May Spotlight Student
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 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
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
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
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 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
February Spotlight Student
Lucero Carmona is a senior math major at the University of Delaware. She originally came from New
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
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.