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### Honors Project

**Colleen Boucher,**WS'22, completed an Honor Project in Mathematics this year. The project, which was advised by Professor Joseph Rusinko, was titled, "Beyond Place Cells: Using Algebraic Geometry to Determine Underlying Structure of Receptive Fields Associated with Sensory Neurons." An Honors project, which requires two semesters of work, involves a written exam, a long Honors thesis, and an oral exam by a panel of three examiners.

Colleen will be enrolled in the PhD program in Neuroscience at Penn State University this Fall.

Here is the abstract for her Honors thesis: "In 2014, John O’Keefe was jointly awarded a Nobel Prize for his 1971 discovery of place cells, neurons in the hippocampus that fire dependent on your position in your surrounding environment. Each place cell has a representative receptive field—the area in which the place cell fires when occupied by the organism—which, because of its overlapping structures, can provide us with information about an individual’s surroundings. Given a collection of firing patterns from place cells, tools from algebraic geometry can be used to uncover the overlapping relationships in the receptive field. The visualization of these overlapping structures gives insight into how signals of the brain contribute to the individual’s perception of their surroundings. For example, in mice exploring the area of a cage, their receptive field is minimally visualized in a two- or three-dimensionally embedded representation.

"In my honors thesis, I am proposing a pipeline to test actual neuronal recordings within established theoretical frameworks to uncover the computation of perception by the brain. Adaptation of this general pipeline will bridge a connection between theoretical models of computational receptive field work with actual sensory system experimentation. Taking electrophysiology data from open-source data sets, the dimensionality of a receptive field representation may lend itself to insight on the represented physical dimension that an individual may process and perceive different senses in. Obtaining the represented physical dimension of different senses allows us to better understand how the brain processes information to produce our perception of the world."

Posted 1 June 2022

### Faculty Reviews and Promotions

**Jocelyn Bell**and

**Jennifer Biermann**, passed Review II this year. Review II, also known as tenure review, generally occurs in a professor's sixth year at the Colleges. By passing this review, Professors Bell and Biermann became permanent members of the faculty and were promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor. Tenure review is one of the most important events in a faculty member's career.

Another faculty member, **Jonathan Forde**, passed Review III this year and was promoted from Associate Professor to Professor (or "full professor"), which is the highest faculty rank.

And **Christopher Fietkiewicz** passed Review I. A faculty
member generally undergoes Review I in their third year at the
Colleges. As part of Review I, Professor Fietkiewicz's contract
is renewed for an additional three years, and he will be eligible for
tenure review.

Congratulations to Jocelyn, Jennifer, Jon, and Chris!

Posted 27 May 2022

### Department Student Prizes for 2022

Here is the list of recipients of prizes awarded to students.by the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science for academic excellence in 2022:

- The Robert Beinert Prize, awarded to a a graduating Senior for excellence in Mathematics, to
**Colleen Boucher**. - The John S. Klein Prize, awarded to a graduating Senior to recognize excellence in Computer Science, to
**Lindsey Crowell**,**Isaac Savona**, and**Alexander Zaykowski**. - The Catherine Adele Rippey '35 Prize, awarded to a William Smith Senior to recognize excellence in Mathematics,
to
**Lindsay Crowell**and**Kimberly Waldeck**. - The Glenn M. Lee Prize, awarded to the Hobart Senior who has been most proficient
in mathematics and athletics, to
**Nicholas Plants**. - The Abigail Mosey Book Prize, awarded to a Hobart or William Smith Senior
for generosity in helping others to learn and appreciate mathematical ideas, to
**Colleen Boucher**. - The William Ross Proctor Prize, awarded to the William Smith Sophomore who has achieved the highest rank in
mathematics in her first two years at the Colleges, to
**Lillian Davis**and**Ainsley Woods**. - The Irving Bentsen Prize, awarded to the second year student at Hobart College who has the most outstanding record in
mathematics and computer science, to
**Nathan Greenberg**and**Vuthy Vey**.

We also note that Math minor **Julia Bellamy** '22 has been elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Full descriptions of the prizes and lists of past recipients can be found on the department's Prize Page.

