Spring 2014 final

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Split Hart p.12

Probability of a Career p. 16 Struggle and Success p. 20 Forging an Alliance p.24


BYU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences Scott D. Sommerfeldt, Dean Thomas W. Sederberg, Associate Dean Bart J. Kowallis, Associate Dean Kurt D. Huntington, Assistant Dean

Department Chairs Gregory F. Burton, Chemistry & Biochemistry Parris K. Egbert, Computer Science John H. McBride, Geological Sciences Robin O. Roundy, Mathematics Steven R. Williams, Mathematics Education Richard R. Vanfleet, Physics & Astronomy H. Dennis Tolley, Statistics

Frontiers Production Bart J. Kowallis, Editorial Director D. Lynn Patten, Assistant Editorial Director Aimee Hancock, Managing Editor Trista Jarvis, Graphic Designer Josh Siebert, Photographer Meg Monk, Writer Eve Hart Smith, Writer Caroline Smith, Writer Madison Parks, Writer

Contact Information D. Lynn Patten, Marketing Manager 801.422.4022, lynn_patten@byu.edu

PHOTOS: cover and right, Josh Siebert

Brent C. Hall, LDS Philanthropies 801.422.4501, brenth@byu.edu

Geology Department Digs New Display Lorin Pugh donated these beautiful mineral specimens to the Department of Geological Sciences. It was his way of giving back after three of his sons received scholarships to attend BYU. Now located in the BYU Eyring Science Center, the more than fifty minerals in the display came from a personal collection that he has built up over his life. Joel Hall, a CVLC member and owner of the JDH group, designed and built the display. The display includes a two-ton crystal that was donated by John and Cher Anderson in 2003. This dazzling exhibit is one way for all who visit to appreciate some of the most beautiful resources on Earth.


Success can take many different shapes and forms and can be defined differently for each person. However, one common factor in success is hard work. It is always interesting to me to see where the efforts of those belonging to this college take them and what achievements they obtain. Through their diligence, their successes have and will lead them to unique places and accomplishments. Our alumni are good examples of how hard work can lead to individual success. Mike Alletto, a graduate of the Department of Computer Science, helped develop a public heath surveillance system; Brent Moore, a chemistry alumnus, works as a patent attorney for technology; and Glenn Shaw, a graduate of the Department of Geological Sciences, is teaching hydrogeology at Montana Tech while researching the use of isotopes to investigate groundwater and surface water interactions. Todd Wight, a mathematics alumnus, is working toward an MBA with an emphasis in hospital administration; Lindsay Merrill, a graduate of the Department of Mathematics Education is working on a master’s degree in mathematics education while doing research on how to communicate math to English language learners; David Ripplinger, a physics alumnus, is doing cutting edge research on the formulation of a family of solutions that could be used in airborne tactical networks; and Jared Fisher, a statistics alumnus, is now conducting research for his master’s degree on Bayesian semiparametric modeling of the performance curves of major league baseball players’ career homerun hitting. You can read about these and more of our alums on p. 6. These achievements did not come easily; true success requires hard work and determination. All our alumni have individual goals and have set out in their own ways to find the path that will result in success. We appreciate their hard work and encourage them to continue in their endeavors. Our college also has many examples of different ways in which success can be achieved. Tyler Jarvis (p. 20) found that consistent perseverance aided him in overcoming his struggles to achieve a successful career in mathematics. Scott Burt (p. 10) saw the fruits of his hard work recently published in Nature, one of the leading scientific journals. David Dahl (p. 16) has found a way to be successful as he balances his family and career. Hard work not only led Gus Hart (p. 12) to a career in physics, but also introduced him to a newfound passion for handball.


Christophe Giraud-Carrier (p. 10) has been studying Twitter and analyzing how “tweets” mirrors suicide rates. These are just a few success stories from those in our college. We appreciate all that our faculty do and commend them for all they have accomplished. Our college has been truly blessed to have friends that continue to help the students in our college have many different opportunities to learn and succeed. We have several scholarships and mentorships funded by companies as well as by many individuals and families. Marc and Shirley Burton are friends of the college that have contributed to providing more opportunities for our mathematics students. Read their success story on p. 8. We express our thanks to so many of you who support us and help others succeed. Whether success comes in the form of obtaining a patent, making a scientific breakthrough, having a strong family, or simply graduating from college, the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences aims to help its students and alumni reach their own successes by providing the necessary tools. We applaud all the diligent work that goes on within the college and the work that continues after graduation, and we encourage all to continue to work toward success. I also would like to encourage each of you to remember that success for our students can be in part made possible through support they can receive from endowed funds. See how our fund is growing on p. 9. Wishing you all the best,











PHOTOS: Josh Siebert










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24 SPRING 2014



AFTER THEIR ALMA MATER Chemistry & Biochemistry 1997 | Brent C. Moore (BS ’97 Brigham Young University; PhD ’05 University of Utah; Escondido, California) is a patent attorney at Illumina, Inc., in San Diego, California. In his position, he works closely with research teams in all technology areas to develop and implement a wide variety of intellectual property strategies, including paten preparation and prosecution. 1997 | Zhifeng Ye (BS ’97, MS ’05, Brigham Young University; Boston, Massachusetts) works at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in Cambridge, MA. She was honored in November 2013 as a Hero of Chemistry by the American Chemistry Society for her work on the development of Kalydeco, a new drug that treats the underlying cause of cyctic fibrosis. Computer Science 1985 | Mike Alletto (BS ’85 Brigham Young University; MS ’96, Colorado University; Parker, Colorado) is working in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations (ASTHO) on a project called BioSense 2.0. Started in 2003, the program has become a success, and Mike has become the chief architect of the data warehouse and has been the main leader in designing and implementing the security features of the system. 1995 | Robert Price (BS ’95 Brigham Young University; Springville, Utah) is employed at NetScout Systems, Inc. (a leading provider of network and application performance management) as a principle software engineer. There he is helping to develop web-based user interfaces in HTML/JavaScript and server-side Java. 1995 | David Johnston (BS ’95 Brigham Young University; MD ’99, University of Utah; Southlake, Texas) is a breast imaging radiologist with Solis Women’s Health in Fort Worth, Texas. He is working on state of the art techniques in mammography, including the implementation of the new 3D Tomosynthesis Mammogram. 2000 | David Dangerfield (BS ’00 Brigham Young University, MS ’02 Purdue University; Oronoco, Minnesota) worked for IBM in Rochester, Minnesota, as a software engineer for eleven years. Now he is with Preventice, a startup company in Rochester. He is developing web applications for the medical industry. 2010 | Randy Buck (BS ’10, MS ’12 Brigham Young University; Lehi, Utah) works at Adobe as a software engineer where he is working on Adobe Analytics, which is part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud. Geological Sciences 1990 | William Kunsman (BS ’90 Brigham Young University; Pleasant Grove, Utah) is working on developing a resort on the shoreline of Utah Lake.


