Recent Student Events

YSU MathFest

YSU MathFest, the largest annual event hosted by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, took place on Thursday, October 13. Each year, high school juniors and seniors from over 40 different high schools come to YSU to spend the day celebrating and learning topics in mathematics that are not typically seen in standard high school curriculum.

This year, 18 different workshops were offered by YSU faculty and students from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. These workshops included titles such as Are you a Terrorist?, Discovering the STEM Behind Football, and The Mathematics of Brain Activity.

In addition to the workshops, students were given the opportunity to meet YSU students, interact with YSU faculty members, and explore what it’s like to get an undergraduate degree in mathematics or a STEM-related field at YSU.

The day concluded with guest speaker Dr. Chris Swanson from Ashland University giving a large group presentation on Mathemagic!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Veterinary Science Expo

The first annual Youngstown State University Veterinary Science Expo was held on September 29 in DeBartolo Hall. The YSU Pre-Veterinary Society sponsored this event, which featured three professional veterinarians: Ric Berlinkski, Kelley Kilar, and Tina Costarella. Berlinkski, a vet at the Toledo Zoo, spoke about working with exotic animals, and said zoo medicine is the hardest field in veterinary medicine to get into.

Kilar discussed caring for small, usually domesticated, animals. Costarella, who takes care of large animals, talked about wanting to start a veterinary program with the biology department in which students could have the chance to job shadow her. Colleen Maskarinec, founder of the YSU Pre-Veterinary Society, said she was grateful to have the veterinarians there to interact with and inspire the students.

Most of the attendees were YSU students who are pursuing a degree in veterinarian medicine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Nucor Dollars and Tons

Nucor conducted their Third Annual “Nucor Dollars and Tons” event on Saturday, October 8, 2016, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Dollars and Tons game is designed to simulate how Nucor manages its business and the competitive environment under which all Nucor divisions operate. Dollars and Tons will help the student develop an understanding of critical financial terms, present them with typical business issues, and allow them to make decisions in a fun, fast-paced game environment in which participants make strategic decisions like the management team at a real Nucor division.

Five teams from the following STEM student organizations participated in this year’s event: American Institute of Chemical Engineering: Chem-E-Car Team; American Society of Civil Engineering: Groups I and II; and the STEM Leadership Society. The teams not only competed to have an awesome experience, but they had the opportunity to network with Nucor representatives, to develop innovative methods to start a business and to apply their problem solving skills to deal with real world applications, and to foster their team building skills.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineering: Chem-E-Car Team aka MEATBALL held on for another year and upheld their reputation as being the winners of the Nucor Dollars and Tons event. Bridger Kowalczyk, Brandon Haldiman, Tom Kibler, and Nick Scoumis not only held on to their championship as “top dog” for the event, they also took home $500.00 for their organization and a steel trophy made by Nucor with the organization’s name engraved on it.

student group

Physics Students Presentations

Physics students presented at the 2016 Fall Meeting of the Ohio Section of American Physical Science (OSAPS) on October 7 and 8 at Bowling Green State University.

  • Brian Schubert presented a paper titled “Examination of Surface Treatments of Implant-Grade Titanium via X-ray Photoemission Spectroscopy”
  • Christopher Watenpool presented Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Research, “Circumventing Non Ergodic Dynamics in Anharmonic Atomic Chains”
  • David Bernard, Martin Strong, and Nicholas McGuigan also attended the conference
  • Dr. Snjezana “Snow” Balaz and Dr. Donald Priour provided faculty support on the projects


Cybersecurity Awareness Day

Since October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, ISEHA (Information Security and Ethical Hacking Association at YSU) and the NEOACM (Northeast Ohio ACM) sponsored a “Cybersecurity Awareness Day” at YSU on Tuesday, October 18 in Meshel Hall. The theme this year was “Personal Cybersecurity,” keeping yourself safe in cyberspace.

Wesley Stanton, President of ISEHA, spoke about “Password Cracking” and how to create a password that is difficult to crack. Jeremy Mio from the Cuyahoga County Department of Information Technology Security and Research Team, spoke about how to stay safe on the internet. He discussed what behavior you should avoid online in order to prevent identity theft and other cyber threats.

