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Locals to Present at Annual
Math Workshop at UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: June 29, 2007

EAU CLAIRE — Ten students will give talks on their summer research projects when the department of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire holds its 2007 summer mathematics workshop July 6-7.

The workshop is funded by the National Science Foundation as well as the provost's office, the dean's office of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and the department of mathematics at UW-Eau Claire.

Dr. Michael W. Frazier, University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Dr. Michael W. Frazier

The featured workshop speaker is Dr. Michael W. Frazier, chair of the department of mathematics at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. According to mathematics professor Dr. Mohammed Elgindi, the workshop typically is planned around the interests and expertise of the main speaker. This year's workshop title is "Analysis and Its Applications."

The mathematical theory of wavelets, introduced less than 15 years ago, has become a fundamental tool in many areas of applied mathematics and engineering. Frazier, author of the textbook "An Introduction to Wavelets through Linear Algebra," will present four main lectures at the workshop on the following topics:

  • "Wavelets: Fingerprints, Submarines and Car Rattles" (9-9:50 a.m. Friday, July 6)
  • "The Easiest Wavelets: The Haar Function" (1:30-2:20 p.m. Friday, July 6)
  • "The Haar Functions as an Example of Muli-Resolution Analysis" (9-9:50 a.m. Saturday, July 7)
  • "Introduction to Littlewood-Paley Theory" (1:30-2:20 p.m. Saturday, July 7)

Local resident Jim Schwarzmeier, senior principal engineer at Cray Research Inc. in Chippewa Falls, has been invited as an evening colloquium speaker and will present "The Role of Analysis in Modern Scientific Computing" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 6.

The two-day workshop has been a highlight of the longer Summer Research in Pure and Applied Mathematics Program at UW-Eau Claire since 2004, according to Elgindi. He said one of his goals in organizing the workshop was to give the students involved in the SUREPAM program a chance to collaborate on research with career mathematicians and get experience in presenting and discussing their research.

Mitchell Phillipson, Chippewa Falls, a junior with a double major in mathematics and physics, said he was always good at math, and when he was at Chippewa Falls High School he envisioned becoming a high school mathematics teacher. In fact, he came to UW-Eau Claire because of the reputation of the College of Education and Human Sciences. But when he got to UW-Eau Claire and took advantage of the opportunities to become involved in undergraduate research in higher mathematics, he began thinking about graduate school. He is currently working on three different research projects — two with UW-Eau Claire faculty members Dr. Michael Penkava and Dr. Simei Tong and one with visiting professor Dr. Khodr Shamseddine, a participant in this summer's SUREPAM program. Shamseddine is an associate professor and graduate program director in the math department at Western Illinois University and an associate with the Center for Advanced Mathematical Sciences at the American University of Beirut.

"Dr. Penkava and Dr. Tong were definitely influential in changing the direction of my plans for the future," said Phillipson, who admits that he is now hoping to apply to a graduate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Phillipson said at the workshop he will likely present his project with Shamseddine, which involves analysis in non-Archimedean fields. For the layperson, Phillipson explained that this basically involves working with extremely small numbers. He said examples of possible applications might involve calculations needed for working with many types of projectiles, such as those used in the space program.

"Basically, non-Archimedean analysis allows us to work with these very small numbers and get results that are very accurate, very quickly," said Phillipson. "Without it, you have to choose between getting quick results that aren't very accurate, or accurate results much more slowly."

However, Phillipson is working on something completely different with Tong. Their project, "Transportation Models for Emergency Situations," involves applying mathematics to analyze the best scenarios for evacuating people in a disaster situation.

Phillipson said that while he doesn't know exactly what his future will hold, he knows mathematics degrees like his are in high demand.

"Businesses like to hire people with math degrees because of their problem-solving abilities," he said.

Stacy Kouba, Two Rivers, who graduated from UW-Eau Claire this spring with a double major in mathematics and physics, will present an applied research project she is working on with Elgindi, professor emeritus of mathematics Dr. Robert Langer, and Marshfield clinic physician Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed: "Exploring Mathematical Models for Calculating Blood Alcohol Concentration in the Blood and Breath." Kouba has been working on the project since January, which received a second-place award at UW-Eau Claire's Student Research Day this spring.

According to Kouba, it is well known that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the most important factor in determining intoxication; however, testing the blood alcohol concentration is impractical in real-life settings, so the breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) test was developed. It's been demonstrated that when the BrAC is high, the BAC is also high, but no one knows the quantitative relationship between the BAC and the BrAC. If a mathematical model can be developed that relates the rates of change of BAC and BrAC with respect to the time ranging over the interval of alcohol consumption, solving the model would yield the desired quantitative relationship between BAC and BrAC.

Kouba said the results of such a mathematical model will have numerous applications, including helping law enforcement enforce drunk driving laws and prosecute offenders,; informing the public about how different factors influence the BAC and BrAC and also showing how much time the body needs to remove alcohol that is consumed. She also said that accurate determinations of the level and the length of time the alcohol remains in the blood would be important for other studies on the effects of alcohol on the brain cells and other body organs.

"Through techniques of numerical analysis, we hope to be able to solve a system of differential equations that find BAC and BrAC simultaneously, which would be very exciting because it has never been done," said Kouba.

Kouba plans to take the next year off to explore work opportunities in the fields of both mathematics and physics before narrowing her focus and going on to graduate school.

Other presenters at the workshop will include faculty members and graduate students with backgrounds in mathematics, computer engineering, physics and statistics from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, the University of Tennessee, Western Illinois University, German University in Cairo, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. In addition to Phillipson and Kouba, two other UW-Eau Claire students and six students from other universities will present their summer mathematics research projects from the SUREPAM program. They are David Kincaid, Eau Claire, and Eric Weber, Rochester, Minn., of UW-Eau Claire; Xiaowen Chen, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Kyle Czarnecke, UW-Parkside; Jarod Hart, UW-La Crosse; Jason Jo, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y.; Aaron McTavish, UW-Stevens Point; and Ryan Steinbach, UW-Madison.

All lectures will take place in Room 309 of Hibbard Humanities Hall.

For a complete list of presenters and a schedule of presentations and abstracts, visit the mathematics department Web site.

For more information, contact Elgindi at 715-836-2768 or



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