Department News

Odom Retires

This Spring, Mr. Rob Odom will retire from the Department of Mathematics. Mr. Odom Rob Odom served for 20 years in the United States Air Force. Upon retiring he attended Francis Marion University. After graduating from FMU he worked for 2 years at Camp Bennettsville.  In 2002, he returned to FMU as the Mathematics Lab Manager. Thank you for your 16 years of service, Mr. Odom!

Photo of Robert Odom

Practice Makes Perfect

On April 4, 2018, the Department of Mathematics hosted a real-life practice test for approximately 120 local high school students planning on taking the AP Calculus Exam. Students from Central High School, The King’s Academy, McBee High School, Pamplico High School, South Florence High School, Trinity Byrnes Academy, West Florence High School, and Wilson High School attended. For more information on the event, contact Dr. Julian Buck.

Students taking the AP calculus practice exam

Brauss Earns Citizenship

The Department of Mathematics is pleased to share the news that Dr. Minerva Brauss was sworn in as a U.S. Citizen on April 17, 2018. We are so proud of you!

Three adults and one child posed for picture

O’Kelley Recognized for Outstanding Teaching

Mathematics Associate Professor Dr. Sharon K. O’Kelley was recognized by the University faculty at the annual faculty recognition banquet. Dr. O’Kelley was awarded the 2017-2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching. Congratulations!

Mathematics Students Honored

Each Spring at the University academic awards ceremony, outstanding students in every campus department are honored. This year, the Mathematics faculty selected three graduating senior mathematics majors to receive the 2018 Mathematics Award. They are Javier Bustos-Jaimes, April Garrity, and Yaping Yang. Congratulations!

Math students accepting their awards

Fitzkee Participates as Competition Judge

Over the weekend of April 14-15, 2018, Dr. Thomas Fitzkee reprised his role as a judge for the collegiate Mathematical Competition in Modeling (MCM) sponsored by Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP). Judging this year was held in San Antonio, TX. When he wasn’t judging, he was exploring places like The Alamo. More information about the competition can be found on the COMAP website.

Dr. Tom Fitzkee at the Alamo

Two Student Mathematicians Inducted into Phi Kappa Phi

The math department was well represented at the University’s Phi Kappa Phi induction on April 12, 2018. Phi Kappa Phi is  a nationwide honor society recognizing the scholarship of students of all academic disciplines. Student vice president April Garrity participated in the ceremony. Salome Chavez and Yaping Yang were inducted. All three math majors will graduate this Spring. Congratulations ladies!

math Phi Kappa Phi inductees

Mathematics Department Hosts Conference

On Friday, April 6, 2018, the Department of Mathematics proudly hosted its annual Francis Marion Undergraduate Mathematics Conference. The conference was well attended by students and faculty from colleges and universities in the region. Students participated in Math Jeopardy and gave talks about their mathematics work. The keynote address, “Modeling Drug Resistant vs. Sensitive Tumor Cell Dynamics,” was delivered by Dr. Kristen Abernathy, Associate Professor at Winthrop University. For more information about the conference, contact Dr. Nicole Panza, Conference Director.

keynote speaker

Mathematicians Inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa

Three Mathematics Majors, Jonathan Britt, Chace Covington, and Nicholas Tomlinson and Mathematics Minor Caitlyn English were inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa honor society on April 2, 2018. Mrs. Kathy McCoy, ODK faculty secretary, presided of the ceremony and Drs. Fitzkee and Panza participated in the ceremony as well. ODK is a national honor society which recognizes outstanding student leaders. Congratulations to the new members of ODK!

2018 ODK Inductees

Brauss Presents Research at ACM Conference

Dr. Daniel Brauss attended the Association for Computing Machinery – Southeastern Conference (ACM-SE) on March 22-24, 2018 at Eastern Kentucky University. He presented a poster on magnetohydrodynamics.  The conference’s theme was artificial intelligence, machine learning and cyber security.

Photo of Daniel Brauss

Panza Elected MAA State Director of South Carolina

Mathematics Assistant Professor Dr. Nicole Panza was elected as the State Director of South Carolina of the Southeastern Section of the Mathematics Association of America. The Southeastern Section focuses on advancing the mathematical sciences within Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina , South Carolina and Tennessee at all levels of study. Dr. Panza will proudly serve a three-year term until 2021.

