Summer 2009

Mark Townsend Retires
After 26 years of caring and thoughtful dedication to the students of LVC, our friend and colleague Mark Townsend has retired so that he can spend more time with his wife Judy and their family.
Mark joined the LVC faculty in 1983 after completing his doctorate at Oklahoma State University. He came to Annville because he recognized a school and department that focused its efforts on the needs of students. As Mark does with every activity, he threw himself 100 percent into his teaching. Some of you may remember dormitory homework and exam deliveries. Mark was invited to so many alumni weddings that he bought ice cream makers by the dozen.

In 1987 Mark was selected for the Vickroy Distinguished Teaching Award (called the Lindback Award when Mark was the recipient). For a non-tenured faculty member to earn this recognition was an exceptional tribute to Mark's dedication to the students of LVC.

In the early 1990s Mark recognized that he needed more in his life and set out to find a wife. He tried various strategies and with tenacity and good fortune met Judy. Mark not only got a wonderful partner, he also acquired a family. This family has since grown to include grandchildren. Mark is one of the clever ones who figured out how to have grandchildren without going through the trials of raising children.

The faculty and students of LVC will surely miss the caring nature and meaningful wisdom which Professor Townsend brought to us all. He has given us his best a colleague, teacher, and friend for many years. Mark has earned time with his family.

Good luck and best wishes Doctor Townsend!

Welcome Leigh Cobbs to the Department Faculty
Joining us this year is Leigh Cobbs, who received her PhD last spring from Rutgers University. Leigh replaces Mark Townsend, and will get her feet wet teaching Discrete Mathematics, Concepts of Mathematics, and Elementary Statistics. We're delighted to have her, and hope you'll take a moment to join us in welcoming her to the LVC math family.

Leigh introduces herself with these words.

"Howdy, folks. A few words that describe my background are Texan, Christian, one of 27 members of the Bosqueville H.S. class of 1999, Texas Aggie (undergrad), and Scarlet Knight (grad school, NJ). Favorite pastimes include hiking, listening to and watching musical theater, singing in church choir (or in the car), and curling up with a good fantasy book. One of my most memorable experiences is of a three day hike on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. I have a healthy sense of fun and love to play games of all sorts. The 'puzzle' aspect of mathematics is what attracts me to the subject. I pursued a degree in applied math with a plan of doing actuarial science. My initial math reasoning courses, however, quickly lured me into the realm of abstract math. My interests are split between group theory, discrete math, and the interaction of the two. Topics I would like to know more about are math education and the math in music theory. Last, but certainly not least, I adore teaching and interacting with students. It is fantastic to watch people see things for the first time and experience those 'aha' moments. College is an exciting time, and I enjoy being part of that excitement. Please don't hesitate to come chat. My door is open -- come on in!"

Bryan Hearsey Returns to the the Department
Professor Bryan Hearsey returns to the Department of Mathematical Sciences in fall 2009 after his year serving the College as interim dean of the faculty. Here are his reflections on his year in the "Big House" (otherwise known as the Administration/Humanities Building).

"I appreciate the opportunity to serve the College as interim dean of the faculty for a year, and thankful that the period was not longer. I learned much about how the school operates and what is involved in managing. This is a very big job, with about 150 faculty and staff reporting to the dean's office. It was a satisfying challenge. I learned how to read 451 names at graduation and not be nervous in front of 5,000 people. I learned how many folks outside the mathematics department also work very hard to make LVC such a special place. I am thrilled to be back working with math students, but thank all my colleagues for covering for me while I was otherwise employed. Special thanks go to Ken Yarnall who took over and did a great job as chair for the year, to Patrick Brewer for taking responsibility for the actuarial program, and to Dick London who came out of retirement to serve his alma mater by contributing his experience, knowledge, and teaching talent to actuarial program."