1997 | Joe and Ginger Cooley Brinton (BS ’97 and BS ’99, respectively, Brigham Young University; Western Colorado) both graduated from BYU with degrees in geology. Joe travels internationally working on coal exploration projects. Last exploration season they took all six of their children to Greenland (Joe’s current project) and Iceland to see some incredible geology. 1997 | Glenn Shaw (BS ’97 Brigham Young University; Butte, Montana) is working as a faculty member of the Department of Geological Engineering at Montana Tech. There he teaches hydrogeology courses. His research involves using isotopes to investigate groundwater and surface water interactions in relation to water quality and water resources. 2003 | Laura C. Wald (BS ’03, MS ’07 Brigham Young University; Utah) works with the National Information, Security & Geospatial Consortium (NISGTC) to improve and implement five GIS courses to be used in a virtual environment by several colleges throughout the US. She works as an adjunct faculty member at Salt Lake Community College in the Geosciences Department. 2008 | John Hoopes (BS ’08, MS ’11 Brigham Young University; Lakewood, Colorado) is employed at the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. For the past two and a half years, he has worked as an operations and development geologist for the “Enhanced Oil Recovery” asset of the company. 2011| Forrest Roberts (BS ’11; Austin, Texas) is currently working on his master’s at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He works as a graduate research assistant at the Bureau of Economic Geology, which is a part of the Jackson School. His current project is a shale gas study that analyzes future production capabilities for shale in the U.S. He also recently became the proud father of a baby girl. Mathematics 2008 | Rebecca Rowley (BS ’08, Brigham Young University; West Jordan, Utah) is starting her first year of teaching 7th grade math at West Hills Middle School in West Jordan. She is also a candidate for Alternate Route to Licensure, a teacher preparation program. Mathematics Education 2007 | Nicole Malloy (BS ’07, Brigham Young University; Provo, Utah) is working on a master’s degree in both mathematics and mathematic education. She wants to teach at the community college level. Her general topic of study is combinatorial matrix theory, particularly research in the minimum rank problems for cographs. 2012 | Lindsay Merrill (BS ’12 Brigham Young University; Provo, Utah) is working on her master's degree in mathematics education. For her thesis, she is researching how to support English language learners in mathematics classes, particularly in their use of ways to communicate in math that aren’t language-laden, such

as graphs, diagrams, and gestures. She is also working with Blake Peterson and Keith Leatham on their MOST research project (Mathematically significant pedagogical Opportunities to build on Student Thinking). Physics & Astronomy 2000 | James Peterson (BS ’00 Brigham Young University; Stafford, Virginia) is a major in the United States Air Force and a B-1B bomber pilot. He works in the Checkmate Division of Air Staff as an airpower strategist and conducts global contingency planning. 2008 | Gordon Mancuso (BS ’08 Brigham Young University, MS ’11 Louisiana State University; Madison, Wisconsin) is employed at Philips Healthcare in the radiation oncology division. He provides medical physics support for cancer centers that use the Pinnacle treatment planning system, which is used worldwide to create individualized radiation treatment plans for cancer patients. 2009 | David Ripplinger (BS ’09, MS ’11 Brigham Young University; Bedford, Massachusetts) is an associate staff member at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in the Airborne Networks Group, and has been working there for two years. After completing his bachelor’s degree in physics, he received a master’s degree in computer science. At Lincoln Lab he has been doing cutting edge research on the formulation of a family of solutions that may be used in airborne tactical networks. 2009 | Matthew Shaw (BS ’09, MS ’11 Brigham Young University; State College, Pennsylvania) is a PhD candidate for the acoustics graduate program at Pennsylvania State University. He is working with Dr. Stephen Hambric in vibrations in jet aircraft, particularly fluid-structure interaction in structures near jet exhaust systems. Statistics 2012 | Jared Fisher (BS ’12 Brigham Young University; Provo, Utah) is working on his master’s degree in statistics. His research for his master’s project involves the Bayesian semiparametric modeling of performance curves of major league baseball players’ career homerun hitting, which he is working on with Dr. Gilbert Fellingham. Jared has also been collaborating on the application of topic analysis in predicting health care outcomes. 2012 | Rob Versaw (BS ’12 Brigham Young University; Phoenix metro area, Arizona) is working for Lockheed Martin as a systems testing and integration engineer. He is working on the Milesplit Utah website as well. Aside from his work, he is also working on getting a master’s degree from George Washington University in systems engineering.