Photo of Nicole Panza

Students, Faculty and Alumni Attend MAA-SE Spring Conference

The MAA-SE Section Meeting was held on March 22-24, 2018 at Clemson Universtiy. Three Mathematics faculty, Dr. Daniel Brauss, Dr. Minerva Brauss and Dr. Thomas Fitzkee, accompanied FM students, Kayla Floyd, Dante Ahquin, William Mathis, Chace Covington, Colby Jackson, and Jonathan Britt. While there, the students participated in Math Jeopardy,  the annual Scavenger Hunt, and the Graduate School Fair. They also met with FM math alumni Scott Scruggs and Alexander Joyce who are both enrolled in the mathematics graduate program at Clemson.

math students attending a conference
math students attending a conference

Math Jeopardy Rematch

On March 14, 2018, the Spring Math Jeopardy rematch took place at Coastal Carolina University. FMU students Kayla Floyd, Corbin Witt, Chace Covington, Salome Chavez, Antonio Waiters and Jake Chodha were accompanied to CCU by Dr. Daniel Brauss and department chair Dr. Thomas Fitzkee. Many thanks to Dr. Andrew Incognito at CCU for hosting the event once again.

students playing math jeopardy
students playing math jeopardy

Inspiring Women for Generations: NCUWM 2018

From January 26-28, 2018, FM students Kaitlyn Lowry and Yaping Yang joined 242 other undergraduate students at the 20th annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The students, accompanied by FM Math faculty Dr. Nicole Panza, represented one of over 130 schools from around the country in attendance with the common goal of supporting women in their pursuit of mathematics. The students were selected by the conference to attend presentations given by other undergraduates, panel discussions about jobs and graduate school and breakout sessions aimed at getting them ready for life after graduation. Dr. Panza led one of the breakout sessions. These three women are appreciative of the travel support received from a FM REAL Grant.

Two students standing with a sign that reads Welcome to Omaha

Fun in the Sun! JMM 2018

Dr. Thomas Fitzkee and Dr. Julian Buck attended the Joint Mathematics Meetings of the MAA and AMS in San Diego, California from January 10-13, 2018. While there, Dr. Fitzkee was a national judge for the High School Mathematics Competition in Modeling and Dr. Buck judged the MAA Undergraduate Research Poster Session. They also made sure to take a break to visit the Pacific Ocean.

Two men on the beach

Three Students Inducted into Kappa Mu Epsilon

On January 22, 2018, three current Francis Marion students were inducted into Kappa Mu Epsilon, a national honor society in mathematics. Students with exceptional overall GPA and GPA in math courses above the Calculus I level are eligible for membership. The student inductees are Terrik Boatwright, Kayla Floyd and Elizabeth Haywood. Two faculty members, Dr. Daniel Brauss and Dr. Minerva Brauss, were also inducted. The induction ceremony and reception were held in the Lee Nursing Building and was attended by many friends, family and math faculty of the those inducted. Congratulations to the Kappa Mu Epsilon inductees for 2018!

Math Department Inducts 5 to Kappa Mu Epsilon Honor Society

Math Major Commissioned and Graduates

FM mathematics major Jordan Rivers celebrated two milestones in December 2017. On Friday, December 15, 2017, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army. Second Lieutenant Rivers has been assigned to the 81st Reserve Support Command unit in Fort Jackson, SC. Less than 24 hours later, he received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor in Military Science. The Department of Mathematics congratulates Second Lieutenant Rivers and wishes him well. We encourage all alumni to keep us up-to-date on their lives using the form on our alumni page.

Photo of two men standing together

Department of Mathematics Host High School Mathematicians

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017 the FM Department of Mathematics proudly hosted the 41st Pee-Dee Regional High-School Mathematics Tournament. This year, 333 students participated in the event from 22 area schools. The students participated in a written competition, stage competition and plenary address given by Dr. Rahul S. Renu, Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering. This year’s school champions are Lake View High School for Division I, Scholar’s Academy for Division II and Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School for Division III. Awards for individual students go to first place mathematician Zhongqi Liang from Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School, second place mathematician Alex Tew from Scholars Academy and third place mathematician Etash Kumar Guha from Wilson High School.

