valley College in fall 2015 with an associate’s degree through Running Start, took to the program with alacrity.</p><p>“I transferred here as a junior, and decided to slow down a little bit to get a more rounded education,” she continued. To balance and complement her mathematics curriculum, Charron took finance, computer science, and economics courses.</p><p>In three years at CWU, she has taken all of the courses for an actuarial science major plus an additional year of senior-level coursework. She has completed minors in finance and economics, served as president of the Actuarial Science Club, and passed three of the rigorous professional exams from the Society of Actuaries—all with a near 4.0 GPA at CWU. Charron was honored for her scholarship at the College of the Sciences Awards Banquet on May 3.</p><p>“I really enjoy it. It’s rewarding how challenging it is,” Charron said. “You have to study nine months straight to pass one exam.”</p><p>To be certified as an actuary, one must past a series of rigorous exams. In the CWU program, students usually make headway by passing one or two before graduation.</p><p>“Three exams down and three to go,” she grinned. “The pressure is off a little.”</p><p>It was her extra diligence that gained her a job offer after graduation. Lisa will be joining the international consulting firm, Milliman Inc., in Seattle.</p><p>“It’s an actuarial firm, you know, nerds that consult other nerds,” she laughed.</p><p>“I came to Central because it was close to home, and had one of the most esteemed actuarial programs on the West Coast. And not having to pay out-of-state tuition was a big plus, too.”</p><p>Lisa is the daughter of renowned Yakima architect Nancy Charron, of Traho Architects, PS. Lisa’s sister Monica will also walk the boards on Saturday, graduating with a degree in Food Science and Nutrition.</p><p>When she’s not computing risks, or checking statistics, you can find Lisa hiking or rock climbing, usually with her golden retriever, Autumn.</p><p>“Being at Central has been amazing, and I loved all my classes,” Charron beamed. “My teachers let me shine and be as enthusiastic as I wanted.”</p><p><em>CWU's Actuarial Science Program is the only major program offered in the State of Washington and one of very few on the US West Coast. It is ranked as an advanced undergraduate program by the Society of Actuaries.</em></p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p><p>&nbsp;</p>2018 Kryptos Challenge Attracts Participants from Around the World, 18 Apr 2018 11:13:21<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 441px; height: 114px;"></p><p>The annual International Kryptos Challenge, hosted by the Central Washington University Department of Mathematics, boasted 143 participants, forming 61 teams. They represented colleges, universities, and schools from throughout the United States, including Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Students from Canada and France also participated.</p><p>“We continue to have a lot of interest in this event,” said Stuart Boersma, professor and chair of mathematics, and co-founder of the Kryptos Challenge. Boersma has been running the challenge since 2011.</p><p>The contest centers on the breaking, or cryptanalysis, of secret writing, or ciphers. Each challenge presents contestants with a brief scenario together with an encoded message—ciphertext. The goal is to discover the original English plaintext message. This year, participants decrypted puzzling personal ads, unscrambled an intriguing invitation, and broke up a fictional internet trolling ring. The challenge was developed by Boersma, and his colleague, Cheryl Beaver, a Western Oregon University mathematics professor.</p><p>The first-place team, from Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, finished in just under 20 hours.</p><p>“I think the problems were a little more challenging this year,” Boersma said. “But the main objective is to have fun. Most students with a little familiarity with ciphers or code-breaking can solve the challenges. They aren’t overly technical, nor do they use advanced mathematical algorithms.”</p><p>The contest is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest section of the Mathematical Association of America and is held every April. The 2018 challenge was held April 5 through April 9. For more information, go to .</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p>CWU Math Professor Earns Prestigious Actuarial Science Distinction, 24 Jan 2018 08:04:00<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 250px; height: 250px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;">Becoming an Associate of the Society of Actuaries is a rare distinction for a mathematician. Kathryn Temple, Central Washington University mathematics and actuarial science professor, completed a decade of passing a rigorous series of professional examinations to achieve this honor.</p><p>Actuaries are professionals who develop and communicate solutions for complex financial issues such as risk management for banking and insurance industries.</p><p>"I started taking the exams for the Associate level soon after I first arrived," Temple said. "They corresponded to the financial mathematics courses I was teaching at the time."