Mercer University Department of

§ Faculty Updates§

Curious what your faculty are up to outside of the classroom? Here are some updates that will fill you in on some of the things we are doing when we are not teaching! This list is by no means exhaustive, rather it highlights some of our favorite things. To find out more details about a particular faculty member's activities, please speak to them.

Are you interested in student research opportunities? Check here instead.

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  • Dr. Denny and Dr. Nelson published a paper with Dr. Zhao titled "Creating and Analyzing the Effectiveness of a Mathematics Placement Policy for New Freshmen" in PRIMUS.
  • Dr. Yackel co-edited a book with Sarah-Marie Belcastro entitled "Crafting by Concepts". It is now available! (2011)
    Crafting by Concepts - Cover
  • Dr. Denny, Dr. Nelson, and Dr. Zhao are working on an article titled "Proposing and Analyzing a Mathematics Placement Policy for New Freshmen." (2010)
  • Dr. Symington had the article "Almost Toric Symplectic Four-Manifolds" (written with Naichung Conan Leung) accepted for publication in the Journal of Symplectic Geometry (2009).
  • Dr. Symington published "Toric Structures on Near-Symplectic Four-Manifolds"(written with David Gay) in Journal of the European Mathematical Society (2009).
  • Dr. Symington published "Repair of Large Mohs Surgical Defects with a Donor Skin-sparing Full-thickness Skin Graft" (written with Joshua Lane) in Dermatologic Surgery (2009).
  • Dr. Yackel co-edited a book with Sarah-Marie Belcastro entitled "Making Mathematics with Needlework". The book was published by AK Peters (2007). They are currently working on a second volume!
  • Dr. Denny and Dr. Yackel published "Parital Fractions in Calculus, Number Theory, and Algebra" in the College Mathematics Journal (2007).
  • Dr. Denny published "Computing and Fitting SSNMR Powder Patterns with the Arithmetic-Geometric Mean and Edge Detection" (written with Dr. Daniel and Dr. Kovacs) in Concepts in Magnetic Resonance (2007).
  • Dr. Denny published "Cooling the Macon Volunteer Clinic" (written with Dr. Trivett) in The UMAP Journal (2007).

Talks and Workshops

  • Dr. Yackel and Dr. Beier gave teaching talks at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings. Dr. Nelson served on a panel about starting statistics minors. Dr. Beier also organized a special session on Algebraic Combinatorics and Represenetation Theory.
  • Dr. Symington gave a short course at the Women and Math program at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She also gave two talks on geometry at Tulane in 2012.
  • Dr. Yackel spoke at and had art work exhibited at Gathering 4 Gardner X and Bridges Towson this year. In addition she conducted three temari workshops! They were at Kennesaw State Unviersity, in Macon, and at the Bridges Family Day.
  • Dr. Symington and Dr. Herink attended MathFest. Ask them about the neat things that they learned! (2011)
  • Dr. Symington gave a series of introductory talks on symplectic geometry at a Summer School in May 2011 at Ohio State. These talks were an introduction to graduate students in geometric group theory as a part of a workshop titlded "Examples of Geometries", which ran for two weeks. By design the majority of presenters and students were women.
  • Dr. Herink gave a talk about alternating sums at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the MAA (2009).
  • Dr. Yackel was invited to give talks at both Spelman and Saint Mary's College of Maryland's colloquia on Math and the Fiber Arts (2008-09).
  • Dr. Symington gave five lectures (2009) at the graduate student workshop, "Introduction to Symplectic and Contact Geometry and Technology", at MSRI (Mathematical Sciences Research Institute). She also attended the "Connections Workshop for Women" on the same topic.
  • Dr. Malagon and Dr. Beier were selected as 2009 - 2010 Project NExT Fellows.
  • Dr. Malagon gave a talk at a "Quadratic Forms and Linear Algebraic Groups" workshop in Oberwolfach, Germany (2009).
  • Dr. Howard was an invited as a panelist on "Transitioning from Student to Faculty" at the "Conference of Morehouse Men of Matheamatics" (2008).
  • Dr. Yackel was invited to give a workshop in Spring of 2008 on "Knitting and Mathematics" at the MD/DC/VA section meeting of the MAA (Mathematical Association of America).
  • Dr. Herink gave a talk called "A Combinatorial Interpretation of a Modified Version of the Fibonacci Polynomials" at the Southeastern Section Meeting of the MAA at the Citadel (2008).
  • Dr. Symington travelled to South Africa to collaborate with David Gay at the University of Cape Town. While there she gave a talk at AIMS, the African Institute fo Mathematical Sciences in Muizenberg, South Africa (2008).
  • Dr. Herink gave a tlak called "A Class of Groups Related to Sudoku" at the Southeastern Section Meeting of the MAA (2007).
  • Dr. Symington gave talks at the "International Conference on Toric Topology" in Osaka, Japan and at the "Workshop in Geometry" a tthe Chinese University of Hong Kong (2006).

