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APPM 2003 Newsletter

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Applied Mathematics Department News

University of Colorado at Boulder

Fall 2003

From the Chair

Over the past year I, with several other faculty

members, have been working on the department’s

seven-year strategic plan. What I learned, in fact

reminded myself of, was that the department has

excellent students and a superb faculty. The main

conclusions of the review were that the Department

of Applied Mathematics at the University of

Colorado teaches its students well, has cutting edge

research, and has been effectively meeting its

duties and responsibilities at all levels. As Chair, I

am very pleased.

Because of several strategic initiatives, in

Mathematical Biology, Computational Science and

Engineering, and Statistics and Probability, we are

planning for growth. We plan to strengthen our

interdepartmental ties to related disciplines. And

along with these efforts, we intend to maintain our

cutting edge computer laboratories. However, and

possibly most importantly, the department plans to

continue to involve undergraduates in research

projects and its teaching mission.

Students are our greatest product and both our

undergraduates and graduates are truly among the

most outstanding in the College of Engineering and

Applied Science and the


As you may expect, we are

working with the University to

create opportunities for growth in

the areas of strategic importance,

by adding faculty lines, and

providing infrastructure support.

We are also pursuing funding from federal and

state granting agencies to help meet our goals for

student funding and involvement.

In addition, we are appealing to you, our alumni

and friends, to play a role in accomplishing our

vision and objectives. On the back page of this

newsletter is a coupon that you may use to make a

tax-deductible contribution to the department.

Money raised in this year’s fund drive will be used

for funding department specific undergraduate

scholarships and research projects, graduate

fellowships, visits for seminar and colloquium

speakers, and general departmental support.

Please feel free to contact me about the use of your

gift to the department. Because we value your

perspective, we encourage you to get involved, not

only through giving, but also by helping us to see

ourselves more clearly.


Jim Curry

Chair and J. R. Woodhull/Logicon Teaching

Professor of Applied Mathematics


From The Editor

As I am sure many of you noticed, the departmental

newsletter took a sabbatical during 2002. We are

pleased to present this latest edition, and hope to

produce yearly notes in the future.

The past two years have been extremely busy

(when hasn't that been true?!) in terms of research,

teaching and personnel changes.

Both the undergraduate and

graduate programs have grown. We

now have nearly 80 majors and 50

minors! Enrollment in upper

division and graduate courses are at

unprecedented levels for our

department--a result of the

increasing need for mathematically trained

scientists and engineers. (More math is better!) We

also have 73 graduate students who are working

towards either the MS or the PhD degree. As you

can see from our alumni news section, the applied

math degree leads to many career directions.

Our faculty have continued their high level of

teaching and research, and have numerous

collaborations and publications. In addition, we

have several projects within the department that

may be of interest:

“Students are our greatest

product and both our

undergraduates and graduates

are truly among the most


--Jim Curry

Applied Mathematics Department News


VIGRE research: Last year, the department's

VIGRE grant supported 21 undergraduates, 12

graduates and four post-docs. The research projects

ranged from image analysis to numerical methods

to statistics. The NSF-funded VIGRE grant has

fundamentally changed our approach to research.

CU/Dillard collaboration: In 2002, the Carnegie

Foundation funded collaboration between CU and

Dillard University in New Orleans with the goal of

revitalizing several core, liberal arts classes in a

technological age. For Applied Math, this has

meant working with faculty at Dillard on several

computer modules for calculus. The goal is to use

the visual and dynamic capabilities of the computer

to enhance conceptual understanding. We are also

working on increasing contacts between students in

the two departments. Dillard is a private,

historically black university that encourages its

students to seek admission to graduate programs.

Several of the Dillard students have already

participated in summer research projects at CU in

other disciplines--and we hope this will continue

and expand to applied math.

Outreach: The department’s outreach efforts are

an extension of its mission to provide education

and training in applied mathematics and a response

to the needs of the educational community. For the

past four summers, we have invited

secondary teachers to participate in

two-week workshops in calculus,

probability and statistics, discrete

math and algebra. We hope that the

participants from these, and other

outreach efforts, enjoy the focused time thinking

about mathematics.

