AfterMath Newsletter

Newsletter for Alumni and Friends of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Lebanon Valley College

Summer 2011

Bryan Hearsey Retires
After 40 years of dedicated and distinguished service at LVC, our friend and colleague Bryan Hearsey retired at the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.

Bryan served as the long-time chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and served in recent years as interim Dean of the Faculty. His greatest legacy is the Actuarial Science program. Recognized for superior exam passing and job placement for our students, Act Sci at LVC is a nationally strong program.

In recognition for the work of Bryan (and others), the Mathematical Association of America twice featured the LVC Mathematical Sciences Department in their publication "Models That Work."

When asked about his success, Bryan is modest; he grins and attributes it to luck. If pressed, he says it's about hard work and putting students first. As a faculty member, as department chair, and as dean, he asked the same question. When deciding who to hire, when setting the course schedule, or when re-creating the actuarial science major, Bryan always asked, "How does this help students?"

Thank you, Bryan, for the work you have done here. You have made us a better department and LVC a better college.

Welcome Sam Kolins to the Department Faculty
LVC welcomes new Mathematical Sciences faculty member Samuel Kolins, who arrives from Ithaca, where he just completed his PhD at Cornell. Here is his self-introduction.

"Hello everybody! I grew up in the Detroit area, went to Bowdoin College in Maine for undergrad, and then to Cornell University in upstate New York for graduate school. When I am not doing math, I am an avid road cyclist, and in general I enjoy activities that get me outside and moving around. I am also a big fan of board games and am always looking for new games to try and new people to play with. As for my mathematical background, through my first year and a half of graduate school I thought I was going to study analysis, but in the end I was lured away by combinatorics and its connections with topology and algebra. As this path may indicate, I enjoy learning about a variety of areas and the opportunity to study something new. Part of this joy of learning is helping students though their educational journeys, whether that is finding their passion within the mathematics sciences, or rounding out a strong liberal arts education. Learning math is both challenging and rewarding and it is very fun to be a part of that. I look forward to getting to know everybody and becoming part of the LVC community!"

Student-Faculty Research in Computer Science Expands in Second Summer
This summer Rob Hosler '13 and John Makatche '13 joined Ken Yarnall in the summer Software Development Research Program. This program, started last summer, was funded this year by an Arnold grant.

Rob, John, and Ken worked for a total of 8 weeks developing apps for the Android mobile platform. They are wrapping up development of an app designed for use on LVC's campus, which gives location-aware information to students and others on campus events. The app should see release to the campus community in early 2012.

Mobile computing will likely continue to be the focus next summer; the field is rich with challenges!

LVC Mathematical Physics Has a Productive Year
Led by faculty members David Lyons (Mathematical Sciences) and Scott Walck (Physics), the LVC Mathematical Physics Research Group had another good year of research, publications, and conference presentations. Nathan Kearney '12 gave a talk at the Moravian College Student Mathematics Conference in February 2011. Curt Cenci '11, Laura Snyder '11, and Chris Ulicny '12 presented their summer 2010 work at the national Joint Meetings of the American Mathematical Societies and the Mathematical Association of America in New Orleans in January, 2011. Cenci gave a talk in a research paper session at the same conference. Cenci and Snyder appeared as co-authors with Lyons and Walck on articles in research journals. Lyons traveled to Stockholm in October 2010 for a quantum information conference with a travel grant from the National Science Foundation. Lyons and Walck traveled to Madrid in May 2011, where Lyons gave a talk on their work at a quantum information conference.
Summer 2011 has had a productive start, with Abigail Skelton '13 on board. Lyons and Walck have posted two new papers of their results and have submitted them for publication.

See details of the group's work, publications, and presentations at their website.