Conferences Attended

  • The faculty who attended this year's (2013) Joint Mathematics Meetings include: Dr. Nelson, Dr. Yackel, Dr. Reinkoester and Dr. Beier. Ask them about the new mathematics they saw!
  • Dr. Beier attended SAGE Days Combinat at the IMA, the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (2012).
  • Dr. Herink attended the 2012 MathFest.
  • Several faculty attended this year's (2012) Joint Mathematics Meetings including: Dr. Hartfield, Dr. McIlwain, Dr. Nelson and Dr. Beier. Ask them about the fantastic things they learned!
  • Dr. Yackel attended a MAA PREP workshop on geometry and art (2011).
  • Dr. Beier attended a CBMS workshop on Deformation Algebras and a BIRS workshop on algebraic combinatorics during the Summer of 2011.
  • Two faculty, Dr. Symington and Dr. Beier, attended MathFest in 2010. Dr. Symington also completed a mini-course focusing on the use of a program called SAGE while Dr. Beier finished her Project NExT fellowship.
  • Dr. Beier attended a CBMS conference on Quiver Varieties & Crystal Bases for Quantum Affine Algebras in May 2010.
  • As usual several faculty attended this year's (2010) Joint Mathematics Meetings. Faculty attending include: Dr. Hartfield, Dr. Herink, Dr. Malagon, Dr. Yackel, and Dr. Beier. At the meetings, Dr. Malagon is helping to organize a special session on "Recruiting and Retaining Math Majors through Community Building". Dr. Beier is an organizer of a special session on "Alternative Forms of Assessment".
  • Dr. Yackel went to the Bridges conference (2009) and is attneding the Gathering 4 Gardner 9 Conference (2009).
  • Dr. Malagon attended the first Southeastern Lie Theory Workshop at NC State University in Raleigh (2009).
  • Several faculty attended MathFest 2009 including Dr. Yackel, Dr. Malagon, and Dr. Beier.
  • Dr. Beier (2009) attended the “Summer School and Conference in Geometric Representation Theory and Extended Affine Lie Algebras” at University of Ottawa. Her travel was funded by an AWM travel grant.
  • Dr. Symington attended the NSF-CBMS conference on "Tropical Geometry & Mirror Symmetry" held at Kansas State University (2008) and the MSRI workshop in "Low-dimensional Topolgy" in honor of Rob Kirby's 70th birthday.

Community Service

  • Dr. Symington has run week-long summer workshops (2007-2009) to help 3rd-12th grade teachers from Coffe and Atkinson County better understand the mathematics in the new "Georgia Performance Standards in Mathematics". This work has been in collaboration with Marsha Sanders-Leigh from Georgia Tech and been funded by Teacher Quality Grants.
  • Dr. Symington(2008-2009) organized Mercer student/faculty outreach to the math club at Miller Middle School.
  • Dr. Yackel served three years (2007-2009) as chairperson on the Committee for Participation of Women of the MAA and as a member of the Council on the Profession of the MAA.
  • Dr. Beier is serving a four year term (2009-2012) on the AWM Essay Contest Committee.
  • Dr. Beier, Dr. Denny, and Dr. Howard organized a series of workshops for students, faculty, and local educators during the 2008-2009 school year on computational thinking. Dr. Panoff from the Shodor Education Foundation was the featured speaker.


  • Dr. Howard was on sabbatical in Fall 2012 and Dr. Symington is on sabattical in Spring 2013. Ask Dr. Howard about his work! We look forward ot hearing about what Dr. Symington has been working on!
  • Dr. Herink was on sabbatical in Spring 2012. He worked on translating a mathematical work into English. Ask him about it.
  • Dr. McIlwain spent a sabbatical in 2010-2011 working on graph theory!
  • Dr. Howard ran the 2009 Southeastern Atlantic Regional Conference on Differential Equations. This conference was funded by the National Science Foundation (DMS-0951042).
  • Dr. Nelson is on sabbatical this year (2009-2010). He is earning a Masters in Statistics at the University of Georgia.
  • Dr. Denny spent a sabattical (2008) at the Mercer University Medical School working on modeling how the heart heals after a heart attack.