UD Students Earn First Ever Meritorious Designation
For the first time, a team from UD, consisting of juniors Therese Aglialoro, William
Kostuch, and Cameron Nottingham, has been awarded the designation Meritorious in the international Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM). Such a designation
places them in the top 8% of all teams, with a total 13,749 teams participating in
this year’s MCM. Furthermore, the UD team was the only team in the United States
to achieve the designation Meritorious or higher on their particular problem and one
of only 18 teams nationally on any of the MCM problems posed.
The contest challenges teams to clarify, analyze, and propose a solution to their
choice of one of three open-ended, real-world problems. Teams develop and apply mathematical
models to solve their chosen problem and may use any resource available, such as websites,
books and articles, computers, and databases. Each team has exactly four days to
solve their problem and write a 20-page solution paper that communicates their approach
and results. Teams are awarded one of five designations: Successful Participant,
Honorable Mention, Meritorious, Finalist, and Outstanding.
The problem that Agialoro, Kostuch, and Nottingham chose required teams to construct
a mathematical model to identify the best 3-dimensional geometric shape to use as
a sandcastle foundation that will last the longest period of time on a seashore that
experiences waves and tides. Part of the required analysis included determining an optimal sand-to-water
mixture proportion for the castle foundation. In addition, teams had to determine
if their foundation remains the best 3-dimensional geometric shape when it is raining.
Finally, teams had to write a 2-page non-technical summary suitable for publication
in a fictitious vacation magazine.
In their paper titled, “The Best Sandcastles Are Egyptian: Pyramids Reign Supreme,”
Aglialoro, Kostuch, and Nottingham identified the best water-to-sand ratio to be around
6% by adapting known results on granular cohesion to their scenario. They then wrote
and implemented a computer model that tested sandcastle strength, checking for collapse
due to shear stress, erosion, and oversaturation. After applying their model to cubes,
cylinders, pyramids, and cones, they determined that the shape that withstood waves
and tides best was the pyramid, even when rain was included as a possible factor.
Dr. John Osoinach has served as faculty advisor for UD teams for the past six years,
having advised nine teams so far. He praised this team’s ingenuity and hard work
on their solution, remarking that “their sandcastle paper will be used as a guide
for future UD teams. It’s an exceptionally well-written paper that uses mathematics
in both practical and creative ways.” Dr. Osoinach looks forward to advising other
teams in the future, saying “UD students are very well suited for this contest, as
it’s as much about clear writing as it is about mathematical modeling.”
UD’s First Recipient of the Trjitzinsky Memorial Award
Date Published: Nov. 27, 2017
Sophomore Mary Kate Tomassi, BA ’20, “embodies the diligent student who loves learning mathematics,” explained
Assistant Professor of Mathematics John Osoinach, as faculty and students gathered
in Constantin Garden on Wednesday, Nov. 15, to honor Tomassi’s achievement as UD’s
first recipient of the Waldemar J. Trjitzinsky Memorial Award.
As one of seven undergraduates to receive this year’s award given by the American
Mathematical Society (AMS), Tomassi will delve further into the field of mathematics
in her studies at UD, as well as explore her interest in computer science. UD was
one of seven schools in the country selected by the AMS to bestow the award on one
worthy student who plans on pursuing a career in mathematics.
“There are plenty of deserving math students at UD,” said Tomassi. “I’m honored to
receive such an award, and I’m especially grateful for the support of my professors
in the Mathematics Department.”
Although still undecided where her career in mathematics will take her after UD, Tomassi
would like to make a positive impact in society by working on issues such as homelessness
or human trafficking. “Mathematics allows you to explore and work in so many different
disciplines,” she said.
“I truly enjoy studying mathematics, because it gives you an opportunity to further
explore philosophical thought in a more tangible sense,” she said. “Learning about
the process of mathematics has helped me form better methods of decision making and
critical thinking, which benefit not only my studies at UD but my day-to-day life.”