</p><p>She is the second professor at CWU to achieve an Associate distinction; Yvonne Chueh, also a mathematics professor, achieved the level in 1994. CWU is the only school in Washington State and one of only a handful in the Pacific Northwest to offer an actuarial science major. It is the only school in the region that can boast two professors who are Associates in the Society.</p><p>"The modules are modeled on professional cases," she continued. "The "real-life" scenarios make it easy for students to relate to, and I can emphasize other aspects of the test, such as communication skills."</p><p>Students in the actuarial sciences program usually pass one to two examinations by the time they graduate, according to Temple. Students need to pass five exams to become a credentialed actuary, and many will continue to work on examinations throughout the early years of their career.</p><p>"There are at least 40-50 declared majors in the program," Temple noted. "And we graduate up to 15 per year. Our "cohort" is small enough that we really get to know and support one another."</p><p>In addition to teaching actuarial science and upper-level courses for math majors, Temple also enjoys teaching math to non-majors and students from other departments.</p><p>"I like to make math useful and relevant for people who are going to do other things," she smiled.</p><p>A Washington native, Temple grew up outside of Spokane. She received her BS from the University of Washington, and her PhD in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been teaching at CWU for 13 years.</p><p><strong>CWU's Actuarial Science Program</strong><br>CWU is the only institution in Washington-and one of only three in the Pacific Northwest-that offers a bachelor of science degree in actuarial science. It is ranked as an advanced undergraduate program by the Society of Actuaries, as the program is designed to prepare students for the rigorous actuarial examinations. The program covers the material for the five preliminary examinations, with the typical student finishing the material for four of the five preliminary exams before graduation. For more information about CWU's bachelor of science degree in actuarial science, go to</p><p><strong>The Society of Actuaries</strong><br>With roots dating back to 1889, the Society of Actuaries is the world's largest actuarial professional organization with more than 28,000 actuaries as members. Through education and research, the SOA advances actuaries as leaders in measuring and managing risk to improve financial outcomes for individuals, organizations, and the public.</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p><p>January 24, 2018</p></br></br></br>Klyve to Present First Heilman Memorial Colloquium Talk at Quest University, 12 Nov 2017 12:17:45<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 200px; height: 300px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;">Renowned mathematics professor Dominic Klyve will present the inaugural Tyler Heilman Memorial Colloquium Talk at Quest University on November 16. Klyve, associate professor of mathematics at Central Washington University, will speak on Leonhard Euler, a Swiss mathematical genius and renaissance man who lived from 1707 to1783.</p><p>The Heilman Colloquium speaker is chosen for distinction in scholarship and a dedication to undergraduate research. In addition to giving the first annual Colloquium, Klyve will serve as an external mentor to a Quest student pursuing research in the history of mathematics, and participate in the university’s scholarship conference.</p><p>Klyve is a Euler scholar, who developed the online "Euler Archive," and has been instrumental in bringing Euler's many works (on so many different subjects) to light.</p><p>"I am honored to be invited to be the first speaker at this colloquium," Klyve said. "I continue to believe that the work of Euler should be more broadly known, and I appreciate the opportunity to share some of it with this audience. I’m also pleased to be able to support Quest, a university I love, and one which reminds me a lot of CWU’s own Douglas Honors College."</p><p>In addition to being a mathematician, Euler was a world-class physicist, astronomer, and a leader in fluid dynamics. It’s less well known that Euler wrote philosophy and theology and studied music, as well. Klyve’s own work has demonstrated Euler’s early role in linguistics, and has elucidated Euler’s work in demography and population studies, which led indirectly to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.</p><p>In his talk, Klyve plans to examine the some of the highlights from Euler’s lesser-known works, and draw some insights into the value of interdisciplinary thinking today.</p><p>A prolific author, Klyve has written more than 40 papers in number theory, the history of mathematics and science, and applied statistics—several of which have been co-authored with his students. He was recently named editor of the <em>College Math Journal</em>, one of the most widely read mathematics journals in the world.</p><p>In 2015, he received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop math curriculum based on primary historical sources.</p><p>An expert in eighteenth century science, Klyve has written on the mathematics, astronomy, biology, linguistics, and philosophy of the period. He has spoken on the history of math and science across the country and around the world. In 2014, the MAA selected Dominic Klyve with the Alder Award, a national teaching award for young faculty who have a demonstrated impact within and beyond the classroom.