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Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition (ASRCE) on April 12. The event featured oral and visual presentations of student-led scientific research and artwork. More than 50 presentations were delivered by students from a range of academic departments. 

 Mike Manzi, a junior majoring in environmental earth science (EES), presented on shoreline erosion due to weathering along Block Island. "I have enjoyed being a part of every step of the scientific process," said Manzi. "The best part is knowing that the information from my project can be used in the future by others doing research in this field."

 "Students studying environmental earth science have the opportunity to carry out exciting field-based research," said EES Professor William Cunningham. "Last summer undergraduates carried out original and important research in Idaho, Spain and various localities around southern New England. Their findings were presented at Saturday's event."

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At the ASRCE, Mathematics Professor Mizan Khan won the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Mentor Award. He was nominated by one of his students, Richard Magner, who has conducted extensive "number theory" research with Khan. 
 "Students who are interested doing research should ask a faculty member about opportunities in their area of interest," said Psychology Professor Madeleine Fugere. "I am always impressed by the quality of the research presented at this event."

Laura Markley, a junior majoring in EES, presented on population, natural resources and sea level rising in Bangladesh. "My research experience at Eastern has provided me with invaluable hands-on field experience," said Markley. "I'm lucky to be able to present on topics that interest me and address real-world problems."

"This event gives students the chance to experience the 'next step' in the research process: presentation," said Peter Bachiochi, psychology professor and faculty mentor. "It is very motivating for them."

"As a faculty mentor it is very rewarding to see your students present. It represents the culmination of a lot of hard work," said Fugere. "The ASRCE is one of the best academic events all year."

Magner Earns Goldwater Honorable Mention!

Written by Anne Pappalardo

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Willimantic, Conn. - Richard Magner '14, a mathematics major from Beacon Falls, CT, recently received an Honorable Mention from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The Goldwater Scholarship program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The program recognizes undergraduate students who demonstrate the potential to make significant research contributions in their future careers.

 Julia DeLapp, Eastern's coordinator for national scholarships and fellowships and program coordinator for the Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE), said, "As far as I know, this is the first time an Eastern student has been recognized by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Richard has been conducting research under the mentorship of Professor Mizan Khan for two years and is also Eastern's first Undergraduate Research Fellow."

"By the time he graduates, he will have completed eight graduate-level courses at the University of Connecticut, served as a teaching assistant for an upper-division math course, and will have had at least one publication and multiple presentations related to his own research," added DeLapp.

Magner's professors have recognized his unique capacities and have provided him with challenging experiences to ensure that he continues to develop while at Eastern. In addition to earning the respect of members of the Department of Mathematics, he has also impressed Computer Science faculty by writing computer programs on his own to aid his research.

In order to qualify to be considered by the Goldwater Scholarship program, students must be nominated by their institutions. Each institution can only nominate up to four students and each student must show actual potential for promising careers in research.
 
Eastern mathematics Professors Mizan Khan, Peter Johnson and Christian Yankov submitted letters of recommendation for Magner. His career goals include pursuing a Ph.D. in Mathematics, conducting research in number theory and teaching at the university level.

"Ricky is arguably the strongest mathematics major we have had in the past 20 years. He has an excellent mind and has shown that he is capable of doing original work in mathematics. Most importantly, his level of motivation and study ethic is extraordinary," said Khan.

Magner presented his research at two research conferences during the summer of 2013. The first, "Combinatorial and Additive Number Theory 2013" at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY); the second, the 2013 Young Mathematicians Conference at Ohio State University (OSU), which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Only one-third of the abstracts submitted were accepted at the OSU event.

The research has culiminated in two manuscripts. "The Combinatorial Geometric Problems Involving Modular Hyperbola," authored by M. Khan, R. Magner, S. Senger and A. Winterhof, will appear in INTEGERS (www.integers-ejcnt.edu) this year. INTEGERS is a refereed electronic journal devoted to research in the area of combinatorial number theory. "An Application of Modular Hyperbolas to Quadratic Residues," authored by Khan and Magner, will also be published in American Math Monthly (www.maa.org) this year.

Eastern Mathematicians Makes Discovery

Written by Michael Rouleau

mathmeticians make discovery-wagner,left Khan right.jpg                           Richard Magner, left, and Professor Mizan Khan, right


Willimantic, Conn. - Two members of Eastern Connecticut State University's Mathematics Department have made a discovery in the field of mathematics known as "number theory." Eastern mathematics professor Mizan Khan and Richard "Ricky" Magner, a junior majoring in mathematics, will have their discovery  published in Volume 14 of the electronic journal INTEGERS.