We should recognize the importance of being vigilant against any and all cyber threats, while recommitting to ensure that we use new digital tools and resources fearlessly, skillfully, and responsibly. That is why “Cybersecurity Awareness Day” is important and supported by ISEHA and NEOACM.

security demonstration



The STEM Internship and Co-op Expo has been transformed into the better-than-ever STEM Expo. Current students and alumni alike can come meet the employers who are now looking to fill full-time positions as well as internships and co-ops. YSU STEM welcomed more than 60 employers on October 6 for this first ever STEM Expo.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Graduate profile: Josiah Banks

Josiah BanksJosiah Banks is an energetic and outgoing student with a passion for math.

A senior double majoring in theoretical mathematics and math education, Banks attributed his love of math to a very special person in his life, Michael Soroka, a calculus teacher at Campbell Memorial High School.

“He was a wonderful teacher,” Banks said. “He was very funny, down to earth, and knew how to explain things in a very effective way. He’s the one that really got me into math education. I wasn’t originally into math education.  I wasn’t even going to go straight into math; I was going to do architecture at first.”

Three-quarters through Banks’ senior year, Soroka passed away.

“The teacher that came in, she never taught calculus [before] … and we all still wanted to learn more about [math] in memory of him,” Banks said. “We knew [Soroka] would still want us to learn. I got my friend’s notes from the year before and actually ended up learning the material…and basically helped the [new] teacher teach the class. That started my mathematics journey.”

Originally wanting to teach math at the high school level, Banks took a theoretical math class from Dr. Jacek Fabrykowski as part of the regular curriculum for integrated mathematics education majors.

“[Dr. Fabrykowski] really pushed me, and it was probably the hardest math course I ever had,” Banks said. “He made me understand that theoretical mathematics is so beautiful.”

Banks plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in math so he can teach theoretical mathematics at the college level. His main interests are in number theory and abstract algebra. This past summer, Banks studied number theory at Texas A&M at a Research Experience for Undergraduates.

“[Number theory focuses on integers] — no fractions, no decimals,” Banks explained. “It’s the study of all the properties of those numbers, [such as] divisibility.”

A form of number theory that interests Banks is modular arithmetic.

“[Modular arithmetic is] actually in a lot of things nowadays, and it’s very interesting,” Josiah said. “It’s like a section out of mathematics called discrete mathematics. In this world we live in — we live in a very continuous world — we’re used to seeing things constantly flowing. Well, with integers there are spaces between 0 and 1. You’re not looking at 0.1 or 0.2; you’re looking at just 0 or 1 or 2  with nothing in between. You’re not looking at fractions; nothing like that. So, some people find discrete mathematics and number theory very challenging, because…we are used to the things that are continuous.”

During his time at Texas A&M, Banks studied number theory. Parts of number theory he studied included the smallest parts function, the partition function and asymptotic formulas.

“It’s just amazing how number theory can relate to so many different aspects of mathematics without [people] even knowing it,” Banks said.

But Banks did more than just study numbers during his time in Texas.

“It was wonderful. I met a lot of wonderful people; I learned a lot of interesting things. I networked a lot, and I visited a lot of cool places in Texas,” Banks said. “Pretty sure I had the best BBQ of my life.”

After his summer in Texas, Banks came back to YSU and participated and presented research at the annual MathFest competition in DC, as well as competing in the competition.

He has also competed in the prestigious Putnam exam twice, the Integration Bee, the Calculus Competition, and has been a Presidential Mentor for the past two years, all on top of being active in over 10 student organization on campus.

“There are so many things our students need to know about, because there are so many opportunities in our math department,” Banks said. “I’m very proud of this math department. It’s great.”

YSU to Hold 12th Annual MathFest

Students packed into the Chestnut Room.

At the beginning of August, students representing the YSU Ohio Xi chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon traveled to Portland, Oregon for the annual MAA MathFest, which is a joint meeting between the Math Association of America and Pi Mu Epsilon. Nine of the attending students gave presentations at the meeting. Crystal Mackey and Eric Shehadi, both of whom presented at the conference, were recognized for their excellence in student research. Also recognized at the event was George Yates. Yates received the Pi Mu Epsilon Advisor Award, which is given only once every three years.

YSU has its own YSU MathFest, where high school students are invited to learn about math in fun workshops designed by YSU faculty. This year’s 12th annual YSU MathFest will take place on October 23.

“YSU MathFest is one of the premiere YSU Math and Stats Department events where high school students are invited to YSU’s campus to spend the day celebrating and learning about math. High school students get the opportunity to meet YSU students, interact with YSU faculty members in workshops, and explore what its like to get an undergraduate degree in mathematics or STEM at YSU; but most importantly – have fun!” said Eric Shehadi, who is serving as the Student YSU MathFest Coordinator for the third year.