Happily Hooked on Math By Todd Wight (Mathematics, BS ’09, MBA Candidate, Class of 2014 Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Business; Provo, Utah)

While math itself is a useful tool in business, the most important attributes I developed as a math major are the drive and intellectual curiosity to always understand the “why” behind a scenario. I initially got hooked on the mathematics major because of its excellent training to problem solve in a wide range of applications and industries. Math majors can find employment in law, business, healthcare, technology, defense, engineering, and economics, just to name a few. I loved problem solving, and I always wanted a new challenge, so the possibilities were endless. Once I defeated abstract algebra, I knew I could do anything. I ate up optimization, linear algebra, numerical methods, statistics, programming, mathematical systems, and probability theory. After graduation, I landed a job in healthcare technology, where I was able to put my problem solving skills to good use every day. My math background has set me apart in the BYU MBA program and in my current career interests within the healthcare industry because of my ability to use technical tools that others simply can’t.

Have a Memory Byte to Share? During your time at BYU, what was your favorite majorbased project or research? What did you have to do for it? Tell us about your research experiences at BYU. Please send your anecdotes (of up to 200 words) to cpms@byu.edu with “Memory Bytes” in the subject line. We’ll publish the best ones in the next issue of Frontiers. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, appropriateness, and clarity.





Marc and Shirley Burton have lived lives of serving and learning, a legacy that will live on in the scholarship they created for math students.


of Oakville, Ontario; Diane of Lincoln, Nebraska; Mark of Henderson, Nevada; Richard of Glendale, California; and Nancy of Clovis, California. Marc and Shirley retired from the Air Force in 1970 to San Jose, California. Marc worked in the insurance business and taught meteorology for fourteen years at San Jose

THE COMBINATION OF MARC’S LOVE OF MATH AND SHIRLEY’S LOVE OF TEACHING LED TO THE CREATION OF THE MARC AND SHIRLEY BURTON SCHOLARSHIP; IT IS A TRIBUTE TO HER AND HER LOVE OF YOUNG PEOPLE. State, where he retired as Professor Emeritus. Marc’s love for math and meteorology was exemplified in his efforts to develop global-weather models. Shirley continued to cultivate her learning as well through studying books and taking every opportunity to learn. She was a quick thinker and had an affinity for age-old sayings that had layered meanings. Shortly after the scholarship was created for BYU math students, Shirley passed away. Marc explained that the creation of the scholarship meant even more to him after the passing of his wife. He described a scene in Seinfeld that summed up his feelings perfectly. In one episode, Jerry’s friend George mourns because his wife-to-be died unexpectedly. Jerry tells George, “She’s not really dead if we find a way to remember her.” Marc believes that Shirley’s presence will live on through the scholarship. “I wanted to make sure that the education process [would] proceed,” Marc said. The combination of Marc’s love of math and Shirley’s love of teaching led to the creation of the Marc and Shirley Burton Scholarship; it is a tribute to her and her love of young people. The college is grateful for a couple so exemplary of BYU’s motto, “enter to learn, go forth to serve.” The Burtons served their country and family while never ceasing to seize any opportunity to increase their learning. With this scholarship, math students have the opportunity to continue the Burtons’ honorable legacy.

PHOTO: courtesy of Fred Lewis

About the only connection Marc and Shirley Burton have to BYU is that one of their sons attended college here. The path to creating a scholarship for math students at a school where they never attended was long and took them all over the world. Marc began his studies as an engineering student at San Jose State, but once WWII began, the military desperately needed meteorologists. He completed a three-part training program beginning at Berkeley and ending at UCLA. He was commissioned into the U. S. Air Force in 1944 and received his first assignment to Marana Airbase near Tucson, Arizona. During his time in Tucson, he met Shirley Etheredge, a young teacher from Norfolk, Virginia. They were married in 1945, and together they traveled the world for twentyeight years, completing eighteen duty assignments along the way. They served in locations ranging from Hawaii to Newfoundland and from Alaska to Spain. However, Marc and Shirley did not let their travels prevent them from having a family. As time in the Air Force went on, their family grew. They raised five children: Robert


President Cecil O. Samuelson honored eight members of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences community at the opening session of the Annual University Conference (AUC) on August 27, 2013. John Lamb (Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecturer), Tony Martinez (Alumni Professorship), William Christensen (Maeser Excellence in Teaching), Dan Ventura (Maeser Excellence in Teaching), Sue Mortensen (President’s Appreciation Award), Michael Dorff (University Teaching and Learning Fellowship), David Dearden (Alcuin Fellowship in General Education), and Charles Knutson (Technology Transfer Award) received various university awards honoring their hard work and accomplishments.

College Awards Banquet

Faculty, staff, and their families gathered on January 24 for the Annual College Awards Banquet in the Wilkinson Center Ballroom. The University Service Awards were presented to Sue Mortensen, John Ellsworth, Jeff Farrer, Jeanette Lawler, Nan Ah You, Bart Whitehead, and Kelly Jensen. College Awards went to Jim Logan, Randy Skinner, Scott Bergeson, Daniel Ess, and Del Scott.

Associate Dean Earns Pierre Bézier Award

Thomas W. Sederberg, an associate dean of the college, was honored with the prestigious Pierre Bézier Award on November 12, 2013, at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Conference on Geometric and Physical Modeling in Denver. This award is given by the Solid Modeling Association and is one of the highest honors a person can receive within the geometric modeling community. The award recognizes research contributions of lasting, technological importance in the fields of solid, geometric, and physical modeling and applications. Sederberg was nominated for his revolutionary work on topics ranging from algebraic techniques and free-form deformation (FFD) to subdivision and T-splines.

Our college continues to use donated endowment funds to support undergraduate research and keep our graduate programs competitive. Your donations can keep us progressing towards our goal of $20 million. Devon Blake, an undergraduate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is one of many students who have received an undergraduate research award thanks to donations 10m to the endowment fund. Blake has worked in Dr. Barry Willardson’s lab for two years defining the mechanism of assembly of G protein complexes, which could help scientists target these proteins for the treatment 8m of many diseases. As a result of his research, Blake co-authored a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Blake says that his experience in the lab has been the most important 6m aspect of his underg raduate education and will be invaluable to his future. “My research is the core of my resumé,” Blake said. “I am going into graduate school, and I will be doing research all the time. 4m Because of my research experience, I have received interviews from top graduate universities, including Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, 2m and Duke University, among others. Without my research experience that wouldn’t be the case.” Blake will graduate in April and is using his advantage from his lab experience to get into a competitive PhD program in pharmacology. UNDERGRADUATE MENTORING

AUC Awards




GM Check to Animation

The General Motors (GM) Foundation donated $20,000 to the Brigham Young University Center for Animation on October 28, 2013, bringing GM’s recent donations to more than $90,000. Thanks to the generosity of the General Motors Foundation, the BYU Center for Animation will have additional funding to continue their quest to produce skilled leaders in animation.