Posted 10 April 2022

### Math Intern and Teaching Fellows

The Math Intern for the academic year 2021–22 is **Connor Parrow**. The Math Intern offers help to students in introductory and intermediate level math courses.
Connor is a 2021 graduate of William Smith College who majored in mathematics. She also had a second major in biology. Connor was awarded the Robert L. Beinert Prize, which is given to a Hobart and William Smith Colleges senior for excellence in Mathematics.

Help is also available from Teaching Fellows — current students who can provide assistance in introductory courses.

The Mathematics Teaching Fellows for the Fall 2021 semester include math majors Aarushi Agarwal, Colleen Boucher, Meryem Boumalak, Jonathan Garcia, and David Corrales Marco. Allie Low, who graduated last year but is continuing at HWS in the Masters program in Education, is also working as a Teaching Fellow.

And for Computer Science, the Teaching Fellows for the Fall are computer science majors Kidus Ayele, Lindsey Crowell, Taylor Muenzberg, Nick Plants, Reagan Wolf, and Alex Zaykowski.

Posted 26 September 2021

### Summer REU Students Win Awards

For the third time, the Department hosted a Natural Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Mathematics in the summer of 2021. Ten students came from colleges and universities around the country to live and work on our campus for nine weeks. The students experienced researching closely with a faculty member and a team of peers, practiced and honed their mathematical writing and presenting skills, participated in a colloquium series of invited speakers, and traveled to graduate schools (Cornell and the Rochester Institute of Technology) to learn about specific programs and the graduate experience in mathematics more generally. This summer the students worked with Prof. Jennifer Biermann in algebraic combinatorics, Prof. Jonathan Forde in mathematical virology, Prof. Yan Hao in neuron networks, and Prof. Erika L.C. King in graph theory.

At the end of the nine weeks, the students remained on campus to attend the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) conference MathFest, which was held virtually. Each of the four research groups gave a virtual talk. Their talks were among nearly one hundred undergraduate talks at the conference. Both Prof. Hao and Prof. Biermann’s groups won MAA Outstanding Student Paper Session Presentation Awards, and Prof. Forde’s group won The Andersen Prize, awarded in memory of Janet Andersen by the Special Interest Group of the MAA for Mathematical and Computational Biology, and recognizing an outstanding presentation and work in areas related to mathematical biology.

Pictured here are Professors Biermann, Forde, King, and Hao, in the front row, with their students at their end-of-the-program celebration at Seneca Lake.

Posted 31 August 2021

### Professor Bell Receives Award

**Professor Jocelyn Bell** has received a Carl B. Allendoerfer Award for expository mathematical writing from the MAA (Mathematical Association of America). The award is for an article, "The Slippery Duck Theorem," that was published in *Mathematics Magazine*. The article was co-written with Frank Wattenberg, a Professor Emeritus at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Professors Bell and Wattenberg were inspired by "Hathaway's classical dog-and-duck problem: if a swimming dog heads directly toward a swimming duck [at all times], what is the path taken by the dog?" They proved "a general result regarding the long-term behavior of the dog toward the duck," and they note, "We were ourselves surprised by the generality of our main result, the 'slippery duck theorem.' As an application of Brouwer's fixed point theorem, it is a nice reminder that abstract theorems in fields like topology sometimes have practical applications."

Posted 19 August 2021

### Departmental Student Prizes for 2021

The Department selects students to receive a variety of prizes for excellence in Mathematics and Computer Science. Full descriptions of the prizes and lists of past recipients can be found on the department's Prize Page. Here are the recipients for 2021:

