Archive for martinep

October 10 – 14, 2016

Monday, Oct 10

MSCS ColloquiumThe Circle Squaring Problem: A Tale of Undergraduate Research
Pamela Pierce, Professor of Mathematics, The College of Wooster
Tarski’s famous Circle-Squaring problem asks whether a circle (a closed disk in the plane) can be decomposed into finitely many pieces which can then be rearranged to form a square. A definitive answer to this question eluded mathematicians for hundreds of years, until Miklos Laczkovich proved (in 1990) that it is indeed possible. While the answer was celebrated as a great victory, his proof gives no specific directions on how to accomplish the task. Furthermore, the upper bound given for the number of pieces required in the process is 10^50. In this talk, we will learn some facts about dissections, decompositions, and what Laczkovich’s “pieces” actually look like in an effort to fully understand the depth of this problem.
3:30pm, RNS 410

Tuesday, Oct 11

No Seminars

Wednesday, Oct 12

Causing a Big Racket with Riny Magnets: emergent 1/f noise in the collections of oscillating nanomagnetic dots

Speaker: Barry Costanzi ’09, visiting professor of physics at St. Olaf College
3:15 pm, RNS 210

Thursday, Oct 13

Chemistry: The Art of Industrial Chemistry
Audrey A. Sherman, Division Scientist, 3M Company
3:15 pm, RNS 150

MSCS Research – Northfield Undergraduate Research Symposium
Speakers: Various Oles and Carls!
Each year, students from St. Olaf and Carleton have the opportunity to present their own research to peers and faculty members at the Northfield Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium. This year five students from St. Olaf and three from Carleton will give a total of six twenty-minute talks, with time for food and socialization in between.
3:40 – 6:50 pm at Carleton CMS 206

Friday, Oct 14

No Seminars

October 3 – 7, 2016

Monday, Oct 3

MSCS Colloquium: Arithmetic statistics
Craig Westerland, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota
This will be a talk about various number-theoretic conjectures and theorems from a probabilistic or distributional point of view.  For instance, we can ask: what is the probability that an integer is squarefree?  The answer is surprisingly easy to state, and allows us to reformulate the question in the language of field theory: can we count (asymptotically in X) the number of quadratic fields with discriminant less than X.  All of these words will be explained, and we’ll illustrate them with a number of examples.  This will lead us to a number of conjectures on related subjects, some of which have been recently resolved by Manjul Bhargava, a 2014 Fields Medalist.
3:30pm, RNS 310 (3:15pm cookies and conversation)

Tuesday, Oct 4

Psychology Seminar: Career Talk from a Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Charles Peterson
6:00 p.m., Buntrock 142

Dr. Charles Peterson ’70 will be giving a career talk about his time as a clinical psychologist and director of training in the various clinics in Minneapolis and Chicago and his journey into opening his private practice. He will be speaking about the challenges that a career in clinical psychology presents, the preparation needed to get into the career and his experience in the field in general.

Wednesday, Oct 5

No Seminars

Thursday, Oct 6

No Seminars

Friday, Oct 7

Chemistry Seminar: Process Chemistry: Complex Applications of Fundamental Concepts
Greg Beutner, Bristol Myers Squibb
3:15 p.m., RNS 310

MSCS SeminarThe Curious Case of 2s and 3s
Matthew Richey, Professor of Mathematics, St. Olaf College
As often happens, looking at a problem from one perspective leads to unexpected results when seeing it from another perspective. In this talk, we will explore a concept inspired by a classroom exercise in a chemistry class that reveals a “curious” phenomenon in number theory. Along the way, we’ll get to see how concepts such at the Boltzmann distribution, Markov chains and enumerative combinatorics intersect with each other.
3:40pm, RNS 204 

May 9 – 13, 2016

Monday, May 9

MSCS Seminar: Searching and Sorting Algorithms
Vinayak Elangovan, Vistiting Assistant Professor at The College of New Jersey.
Storing and retrieving information is an important and a common application for general purpose-computers. Let us take for example, St. Olaf College administration department stores information of students such as their names, student ID, address, phone number, etc. All of the students’ information is stored in a database which is organized as a collection of records. To access a student’s grade information, the advisor needs to look up particular field of information from among all of data that has been stored. The processes of looking up a particular data record in the database is called Searching. In order to do an efficient search in a database, the records must be maintained in some order. The process of ordering the records in a database is called Sorting. In this talk, we would explore two different search algorithms: Sequential Search which is very easy to implement, but inefficient and Binary Search which is much more efficient. We will also discuss four sorting algorithms which includes Selection sort, Insertion sort, Bubble sort and Merge sort and their implementation in C++ as well.
2:10pm – RMS 410