As always, we look forward to hearing from our

graduates, both recent and not so recent. If you’d

like to provide up-to-date information about your

whereabouts, you can do so online at, or by calling

Laurie Conway at 303-492-1238.

Best wishes to you all,

Anne Dougherty, Editor

P.S. Thank you to Robyn Sandekian, our temporary

Outreach Coordinator, without whose hard work this

newsletter would still be on sabbatical! And, welcome

to Marissa Contreras who works in the main office as

the Faculty Coordinator and Accounting Tech.

Mathematical Contest in Modeling


In each of the past two years, a team of CU-

Boulder undergraduates was named an Outstanding

Winner in the prestigious Mathematical Contest in

Modeling sponsored by the Consortium for

Mathematics and its Applications. This is the

highest designation possible and we are extremely

proud of our students.

In 2003, the team consisting of Applied Math

majors Darin Gillis and Aaron Windfield, along

with Electrical Engineering major (and Applied

Math minor) David Lindstone, was one of only 16

Outstanding Winners among 638 teams from nine

countries. The team selected a problem about

cancer treatment because they “thought it would be

rewarding to choose a problem that seemed

sophisticated and thought provoking." Their paper

was also selected as the SIAM Award winner. As

part of this designation, the team traveled to the

2003 SIAM meeting in Montreal to give a

presentation on their solution and they each

received a cash award. Plus, their solution paper

was published in the UMAP Journal (Fall 2003).

Congratulations are also due to Moorea Brega,

Alejandro Cantarero and Corry Lee (all Applied

Math majors) who received a Meritorious

designation on one problem and

Joe Carrafa (Electrical and

Computer Engineering), Kimi

Kano (Mechanical Engineering)

and Ian Derrington (Applied

Math) who received an Honorable

Mention on another problem.

Both problems were quite challenging and involved

practical applications of mathematics and

computing. One involved finding an optimal

strategy for treating brain cancer using gamma

knife radiosurgery. The other treated issues

regarding purchase and optimal placement of

baggage screening machines at airports.

In 2002, the paper submitted by the team consisting

of Saverio Spagnolie, Stefan Wild and Kevin Leder

(all Applied Math majors) was designated as one of

the six Outstanding Papers for Problem B. The

problem they worked on involved building a

mathematical model that examines the effects that

different overbooking schemes have on airline

revenue with the goal of identifying an optimal

More information about these,

and other departmental

activities can be found at

Applied Mathematics Department News


strategy. Their solution paper was published in the

Fall 2002 issue of the UMAP Journal.

Three additional teams also participated: Darin

Gillis, Geoff Goehle and Aaron Windefield (all

Applied Math majors); Moorea

Brega and Alejandro Cantarero

(Applied Math); and James Barron

(Math and Physics double major),

Jill Kamienski (Computer Science)

and Olivia Koski (Physics). Each of

these three teams worked on a

mathematical model to control the water spray

from a fountain based on wind speed and direction.

All three teams received a “Meritorious”

designation--the second highest rating!

It is very unusual that all of our teams would be

rated so highly. We have had absolutely

outstanding groups of students participate in the

modeling contest. Congratulations to all of them!

For those who don’t know much about the MCM,

here’s a primer:

Necessary Materials for Success in the MCM

* 1 Computer Scientist type

* 1 Analytic Mathematician type

* 1 Math-English hybrid type

* Unlimited checkout permission from library

* 8 computers running MATLAB simulations

* Empty conference room with alarm clock

* 1 sleeping bag per team member

* Variety of take-out menus

The intense four-day ordeal known

as the MCM begins with fresh

optimism and lofty goals. The

contest ends with frantic writing

inspired by little rest and nervous energy.

Everything in between is, well, something that one

has to experience firsthand.