LVC Hosts Math Teachers
LVC hosted the Math Institute for ARRMS (Achieving Rigor and Relevance in Math and Science) again this year, which is a joint effort with the IU13 in Lancaster. Thirty-three math teachers of grades 6-12, mostly from Lebanon and Lancaster counties participated. This year's focus was on Algebra. Leigh Cobbs, Tim Dewald, and Mike Fry facilitated the 2-week workshop. Later coaches will work with the teachers throughout the school year to enrich the algebra content and pedagogy in their classrooms.
Some of the workshop highlights included:

  • Guest Speakers talking about aging rocks, using algebra tiles, surveying land, fractals, and more;
  • A field trip to Hershey Park where there were lots of ideas for fun algebraic models;
  • NERD (Numeric Equation and Relation Development) stations in Synodinos Commons, such as:
    • Measuring guitar frets
    • Building a suspension bridge (from catenary to parabola)
    • Finding weights with bamboo scales
    • Blowing soap bubbles to find a solution to an optimization problem
    • Exploring the exponential decay of bouncing ball heights
    • Building a linear model for tides
    • Modeling Maine’s coastline with Fractals
    • Looking for a parabolic function by timing tennis balls dropped down the north stairway of Humanities (no deans were harmed in this activity)
  • Project presentations by the math teachers.
Heres a photo of one of the activities.

Youth Scholars
Patrick Brewer led a week-long program in actuarial science for 9 talented high schoolers during the Daniel Fox Youth Scholars Institute in summer 2010. Janet Rexroth from Markley Actuarial Associates visited, as did Mike Ridler from Coventry. The group went on a field trip to Conrad Siegel.

Faculty News
David Lyons has enjoyed a year of excellent travel adventures, with two trips to Europe and one trip to New Orleans for conferences. Lyons and his wife Maria Howe added a few days to each trip to be tourists and see friends in Stockholm and Madrid. A highlight of the Stockholm trip was a visit to the library of the Mittag-Leffler Institute, which houses original volumes of Descartes, Euler, and Gauss, among many others. Incredibly, there was another Iceland volcano eruption during the Madrid conference, as there was last year during the same conference which took place in the UK in 2010. Fortunately, this time, the volcano was better behaved and did not delay our return. Lyons is happy to be fully recovered from a head injury sustained while playing soccer in May 2011. Here are some travel photos.
Barry Smith just completed his first year at LVC--his first year living in Eastern Standard Time, and his first year as a father. It was exhausting at times, but he has managed to recover over the summer. Aside from those momentous changes, Barry traveled to conferences in North Carolina and Louisiana, got his first peer-reviewed paper as an LVC employee accepted for publication, and visited family in Los Angeles and Seattle (with the baby!). In addition, Barry acted as a single-father for three weeks while teaching Statistics so his wife Kelly could take a three week trip around the Baltic Sea. It was a singularly intense experience, but dad and daughter now have fond memories of oodles of good bonding time. Baby Lilah started walking during her ninth month of life and has kept mom and dad on their toes ever since. Barry looks forward to teaching LVC's freshman math majors this coming year and being amazed at all the new skills Lilah will develop.

Alumni News
(sorted by graduation year)

John Coffin '79 "Just wanted to congratulate [Dr. Hearsey] on a successful 40 years and wish you all the best as you retire.
I made it 26 years at Prudential before getting downsized. I decided I could stay out, and that was what I wanted to do. I became an Emergency Medical Technician and now do volunteer first aid in my town. I love it. I run over 500 calls a year. My wife occasionally goes with me when I need a driver, otherwise another retiree and I are pretty much the day shift. We are able to handle most of the calls in our town and a fair number of mutual aid calls for surrounding towns (all the towns are having a hard time getting volunteers these days, we are fortunate to have two retirees available most of the time).

I have developed an interest in trading stock options to generate a monthly income. The strategies are probability based in that they try to create a one standard deviation range of prices for the underlying to land in and be profitable. Outside the range you need to take evasive action to limit risk. Nothing is ever guaranteed of course, but I feel comfortable with the strategies since I have a mathematical background. That's part of the richness of mathematics, you never know where it's going to pop up.