MSCS Colloquium: Crossing the Threshold: The role of Demographic Stochasticity in the Evolution of Cooperation
Thomas LoFaro, Gustavus Adolphus College
The development of cooperative behavior has long been of interest to social scientists and ecologists.  In this talk we will look at a mathematical model of the evolution of cooperation that combines mathematical ideas from game theory and population dynamics.  In the spirit of interdisciplinary, we will analyze this model using ideas from calculus, linear algebra, and probability theory.  However, the most significant result, determining what increases the probability of the evolution of cooperation, boils down to nothing more than finding the slope of line.
3:30pm talk, 3:15pm cookies and conversation, RNS 301

Psychology Talk: Frontal Lobe Function and Dysfunction: Relevance to Life, Career Choice, and Disease. 
Dr. Bradley Boeve, Neurologist, Mayo Clinic
Psych Club is hosting Dr. Bradley Boeve, a neurologist who currently works at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Boeve specializes in Alzheimer’s disease, other neurodegenerative diseases, and sleep medicine.
7:00 p.m., Buntrock Commons 143

Biology Seminar:

Monday May 9th 4pm RNS 410

Petra Kranzfelder – Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota

From river to sea: Impacts of land use on water quality of estuaries in Costa Rica

How does the tropical produce that we eat in Minnesota, like pineapples and bananas, impact the water quality of estuaries in Costa Rica? To answer this question, I will share part of my Ph.D. research that investigates the impacts of coastal watershed land use on aquatic insect communities of estuaries in Costa Rica. I will teach you about how we use diverse and abundant groups of aquatic insects, like chironomids, as bioindicators of water quality to answer these types of important ecological questions.

Tuesday, May 10

No seminars.

Wednesday, May 11

No seminars.

Thursday, May 12

No seminars.

Friday, May 13

No seminars.

May 2 – 6, 2016

Monday, May 2

MSCS Colloquium: An introduction to Fourier transform based (3D) imaging with examples from industrial applications
Thomas Höft, University of St. Thomas, Assistant Professor
We describe two imaging modalities used in industry for laser-based remote sensing. Coincidentally, the Fourier transform is central to image formation and reconstruction in both methods. Digital Holography is presented in the context of long-range imaging. Both 2D and 3D imaging techniques will be covered, and we describe an optimization problem which arises when compensating for the blur of imaging through a turbulent atmosphere. Fourier Transform Profilometry is presented in the context of a 3D face-imaging system for biometric identification. The technique is described and illustrated with data from real live humans.
3:30pm (3:15 pm cookies and conversation), RNS 310

***Biology Seminar: The Apes of the Mountains of the Moon: Ecology and
Conservation of Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda
Kevin B. Potts, PhD
Department of Biology, Augsburg College
Monday, May 2, 4:00 PM in RNS 410

Tuesday, May 3

Psychology: Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr. Lynda Barger ’83
Dr. Lynda Barger, an Ole grad, is coming to speak about her career in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry! This talk will be AWESOME for anyone considering medical school or graduate school in psychology. She will talk about her education, career background, and current practice, and be able to answer any questions you have regarding psychiatry and related health professions.
6:00 p.m., Buntrock 144

Wednesday, May 4

MSCS Colloquium: A Mathematical Tour of the Orchestra
Daniel Droz from Penn State
A violin, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, horn, xylophone, and bell are all playing the same note (at the same octave). Why do they still sound different from one another? For that matter, why does bowing, plucking, or hammering a tightened string produce a musical note while doing the same things to most household objects just produces random noise?  We will explore the mathematical models of vibration in musical instruments of various types, seeing what unites them and what distinguishes them, and investigating a few of the ways in which mathematical differences correspond to audible differences.
3:15 pm, TOH 186

Thursday, May 5

No Seminars

Friday, May 6

Honors Day Poster Session for the Sciences
4:00 – 5:30 pm; Fourth Floor Atrium

Appetizers served


April 11 – 15, 2016

Monday, April 11

Physics Colloquium:  Magnetism and Mu dynamics in Vanadium Dioxide compounds and other current research interests
Speaker: Patrick (Rick) Mengyan, Instructor & Post Doc. Research Associate in Physics at Texas Tech University
3:00 pm, RNS 290

MSCS Research Seminar: Russian Troika Dolls:  A Story of Demazure Module Filtrations
Peri Shereen, a visiting assistant professor from Carleton College
A composition series of vector spaces is a chain of subspaces such that each successive quotient space has no nontrivial subspaces.  A similar definition also exists for groups.  In both cases, knowing the composition series gives us some structural information of the largest space or group.  For example, the composition series of a finite abelian group is directly related to its decomposition.  We will discuss a similar notion for modules of a Lie algebra.  In particular we will study a filtration  (a chain of submodules) where the successive quotients share a common property.  Learning about the explicit filtrations admitted will give us important structural information about the largest module.