The key to victory is a solid, balanced team. One

person takes the reins on research, always looking

for that one paper that will give the team an "edge"

that will impress the judges. Another person must

slave over the computer, creating and running the

simulations that will become the central topic of the

paper. The third member has the difficult task of

producing a clear and concise paper that will be

accessible to all. By working in parallel, the team

can optimize the use of its time; but in the end,

each person must contribute to find that one

creative thing to add to the paper that makes it


On Day 1, we began to research the problem--

reading countless journals and publications until we

had found the paper that yielded

"grassfire": the algorithm that

became the basis for our first


Day 2 consisted of coding the first

model and dreaming up new ideas

for more complicated models. (Note that there is no

quality sleep to be had between days 1, 2, 3 and 4--

except for what can be gained in a sleeping bag in

the nearest conference room.)

Day 3 and Day 4 consist of refining the models,

finishing up the code, and crystallizing our

thoughts in the paper.

The last day is the crucial period--we ran the final

simulations (on at least eight computers) and

revised and reorganized the paper (at least 10

times). We spent the last hour writing the abstract

as a group, on a blackboard. By the time the whole

paper came together (five minutes prior to the 6pm

deadline), the great feeling of satisfaction

motivated us down the hallway to the copy room,

where the paper was submitted. We were lucky

enough to have the right ingredients to attract the

SIAM prize, and are very grateful that our hard

work was rewarded.

And yes, it was definitely worth it.

Aaron Windfield, Darin Gillis,

and David Lindstone.

Editor’s Note: The international contest in modeling is

sponsored by COMAP (The Consortium for

Mathematics and its Application).

Approximately 630 teams representing institutions from

around the world participated in each of the 2002 and

2003 contests.

The categories of papers were: Outstanding Winners

(top 2-3%,), Meritorious Winners (next 14-17%),

Honorable Mention (next 23-33%), and Successful

Participant (remaining 50-58%).

Contest problems and prior years’ results are available

by going to the “Previous Contests” section of the MCM


“Note that there is no quality

sleep to be had…except for

what can be gained in a

sleeping bag in the nearest

conference room.”

“The key to victory is a solid,

balanced team...including:

1 Computer Scientist

1 Analytic Mathematician

1 Math-English hybrid”

Applied Mathematics Department News


Student Activities and Awards

Jocelyn Renner was selected as the May 2003

Outstanding Graduate for the College of

Engineering and Applied Science and was

awarded the Silver Medal by the Colorado

Engineering Council. The outstanding

graduate award is given to a graduating

senior in recognition of achievements in

academics and service, and the CEC

Silver Medal is awarded to a single

engineering student in recognition of

overall achievement.

Jocelyn was a double major in Applied

Math and Russian Studies and was the

President of the undergraduate SIAM

chapter. She worked on a VIGRE-

sponsored research project with Professor Keith

Julien. She was also a volunteer with several off-

campus organizations. Jocelyn is currently

continuing her education at Northwestern

University. Congratulations!

Corry L. Lee was named a 2003 Goldwater

Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

and Excellence in Education Foundation. The

Goldwater scholarship is a prestigious national

competition for undergraduates in the

fields of mathematics, science and

engineering. The scholarship funds up to

$7,500 per year for approximately 300

sophomores and juniors from across the

country to complete their undergraduate

degrees. Corry is a double major in

Applied Mathematics and Engineering

Physics. She has conducted undergraduate

research in particle physics, both through

the Physics department at CU-Boulder and

at the European Organization for Nuclear

Research in Switzerland. She is writing an

honors thesis in particle physics and

contributing to a research paper in Applied


This year's Goldwater Scholars were selected on

the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,093

students nominated by the faculties of colleges and

universities nationwide.

Saverio Spagnolie received a 2002-2003 National

Defense Science and Engineering Graduate

(NDSEG) Fellowship. There were over 2000

applicants for this prestigious fellowship. He is

currently a PhD student at NYU’s Courant Institute

of Mathematical Sciences.

Mary Kindel Van der Heijde graduated

“with high distinction” (cumulative GPA

must be at least 3.90) in May 2002 and

was selected by the department as the

Outstanding Senior for Service.

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, who prefers

to be called “JHK,” also graduated “with

high distinction” in May 2002 and was

selected by the College of Engineering as

Outstanding Graduate in Research. (This

was a joint award with Mariah Mason of

Chemical Engineering.)