The Bryan V. Hearsey Scholarship
Lebanon Valley College and the Department of Mathematical Sciences are proud to announce the Bryan V. Hearsey Scholarship fund. This scholarship will be used entirely for the support of students and learning. Thanks to the hard work of Patrick Brewer with support from the college development office, it is possible to show your appreciation to Dr. Hearsey and the department with a contribution.
To make a contribution, visit our secure website. Click "Make an Online Gift Now" at the top of the right menu. Complete the form and under "Direct my gift to:" choose Dr. Bryan Hearsey Scholarship for Actuarial Science.

LVC Mathematical Physics Has a Boom Year
The Mathematical Physics Research Group, consisting of David Lyons (Math), Scott Walck (Physics), summer 2008 student Stephanie Blanda '09, and summer 2009 students Laura Snyder '11, Adam Hansell '11, and Curt Cenci '11, had a very productive year.

Stephanie Blanda '09 presented her work in a poster session at LVC's interdisciplinary Disappearing Boundaries Symposium in October, 2008. Stephanie also presented her work in a talk at a contributed paper session at the Joint Meetings of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America in Washington, DC, in January 2009. [It is noteworthy that contributed paper session talks are usually given by faculty and graduate student researchers; it is rare for undergraduates to present their work in these sessions. Congratulations Stephanie on your impressive achievement!] David Lyons gave four talks: to the Susquehanna Research at Undergraduate Institution program in quantum information in summer 2008; two talks--one expository talk for students, and one research talk for specialists--at Virginia Commonwealth University in October, 2008; and at the Topology and Geometry Seminar jointly sponsored by LVC, Elizabethtown College, Franklin and Marshall College, and Millersville University, in October 2008.

The group published five papers (numbers [7] through [11] on our list of publications) in physics research journals. Blanda '09 is a coauthor on one of the papers.

Programming Contest Success
LVC sent two teams to the spring 2009 Dickinson Programming Contest. Stephen Campbell, John Sutowski, and Ryan Hunter finished in the top half of a very competitive field of sixteen teams. Stephanie Blanda, Amy Ryesky and William Best finished in second place in a heart stopping finish with a correct solution submitted as the buzzer sounded!

Youth Scholars
Patrick Brewer once again led a week-long program in actuarial science for talented high schoolers during the Daniel Fox Youth Scholars Institute in summer 2009. The students enjoyed visits from Mike Ridler '00 from Health America and Janet Rexroth '87 from Markley Actuarial Associates, and went on a field trip to Conrad Seigel.
Math Club Notes

This year's Math Club repeated their successful fall and spring programs. Kaitlyn Miller organized the fall semester Math Olympics which brought 100 5th graders and a crew of teachers and staff from Cornwell Elementary school to LVC to compete in math games.

Lauren DuBois, this year's club president, organized the spring's Math Quiz Bowl. Twelve local high school teams competed.

Officers for academic year 2009--10 will be:
  • President: Kaitlin Miller
  • Vice President: Ryan Ledger
  • Treasurer: Curt Cenci
  • Webmaster: David Menzies
Faculty News
Chris Brazfield married Maria Serafini this past June. The trilingual Serafini will be teaching Brazfield the basics of Italian so that they can take a large family trip to Italy to visit family and see the sights.

There are other changes on the way. The newlyweds are exploring opportunities to be closer to family and as a consequence Brazfield will be leaving the Valley at the end of the 2009-2010 school year.

"I have lived an unforgettable 10 years here at LVC. My colleagues and students have taught me more than I can ever say. Leaving a place you've come to love can be difficult, but we're looking forward to writing the next chapter of our lives. Thanks to everyone for making my time here so memorable."

Mike Fry went on sabbatical in spring 2009, to write some software and help some non-profits with their computing needs. But for two weeks, he and his family journeyed to China. They saw Shanghai, Beijing, Qufu (home of Confucius), Suzhou (the "Venice of China," which Marco Polo called the land of 6000 bridges), and the sacred mountain of Taishan. "We want to go back," says Fry. "We learned a lot in our short stay. And China is all the more a mystery to us." A few of their 840 pictures are posted at this link.

Bryan Hearsey reports on a spectacular summer 2009 trip to Italy with his wife Carolyn, and reflects on his past year as interim dean of the faculty. The travel story has been shortened for the newsletter. See the original with photos at this link.