3:15 Cookies and Conversation, 3pm Talk, RNS 310

Tuesday, April 12

What: Informal Conversation about Pathways and Possibilities in Science Education
Where: RNS 356B
When: 11:30-12:15. Drop in any time.

Are you planning to major in science? Do you enjoy spending time with youth? You can probably think of a teacher you’ve had who made a difference; have you ever thought you might be interested in teaching others?
If so, it’s a good time to start thinking about opportunities in science education. At St. Olaf, you can become a licensed middle or high school science teacher. Besides being a fulfilling job, science teachers are in demand. While there are many paths to becoming a science teacher, there are some big advantages to the licensure program at St. Olaf. Additionally, many other career paths involve some component of science education.
If you’d like to talk about what it’s like to be a science teacher and about possibilities and pathways to a teaching license, please drop in for an informal conversation with Carolyn Ocampo, visiting master teacher in Chemistry, and Emily Mohl, assistant professor in biology and education.
Questions? Contact Emily Mohl,, RNS 432.

Wednesday, April 13

No Seminars

Thursday, April 14

Seminar: Neurologist and Sleep Medicine Specialist
Dr. Erik St. Louis, Associate Professor of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
Dr. Erik St Louis is a neurologist who specializes in sleep medicine. He currently works at Mayo Clinic and wants to share a bit about his research, clinical experience, and career. Please join us if you are interested in medicine, neurology, psychology, sleep medicine, OR if you just love to sleep!
6:00 p.m., Buntrock 142

Friday, April 15

No Seminars

April 4 – 8, 2016

Monday, April 4

MSCS Colloquium: “Comparing Songs without Listening: From MSCS to Music and Back Again”
Katherine Kinnaird, from Macalester College
Music is deeply entrenched in our daily lives, from playing as we work and study to enhancing our favorite television shows. The multidisciplinary field of Music Information Retrieval (MIR) is motivated by the comparisons that we, as humans, make about music and the various contexts of these comparisons. By defining tasks such as building better song recommendation systems or finding structural information in a given recording, MIR seeks to algorithmically make these musical comparisons in the same way a single human being would, but on a much larger scale. In this talk, we will 1) introduce the field of MIR, including popular tasks and cutting edge techniques, 2) present our method for comparing songs, and 3) discuss further applications of this method beyond MIR tasks.
3:30pm, RNS 310

Seminar: Distinction Poster Session
Come hear and see the candidates for distinction in Biology today at 4:00 PM in the 4th floor atrium.

Tuesday, April 5

No Seminar

Wednesday, April 6

MSCS Recital:
The recital is an annual recognition of the talent, of all types, of the members of the MSCS community.  Faculty and students will perform, together and separately, for a couple of hours in the evening.  Anyone associated with MSCS is welcome to participate, as a performer or an observer.  This is a fun, relaxed gathering of students and faculty on equal footing.  There will be food and drink, but this event features homemade food offerings. .  If you are interested in performing, please contact Steve McKelvey
7:00pm, Ytterboe Lounge

Thursday, April 7

No Seminar

Friday, April 8

No Seminar

March 28 – April 1, 2016

Monday, March 28

No Seminars

Tuesday, March 29

No Seminars

Wednesday, March 30

Psychology/Neuroscience Cannon Callosum seminar: What tamarins can tell us about the uniqueness of us 
Dr. Julie Neiworth, Professor of Psychology, Carleton College. This event is intended to potentiate the connectivity between the neuroscience communities at Carleton and St. Olaf.
6:30 pm, Black and Gold Ballrooms

Humans evolved to express behaviors very different from our close relatives, the great apes, in terms of our development, our cooperative care of children, and our means for food getting, which typically relies heavily on cooperation and prosocial helping. Cotton top tamarins are one of a very few number of primate species which also breeds cooperatively. If cooperative breeding relies upon prosociality and unusual social/cognitive traits, then we might expect to find similar social thinking in these two disparate species. A sampling of studies from our lab outlines the similarities and differences in neural processing, cognition, and social thought we have discovered between humans and tamarins. These findings suggest ways in which humans evolved to be uniquely different from other primate species, and ways in which tamarins may serve as a viable animal model for brain and behavior processing in humans.​