 The research, titled "Two Combinatorial Geometric Problems Involving Modular Hyperbolas," was a collaborative effort among four scholars, including Khan and Magner, as well as Steven Senger of the University of Delaware and Arne Winterhof of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

"The research concerned two problems, and Ricky answered one of them," said Khan. "Ricky's discovery is quite pretty; he is very clever."

 The questions leading their research were: "given a finite collection of points on a two-dimensional grid, how many distinct lines can you draw connecting two or more points in that collection?"; and "what conditions ensure that a line connecting two points in that collection do not meet a third point?"

The answers to these seemingly simple questions are indecipherable for those without some background in number theory--which deals with the properties and relationships of integers, or whole numbers.

 "Questions in number theory are easy to state," said Magner, "but they are difficult to answer, and their implications are often unknown."

 During Magner's freshman year, Khan approached him after class with an excerpt from a book dealing with "modular hyperbolas"--an area of number theory that Khan has been working on since 1999. "At first I didn't really know what we were looking for," said Magner, "but in the fall of my sophomore year, after spending much time with modular hyperbolas, things started to come together."

 Both Khan and Magner agree that the discovery alone has no practical application. "While the solution is elegant, this is a minor discovery," said Khan. "In this case, it is the process that is important, not the solution. My hope is that Ricky will build on this experience to prove bigger theorems in the future when he is in graduate school."

 "Through solving problems you develop skill and build an 'arsenal,' which can lead to new discoveries and expand the field of mathematics," said Magner. "At the time, you may not know if the discovery is useful. It may be years before its use is realized."

 Magner is currently taking graduate mathematics courses at UConn, in addition to his full-time workload at Eastern. After obtaining his master's degree, he plans to apply for a PhD program in mathematics, while still investing time in his passion for writing and other intellectual pursuits.

Eastern Hosts 2014 Research and Exhibition Conference

Written by Jordan Sakal


Willimantic, Conn. -  Eastern Connecticut State University will host its annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference & Exhibition on April 12 from 8:30 to 1:30 p.m. This annual event highlights student creative activity undertaken within the 11 departments and 13 majors in the School of Arts and Sciences.

 The conference is a forum for Arts & Sciences students to give oral and poster presentations of research they have conducted while at Eastern.  Students will also be reading poetry, discussing interpretations of literature, and displaying artwork. This exhibition will be the first ever to feature an award presented to faculty mentors for services to their student researchers.
 
 The award is student-nominated, and draws attention to the fact that Eastern students and faculty contribute to scholarly fields of inquiry beyond the classroom. The opening ceremonies of the conference will begin at 9 a.m. in room 104 of the Science Building. There will brief introductory remarks by Professor Nick Parsons, Dean Martin Levin of the School of Arts and Sciences, President Elsa Núñez and Provost Rhona Free.

Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Two high-level Connecticut court officials will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 26 for Eastern's University Hour series. At 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn will speak with the Eastern community about justice and the judicial system in today's world. 

Born and raised in Angola, Africa, Kahn was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2006 and currently is assigned to hear criminal matters in the Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. She moved to the United States at 10 years of age, is fluent in three languages and serves on a number state and national Bars. 

Rogers, a Connecticut native, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2007--the second woman ever to reach this designation in Connecticut. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the State Justice Institute's Board of Directors. In addition to serving on a number of prestigious Bars and committees, Rogers is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

"The event is open to the public and will be organized in a question-and-answer format," said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Women's Center. "Arrive early at the Student Center Theatre to ensure a good seat."

"Eastern in 4," Eastern's Revamped Academic Plan

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - As part of Eastern Connecticut State University's 2013-18 Strategic Plan, "Eastern in 4" is now a requirement for current students and incoming freshmen. The goal of "Eastern in 4" is to lay out a tight and comprehensive plan--including academic and career goals--that will lead students to their bachelor's degrees in four years.

"Eastern in 4" has existed as an informal objective for several years now, but recent data supporting the need for college-career planning has caused the University to revamp and mandate the program. "There are so many options and requirements in a college setting," said Alison Garewski, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students unknowingly taking courses they don't need--costing them more money and prolonging their time in college--is an issue nationwide."