- The Robert Beinert Prize, awarded to a a graduating Senior for excellence in Mathematics, to
**Connor Parrow**. - The John S. Klein Prize, awarded to a graduating Senior to recognize excellence in Computer Science, to
**Albright Dwarka**and**Mitchell Spring**. - The Catherine Adele Rippey '35 Prize, awarded to a William Smith Senior to recognize excellence in Mathematics, to
**Alexandra Low**. - The Glenn M. Lee Prize, awarded to the Hobart Senior who has been most proficient
in mathematics and athletics, to
**Garrett McGowan**. - The Abigail Mosey Book Prize, awarded to a Hobart or William Smith Senior
for generosity in helping others to learn and appreciate mathematical ideas, to
**Alexandra Low**, and**Connor Parrow**. - The William Ross Proctor Prize, awarded to the William Smith Sophomore who has achieved the highest rank in mathematics in her first two years at the Colleges, to
**Aarushi Agarwal**, and**Grace Bott**. - The Irving Bentsen Prize, awarded to the second year student at Hobart College who has the most outstanding record in mathematics and computer science, to
**Kidus Asmare Ayele**and**Andrew Barsky**.

Several Mathematics and Computer Science prize recipients also received other awards, including:
the William A. Howe II â€™15 Award in Education to **Alexandra Low**;
the Outstanding Biology Student Prize to **Connor Parrow**; and
the Sutherland Prize in Natural Sciences to **Albright Dwarka**

Posted 7 April 2021

### ΦΒΚ 2021

The HWS chapter of ΦΒΚ, Zeta of New York, has announced the list of new student members for 2021. ΦΒΚ is a national honor society with chapters at 290 colleges an universities. According to its web site, "Since 1776, Phi Beta Kappa has championed education in the arts and sciences, fostered freedom of thought, and recognized academic excellence." The students selected for membership this year include three mathematics majors in the class of 2021:

- Alexandra Low
- Garrett McGowan
- Connor Parrow

Posted 4 April 2021

### 2020-21

It is just over a year since the pandemic forced the Colleges to switch to fully remote learning in the middle of the Spring 2020 semester. It has been a long and in many ways difficult year. A lot has happened, but no news about the 2020–21 academic year has made it onto this web site.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, like the rest of the Colleges, has been offering a mix of in-person, remote, and hybrid courses this year. With no Winter Break or Spring Break, the semesters have seemed long, and many of us — students and faculty alike — are feeling at least a little burnt out. However, we are encouraged by the rollout of Covid vaccines, and we hope that things will be mostly back to normal next Fall.

The department was joined this year by a new Visiting Professor of Computer Science, Hanqing Hu. Professors Alden Gassert and William Simmons continued as visiting professors (Professor Simmons for the Fall semester only). Professors Gassert and Hu will return as visiting professors next year. The Math Intern for the year was Hadley DeBrine WS'20.

The REU that was canceled last summer will go forward this year. Unfortunately, both the Department's Fall picnic and its Spring dinner were canceled this year, but we look forward to resuming both events next year.

Posted 4 April 2021

### Department Student Prizes, 2020

- The Robert Beinert Prize, awarded to a a graduating Senior for excellence in Mathematics, to
**Hugh (Nick) Mckenny**and**Kaitlyn Geraghty**. - The John S. Klein Prize, awarded to a graduating Senior to recognize excellence in Computer Science, to
**Max Brodheim**. - The Catherine Adele Rippey '35 Prize, awarded to a William Smith Senior to recognize excellence in Mathematics, to
**Kaitlyn Geraghty**. - The Glenn M. Lee Prize, awarded to the Hobart Senior who has been most proficient
in mathematics and athletics, to
**Andrew Koonz**and**Peter Thibodeau**. - The Abigail Mosey Book Prize, awarded to a Hobart or William Smith Senior
for generosity in helping others to learn and appreciate mathematical ideas, to
**Hugh (Nick) Mckenny**, and**Cody Roberts**. - The William Ross Proctor Prize, awarded to the William Smith Sophomore who has achieved the highest rank in mathematics in her first two years at the Colleges, to
**Julia Bellamy**, and**Colleen Boucher**. - The Irving Bentsen Prize, awarded to the second year student at Hobart College who has the most outstanding record in mathematics and computer science, to
**Dimosthenis Chrysochoou**.

In addition to the departmental prizes, several graduating mathematics students were elected to the national
honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, by the local chapter of that organization: Math major **Jesse Maltese** and
math minors **Kelsey Pierce** and **Angus Pratt**. **Nick Mckenny** was elected last year as a Junior.

Posted 9 May 2020