HELP FUND THE FUTURE If you would like to contribute or know somebody who would, please visit cpms.byu.edu/cpmsgiving, or contact Brent Hall by phone at 801.422.4501, or by email at brenth@byu.edu.





CHEMISTRY & BIOCHEMISTRY Seminar: At the Education in Zion lecture held on October 23, Joshua Price explained that spiritual revelation is actually the key to scientific discovery. He said that when we observe the universe, on both macroscopic and microscopic scales, we begin to discover that the universe is composed of kingdoms within kingdoms that operate according to natural law. Retirement: Phillip Brown, professor in the

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been teaching at BYU since 1993, and has been a full-time teaching professor since 1997. Since then, he has been the Faculty Coordinator for the freshman general chemistry laboratory course and lectured introductory chemistry courses on a regular basis. Publication: Scott Burt and collaborators

at UCLA developed an MRI technique that produces a temperature map of gases in heterogeneous reactions. Their work was published in the leading scientific journal, Nature, on October 23, 2013. COMPUTER SCIENCE

with Twitter: Computer science professor Christophe Giraud-Carrier was recently published in the suicide-prevention journal Crisis for his study in which he used Twitter to flag individuals who may be at-risk for suicide.


GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES Sand Dunes: Geology professor Jani Radebaugh was recently published in Geomorphology for her research on the fast-moving sand dune in Tunisia that is beginning to cover the Star Wars set used as Anakin Skywalker’s childhood home. MATHEMATICS

NSF Award: Mathematics professor Jessica

Purcell recently received a National Science Foundation CAREER award. This will fund


five years of research of three-dimensional spaces (manifolds), mentoring research opportunities, and programs for education and outreach for local public schools.

1958 and 1959, respectively. He later finished his PhD at MIT. His research area was acoustics. He served as a physics’ faculty member for thirty-five years and retired in 2001.

In Remembrance: Burton Cleon Gee passed

Publication: Physics professor Justin Peatross

MATHEMATICS EDUCATION Project: Blake Peterson and Keith Leatham are currently involved in a collaborative project with researchers from Michigan Technological University and Western Michigan University that focuses on improving the teaching of secondary school mathematics by improving teachers’ abilities to recognize teaching moments and use student thinking during instruction to develop better understanding of concepts.

In Remembrance: Delbert Harold McNamara


Bottle Mystery: Mechanical engineering

away on September 21, 2013, at Turtle & Crane Assisted Living Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, at the age of eighty-five. He earned his bachelor’s degree from BYU in 1951 and a master’s of education from Oregon State University in 1958. Gee was a devoted professor at BYU for thirty-one years and served as the assistant chair of the mathematics department from 1969 to 1972.

In Remembrance: Dwight Robinson Dixon

passed away on September 3, 2013, near Ogden, Utah, at the age of ninety-four. Dixon earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Utah State University in 1942 and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1955. He worked as an engineer before joining the physics faculty at BYU in 1959. Dixon enjoyed participating in acoustics. He retired from BYU in 1984. Award: Bill Strong received the Silver Medal

from the Acoustical Society of America on December 11, 2013. The Silver Medal is the second highest award given by the ASA. Strong graduated from BYU with a BS and MS in

was recently published as the cover story in the American Journal of Physics (AJP). His article, titled “Classical Connection between Near-Field Interactions and Far-Field Radiation and the Relevance to Quantum Photoemission”, discusses Walter Gordon’s famous 1926 article on calculating photon scattering by a free electron and Gordon’s both incorrect and correct math. passed away on January 9, 2014, near Provo, Utah, at the age of ninety. McNamara received his PhD in 1950 at the University of California at Berkeley. He became a member of the physics faculty in 1955 as a professor of astrophysics. McNamara authored and co-authored more than 100 publications and presented in many different countries around the world. He retired from BYU in 2006. STATISTICS

professor Michael Miles, statistics professor Natalie Blades, and statistics professor Scott Grimshaw used statistics to prove the innocence of a local bottle factory that was accused of making defective bottles. Their data showed that the bottles had the same thickness all the way around.Read more at http://cpms.byu. edu/cracking-the-case-of-the-bad-bottle/. Retirement: Bruce Collings, professor in the

Department of Statistics, has been teaching at BYU since 1988, including teaching a few years in the Department of Mathematics. He has been involved in research interests that include actuarial science and computational statistics. He is a member of the American Statistical Association and the Society of Actuaries.


OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM 0101 Computer Science 1010 The BYU Center for Animation recently took home its twelfth College Television Award in ten years for its six-minute 3D animated short, Estefan. The film took two years and countless hours from students in both the computer science and fine arts tracks. During the entire process of production, anywhere from twenty-five to forty different students worked on the film at any given time. Over the course of the past decade, students have won awards for other popular shorts such as Pajama Gladiator, Kites, and Dreamgiver. Such a high reputation for excellence sets a high bar for students to meet, and they are happy to do so. “Winning an Emmy is awesome,” said recent graduate Lauren Taylor, producer of Estefan. “The animation program has a long history of entering the student Emmys. It’s kind of a relief that we can continue that tradition and heritage and hit that benchmark that we set for ourselves.”