With nearly 1,000 freshman at Eastern this year, approximately 650 have completed their academic plans. Though the plans are designed in group sessions of five to 20 students, each four-year plan is individualized according to a student's degree requirements and preferences--taking into consideration which liberal arts courses to take, internships and study abroad opportunities.

"Every semester when registering for classes I use my four-year plan to aid in my selection," said Christina Harmon, a sophomore majoring in psychology. "'Eastern in 4' was a great way for me to learn what classes I need to take and how to stay on track in order to graduate on time."

While "Eastern in 4" is available to all students and majors, it is especially useful to transfer students, continuing education students and those switching majors. "This program is ideal at Eastern because we're a liberal arts school," said Chris Drewry, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students are required and encouraged to take courses outside of their major, so having this direction is really helpful."

"Before making my 'Eastern in 4' plan, I had no idea if I could fit a double major's worth of classes into my schedule," said Thomas Hacker, a freshman with a double major. "Now I have a roadmap to double major in music and communication in four years."

EES Defeats Political Science in College Bowl Competition

Written by Dwight Bachman


On March 12, the Eastern College Bowl completed its 37th consecutive season.  Held in the Student Center Theatre, the College Bowl is a competition for undergraduates representing various majors.

The championship match saw the lead exchanged several times, a match that was not decided until the final question. The team representing the Environmental Earth Science (EES) Department defeated the team from the Political Science Department. EES had won matches against Economics and Mathematics to reach the finals, while Political Science had won its previous matches over Biochemistry and Biology. The winning EES team included students Dustin Munson, Cody Lorentson, Daniel Grondin, and Mackensie Fannon. 

College Bowl questions asked come from many different academic and non-academic areas, often involving audio or visual clues. Questions in this year's championship match included ones involving Dante's "Inferno," Julius Caesar and his crossing the Rubicon, phobias, songs from Disney movies and one titled, "The Doors of Eastern," in which contestants were asked to identify buildings on campus after seeing photographs of their front doors.  The question that decided the winner of the 2014 College Bowl  involved the naming of Transuranium elements. 

The College Bowl is organized and run by Tim Swanson, associate professor of physical science, who originated the competition in 1978.  This year, he was assisted by Biology Professor Gloria Colurso and Marty Levin, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Board of Regents President Gray Visits Eastern's Campus

Written by Dwight Bachman

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Willimantic, Conn -- Eastern President Elsa Núñez, along with more than 100 students, faculty and staff, greeted Connecticut State Universities and Colleges (ConnSCU) Board of Regents President  Gregory Gray to campus on Sept. 18. The new president of Connecticut's Board of Regents for Higher Educatonis in the midst of touring the 17 schools that make up the state's public higher education system. Gray took over as president on July . He oversees the Board of Regents, which governs 12 community colleges, four state universities, and Charter Oak College,  the state's on-line institution.

Nunez praised Gray for his vision; his goal of restoring integrity to the system and for finding opportunities for more collaboration between community colleges and the four-year universities.

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Gray, noting that Eastern students were already fortunate to have a beautiful, physical setting, said, "Pristine is all around you here. Knowing that you were so dedicated to having such a beautiful campus tells me this same dedication must be taking place in the classroom as well."  He said his primary goal is to improve the learning environment on campuses, "making it go from very good to great."

Gray said he believes that by working together with faculty members who have a deep-rooted passion for excellence, ConnSCU will become a world-class system of higher education. To achieve this long-range goal, Gray wants to (1) restore trust and integrity to the system; (2) make the system more efficient and productive; (3) develop a plan to benefit current and future students.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we have to get it right. I want to develop a plan that will positively impact student 25 years from now." He said online education courses; a unified calendar for all system colleges and universities; and seamless transfer of credits will better serve students. "Saving money is important, but that is not the primary goal. We want to provide access and focus on what we should focus on a student's purpose for being here, which is to learn.  We then, want tell the world about it."

Gray said he wants board meetings to focus on student presentations about their achievements, and to see more scholarship celebrated on campus through academic fairs showcasing faculty books and student-published articles. He believes his plan will identify areas of efficiency, producing a more clearly-defined niche for each university.

During a question and answer period, Gray told students who want to be assured their voices are heard to "speak up, but get your facts straight. I assure you I will do all I can to support the integration of teaching, learning and service to our students. I say let's improve the overall efficiency of the system; improve the learning environment; give the governor and the legislature a good plan; and get it funded."