"We spent three great weeks in Italy. We traveled by train with a couple of bus trips for short excursions. We spent most of our time in the cities of Milan, Venice, Rome, and Florence with day trips to Lake Como, Pompeii, Siena and San Gimignano. We completed the trip in Vernazza which is one of the Cinque Terre villages.

We overloaded on art, the Renaissance, and wonderful food. You have to work really hard to find a bad meal in Italy. Rude waiters and waitresses are more plentiful. Outstanding experiences:
  • Most striking building: The Duomo in Milan.
  • Most striking piece of the art: Michelangelo's David.
  • Favorite gallery/art: Impossible to identify. The supply is overwhelming.
  • Most Beautiful places: It is tough to choose between the Tuscan country side and the striking landscape of the Cinque Terre. Neither should be missed.
  • Best unplanned experience: The day in Rome when within two hours we discovered the Tour of Italy (and stood within 5 feet of the bikers as they raced by), and then encountered an impromptu performance of Amazing Grace (in Italian) at the Pantheon.
If you like great places to travel, put Italy on your list. Though we speak no Italian, language was never a problem."

David Lyons enjoyed a July 2009 trip to Toronto with his wife Maria Howe. On the way back, they stopped at Niagara Falls. This was a first visit for both of them. They are proud and amazed to be sending their youngest child off to college this fall.

Ken Yarnall is going to spend his spring 2010 sabbatical in New Zealand, where his wife, Mary Pettice, will be leading the LVC study abroad program. Ken will be working on laying the foundation for a summer research program in computer science, while hoping beyond hope to be cast as an extra in "The Hobbit."

Alumni News
(sorted by graduation year)

Corey Zdanavage '91 "It is hard to believe Stephanie and I have been in AZ for over 7 years and our daughter is 4 1/2 years old. Time has really moved quickly since my first day in Analysis 111."
Renee (Kitchenman) McGovern '06 "I rotated positions at ACE, and I'm now in Professional Risk Pricing. I mainly work on D&O, which is a very interesting line, and completely different than the run-off reserving I was doing previously. The new position also gives me the opportunity to work in New York City a few times a month, which I enjoy. I passed two exams, CAS 5 & 6, and I’m now studying for Exam 7. All is well."

Erik Vargo '07 "I graduated from The College of William and Mary with a Masters in computer science and operations research this Spring. I'll begin working toward my PhD at The University of Virginia in systems and information engineering this coming Fall, supported by a fellowship my first year and by a NOAA research grant during the subsequent years."

Scott Ferguson '08 lives in Chicago and is working for Quikorder, a subsidiary of National Systems (NSC). NSC develops software geared towards point-of-sale commerce: embedded systems for cash registers, as well as online ordering systems. Scott reports that he is currently writing PHP code for Pizza Hut's on-line ordering system, which is a Quikorder product. He expects to also work on their Flex and C++ projects in the future. Scott's email address is .

Scott sends this summer 2009 update.

"So months later, we're still plugging away on the new Pizza Hut system. However, we just launched the Pizza Hut iPhone application. Here's the Yahoo press release: and here's a review

Now the app frontend was developed by a 3rd party company, not us. I've been promoted to lead developer for the Pizza Hut system at QuikOrder, and wrote the entire backend and external API which the iPhone app uses. All of the dirty work like logging in, selecting a store, fetching a store menu, pricing an order, sending the order to a store, etc, that was all my work. The really cool thing about my part in the project is that my code will be re-used for a number of non-web applications that Pizza Hut plans on pushing out in the future. The iPhone is really just the start here.  Hope all is well in the valley."

Jonathan Castner '11 "Transfering to East Stroudsburg University has made me really appreciate how good the math program is at LVC. I didn't realize how much I actually learned until I came here and saw what they taught. It is nothing compared to LVC. In taking analysis last year it has really prepared me for anything now."

Send news and comments to or by regular mail to AfterMath, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Lebanon Valley College, 101 N. College Avenue, Annville, PA 17003.