Two BYU statistics students are working to revolutionize the NBA with statistical analysis. Graduate statistics student Nick Martineau is a former point guard for the BYU basketball team and recently spent the summer crunching numbers for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team was so impressed by him that they asked him to stay on as he finishes his graduate degree. Martineau will continue to provide various analytics such as player evaluation, team strategy, and draft preparation as he finishes school this year. Zach Bradshaw recently finished an 8-month internship with the Charlotte Bobcats, owned by Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Bradshaw spent the summer in Las Vegas observing the NBA summer league. At the conclusion of his internship he was hired as a part-time statistical consultant while he finishes his degree in statistics.

PHOTO: Center for Animation wins Emmy.

PHOTO: Statistics students Nick Martineau and Zach Bradshaw.

Chemistry & Biochemistry

PHOTOS: courtesy of BYU Photo


The Y-Chem Society, a club for chemistry students, won its third consecutive Commendable Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS). The award is given based on the programs and activities of clubs. The students in the club work hard to provide service to the community as well as the department through putting on Open Lab Day, National Chemistry Week, and magic shows, just to name a few.


Geological Sciences


Mathematics Education

Physics & Astronomy

Undergraduate student Jeff Valenza was honored at the 2013 Student Research Conference for his research on exposed ultramafic rocks from the Banda Arc-Continent collision. The aim of Valenza’s study was to determine from which plate the ultramafic rocks originate using whole rock geochemical analysis.

Math graduate student Nicole Malloy recently assisted Dr. Wayne Barrett in publishing “Decompositions of Minimum Rank Matrices,” a paper in which the researchers gave an alternate proof of a result found by Hein Van der Holst in 2008 about the rank of matrices corresponding to graphs with a 2-separation.

Undergraduate student Kallie Dean was honored at the 2013 Student Research Conference for her research on textbook language. Dean investigated whether textbook writers try to bridge the gap between conversational and technical language. She also compared and contrasted presenting mathematical concepts in Spanish and English.

Acoustics student Jazmin Myres was recently honored with the Robert. W. Young Award for Undergraduate Student Research by the Acoustical Society of America for her research on military jet noise. Myres’s research is contributing to reducing hearing loss for military personnel and increasing understanding of high-speed turbulent flow noise.




SPLIT HART The story of how physics professor Gus Hart discovered his passions—physics and handball.

Text: Meg Monk Photo: Josh Siebert




uring his first days as a new assistant professor at Northern Arizona University, Gus Hart began soliciting among his new colleagues for a racquetball partner. He found a peer who was willing to play with him—if Hart would agree to try handball as well. Hart remembers being apprehensive to the idea because he considered handball a “pansy sport.” Once he began playing, however, his perceptions quickly changed. “It was like a new drug,” Hart said. “The tempo is unbelievable.” Five years later, in 2006, Hart joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at BYU. Since then he has converted many faculty members and over fifty students to the sport. To these student novices, he has offered a lure of $100 to whoever can beat him before he or she graduates. To this day, Hart’s wallet has been safe, but he says he had one close call. One of his former students, who was the best student handball player Hart had ever seen, practiced for two-anda-half years while he was at BYU and missed beating Hart by only two points before he graduated. “To tell you the truth, if I could pay $100 to play regularly with a student who could beat me . . . I would shell out a few hundred every year. I would gladly pay to have the competition,” Hart joked. Hart enjoys the exercise he gets from handball and likes that it is easy on the body—he will be able to play handball until the day he dies. “I plan to die of a heart attack on the court,” he said. Hart’s discovery of handball is similar to his discovery


of his other love—physics. It wasn’t something he found right away. Hart began college at Ricks in 1986 as a technical engineering major, but quickly changed to art. He enjoyed art, but soon left that major for economics. Hart then declared a Japanese major, during which time he had the opportunity to travel to Japan and study Japanese history and linguistics. In fact, Hart and his wife, Cynthia, were married just a few weeks before they left for Japan so he could study at Shizuoka University through the Japanese Ministry of Education Research Fellowship Program. While he enjoyed it immensely, Hart decided to go back to engineering. It was then that he took his first physics classes—a mechanics course and then an electricity and magnetism course, the latter greatly piquing his interest in physics. “It was the hardest class I had ever taken . . . but it was so fascinating that I couldn’t leave it alone,” he said. In the end, Hart double-majored in Japanese and physics. With the skills he learned from his Japanese major, Hart had the opportunity to work as a freelance translator for things like patents, journals, and technical documents. During school, Hart struggled with what to do with his physics studies. He liked the idea of being a teacher, but never imagined himself doing research. After his experience as a graduate student working in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and as a post-doctoral researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, he decided to go into academia, where he could do research and teach.

Model of a crystal lattice, one of the compounds that Dr. Hart works with in his research to strengthen metals.

“I figured I’d do both until people figure out that I’m no good at research,” Hart quipped. Despite his misgivings, Hart has proved himself an excellent researcher. He currently works on a large project, performing “virtual experiments” on the computer to discover new alloys. “The platinum group metals . . . are really important industrially,” he said. “Many important chemicals are

"I LIKE TO SHOW THEM THAT SCIENCE IS NOT ONLY COOL, BUT IT'S FOR EVERYBODY." produced using platinum group metals as catalysts. . . . They’re really expensive. People are interested in finding ways to mix these metals with less expensive materials.” Hart’s research group is working to find ways to enhance platinum group metal catalysts so they last longer. His research is currently being funded by an $8.5 million grant from the Office of Naval Research. Hart considers the colleagues he works with, whom he views as his “team,” to be very beneficial to his work as a researcher. “I like that . . . people bring different strengths to the

research projects. We have lots of synergy,” he said. Hart also likes to bring undergraduate and graduate students aboard in his research efforts. He describes the mentoring aspect of his job as one of his favorite parts. “I like to think of myself as a career-launcher. . . . It’s fun to mentor them and watch them grow and go out into the world. . . . It’s really rewarding,” Hart said. Similar to the mentoring he does in his research efforts, Hart also enjoys that aspect of launching careers by getting students excited about physics early on. As an advisor for the Society of Physics Students club, he and the members have an outreach program through which they present physics to elementary and secondary education groups. Hart also reaches out to his college students in his classes. “My favorite class to teach is Physical Science 100,” he said. “My impression is that average Physical Science 100 students are not excited to take the class, are typically uncomfortable with math, don’t see themselves as [science people], and maybe even think that science is irrelevant and maybe boring.” Hart explained that he enjoys the challenge of changing these students’ attitude towards science by showing them how exciting the physical world can be. “I like to show them that science is not only cool, but it’s for everybody,” Hart said. “Just like how music and art are for everybody. There is a real profound beauty in human endeavors, and science is a human endeavor, just like art and music and dance. I love to help students realize that there is a place in science for them, even if they’re not scientists.”





