Are you looking for a useful, challenging and practical major? Would you like an active, supportive community of faculty mentors to guide you in your studies? The Mathematics program at Loras prepares students to argue rigorously, think abstractly and problemsolve creatively. These skills provide an edge in a wide variety of careers, as well as on graduate entrance exams. A study by the National Institute of Education found that on average, math majors scored higher than any other major on the LSAT and GMAT. If you’d like one of the top three “Majors That Pay You Back,” according to PayScale.com, Mathematics may be an excellent choice for you.
MATHEMATICS
1. ALUMNI STORIES
Kyle Soeder, (‘11)
Majors: Mathematics and Computer Science
Software engineer, Sierra Nevada Corporation
Washington, D.C.
I think that there are
three key areas in which the program was very successful:
First and foremost, as much as everyone dreads doing presentations, it was THE most important aspect of my future successes in the industry environment thus far. Constantly being required to present to fellow students, and requiring a major presentation as a graduation requirement really forced me to learn how to present myself in a professional manner, as well as how to communicate with others, both technical and nontechnical alike. This has paid major dividends with respect to interviews, presentations and just general meeting environments by allowing me to get my point across to my colleagues and supervisors. After 20 months of graduation, I have led teams of four to eight engineers to execute successful projects. I have worked directly with VIPs both internal to the company and our outside customers.
The second major area that I found useful was the “number math.” By this, I mean statistics, calculus, etc. I have frequently used my statistical background for developing valuable metrics and presentation material when making a pitch to numberoriented and imageoriented customers, allowing my message to be understood in many different situations.
Lastly, the practical applications that were had during courses motivated me to not just complete the math courses, but engage myself in the material.
María Jimena González Ramirez, (‘09)
Majors: Mathematics and Economics
Graduate Student, Economics—Iowa State University,
Ames, IA
When I started at Loras, I never considered majoring in math as I was mainly focused on my Economics major. After graduating from Loras, I went to Iowa State University to start a Ph.D. in Economics. Looking back, deciding to major in Math was the smartest academic decision I made at Loras. The program gave me the bases I needed to succeed in the Ph.D. courses that are extremely mathoriented. The Math program allowed me to connect economics and math.
During the senior seminar courses, I was given the opportunity to present on economic models that used mathematics. For my senior project, I also chose a topic that connected economics and math: game theory. Consequently, the Math program not only prepared me mathematically for graduate school but it also gave me the freedom to concentrate on projects that connected both of my majors.
I remember the senior seminar and capstone courses both taught by Dr. Jacob Heidenreich as we explored a variety of topics and saw the way math can be applied to almost everything. Seeing my peers focusing on topics they liked and using math to understand such topics was very fulfilling. Trying to solve extremely complicated problems using math was also very motivating. I also remember the Thursday nights at the Heidenreich’s as well as Dr. Keller’s love for pop tarts!
Amber Leitzen, (‘02)
Majors: Mathematics And Teacher Education
Math instructor, George Washington MIddle School
Dubuque, IA
The teacherstudent connections that I made at Loras continued into a friendship after college; it is nice to know you can always reconnect with your professors and they will remember you.
Learning math in the classroom can never prepare you for the students that you will teach, but it gave me a deeper understanding and new ways of presenting the same material.
2. UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
Students have the opportunity to work individually with a Loras professor to discover new mathematics. Recent projects include studying the symmetries of Sudokus, developing video game physics, modeling the H1N1 flu virus outbreak on campus, predicting baseball pennant winners, investigating the mathematics of origami, and using game theory to model collegerecruiting strategies.
Senior Projects
Projective Geometry and Its Applications in Perspective Art
Logan Benson
Presented on April 5, 2013
Projective geometry has applications in many topics; my primary topic of interest involves its applications in perspective art. For centuries, artists have used the mathematics of perspective to create realistic paintings, distort physical laws on the page to depict endless staircases and melting clocks and make breathtaking sidewalk chalk art. I will show how projective geometry can make such artwork possible. Using aspects of projective geometry, we will render threedimensional, perspective skyscrapers from simple schematics. When faced with questions about “legitimate” viewing perspectives, I will turn to anamorphic art and apply concepts from projective geometry to see what we can discover about chalk art that uses perspective elements to fool the eye. I will then discuss the Fundamental Theorem of Projective Geometry to see how conics fit into the perspective picture.
Logan Benson is a senior at Loras College, majoring in Applied Mathematics and Creative Writing. Son of an art teacher, he has enjoyed every mathematical topic he has encountered but none so much as the study of perspective in art.
Geometric Optics and Spherical Aberration
Morgan Mayer
Presented on April 3, 2013
We will start by explaining the study of geometric optics and spherical aberration. Then we will discuss different lens types that can be used to eliminate spherical aberration. We will use the different formulas calculated to determine which type of lens will eliminate spherical aberration the best. We’ll look at different lens combinations as well as some of the techniques used to get the focal points of the lenses. Finally we will look at potential future work.
Morgan Mayer is a senior at Loras College majoring in Mathematics. She intends to pursue a degree in Optometry upon graduation.
Numerical Solutions of Ordinary Differential Equations
Rabin Ranabhat
Presented on October 31, 2012