Some of the workshops offered this year include “Mathematics of Diversity in the Environment,” where students will learn about mathematical diversity and evaluating biodiversity indexes, “Are You a Terrorist?” where students will explore statistical methods used by agencies such as the NSA, and “Learning to Divide,” which explores dividing goods among several individuals so everyone feels they get what they deserve.

In addition to the workshops, students have the opportunity to participate in mathematical competitions prior to the event and at the event itself.

The 11th Annual MathFest!

2013-10-03 13.32.55
The Chestnut Room full of people.

Youngstown State University College of STEM and the YSU STEM Mathematics and Statistics department held the 11th Annual MathFest on Thursday, October 3rd, 2013. High school students from thirty-five area schools attended this year’s festivities. There were over 350 students learning about different mathematics principles while hanging out with different faculty and YSU students. Continue reading “The 11th Annual MathFest!”

Congrats MathFest Participants!

mathfest 2013
MathFest participants posing for a picture.

Congratulations to the 2013 MathFest participants! Eleven YSU undergraduate students from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics met with other students from around the nation to give oral presentations on mathematics and statistics principles in Hartford, Connecticut, July 31st through August 3rd. The students are exposed to different mathematics principles that occur throughout society and are encouraged to interact with students and faculty from other universities. Though no other school has ever won more than three awards at any MathFest, the YSU team won an astounding six awards, beating their 2005 and 2006 record of five awards!

Those students who were awarded for their excellence in student exposition and research are:

Cameron Bagheri– Applications of Linear Algebra to the Fibonacci Sequence
Michael Baker– A Study of Optical Gain in Three-Component Multilayered Films
Kim Do– Introduction to Combinatorial Game Theory and What Lies Underneath
Ashley Orr– Fourier and Wavelet Analysis: Extracting the Business Cycle
Sarah Ritchey– Residue Number System Algorithms for Signed Numbers
Eric Shehadi- Prioritizing Vacant Residential Properties for Demolition in Youngstown, Ohio

Other students who attended MathFest 2013 were Daniel Catello, Shawn Doyle, James Munyon, Blain Patterson, and Matthew Pierson. Continue reading “Congrats MathFest Participants!”

Summary report on MathFest 2011

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics had nine undergraduate students attend the Annual Summer Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and Pi Mu Epsilon (PME), commonly know as MathFest 2011 in Lexington, KY, August 3-6, 2011. All students gave oral presentations, and two students won awards for their talks. YSU students continued the tradition of being outstanding ambassadors of YSU, the STEM College and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and have won 27 best talk awards in the last seven years. Students attending and presenting:

Student Hometown Title of Presentation
Michael Coates Niles, OH Anomalous Cancellation
Jason Cooke Youngstown, OH Multiple Private Keys in RSA
* Mario Sracic Hermitage, PA Cryptology & Quantum Computing
Daniel Catello Youngstown, OH Using Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors
Tara Sansom Sandy Lake, PA Bacterial Growth and Metabolism of Toxins
Bradley Slabe Youngstown, OH Modeling Enzyme Kinetics in ABE Fermentation
Sarah Ritchey Sharon, PA Adding Harmony to the Harmonic Series
** Sepideh Khavari Howland, OH Time-to-Peak Response in Biological Systems
Matthew Alexander Espyville, PA Proof and Application of Leibniz’s Formula

* Award for excellence in student exposition and research sponsored by the American Mathematical Society and the American Statistical Association.
** Janet L. Andersen Award for outstanding exposition and research in Mathematical or Computational Biology sponsored by the MAA Special Interest Group in Mathematical Biology.

MathFest 2011, Lexington, KY. Left to right, Tara Sansom, Sarah Ritchey, Sepideh Khavari, Dan Catello (kneeling), Michael Coates, Bradley Slabe, Mario Sracic, Matt Alexander and Jason Cooke.

The real value of participating in this and other conferences is to expose our students to the variety of mathematics that occurs throughout society and to encourage interactions with students and faculty from other Universities. Another goal is to excite students about mathematics and involve them in professional activities that lead to a lifetime of learning.

Drs. Faires, Ritchey, Spalsbury, Wakefield and Yates also attended MathFest 2011. Thanks also to faculty who advised students on their projects. This included: Drs. Pollack, Ritchey, Smotzer, Wingler and Yates.

We are grateful for support from: The STEM College, the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, CURMath, Pi Mu Epsilon, Mathematical Association of America, and NSF grant DBI-0827205.