According to her award biography, “Mary Kate is one of those rare students who not
only excels in mathematics, but also embraces the mathematics culture at the university
by working in the Mathematics Department office.”
Additionally, Texas Right to Life named Tomassi one of 38 2017 Dr. Joseph Graham College
Fellows in April. Over the summer, she participated in a week-long training program
as part of this fellowship to gain pro-life knowledge and leadership skills to bring
back to UD.
This year celebrates the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Waldemar J.
Trjitzinsky Memorial Awards, which was made possible by a bequest from the estate
of Waldemar J., Barbara G. and Juliette Trjitzinsky. These funds help support mathematics
students who lack financial resources. Each year the society selects a number of geographically
distributed schools who in turn make one-time awards to assist students in pursuit
of mathematics careers.
Team Places 55th in National Math Contest
Seven students in the mathematics department at the University of Dallas competed
in the 75th annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, held on Dec. 6,
2014, which featured over 4,320 students from the United States and Canada. The three
UD students whose individual ranks comprised the team score earned an overall ranking
of 55 out of the 431 institutions competing. The team's ranking placed the students
well in the top 15% of all participating teams.
In addition, four students earned distinction with their individual scores. The department's
highest scoring individual was mathematics junior Paul Seitz, whose score put him
in the top 15% of all participants. Also posting an impressive score was senior Luke
Simmons, who scored in the top 20%. Rounding out the top four were sophomores Michael
Simmons, scoring in the top quarter, and Joseph Roth, scoring in the top third.
The Putnam Mathematical Competition is a mathematical problem solving contest held
on the first Saturday each December. The participants are given twelve problems to solve over six hours,
six problems for three hours in the morning, and six problems for three hours in the
afternoon. A sample problem from this year's competition is given below:
Problem B3: Let A be an m by n matrix with rational entries. Suppose that there are at least m + n distinct prime numbers among the absolute values of the entries of A. Show that the rank of A is at least 2.
"UD math students delve deeper..."
Math Major Wins Award at Conference
In April of 2013, senior mathematics major Hoai-Ngoc Ngo presented her research in
Biomathematics at the 93rd annual Texas section meeting of the Mathematical Association
of America. The conference drew faculty and students from across the state, contributing
100 talks in total, nearly half of which were by undergraduates presenting their research.
For her talk titled, Diversity and Homogeneity Revealed in SSR Analyses of NCGR Cultivars,
Ngoc received first prize for the depth of her research as well as her exceptional
presentation. In her research, Ngoc applied both statistical techniques and vector
analysis to the problem of determining the genetic fingerprints of cranberry cultivars.
Since previous crosses of cranberry cultivars have produced advantageous offspring,
the goal of this research was to assist in the process of developing new and desirable
cranberry cultivars. Using her statistical and mathematical techniques, Ngoc was able
to find many discrepancies within previously identified cultivars, and consequently
she was able to demonstrate the need to change the approach used to determine the
pedigrees of these cultivars.
Outstanding Mathematics Majors
2016 Joseph Andrews
2015 Luke Simmons
2014 Sarah Nicholson
2013 Elizabeth Tasler
2012 Jeremy Smith
2011 Joseph Simmons
2010 Benjamin White
2009 Rafael Carrasco
2008 Joseph Hejkal
2005 Michael Humphries
2004 Joshua Cole
2003 Gregory Nicholas Benes
2002 Travis Brown
2001 Jonathan Engle
1999 Jane Burkett, Carol Gwosdz, Alena Oetting
1997 Tyson Kackley, Nicola Mullan, Erin Vculek
1995-1996 Tyson Kackley, Brian Klingele
1993-1994 Tyson Kackley, Sean Walbran
1992-1993 Philip Muth
1991-1992 Allison Eskritt, Sean Walbran
1990-1991 Sally O'Neill, Paul Speaker
1989-1990 Sally O'Neill, John Pickert