</p><p><strong>Quest University</strong><br>In 2002, Quest University Canada is Canada’s first independent, not-for-profit, secular university. Located in British Columbia, the campus is placed and operating on ancestral lands of the Squamish Nation.</p><p><br><strong>Tyler Heilman Memorial Colloquium</strong><br>Tyler Heilman graduated from Quest University Canada in May 2015. He was 22 years old when he died tragically in a climbing accident. Tyler grew up near Mt. Tabor in southeast Portland, Oregon.</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p></br></br></br></br>CWU Geologist, Mathematician to Speak at Ellensburg Earth Day March for Science, 21 Apr 2017 12:00:30<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 225px; height: 225px; margin-left: 4px; margin-right: 4px; float: left;">Geology professor Susan Kaspari, and mathematics professor Dominic Klyve will speak tomorrow at the Earth Day March for Science in Ellensburg. The two Central Washington University professors are dedicated to promoting science education and furthering public understanding in all areas of science.</p><p>Kaspari, whose work examines the effect of black carbon (soot, a common air pollutant) on snow fields and ice melt, will speak about climate science in Washington State. One of her research projects examined the increased snow melt on Table Mountain due to black carbon, and its impact on wildfires.</p><p>"We need to know how to make progress on limiting climate change during a time when climate change science has been politicized," she declared. Kaspari also heads the ice-core laboratory that documents recent environmental change related to human activities.</p><p>Klyve, whose work with students has resulted in them discovering the world's largest weird number (among other things), has been nationally recognized for his teaching excellence. He recently received a $1.5 million grant to develop an innovative math curriculum based on primary historical sources.</p><p>Klyve will speak about the history of government and science, including the oldest scientific organization, the Royal Society for Improving Natural Knowledge in England.&nbsp;</p><p>"History shows us that government can be a powerful force for good in society when it promotes science and leaves scientists free to practice their craft," Klyve said. "These lessons are still important today, maybe more now than ever."</p><p>The Earth Day March for Science in Ellensburg will begin gathering at noon the US Post Office, 100 E. 3rd Avenue. The march will start at 1:00 p.m. and end at CWU's Student Union Recreation Building, where the speeches will take place.</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>April 21, 2017</p></br>Entering Cipher-Space: Register now for the Kryptos Code-breaking Competition, 07 Apr 2017 08:10:09<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 441px; height: 114px;"></p><p>Sharpen your pencils and engage your brain! κρυπτοσ, or Kryptos, is the annual code-breaking contest open to any and all undergraduate students.</p><p>The contest centers on the breaking, or cryptanalysis, of secret writing, or ciphers. Each challenge presents contestants with a brief scenario together with an encoded message—ciphertext. The goal is to discover the original English plaintext message. The competition was developed by CWU mathematics professor Stuart Boersma, and his colleague, Cheryl Beaver, a Western Oregon University mathematics professor.</p><p>Individual undergraduate students, or teams of up to three, are eligible to participate. Each individual or team must have a faculty sponsor to register. Last year, there were more than 200 entrants from sixteen different states and five countries. Even if you don’t qualify as a contestant, you can go to the Kryptos website,, to look at the previous years’ challenges and solutions—and test your skills as a cryptanalyst.</p><p>According to Boersma, who&nbsp; teaches an upper level mathematics course in cryptology every few years, many of the challenges are based on historical ciphers that pre-date World War II. And while computers can be helpful in breaking some of the codes, most can be solved—if a little tediously—with paper and pencil.</p><p>“The main objective is to have fun,” said Boersma. “Most students with a little familiarity with ciphers or code-breaking will be able to solve the challenges. They aren’t overly technical nor do they use advanced mathematical algorithms.”</p><p>When the contest begins at 4:00 p.m. PDT on April 13, 2017, the Cipher Challenges will be available on the Kryptos website. Begin working and have fun! Solutions need to be submitted by 4:00 p.m. April 17, 2017. All times are Pacific Daylight Time.</p><p>For more information, go to the Kryptos website,, or e-mail Stuart Boersma,</p><p>The contest is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest section of the Mathematical Association of America.