Physics Colloquium: Subsurface Waves in the Oceans and Lake Superior
Sam Kelly, Assistant Professor, Large Lakes Observatory and Dept. of Physics, University of Minnesota Duluth
3:30 pm, RNS 210

Thursday, March 31

No Seminars

Friday, April 1

Seminar: Breaking Strong Bonds and Recovering Rare Earths: Adventures in Sustainable Chemistry
Marion H. Emmert, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Chemical & Mechanical Engineering

Catalysis is one of the most powerful tools of green chemistry, enabling reactions with lower energy consumption and providing new pathways for bond formations. In particular, catalytically functionalizing C-O bonds (common in biomass) under mild conditions are critical reactions to enable more sustainable chemical methodologies. Our approach towards addressing these challenges focuses on establishing a mechanistic understanding in order to translate this knowledge into broadly useful protocols for organic synthesis and biomass activation.

At the end of the materials lifecycle, inventing new technologies to provide sustainable sources of raw materials through recycling is another critical challenge for the movement towards a circular economy. Our efforts in this area take an approach similar to our developments in the area of catalysis: Based on understanding principles and mechanisms of materials flows, we use the principles of green chemistry to enable the design of novel, sustainable rare earth recovery technologies.

3:00 pm refreshments, 3:15 pm seminar, RNS 310

March 14 – 18, 2016

Monday, March 14

MSCS Colloquium: Estimating temporal associations in electrocorticographic (ECoG) time series
Haley Hedlin, ’06, Ph.D Senior Biostatistician, Stanford Medicine
Granger causality (GC) is a statistical technique used to estimate temporal associations in multivariate time series.  Many applications and extensions have been proposed since its formulation by Granger in 1969.  Here we apply Granger causality in the context of electrocorticography (ECoG), also known as intracranial electroencephalography.  A pruning approach to remove spurious connections and simultaneously reduce the required number of estimations to fit the functional connectivity graph is proposed. This approach overcomes limitations encountered when estimating many parameters in multivariate time series data, an increasingly common predicament in today’s brain mapping studies.
3:30pm, RNS 310 – Individual mini-pies will be served in celebration of  Pi Day with conversation at 3:15pm.

Biology Seminar: Scavenger – how a starving bacterium takes up scarce nutrients.
Professor Lisa Bowers
Caulobacter crescentus is a species of bacteria that lives in water everywhere. It’s well known as a scavenger due to its ability to take up scarce nutrients. It has many
interesting adaptations that allow it to thrive in low nutrient environments, including an unusually large group of surface proteins called TonB-dependent receptors (TBDRs) that
actively bind and transport nutrients into the cell. For a long time, TBDRs were thought to transport only iron complexes and Vitamin B12 but now we know iron and B12
represent just the tip of the iceberg. Recent studies have identified many novel substrates yet most of Caulobacter’s 65 TBDRs are still uncharacterized. What are the
other TBDRs doing? We are investigating a subset of TBDRs and are hot on the trail as we test our hypotheses with RT-qPCR, gene knockouts, and growth assays.
4:00 PM, RNS 410

Tuesday, March 15

No Seminars

Wednesday, March 16

Physics Colloquium: Subsurface Waves in the Oceans and Lake Superior
Sam Kelly, Assistant Professor, Large Lakes Observatory and Dept. of Physics, University of Minnesota Duluth
2:00 pm, RNS 210

MSCS – The Pi Mu Epsilon Spring lecture: Matrix Factorizations and Singularities of Hypersurfaces
Kosmos Diveris, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, St. Olaf College.
Algebraic geometers study geometric objects defined by polynomial equations, like the unit sphere in R3 which is defined by x 2+y 2+z 2 = 1. A lot of interesting geometry is encoded in algebraic properties of these polynomials. In this talk we will discuss what factoring of polynomials can tell us about geometric objects, and explain how one can “factor” irreducible polynomials using matrices. These matrix factorizations, introduced by David Eisenbud in 1980, play a central role in the study of singularities of hypersurfaces and are an active area of research today.
4pm, RNS 208 – Shamrock Shakes will be served at 3:45pm.