The presentation will provide an introduction to computational methods that approximate the solution of ordinary differential equations (ODEs). Some of the methods that will be discussed in the presentation are Euler’s method, Taylor series method, RungeKutta method of order 2. The relationship between step size and error will be discussed. Further, the presentation will also discuss the stability of different methods like Euler’s method, Backward Euler’s method and Trapezoidal method.
Rabin Ranabhat is a senior at Loras College, majoring in Mathematics and Engineering.
How Many Sudokus Are There?
Cassie Thill
Presented on October 24, 2012
We will start by explaining what a Sudoku puzzle is, what the rules are in solving them and why we will use miniSudoku. We will discuss what it means for two puzzles to be “essentially different” along with other terminology. We will use a discussion of symmetries to begin looking at how many “essentially different” puzzles there are for a specific solution. We’ll look at some theories we have developed to narrow our search for the number of “essentially different” puzzles and prove these theories. Finally we will look at potential future work.
Cassie Thill is a senior at Loras College majoring in Mathematics.
Reduction Numbers of Monomial Ideals
Katie Burke
Presented on October 24, 2012
(McCullough did not proofread due to math symbols not displaying correctly in Word).
Exploring Patterns in Fibonacci Numbers
Nicole Jess
Presented on March 30, 2012
(McCullough did not proofread due to math symbols not displaying correctly in Word).
3. MATH CLUB
Loras has an active Math Club which hosts a variety of events, including game nights, Sudoku contests, a Pi Day “Pie Your Professor” contest, and a high school math competition.
What is Math Club?
The Loras College Mathematics Club is a student chapter of the Mathematical Association of America. Its purpose is to enhance the appreciation for mathematics in both students and faculty, to encourage students to explore new developments and careers in the field of mathematics and related fields and to provide opportunities for both students and faculty to socialize.
What does the Math Club do?
The Loras Math Club meets monthly and hosts several events throughout the year, including Sudoku contests, board game nights, Family Feudstyle game shows, and the infamous “Pie Your Professor” contest on Pi Day. For the past several years, the club has helped sponsor student trips to undergraduate research conferences, traveling to Pi Mu Epsilon at St. Norbert College in the fall and the Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium at Simpson College in the spring.
The club also helps promote the BiState Math Colloquium, a series of informative talks by faculty, graduate students and undergrads from colleges and universities in Iowa and Wisconsin. In addition, math club members participate in a variety of math contests, including the Iowa Collegiate Math Contest, the Mathematical Competition in Modeling, the Iowa Mathematical Modeling Contest and the Putnam Exam.
Math Club also enjoys coming together with faculty members in the department to socialize and serve. Students in all math classes are invited to Tasty Tuesdays, a weekly evening of snacks, socializing and math homework help from professors. The club encourages alumni to return annually by reserving a spot at the Homecoming Tailgate. The club also participates in a variety of service projects. Last year, they helped run a Great Plains Math League high school math tournament at Loras.
Links to national mathematical societies:
Mathematical Association of America
American Mathematical Society
Society for Industrial and Applied Math
Association for Women in Mathematics
Society of Actuaries
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Other useful links:
Careers in Mathematics
WeUseMath.org
About REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates)
List of REUs
Math in the News Archive
Cut the Knot Math Puzzles
4. WHY MAJOR IN MATH AT LORAS?
Conferences and Competitions: Students can travel to conferences to meet new people and share their discoveries. Our math majors regularly present their work at the Pi Mu Epsilon Regional Undergraduate Math Conference in the fall and the Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium in the spring. Our students also compete in a variety of collegelevel regional and national math competitions, including the Iowa Collegiate Mathematics Competition and the Iowa Mathematical Modeling Competition.
BiState Math Colloquium: Students hear of developments in the field by staying on campus, too. Loras College is cohost of the weekly BiState Math Colloquium with UWPlatteville. Speakers for the colloquium series include professors, graduate students and undergrads from colleges and universities in the region presenting talks ranging from brandnew research to the ancient history of math.
Math Club: Loras has an active Math Club, which hosts a variety of events including game nights, Sudoku contests, a Pi Day “Pie Your Professor” Contest, and a high school math competition.
Faculty Support: Math students at Loras receive lots of support. In addition to regular office hours, the math faculty holds Math Lab in the library 12 hours a week. Faculty also host evening help sessions both on and offcampus for homework and fellowship help.
What Are the Requirements?

Students interested in pursuing advanced study in mathematics or related fields can choose courses that will prepare them for graduate school.

Students who wish to use mathematics in industry or want to supplement majors in fields such as engineering, computer science, economics or chemistry can choose the courses that will aid them in other fields.

Students planning to teach high school mathematics can take those courses that are required for licensure to teach math, as well as other courses to prepare for teaching at the secondary level.
In addition to standard coursework, each major completes either a onesemester capstone class, in which students work in groups for a collaborative research experience, or a threesemester seminar sequence, in which students pursue individual undergraduate research projects with faculty advisors.
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Are you looking for a useful, challenging, practical major? Would you like an active, supportive community of faculty mentors to guide you in your studies? If so, the Loras College mathematics major may be an excellent choice for you.