</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>April 6, 2017</p><p>&nbsp;</p></br>CWU Math Professor Awarded Prestigious MAA Prize for Exceptional Teaching, 28 Mar 2017 08:00:05<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 450px; height: 300px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;"></p><p>Once again, the Mathematics Department has been recognized for its outstanding faculty. Central Washington University Professor Aaron Montgomery recently received the Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics Award. The honor, given by the Pacific Northwest section of the Mathematical Association of America, is bestowed on "teachers of mathematics who are widely recognized as extraordinarily successful."</p><p>Montgomery, who has been teaching math at CWU for 16 years, stands out as "one of the best with respect to his devotion to teaching and exploring ways to support students," according to department chair Stuart Boersma (also an MAA award recipient).</p><p>Known as a versatile instructor—he teaches everything from 100 level general education math classes to graduate courses—Montgomery also has a knack for creating comprehensive courses that combine everything from mathematical modeling to anthropology. His very popular "Politics and Games" course that he teaches through the William O. Douglas Honors College, draws from philosophy, psychology, and economics as well as political science and game theory. According to Boersma, these courses are usually only taught once or twice—"but Aaron has taught this course&nbsp;eight times for the DHC since the fall of 2010."</p><p>One of Montgomery's main interests is in the field of quantitative literacy.</p><p>"This is really the goal of applied mathematics," Montgomery explained. “This is the ability to work with the numbers that we encounter on a daily basis — percentages, that kind of thing. And it is applicable both professionally and personally.<br>"For example, if you are asked to take a 10 percent pay cut, with the promise of a 10 percent pay increase later, is your situation stable or are you losing money?"</p><p>Montgomery enjoys creating puzzles to educate students in these and other mathematical principles.</p><p>He has also made meaningful contributions to mathematics teaching on a national level, authoring innovative curriculum, and developing assessment tools to better understand students' reasoning abilities.</p><p>Montgomery will receive the MAA award this June at the annual meeting in Spokane. By winning the regional honor, he has been nominated for the national Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award.</p><p>This is the third award that CWU's Math department has received for outstanding teaching. In 2014, Professor Dominic Klyve received the MAA National Distinguished Teaching Award.</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>March 28, 2017</p></br></br>More than 100 Middle School Students to Attend GEAR UP Math Festival, 09 Nov 2016 08:19:08<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 210px; height: 150px; margin: 4px; float: left;">More than 100 middle-school students in will descend upon the Central Washington University campus to attend the annual GEAR UP Math Festival on November 15.</p><p>GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a CWU program funded by an&nbsp; $18 million-plus US Department of Education grant, one of several that the university has received in the past 15 years. The current grant, SOAR3 (Success, Opportunity, Affordability and Rigor, Relevance and Relationships) serves students in the Brewster, Easton, Highland, Lake Chelan, Manson, Omak, Oroville, Quincy, Richland, Tonasket, and Wenatchee school districts.</p><p>“Participating in STEM competitions is a key component of the grant,” said Kelley Quirk, program manager. “Earlier this year, we took students to the VEX Robotics World Competition in Louisville, Kentucky.</p><p>On Tuesday, the students will take part in hands on math activities, led by CWU math professors, math students, and GEAR UP CWU student mentors. They will also take the American Math Challenge test (AMC 8). The AMC 8 is a 25-question, 40-minute, multiple-choice exam in middle school mathematics designed to promote the development of problem solving skills. The AMC 8 provides an opportunity for middle school students to develop positive attitudes towards analytical thinking and mathematics that can assist in future careers. Students apply classroom-learned skills to unique problem-solving challenges, in a low-stress friendly environment.</p><p>“Last year we had 200 students attend,” said Brandy Wiegers, math professor. “We will also provide a similar opportunity for 10th through 12th graders next year, on February 7, 2017.</p><p>“This year we’re going to again turn the day into a Math Festival,” she continued. “The idea is to surround the competition with fun and positive math vibes, and to introduce a whole lot of potential future students to our department. We’ll give the students a fun talk during lunch, and then have one more fun activity with them before sending them home.”</p><p>Wiegers is also the director for the Kittitas Valley Math Circles for elementary and middle school students and their parents.