 

Ricky Magner is Eastern's First Undergraduate Research Fellow.

Written by Jordan Sakal

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Willimantic, Conn. - 

Richard "Ricky" Magner, a senior studying mathematics at Eastern Connecticut State University, is the University's first Undergraduate Research Fellow. The research fellowship program provides undergraduate students with a stipend and the opportunity to research with experienced professionals in their field. During his freshman year, Magner met Professor Mizan Khan of the Mathematics Department and was invited to take part in the research that Khan was undertaking in the field of Number Theory.

"The interesting part of the experience was that the original question we started out with wasn't answered in the end," said Magner. "We realized that it was not the most successful question to ask, so we had to modify things as we went along." The research in the field of Number Theory is about phenomena known as modular hyperbolas, which are sets of points in a plane. The original goal of the research, according to Magner, was to show when three or more points passed through a line, which proved to be unsuccessful.

Magner and Khan modified their experiment to test for only two points passing through a line and that proved to be a more successful operation. "The research is pretty much self-contained and probably won't change anyone's lives except for mine," said Magner, "but it is good practice and résumé building experience for the future." Magner also spoke to the nature of math research. "It is not too uncommon in math research to go for a long time and not get anything and then have it all come tumbling out in a great realization."

Khan was Magner's research supervisor and mentor throughout the process and helped introduce him to the topic more than 18 months ago. Magner presented his research at two research conferences this past summer. The first was at the "Combinatorial and Additive Number Theory 2013" at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY); the second was the 2013 Young Mathematicians Conference at Ohio State University (OSU), which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Only a third of the abstracts were accepted at the OSU event.

The research has culminated in two manuscripts. The first, "Two combinatorial geometric problems involving modular hyperbola," (http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.6943v2) has been submitted to a research journal. The authors are M. Khan, R. Magner, A. Winterhof and S. Senger. The second, "An application of modular hyperbolas to quadratic residues," co-authored by Khan and Magner, has been accepted for publication in the American Mathematical Monthly, the flagship journal of the Mathematics Association of America and will be published in late 2014. The Monthly accepts less than 10 percent of submissions, and publication of the research represents a major milestone for Magner. He believes being a research fellow will serve him well when he applies to a prestigious doctoral program in mathematics.


 

 

Eastern Named Among 2013-14 Public Colleges of Distinction

Written by Dwight Bachman


Willimantic, Conn: Eastern Connecticut State University has been included in the latest edition of the "Public Colleges of Distinction" guidebook.  Eastern is the only public college from Connecticut listed in the guidebook.  The guide says the colleges and universities listed excel in four distinctions --Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Communities and Successful Outcomes.

"Engaged students" learn the skills they need to succeed in life -- the ability to think flexibly and address problems hands-on -- not just being able to memorize facts and follow orders. Instead, Eastern students learn to communicate, think critically, and solve problems as they explore the world through study abroad, internships, community service projects and undergraduate research.

"Great teaching" occurs in an atmosphere where feedback and encouragement are the norm. Faculty interaction is crucial to learning. "Colleges of distinction" encourage an atmosphere of exciting thought and action, led by professors who care about helping students learn to think for themselves. Academic innovation goes hand-in-hand with personalized learning.

"Vibrant communities" are campus communities that offer activities and events that help students learn even after the books are closed, creating social opportunities for students to develop friendships, and providing students a wide range of intellectually, thought-provoking speakers, seminars, unique films and artistic events.

"Successful outcomes" describes schools that produce students who can think, write, speak and reason, get a job, and most importantly, are also good citizens who can work together with diverse groups of people.
Colleges of Distinction are considered "hidden gems" of higher education, according to the panel of academicians, guidance counselors and parents that made the selection, officials said.  

The guidebook describes a College of Distinction as being:
 
• nationally recognized by education professionals and honored for the excellence of its programs;
• strongly focused on teaching undergraduates, where students are taught by real professors, not by graduate students or teaching assistants, in vibrant classrooms where the faculty keep their students challenged and interested;
• home to a wide variety of innovative learning experiences, from study abroad and scientific research to service learning and internships;
• an active campus with many opportunities for personal development. Whatever their passion, students find plenty of encouragement to help them pursue it; and
• highly valued by graduate schools and employers for its outstanding preparation.

The Public Colleges of Distinction are currently featured on the newly redesigned Colleges of Distinction website and will be featured in the Public Colleges of Distinction eGuidebook available this fall.

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