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Text: Caroline Smith Photo: Josh Siebert SPRING 2014



“Statistics is about making informed decisions without having to know everything.” For David Dahl, family was more than a support system—it was a key factor in leading him to a career in statistics. Family has always been important to David Dahl. He grew up in a tightly knit family of seven and often turns to the examples set by his parents and siblings for guidance. It is no surprise, then, that these close family ties led him to his career in statistics. When I got to college, my brother showed me a leastsquares regression line, which is a statistical method,” Dahl said. “I thought it was neat that one could summarize the patterns in data using math.” After this first exposure to statistical practices from his brother, Dahl took an introductory statistics class to spend time with his sister who was taking the class as a prerequisite for the business school. He found the topic so engaging that he switched his major to statistics and started down the road to become a statistician. Dahl received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in statistics from BYU in 1997 and 1998, respectively. He then graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a PhD in statistics in 2004 and decided on a career in academia. Dahl grew up in a college town and his brother is a professor, so becoming a professor seemed like a natural career choice for him. “I decided to become a professor because I think it is cool to be an expert in something,” Dahl said. He was hired by Texas A&M University as an assistant professor in 2004 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2010. But he felt a draw to BYU and, in 2012 he joined the BYU faculty as an associate professor. His research now focuses on computational biology and bioinformatics, but Dahl believes that one of the perks of statistics is that the possibilities are endless. “One of the fun things about statistics is that you can play in everyone’s backyard,” Dahl said. “I can learn about biology and help biologists do their analyses and make good decisions, but then another day I can work on finance or work on chemistry. [I can] work on whatever interests me and interests other people.” For now, though, Dahl’s focus is protein structure. “We are trying to predict the structure of a protein given its amino acid sequence. Proteins are made from amino

acids, and if you stick them together a certain way and get the right sequence, they will fold into a particular shape,” Dahl said. “What that shape is determines what it does in the organism. For example, hemoglobin carries oxygen because of its particular shape. Experimental methods for determining the shape of a protein can be difficult and costly, so there is a lot of interest in building statistical models to predict structure.” These models not only help statisticians and biologists understand what each protein does but they can also potentially help doctors treat certain diseases. The future of computational biology and bioinformatics includes building proteins with particular shapes to target diseases. “Right now we are working on basic science, trying to better understand how proteins fold into their shape, but there are applications for this science further down the chain,” Dahl said. Dahl also considers his knowledge and career as part of the chain of progression. “I am constantly learning new things to help further my research and to teach my students,” Dahl said. “I am a perpetual student.” But statistics makes constant learning easy because of its influence in so many areas. “I love the idea that you can quantify uncertainty about something and make decisions even when you don’t have a perfect knowledge,” Dahl said. “Statistics is about making informed decisions without having to know everything.” Dahl uses these same principles in making decisions in his family life. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Lisa, of fifteen years, and their five children, but balancing a career and a family has required them to give their activities careful evaluation to ensure proper attention to both. Along with the blessings of his academic career, Dahl is also grateful for the continued influence from the tightly knit family he grew up with. “My brother, Gordon, is my best friend, outside of my wife,” Dahl said. “He is a professor at another university, and we speak every few days on professional and personal matters.” Dahl appreciates the influence his family has had on his life and his career and hopes that the influence of family can continue on throughout his life and the lives of his children.



struggle and

SUCCESS Text: Eve Hart Smith Photo: Josh Siebert




is bookshelves are lined with tomes about the moduli space of curves and other mysterious mathematical concepts. He has received several awards for teaching mathematics, including the Math Association of America’s Intermountain Region teaching award, and he has lectured about mathematics from Wisconsin to Sweden. And to top it off, he recently finished a six-year assignment as the chair of the Department of Mathematics. That may be why it’s so surprising to hear Dr. Tyler Jarvis say that in his youth he “really, really hated math.” This repugnance for math is the last thing you would expect to hear from an accomplished mathematician. “My math problems started early. But they got really bad in fifth grade,” he said. Jarvis’s teacher often kept him in at recess to do arithmetic worksheets that other students could breeze through. “My teacher finally got so frustrated that she said, ‘You will never be any good at math,’” he said humorously. It was through some kind of miraculous fluke that Jarvis was allowed to take algebra in junior high rather than having to repeat arithmetic. Yet his old enemy, arithmetic, threatened to trip him up—until Jarvis discovered that studying his textbook helped him to unravel concepts that had so long confounded him. In fact, studying the text gave him insight into the why of mathematics, which was critical to inspiring his career choice. “There was a reason for what we were doing in mathematics,” Jarvis said. “Not only that, but if I worked hard enough, I could understand the reasons. If I thought about the problems long enough, they made sense. And when they did, they helped me understand how other things in the rest of the world worked. . . . That experience is probably why I’m a mathematician today.” While Jarvis’s research is ground-breaking, it seems that the overriding theme of his career is to answer the cries of many math students around the world who think math is either too hard or just plain stupid—or both.