As a member of the University of Colorado at

Boulder cycling team he earned four straight

collegiate national cross-country championship

titles. Since graduating, Jeremy has been collecting

professional mountain biking championships! In

August 2003 he earned the NORBA Men’s Cross

Country and Short Track Cross Country National

Championships by placing third in the series’ final

event at the USA Championships in Durango, CO.

He placed second in the race for the

NORBA Overall Points Championship.

Jeremy’s next goal is to earn a spot on the

2004 Olympic cycling team!

Faculty Happenings

Two faculty members have retired, or

shall we say, received a promotion to

emeritus status.

Jerrold Bebernes retired in May 2002.

He grew up in Cotesfield Nebraska,

population 134. Cotesfield couldn’t quite

contain his active mind so he migrated to

the University of Nebraska where he received his

PhD under the direction of Lloyd Jackson. Jerry

came to CU in the fall of 1962 as an Assistant

Professor in the Department of Applied

Mathematics (which merged with Mathematics in

1966, and later separated as the Program in Applied

Mathematics). He served as Associate Chair of the

Mathematics department under Stan Ulam from

1966 to 1968. Jerry “learned chairmanship in a

hurry,” because Ulam, although a genius, wasn’t

interested in the day-to-day running of a

Jocelyn at the

graduation party

JHK in action

Applied Mathematics Department News


department. At that time Jerry founded the joint

Applied Mathematics/Mathematics Kempner

Colloquium. He later served as Chair from 1976 to

1978. His research included boundary value

problems, and later, ignition equations from

combustion theory. You could say his research was

explosive! Jerry was recently awarded a Research

Professorship by the Italian government at the

International School for Advanced Studies in

Trieste, Italy. He and his wife Sharleen will visit

there over the next several years. Way to go Jerry!

Bring us all back some wine and stories.

John Williamson retired in December 2002. John

came to the University of Colorado in 1967, as

Assistant Professor in the Department of

Mathematics. He became Professor of Mathematics

in 1979, and joined the Program in Applied

Mathematics in 1991. He was our department’s

only probabilist for some years, and he helped to

set up the (still growing) research group in

statistics/probability. During John’s long and

interesting career, he taught high school in

Minnesota, and he also taught in Zambia (1956-

57), England (1972-73), Italy (1979-80), and

France (1989-90). Many of us lucky enough to

have worked with John were inspired by his

impressive example. We wish him and Valerie well

in their richly deserved retirements.

The group in statistics/probability that John helped

to form added a new member in 2002-03: Philippe

Naveau became Assistant Professor of Applied

Mathematics in August 2002. Philippe’s expertise

is in extreme value theory (i.e., the statistics of rare

events). Our other faculty members in

statistics/probability are Jem Corcoran and Anne

Dougherty. As this research group

has grown, student demand for

courses in statistics has grown even

faster, so we have been consistently

short-handed in this area. We hope

to hire a senior statistician to lead

this group as soon as budget

constraints permit.

Meredith Betterton, who uses

mathematical models to study

processes in molecular biology, joined the

department as Assistant Professor in January 2003.

Her arrival fits nicely with the department’s new

graduate program in Mathematical Biology, jointly

administered by APPM and MCDB (Molecular,

Cellular and Developmental Biology). It also

augments a campus-wide initiative to develop more

scientific expertise in modern biology. This is an

exciting new area of applied mathematics, and we

are happy that Meredith will represent us in it.

Keith Julien, who first joined the department in

1997, was promoted to Associate Professor with

tenure in 2003. Keith uses numerical computation

and analysis to study problems in geophysical or

astrophysical fluid dynamics. These subjects have

widespread interest in Boulder, and Keith worked

as a scientist at JILA (Joint Institute for Laboratory

Astrophysics) and at NCAR (National Center for

Atmospheric Research) before moving to our

department. Congratulations, Keith!

Jim Curry became Department Chair in July 2003.

(Harvey Segur, the previous Chair, is thrilled!)

Anne Dougherty will continue in her role as

Associate Chair (and Jim is thrilled).

Tom Manteuffel received a highly competitive

2003 IBM Faculty Award recognizing the quality

of his program and its importance to the industry.