More coverage of the competition can be found at: 

Math Tournament medallion

Mathematics Alumni Return Home to FM

On Friday, November 17, 2017 FM mathematics alumni James Brown ’16 and Tina Watrous ’17 returned to Francis Marion to speak to Math Club. They spoke with current students about their jobs as forecasters with Assurant Insurance in Florence. Both cited that math modeling, problem solving and technology are important components of the math major that they use daily in their jobs. They also encouraged students to attend as many math events as they can, both locally and nationally. Many thanks to Tina and James for speaking to our current math students. Other alumni interested in speaking to Math Club should contact the 2017 Math Club advisor Mr. Lee Phillips.

SCCTM Dedicates Scholarship

On November 16, 2017 during the South Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (SCCTM) Fall conference, the SCCTM Preservice Scholarship was renamed The Bill Whitmire Preservice Scholarship. Dr. Whitmire, FM Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, just completed his term as Past-President of SCCTM. Each year, the scholarship is awarded to up to three students who are preservice teachers specializing in mathematics.

Whitmire at the TD Convention Center

FM Mathematics Represented at SCCTM

The South Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (SCCTM) Fall conference was held November 16-17, 2017 in Greenville, SC. FM Pre-service teacher Alexis Glover attended the conference this year. In addition, three FM faculty members gave talks. Dr. Kevin D. LoPresto gave a talk entitled, “Verticality: Musings of a High School Teacher in an Elementary Teacher’s World.” Dr. Sharon K. O’Kelley gave a talk entitled, “Looking Beyond the Answer to What Students Really Know.” Dr. George E. Schnibben gave a talk entitled, “I Ain’t Scared of No Proofs.” Professor Emeritus Dr. Bill Whitmire assisted in planning the event in his role as Past President of SCCTM.

Students Compete in Math Jeopardy

Math Jeopardy competitions are part of the rich tradition of mathematics in the Southeastern United States. Students from Francis Marion University regularly take part in friendly competitions with students from Coastal Carolina University. On November 15, 2017, Yaping Yang, Shikhar (Jake) Chadha, Jonathan Britt, and Christen Ezekiel competed on this semester’s team and were accompanied to CCU by Dr. Daniel Brauss and department chair Dr. Thomas Fitzkee. Many thanks to Dr. Andrew Incognito at CCU for hosting the event.

Four math jeopardy students in front of rock climb wall

Faculty Member Wins Award for Outstanding Poster

Dr. Minerva Brauss, Instructor of Mathematics, presented her poster entitled “HBCUs & PWIs by Gender & Region: Comparing Faculty in Northeastern and Southeastern Land Grant Institutions,” at the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education Conference held in Memphis, TN from October 31 through November 3, 2017. Dr. Brauss’ poster was awarded the prize for “Standout Conceptual or Methodological Framework.” Congratulations, Dr. Brauss!

Photo of Minerva Brauss

FM Mathematics Takes Part in Regional Event

On Friday, November 3, 2017, FM department of mathematics faculty and students traveled to Benedict College in Columbia, SC to attend the Carolina Math Seminar and this year’s Mathematics Association of America’s (MAA) State Dinner of South Carolina. The Carolina Math Seminar is held once every semester at different host universities throughout North and South Carolina to give students and faculty an outlet to present mathematics. The MAA State Dinner of South Carolina is held annually at different host universities throughout the state. This year’s keynote address was given by Dr. Sarah Greenwald from Appalachian State University. Dr. Greenwald is this year’s MAA Southeast Section Lecturer. FM mathematics students Kayla Floyd, William Mathis, Salomé Chavez and Yaping Yang attended along with FM mathematics faculty Dr. Daniel Brauss, Dr. Nicole Panza and department chair Dr. Thomas Fitzkee.

Brauss Awarded Research Stipend

Dr. Daniel Brauss was recently awarded a 2018 Francis Marion Summer Research Stipend. The stipend is given annually to support faculty scholarship. Dr. Brauss will continue his research in magnetohydrodynamics this summer. Congratulations, Dr. Brauss. We look forward to hearing about your results!

Photo of Daniel Brauss

Faculty Attend Conference in Charlotte

Dr. Minerva Brauss, Dr. Sophia Waymyers and Dr. Nicole Panza attended the Carolina Women in Mathematics Symposium at the University of North Carolina- Charlotte on Saturday, September 16, 2017. They attended a keynote address, professional development sessions and talks given by other female mathematicians from both Carolinas. Dr. Brauss presented a talk entitled “Job Satisfaction Factors influencing Mentorship of STEM vs. Non-STEM faculty.” Dr. Panza presented a talk entitled “A Follicle Wave Model with Applications.”