Jarvis explained that these attitudes stem from the ageold lie that intelligence is fixed and that subjects like math are only accessible to the naturally gifted. “Even if their parent or teacher wasn’t as blunt as my teacher was with me,” he said, “they still got that message that ‘I must be stupid’ or ‘math is stupid.’” The truth is that you are not stupid, and neither is math. Anyone, with hard work, can conquer math. That is the message that Jarvis feels BYU students need to hear. “I try to help students understand that just being at BYU means that you already have more than enough natural talent, whether you know it or not,” he said. “So you don’t need to worry about being smart enough; you just need to worry about doing the work necessary to learn.” Some of the lessons Jarvis learned as a struggling math student have been translated into the We Use Math film and website. Jarvis produced the film and was one of the professors interviewed in it. The idea for the project, he explained, was to help students realize that math is manifest in all aspects of life. In his film interview, Jarvis eagerly echoed his hardearned understanding of mathematics: “Luckily, math is not just about memorizing formulas and rules. It is about solving new problems and thinking about the world in deep ways. It is about seeing what different things have in common and how to use what you learned on one problem to solve something that looks completely different.” Despite his mathematical struggles—or perhaps because of them—Jarvis has made important contributions to mathematics research and teaching. He explained that embracing the struggle has been key to his success. “Math lets me learn about things that are interesting and challenging and rewarding. It’s fulfilling to take on the challenge, fight with it, finally beat it, figure out the answer, and move on,” he said. Jarvis hopes that other students, too, will discover the interesting and challenging world available to those who embrace struggle.

1 Jarvis suggests three ways for parents and teachers to help their children and students successfully tackle intellectual struggles.

Model and reward their intellectual struggles. Real learning is always hard work. Children and students need to see through your example that the rewards are worth the struggle. And you need to reward their struggles by always praising effort, not talent. It is well established that saying things like “you made a great effort” or “you worked really hard on that” can significantly increase childrens’ and students’ interest and confidence in learning. On the other hand, phrases like “you are talented” or “you are smart” actually discourage them from tackling harder challenges.

Respect the struggle. Don’t tell your children or students



that a problem is easy, because it usually isn’t easy for them, and saying it is easy makes them feel dumb. Instead, tell them “you can do hard things.” It is difficult but important to allow children and students to struggle with hard problems rather than giving too many hints or too much help in solving their problems for them. “Struggle is not weakness,” Jarvis reminds parents and teachers. “Struggle is how we grow.” Allowing children and students to struggle gives them opportunities to strengthen their abilities and their confidence.

For parents, insist on good teachers. Teachers who believe the lie about fixed intelligence can harm children’ and students’ learning. Good teachers understand the importance and power of hard work. And they model the struggle themselves, by embracing new challenges. Good teachers understand that struggle is how we grow rather than a sign of weakness. Visit weusemath.org for more information or to view the We Use Math film.

SUMMERHAYS LECTURE reflections on science & religion

SEPTEMBER 22, 2011



Professor of Law, J. Reuben Clark Law School Founder of FARMS Editor-in-Chief of BYU Studies


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BETWEEN MORMONISM AND SCIENCE John W. Welch — Summerhays Lecture on Science and Religion, September 27, 2011

Math and science have long been very interesting to me. I grew up with my slide-rule often in hand in the shadow of Cal-Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada, California, in the 1950s during the Space Race. In 1964, I entered BYU thinking that I would become a math major and ended up with a math minor. Then in the 1970s, I practiced law in Los Angeles and represented Cal-Tech, Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop. This background alerted me to many things, including mathematical axioms, proofs, patterns, and numerology.

In preparing for this lecture, I have read a large body of works on science and religion, including many by Latterday Saints. Energized by this reading, I feel that my mind has jumped up to a higher “quantum level” of personal understanding. Above all, this has made me more aware of the social, philosophical, and practical issues that confront all of us involved with science and religion. While I am an outsider to many of these conversations and the philosophy of science is not my field, I humbly hope that I may sketch a few ideas

The field of science and religion is not a static field. As information on both sides is updated, we must update ourselves in order to have meaningful discussions.


that may point toward a more synergistic relationship for religion and science and that the polarization often felt in this arena can be reduced. From my experience, my first bit of advice is to keep current on your homework. The field of science and religion is not a static field. As information on both sides is updated, we must update ourselves in order to have meaningful discussions. Elder Dallin Oaks once said, “We must stop

shooting ourselves in the foot. A bad argument is worse than no argument at all.” Yet many outdated arguments continue to be recycled in the science and religion debate. This can be avoided if we know better the present state of understanding. Just as knowing good science can help, we must also be careful in reading the scriptures. Consider Michael Rhodes’ excellent lecture in this series a couple years ago, which analyzed the three creation accounts in LDS scripture—and note that we have three—and this point significantly changes the dynamic of the creation discussion for Latter-day Saints. Michael’s article carefully lays out important details about the creation in these accounts, such as Abraham’s reference to the days of the creation as “times” (“it was the fifth time,” “they numbered the sixth time,” “on the seventh time,” Abraham 4:23, 31; 5:2). Also, Abraham 4:18 notes that the gods watched the sun and the moon and the stars that they had ordered “until they obeyed.” There was a time lapse involved there; this wasn’t an instantaneous event, and this allows that the plan can be perfect without implying, as Christian theology has insisted, that the creation itself was totally good and perfect the instant God created it. Think how many potential conflicts with science this Abrahamic account readily averts. Many other writers describe their personal amazement about using science to study religion and provide significant evidence that an enduring alliance between science and Mormonism can be developed, if it is built on similarities rather than by harping on differences. Personally, thinking back to my philosophical days of looking at basic epistemological, metaphysical, and cosmological principles, I wondered how many basic assumptions, axioms, or what we might call meta-theoretical shaping principles might be held in common by both Mormonism and strong scientific theory. If we were to forge a friendly alliance between science and Mormonism, it would be helpful to identify basic similarities. In the following, I want to argue that Mormonism and science are not just yoked at the shoulder, but are joined much deeper at the hip. Both science and Mormonism explicitly embrace the experimental method. Like scientific experiments, religious occurrences are observable, public, and repeatable. Some



