May Spotlight Student

Rachael Bailine

Rachael Bailine, more commonly known as Rae, hails from Havertown, PA. She choose the University of Delaware because it was close enough to visit her family and friends, and also because being on the campus just felt right. This month Rae will be awarded her Bachelor of Science in mathematics along with a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages and Literature and a minor in computer science.

Rae's fifth grade teacher, Mr. Bickhart, got her interested in mathematics. He presented the material in a manner that made it understandable and fun. She fell in love with mathematics, and from then on she took as many math courses as she could. Another role model for Rae in mathematics throughout her life has been her mother, who works as a pension administrator. When Rae was younger her mom would let her work with her so that she could see how mathematics could be applied. She has always encouraged Rae to pursue her interests.
While here at Delaware, Rae has particularly enjoyed taking differential equations and numerical analysis in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. It was during her numerical analysis class that she realized how much she enjoyed coding. Her favorite programming project as an undergraduate, modeling the shape of the human eye using image processing, was part of this class. This project led her to consider computer animation as a possible career path for herself.

During the summer of 2008, Rae did research with Dr. Luke involving translating computer code from MATLAB to Fortran9. After some time working on the code, which dealt with the application of multisecant methods for solving nonlinear eigenvalue problems, she learned more about the background of the various quasi-Newton methods employed in solving these problems. She tested the code she translated with known models for the optimum usage and compared the results with the new multisecant methods. She found this experience enjoyable and interesting, and it enhanced her love of computer coding.
A big part of Rae's life is dancing; it has always been a passion of hers. She is actively involved in the Ballroom Dance Team here at Delaware. Recently, she and her partner competed at nationals and placed 3rd in silver rhythm dancing. Additionally, she teaches public dance classes for the team as well as credit classes offered to Delaware students.

Rae is part of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, an honor society for high-achieving students for which she does community service work with. She has been inducted into the National Mathematics Honor Society, Pi Mu Epsilon; been on the Dean's list every semester since she enrolled; tutored mathematics on campus; and served as the president of the newly formed Association for Women in Mathematics Student Chapter.

After graduation Rae plans to pursue a Masters degree in mathematics and computer science at New York University. The perfect job for her would be as a computer animator, allowing her to put both her technical and creative skills to use. She will continue her dancing and hopes to travel the world, in particular England, Ireland, and Australia. As she finishes up her work here at the University of Delaware, we with Rae the best of luck at NYU!

April Spotlight Student

Laura Sloofman

Laura Sloofman is a third year Quantitative Biology major, with minors in Bioinformatics and Bioelectrical Engineering, at the University of Delaware. She grew up in Ardsley, New York and decided to attend UD because she had a strong interest in participating in biological research. With the Department of Biology receiving millions of dollars in research grants, she realized the many opportunities that would be available to her. Plus, the beauty of the campus felt like home to her.

Laura's love for science began in elementary school while watching Bill Nye the Science Guy. Originally a biology major, it was Professor Schleiniger who recognized her mathematical talent and encouraged her to switch to a major that combines biology with mathematics. Since joining the major, Laura has developed a mathematical model describing the creation of a network of food tubes in slime model with her MATH 512 team as well as written MATLAB programs to read data from her biological experiments. Her favorite math classes are those directly applicable to other fields such as Numerical Analysis (MATH 426 and 428).
In her third year of undergraduate research, Laura is a member of the Carson lab investigating the effects of RPL29 knock-out on bone structure and rigidity. Most of her work is done on the micro-CT (micro computed tomography), where she scans and analyzes bones. Laura enjoys relying on her investigative skills to solve this real-life problem whose answer is unknown. The summers are her favorite research months because she is a fulltime researcher in the Summer Scholars program.

Laura's role model is her current mentor Professor Catherine Kirn-Safran. It was from working with Professor Kirn-Safran in the lab that she realized this profession is her calling. She not only admires Professor Kirn-Safran's scientific ability, but also her ability to balance her busy schedule. Watching Professor Kirn-Safran has reassured her that a woman can be both an active scientist and active mother.
As a co-first author on a paper published in the Journal of Orthopedic Research, Laura is already an active and accomplished member of the biological research community. Last summer she won first place at the HHMI summer research symposium sponsored by Sigma Xi. For the third consecutive summer, Laura has been awarded the HHMI/Charles Peter White award to continue her research. Additionally, in the fall Laura won second place for her research poster entitled "Effects of diminished protein synthesis on bone anabolic response to load in RPL29-deficient mice". In mid-April, Laura will be presenting her research in New Orleans at the Experimental Biology conference.

At UD, Laura is involved with the service organization Circle K as well as SAGE (Students Acting for Gender Equality). She is the historian for the Math Club and also volunteers at Christiana Hospital. This winter, Laura participated in the UD Study Abroad program and traveled to London. She visited various museums in London and took a side trip to France, but hopes to return to Europe and continue her exploration. Reading is a hobby of Laura's (not school books, of course) and wishes she had more time for it. She is also a very active person, participating in Pilates, kickboxing, and step aerobics classes. In fact, last month she even went spelunking with the Outing Club!
Laura will graduate in May 2010. After graduation, she plans to pursue her dream of earning a Ph.D. and visiting Australia. Clearly, Laura is a successful, ambitious woman who also has a fun, playful side and a very bright future ahead of her.