2017-2018 Math Club Officers

During the September 15, 2017 Math Club meeting, club members elected the 2017-2018 officers. Math Club President is Chace Covington and Vice-President is Nicholas Tomlinson. Congratulations to both Chace and Nicholas!

Math Major Stars in The Patriot

Senior Math and Computational Physics major April Garrity was featured in the August 31, 2017 issue of The Patriot. The article discusses April’s research and participation in summer programs in preparation for entering graduate school for nuclear astrophysics. The article can be read online via The Patriot website. Keep reaching for the stars, April!

Faculty Featured in Local Publication

Dr. Sharon O’Kelley was recently featured in an article in She Magazine. She is published out of Florence, SC. The August 2017 issue had a back to school theme. Current FM student Morgan Rogers recognized Dr. O’Kelley as an inspiring educator. The full article can be read online for free in She.

Photo of professor O Kelley

Department Welcomes New Faculty

The Department of Mathematics is proud to announce the hiring of five new faculty members. Dr. Daniel Brauss is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics who earned his Ph.D in Mathematics from Auburn University. Dr. Minerva Brauss is an Instructor of Mathematics who earned her Ph.D in Administration in Higher Education from Auburn University. Dr. Kevin LoPresto is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics who earned his Ph.D in Mathematics Education from the University of Texas- Austin. Mr. Lee Phillips is an Instructor of Mathematics who earned his Masters in Mathematical Science from Clemson University. Mrs. Valeria Hyatt is an Instructor of Mathematics who earned her Masters in Mathematics Education from Francis Marion University. Welcome to the Francis Marion Faculty!

Four new faculty members for the 2017-2018 school year

Students and Faculty Attend MathFest

Dr. Thomas Fitzkee, Dr. Nicole Panza, current FM student Taylor Watson and 2017 FM graduates Mercedes Gainey and Olivia Wilkes attended the Mathematics Association of America’s (MAA) national summer meeting, MathFest. The meeting was held in Chicago, Illinois from July 26-29, 2017. The students presented a poster in the PIC Math (Preparation for Industrial Careers in the Mathematical Sciences) session at the conference. Their poster entitled “Mathematical Model for MITRE’s Hiring Process” explains their work and results in conjunction with MITRE on the benefits and downsides of promoting employees from within versus hiring from outside. The poster is a result of their work in the PIC Math course at FM which was instructed by Dr. Fitzkee. Dr. Panza gave a talk entitled “Project Math TRACK” about her work with the professional development program by the same name. She also completed her year as a MAA Project NExT Fellow and participated in graduation ceremonies.

People standing beside poster board at Math Fest '03
Photo of the Math Fest in Chicago '03

Retirement and Promotion

Mathematics Professors Bill Whitmire and Tommy Ramey retired at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Both were promoted to the status of professor emeritus. Dr. Whitmire has been with the Department of Mathematics at Francis Marion since 1997 while Dr. Ramey has been with the University since 1974. Both were recipients of the University’s award for excellence in teaching. Dr. Ramey was awarded in 2001 and Dr. Whitmire was awarded in 2008. Dr. Ramey was also the recipient of the 2017 AAUP Shared Governance Award and was named a FM Distinguished Professor in 2005. The Department of Mathematics is grateful for their excellence in teaching and dedication to the University and wishes them both the best in their retirement. Congratulations!

Professor Ramey on a porch

Mathematics Class of 2017

On Saturday May 6, 2017, Francis Marion University celebrated commencement and an impressive group of mathematics majors and minors received their degrees. Nine mathematics majors completed their courses of study. They are Amy Benton, Mercedes Gainey, Teryese Grant, Kendrick Hardison, Alexander Joyce, Jackson McDonald, Mary Mulholland, Javren Rodriguez and Tina Watrous. Three of these majors, Joyce, McDonald and Mulholland, graduated Summa Cum Laude, achieving a cumulative GPA between 3.9 and 4.0. In addition, Mulholland graduated with University Honors. The Department of Mathematics congratulates all of our graduates and wishes them well in their future endeavors. We encourage all alumni to keep us up-to-date on their lives using the form on our alumni page.

Math students at graduation in Spring 2017