</p><p>For more information about the Math Festival, or to volunteer, contact Wiegers at, or Quirk at</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>November 9, 2016</p></br>$20,000 Scholarships Available to Junior STEM Students, April 1 Deadline, 09 Mar 2016 14:38:25<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 212px; height: 200px; float: left;">Approximately seven, two-year scholarships in the amount of $20,000 will be awarded to academically talented students majoring in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) discipline, thanks to a continuing program at Central Washington University. The deadline for this year’s applications is April 1. Students can apply at</p><p>Community college students who wish to transfer to CWU are especially encouraged to apply. Up to 10 students may be found eligible for the award.</p><p>Thanks to a $612,840 National Science Foundation grant, the scholarship program, SOLVER (Sustainability for Our Livelihood, Values, Environment, and Resources), can help promising students through the last, most difficult years of their science degree program.</p><p>“The scholarships are for $10,000 per year,” said Audrey Huerta, professor of geological sciences, and one of the principal investigators of the grant. “If the student does well in the first year of their award, they are eligible for the second $10,000.”</p><p>The overall objective of SOLVER is to increase the quality and diversity of students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in the STEM fields, with an emphasis on recruitment, retention, and graduation of Hispanic and Native American students. The SOLVER program will provide scholars with financial, academic, personal, and professional support.</p><p>“Our goal is to substantially increase the success of traditionally underrepresented minorities in these high-demand fields,” said Huerta.</p><p>In addition to the $10,000 academic-year scholarship, students are automatically enrolled in the Hearst Summer Fellows program. Instead of leaving campus and working low-wage jobs in the summer before their senior year, students can spend their summer involved in meaningful research. The Hearst Foundations awarded $100,000 to provide summer research fellowships to 20 Solver Scholars at CWU for the next three years.</p><p>“This is the missing piece of the puzzle,” said Audrey Huerta. “Almost all of our students have to work during the summer to make money for the school year. It’s impossible for them to take advantage of unpaid research internships that would help further their academic career. This stipend allows them to immerse themselves in science without worrying about financial consequences.”</p><p>Fall quarter 2016 will initiate the third year of the SOLVER program, and already, there are success stories from its graduates.</p><p>“Our SOLVER students have been sought after for professional positions even before graduation,” Huerta related. “Many others are pursuing advanced degrees in their field.”</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,</p><p>March 9, 2016</p></br>CWU Math Professor Receives MAA Meritorious Service Award, 25 Jan 2016 08:18:03<p><img alt="" src="/math/sites/" style="width: 167px; height: 250px; margin-left: 4px; margin-right: 4px; float: left;">Stuart Boersma, Central Washington University math professor, received the Pacific Northwest Section of the Mathematics Association of America’s 2016 Meritorious Service Award. The award will be presented at the 2016 MathFest in August, in Columbus, Ohio.</p><p>“This is an honor,” said Boersma. “I was completely surprised by this announcement since there are so many others who volunteer enormous amounts of their time to improve the quality of undergraduate mathematics education.”</p><p>“Dr. Boersma’s award is clearly deserved,” said Tim Englund, dean of the College of the Sciences, and fellow mathematics professor. “His dedication to his discipline, colleagues and students sets a very high bar for all us in the profession.</p><p>In addition to the PNW-MAA service award, Boersma received the award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics in 2013, and the MAA Trevor Evans Award for “A Mathematician's Look at Foucault’s Pendulum” in 2006. The Trevor Evans Award goes to exceptional articles that are accessible to undergraduates and published in Math Horizons.</p><p>Boersma also co-hosts the annual “codebreaking” competition at CWU. In 2011, he and Cheryl Beaver started the Kryptos contest, which is an annual cryptanalysis contest for undergraduate students. The first competition featured about 50 undergraduate students from the Pacific Northwest. It has rapidly grown in popularity and in 2015 had 150 entrants from across the United States and Canada.</p><p>Boersma received his bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the University of Puget Sound in 1988 and his PhD in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1994.&nbsp; He taught at Alfred University in western New York for six years before coming to CWU in 2000.</p><p>The PNW-MAA ( is a regional section of the national Mathematical Association of America (, one of the two largest professional organizations of mathematicians. Established in 1915, the MAA currently has 20,000 members. The Pacific Northwest section is the largest geographically as it includes 10 states, provinces, and territories—Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, parts of Idaho, British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut (Canada’s northernmost territory).</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>&nbsp;</p></br></br>