Forging a successful alliance often means putting two parties together who seem to have little to do with each other, but in reality are necessary for both to advance. 28 FRONTIERS

revelations have even come as shared experiences, as in the cases of the Three and the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and with the manifestations at the dedications of the Kirtland Temple. Although these special cases are rare, other kinds of spiritual experiences can be repeated because they occur over and over. Three times in Alma 32, people are advised to experiment upon Alma’s words. If the seed does not grow, one has disproved its viability. So in that sense, religious and scientific experiments are still both experiments that lead to a knowledge either of or about some aspect of truth. Another important thing science and Mormonism have in common is that both fundamentally declare interest in the discovery of all truth. Mormons certainly do not yet know all truth, but they believe that someday they will. Science does not hold all the answers either. If science and religion had all the answers, both would be largely out of business. What would they still be looking for? Just as science is not a static field, neither is religion. Religion and even our understanding of the scriptures change as new discoveries are made about the meanings of scriptural words and literary structures, about the manuscripts of the scriptures—both the ancient papyri and the original manuscripts of the Book of Mormon, or sacred texts from Qumran—telling us things that we didn’t know anything about before. Discoveries made in ancient Near Eastern texts from Babylonia or Ugarit unfold for us new understandings of ancient world views, typologies, covenant patterns, and prophetic speech forms. Some of these discoveries, like scientific discoveries, confirm

and reinforce old understandings and beliefs, while other discoveries send us back to rethink our religious emphasis and awareness. Science and religion agree that the uniform fundamental moral and physical nature of this world, as Henry Eyring has said, is to be found in opposites. Opposition is a fundamental property of this world, as we understand it. There must be an opposition in all things. One possible answer as to why the creation story is repeated could be so we can learn that there must be light and dark, wet and dry, hot and cold, male and female, plant and animal, life and death. These and many other opposites or oppositions turn out to be deeply structured throughout this creation: positive and negative ions, matter and antimatter, L-amino acids and D-amino acids. Things commonly come in twos, even a double helix—the core of all living cells. Without opposites, choices would be impossible, and life would be purposeless and pointless. For both Mormonism and science, the world is in tension—it is not yet completed but is still unfolding, and the unfinished and future oriented aspects of things provide the basis for growth, improvement, and further progression. I want to conclude with a few reflections on how harmony and alliance might be promoted and how it might work. Here I draw on my legal experience with forming partnerships, contracts, and international treaties. In a compromise, both sides lose something. In a compromise, one plus one equals one and a half. But if you bring the two together in such a way that both can bring to the table what they uniquely have to offer to the relationship, one



The time has come for us to be peacemakers, and to try to lower the thermostat of many of the arguments that are going on. plus one becomes two and a half. This is called synergy: the whole is greater than the sum of its part. I think here at BYU where we care so intensely about both religion and science—where we’re not going to compromise or give up any of the fundamental principles of either side—we can be the best workshop on the planet for how religion and science can work out these differences and form a valid, lasting alliance. Alliances are tricky. In order to form alliances, people need to sit down and talk with each other. We can’t just hope that a good alliance between religion and science will somehow magically appear. Putting this alliance together will take effort. Both parties need to communicate, work together, and identify what each can bring to the table. Religion can offer its way of improving understandings of values, objectives, and purposes while science can be there to help with understanding how this is all going to work; after all, we don’t want to be drilling for oil in a place where we know there is no oil. Good allies are not dogmatic or intransigent, but wish to gather knowledge and listen to the needs of the other. Much has been said about science or religion being the


weaker ally, and be that as it may, let not the head say to the foot, “I have no need of you.” Let the stronger ally never say to the weaker, “you are less important than what I do.” What’s to be gained by that? In fact, as B. H. Roberts has said, both may be of “first-rate importance.” Good allies do not intentionally harm each other but look out for each other’s interests. They ask each other helpful questions intended to move all of us forward. Forging a successful alliance often means putting two parties together who seem to have little to do with each other, but in reality are necessary for both to advance. Brothers and sisters, I think it’s time for us to declare a peace treaty. If there is a war between science and religion, it has gone on long enough, and for what purpose? The purpose of this war certainly can’t be to annihilate the opponent, for both have need of the other. The time has come for us to be peacemakers, and to try to lower the thermostat of many of the arguments that are going on. As scientists and also as people who have worked with the scriptures, it is important to step forward, admit that we don’t know everything, and work on the pursuit of truth, wherever it can be found, the best we can.



BYU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences

Brigham Young University, N-181 ESC, Provo, UT 84602

Geology field studies create key, hands-on learning experiences that cannot be duplicated in the classroom. An endowment for global geology field studies has allowed students like Durban Keeler to experience the things he learned in class. “Geology is a very visual science,” he said. “There are many things that simply don’t come together until you see them with your own eyes and walk them with your own feet. I am currently working to model the sensitivity of alpine glaciers to climate variables like air temperature, changes in solar radiation, or changes in precipitation. The chance to see a complex idea or process in action simply cannot be replaced.” However, research opportunities like these were not the only reasons Durban developed a passion for glaciology.

To discuss helping the college with a special gift, contact Brent Hall at 801-422-4501 or brenth@byu.edu.

He also had the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor, which allowed him to explore, grow, and stretch his capabilities as he conducted his research. Durban appreciated the chance to participate in mentored research because it gave him ready access to an expert. “Your mentor helps you learn how to approach a problem and helps you understand the data and results you generate,” he said. “You also get to immediately apply things you learn in class to different problems. This . . . shows you where and how such knowledge is needed and used in jobs and professions outside of college.” We invite you to help provide BYU students with similar opportunities to see the world as their campus. If you are interested in funding a scholarship or mentorship for CPMS students, please donate online at give.byu.edu/cpms.

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Text: Madison Parks; Photo: Courtesy of Durban Keeler

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