March Spotlight Student

Kelly Pippins

Kelly Pippins is working towards her B.S. in Quantitative Biology, an interdisciplinary program offered through collaboration between the departments of Biological Sciences and Mathematical Sciences. She grew up in Hockessin, Delaware and chose to attend the University of Delaware because it was close to home. Originally, Kelly began her academic career majoring in Biology, but after voicing her interest in mathematics she switched to the newly established Quantitative Biology program the fall of her sophomore year.
In the summer of 2008, Kelly was one of the 25 students at UD selected to be an HHMI research scholar (sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute). Working with Dr. Schleiniger (Department of Mathematical Sciences) and Dr. Boman (Department of Biological Sciences), she modeled the cell dynamics of colon tissue. The long-term goal for the research project is to build a model that predicts malignant tissue. Not only did this experience help Kelly begin to understand the process of research, but it also helped her identify herself as an ecologist or environmental biologist. She is excited to continue research this summer exploring the effects of competition between two bird species on their population dynamics with Dr. Pelesko (Department of Mathematical Sciences) and Dr. Williams (Department of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology).
Besides being an accomplished student, Kelly is involved in the Women's Ultimate Frisbee team here at UD. The spring semester is their competitive season and they travel almost every weekend to places as far as Atlanta, Georgia, for tournaments. Kelly has been playing for two years and loves the camaraderie. Furthermore, she has realized her strong interest in science and the environment through her role model and teammate Sarah, more commonly know as 'Dr. Pez.'

Along with being chosen to be an HHMI scholar, Kelly has also received the Italian Language Excellence Award and made the Dean's list multiple times. She is an active member of the UD community and over the past winter break studied debates in conservation biology and tropical biodiversity abroad in Costa Rica. Kelly describes the study aboard experience as one of the best decisions of her entire life. In Costa Rica, she had the unique opportunity to save sea turtles, hike around active volcanoes, and see endangered species. Being an environmentalist and Ultimate Frisbee player, it is no surprise that Kelly loves anything that deals with the outdoors, including camping, skiing, running, and bird watching.
We wish Kelly the best with her studies here at UD. She will graduate in May 2010 and plans to pursue an advanced degree in either conservation biology or restoration ecology. With her drive and passion, she is sure to motivate others to join her in helping protect and preserve the environment.

February Spotlight Student

Lucero Carmona

Lucero Carmona is a senior math major at the University of Delaware. She originally came from New Jersey and decided to attend UD because of the beautiful campus. Also, she was awarded a University Merit Scholarship, and, of course, there was the tempting chance to take a course on chocolate!

She chose to major in mathematics because it was a subject she enjoyed and had always garnered success in. Her interest and success was influenced by her 7th grade math teacher, Mr. Scheffler, who encouraged her in mathematics and helped her realize her potential. Over the past 4 years, she has continued to be successful in mathematics and has enjoyed many of the math classes she has taken, particularly numerical analysis and differential equations because of applicability to physical systems. She has also pursued her interests in computer science and art history by minoring in both subjects.
Throughout her career here at UD, Lucero has been involved in research. For example, the summer after freshman year she worked with Dr. Pelesko and Dr. Cook on topics such as the dynamics of a falling chain and the movement of capillary surfaces. She has presented this research at both the UD Undergraduate Research Scholars Poster Session and the UD Math Department Annual Summer mini-symposium.

This past summer she was chosen to participate in the University of Colorado's Student Multicultural Access to Research Training (SMART) Program. Here she attended classes on game simulations based on ActionScript and Flash and researched the magnetorotational instability of accretion disks. Not only did this program provide room and board, transportation, and a stipend, but it also organized activities like whitewater rafting, hiking, a Colorado Rockies Baseball game, and a trip to the Seven Falls and the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. The SMART program culminated with the writing of a scientific paper on her findings as well as presentations at Leadership Alliance National Conference and the University of Colorado Summer Research Poster Session. She was also able to present a poster of her results at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students through a travel award.
Lucero has been recognized in many ways for her academic achievements. She is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon; the national mathematics honor society; made the Dean's list four times; was a Latino Student of Distinction in 2006 and 2008; was recognized as a Woman of Promise in 2007; and received the National Science Foundation-Computer Science Engineering Mathematical Sciences (NSF-CSEMS) Scholarship. She is also involved in the community as she is the secretary of the Math Club and a teaching assistant for the Computer and Information Science Department. In her spare time, she also enjoys painting.

In May, Lucero will graduate with a B.S. in mathematics and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in applied mathematics. After that, she hopes to stay in academia and continue her research. It's clear that Lucero is a very talented, hard-working, and intelligent young woman, who will succeed at whatever she sets her sights on.