My 4 years at LVC stood me in good stead for the rest of my life. I met my wife there, still going after 31 years. I got a solid education that prepared me for a good profession that allowed me to retire early. It was a privilege to be associated with you during those 4 years and for several years afterwards on recruiting trips. Thank you very much for your contribution to my lifelong education. Best wishes [to Dr. Hearsey] for a happy and successful retirement."

Dave Miller '87 "I wanted to let you know about my new book (hot of the presses) called The Influential Actuary. Thought you and your students my find this of interest. Actex and I are working to get it on the syllabus. You can find more information about the book here:"

Jeane Weidner Serrian '88 "I enjoy reading the news of LVC's math/science department activities and achievements. I have recently begun teaching College Algebra for Penn State Univ - Berks Campus. And in the tradition of Dr. Townsend, have started calling my office hours 'calcaholics anonymous' even though it is an algebra course."

Nick Hamblet '04 "Things are going pretty well for me, which is nice. I finally finished that dang phd in December, but I'm staying around Charlottesville. I found a little company in town that does lots of fun computer programming, and math/stats modeling underneath. The main thing we work on is about threat prediction - given a stream of crime incidents for a city (or, our actual application, military-related incidents), the goal is to identify the regions where the threat is the highest. I'm having a lot of fun there, the environment is great, as are all the people I work with.

Other than work, I'm still running a bit (perhaps hoping for a 100k this fall), but otherwise there's nothing particularly notable going on.

I'll have to get up to LVC some time and say hi. Maybe I'll find a run up that way some time, and make a weekend out of it :)"

Scott Ferguson '07 "Last November I was promoted to Managing Developer at QuikOrder where I continued to manage my team of 10 developers. Together we launched the latest iteration of Pizza Hut's online ordering site, and launched several smaller ordering sites for pizza chains around the country. I left QuikOrder in May of this year due to some concerns about the company, and decided that while I was young I would take the plunge into a startup.

Since May I've been working as the lead Android developer for Vokal Interactive, and since June I also took over all server-side development roles (Django/Python). We are a small startup in downtown Chicago that specializes in mobile apps, both native and web. It's an exciting place to be right now, and an exciting niche in the business as well. The company is employee-owned and we all love what we do, so it's a good recipe for success. We have several large clients (including Charter Communications) and are in the process of bringing in more big projects, so it should be a lot of excitement/work ahead."

Here is an interview with Scott by LVC Career Services.

Stephanie Blanda '09 "I'm starting my third year of grad school at Penn State, where I'm pursuing my Ph.D. in mathematics with a minor in computational science. My research area is biologically plausible neural networks. This summer, I have an internship at Aberdeen Proving Ground, working with robotics."

Andrew Levin '09 " I was working at Coventry in Harrisburg this past winter. Driving through the snow made me realize how spoiled I was during my internship at AEGON in St. Petersburg, FL. In March, shortly after another snow storm, AEGON offered me a full time spot back in St. Petersburg, FL. I couldn't turn it down. Now, I'm within a 25 minute car ride of the nicest beaches in America. Down here, every day is like a vacation. Just tennis, golf, and beach...oh yea, studying too."

Amy Ryesky '09 "Hard to believe it has been two years since I graduated! I miss LVC and love coming back to the campus to visit. I'm still working at the job I got right after college. I'm an Applications Programmer at Conrad Siegel Actuaries located in Harrisbug, PA. I also live in Harrisburg. I'm engaged to Ricky Fennel, who graduated from LVC in 2009, like me. He majored in Business and Accounting. We are planning an April 2012 wedding."

Justin Weaver '11 "I wanted to pass on some exciting news. Over the holidays, I took a full-time position as an Oracle and MySQL Database Administrator at a company called GSI Commerce Inc. ( located in King of Prussia, PA. It was a very nice Christmas gift! The company offers e-commerce solutions to large retail companies, is growing and has a solid vision for the future."

Send news and comments to or by regular mail to AfterMath, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Lebanon Valley College, 101 N. College Avenue, Annville, PA 17003.