Tom was President in 2002 and is currently Past-

President of SIAM, an international organization of

scientists and mathematicians with more than 9,000


Amy Biesterfeld and Adam Norris received

Faculty Appreciation Awards from CU’s

Multicultural Engineering Program. MEP students

selected the two recipients, citing Amy and Adam’s

personal commitment and dedication to teaching,

especially in their calculus courses. The awards

were presented at MEP’s annual banquet on April

19, 2002. Both Amy and Adam thought they were

attending the banquet as Applied

Math’s representatives – both

were surprised to learn that they

would receive this honor.

Amy has since left the department

to spend more time with her

young and growing family. She

and her husband Bryan are

expecting another small addition

to their family any day now!

Jem Corcoran, Assistant Professor of Applied

Math, won the gold medal in the “US Open” in

karate at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas on January 4,

2003. Jem said it was a gamble–one that paid off!

Jem is standing on the left

Applied Mathematics Department News


Where Have Our Recent Graduates Gone?

Luke Olsen (PhD 2003) accepted a VIGRE Post-

Doctoral position at Brown University.

Cristina Perez (PhD 2003) is conducting research

at Columbia University.

Kristian Sandberg (PhD 2003) is

conducting research on the CU-

Boulder campus with Applied

Math Professor Greg Beylkin.

Uli Schneider (PhD 2003) is a

Geophysical Statistics Project

Post-Doc conducting research at

the National Center for

Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Grady Wright (PhD 2003)

accepted a VIGRE Post-Doctoral

position at the University of Utah-

Salt Lake City.

Stefan Wild (BS/MS 2003) is a PhD student in

Operations Research and Industrial Engineering at

Cornell University.

Elizabeth Siewert (MS 2003) is conducting

research with Meredith Betterton at CU-Boulder.

Roberto Munoz Alicea (MS 2003) is an instructor

at Metro State University in


Ryan Girard (MS 2003) is

working on his teaching certificate

in math here at CU-Boulder.

Darin Gillis (BS 2003) is

working at National Instruments

in Austin, TX.

Edith Hand (BS 2003) works at

Lockheed Martin.

Kristine Henderson (BS 2003) is

a Financial Analyst with Smith


Holly Lewis (BS 2003) is a graduate student in

Aerospace Engineering here at CU-Boulder.

Joshua Lopez (BS 2003) is a Senior Programmer

with the CU-Boulder Web Development Team.

Joshua Nolting (BS 2003) is a Master’s student in

our department’s graduate program.

Eric Wright (PhD 2002) accepted an Assistant

Professorship at the University of Akron, OH.

Rian Bogle (MS 2002) works for the US

Geological Survey (USGS), Earth Sciences

Department, in Flagstaff, AZ.

Eun Kim (MS 2002) is a PhD

student in CU-Boulder’s Physics


Brian Krause (MS 2002) is a

Research Engineer at Data Fusion


Alexander Villacorta (MS 2002)

is pursuing a PhD at the

University of California-Santa


Marya Hillesland (BS 2002) is a

Legislative Assistant for the Friends Committee on

National Legislation in Washington, DC.

Geoff Goehle (BS 2002) is pursuing a graduate

degree at Portland State University.

Curtis Higgins (BS 2002) is a student in CU-

Boulder’s Physics Department.

Deborah Hinck (BS 2002)

works at Microsoft.

Kevin Leder (BS 2002) is a

graduate student in Mathematics

at Brown University.

Adam Thede (BS 2002) works

at Lehmann Bros.

Robert Thornton (BS 2002) is a

graduate student in Aerospace

Engineering at Virginia Tech.

Mary Van der Heidje (BS

2002) is an Actuarial Consultant

for Milliman USA in Denver.

Leslie Leininger (BS 2002) works at TRW.

Congratulations also to 2003 BS recipients Derek

Bendixen, Seungki Cho and Grant Macklem, and

2002 BS recipients Matthew Hayden, Anaa

Mansouri, Nancy Mezo, Michael Ninomiya,

Kenzi Parton, Benjamin Sukow, and Michael


Grady Wright and his family

celebrate after commencement

2003 MS grads Ryan Girard, Matt

Carroll, Keith Wojciechowski, Matt

Nabity, and David Beltran del Rio