Thursday, March 17

No Seminars

Friday, March 18

No Seminars

This Week in Science – March 7 – 11, 2016

Monday, March 7

Psychology Allport Award Speaker
Your brain on music: Exploring the relationships between music and diverse cognitive functions.  
Dr. Belfi ’10, Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa, and is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at New York University.
7:00 p.m., Regents Hall 150

MSCS Research Seminar”
Combinatorics of standard Young tableaux
Michael Chmutov, NSF postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota.
Standard Young tableaux are elementary, combinatorial objects which arise naturally in abstract algebra (specifically in representation theory of the permutation groups). We will discuss two interesting results; one is the hook-length formula which allows us to compute the number of standard Young tableaux, and the other is the bijection between permutations and pairs of standard Young tableaux called the Robinson-Schensted correspondence. There are no prerequisites for this talk since the statements are completely elementary, however having had a group theory course may help with the motivation.
3:30pm, RNS 300 (3:15 cookies and conversation)

Tuesday, March 8

No Seminars

Wednesday, March 9

No Seminars

Thursday, March 10

No Seminars

Friday, March 11

Chemistry Seminar: Non-equilibrium processes:  Novel techniques for highly efficient combustion and the role of laser diagnostics in providing physical insight
Dr. James MichaelAssistant Professor, Iowa State University, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Non-equilibrium processes play important roles in processes ranging from chemical processing to plasma-assisted combustion and control.  Common themes among these processes include the importance of the disparate timescales involved, the role of excited-state species, and multiphase interactions.  This talk focuses on several novel approaches of plasma-assisted combustion and the non-equilibrium dynamics involved.  Plasma-assisted combustion offers the potential to expand the operating ranges of internal combustion and propulsion devices with efficient, tailored deposition of energy while improving efficiency.  Several techniques are discussed: (1) the interaction of pulsed microwave radiation with hydrocarbon flame fronts, (2) ignition via strong coupling between low intensity microwaves and ultrafast laser-generated ionization, and (3) enhanced combustion rates in solid propellants through coupling with alkali-metal generated ionization.  Direct plasma generation in these environments allows ultra-lean combustion for increased engine efficiency, as well as improved combustion control for gas and solid-phase combustion applications.  In studying these non-equilibrium environments, linear and non-linear laser diagnostics are powerful tools allowing direct interrogation of the thermodynamic state.  These techniques have led to improved understanding of underlying physical mechanisms common to non-equilibrium and multiscale phenomena, including turbulent combustion and plasma-enhanced processes.  Applications and developments of these laser spectroscopic techniques are discussed in relation to the understanding of energy transfer in non-equilibrium environments.
3:00 p.m. refreshments,  seminar will begin at 3:15 p.m., RNS 310

February 29 – March 4, 2016

Monday, February 29

Psychology Student Presentations
Interim in Inda
4:00 pm, RNS 210

MSCS Colloquium – Design considerations and alternatives for clinical trials of medical devices
Ted Lystig ’93 Director, Corporate Biostatistics at Medtronic
A recent high-profile series of hypertension trials provides an intriguing setting for a conversation around trial design issues for medical devices.  I will provide an overview of the therapy area and published trials, and then move to a discussion of various study options that were considered as subsequent candidate trials.  I’ll then discuss the operational properties of the designs, and talk about why they matter.  The presentation as a whole helps to illustrate how quantitative training can better prepare you to contribute in important, sometimes unexpected ways as a working professional.  Coursework in statistics is not necessary to follow the talk, but would allow you to appreciate more of the details.
3:15pm Cookies and Conversation; 3:30-4:30 P.M., RNS 310

Tuesday, March 1

Seminar: RNS 150 7pm

StoMols Speaker

Wednesday, March 2

Physics Colloquium 
Neutron Stars as a Laboratory
Demian Cho, Assistant Professor of Physics, St. Mary’s University-Winona, Minnesota
2:00 pm, RNS 210

Thursday, March 3

Seminar: Title
Speaker name and title
Time, Room

Friday, March 4

Chemistry Seminar: Designing peptides with non-natural residues to inhibit therapeutically-relevant protein-protein interactions
James Checco, ’10 Alumni

Peptides that bind specifically to protein surfaces can be useful as mediators of therapeutically-relevant protein-protein interactions or as diagnostic tools for disease marker detection. However, conventional peptides, comprised exclusively of the 20 proteinogenic α-amino acid residues (“α-peptides”), are rapidly degraded in biological systems by protease enzymes. The low half-life of α-peptides in vivo significantly limits the scope of their therapeutic use. Backbone-modified peptides that contain a mixture of α-residues and non-natural β-residues (which contain two carbon atoms in their backbone) can effectively mimic the structure and function of natural peptides. Such “α/β-peptides” can show high affinity and selectivity for target proteins and are less susceptible to proteolytic degradation than are α-peptides. This research develops a general strategy to design α/β-peptides that selectively target diverse and topologically-complex protein surfaces, such as the receptor-binding surface of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a mediator of angiogenesis that plays a major role in several diseases.

3:00 Refreshments, 3:15 Seminar, RNS390