Colloquium 01/30: Dr. Donald M. Gooch

Our next colloquium will be on Monday, January 30 at 4:00pm in Bush Mathematical Sciences Building 357. Dr. Donald M. Gooch from the Department of Government at SFA will be speaking on Political Polarization in US Counties: Causes and Consequences.

Abstract: My thesis employs a unique data set at the unit of analysis of counties in the United States that measures political polarization in the electorate.  The thesis explores factors that cause political polarization as well as the impact political polarization has on electoral results.  I will briefly discuss the political polarization theories in the political science literature and how my analysis speaks to ongoing debate over the nature and effects of political polarization.  I will describe my research strategy in acquiring the necessary variables for the analysis and some of the challenges I have faced in working on the project while serving as SFA faculty.  Finally, I will discuss preliminary findings and the remaining steps to reach completion of the project. (flyer in PDF form)

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jane Long

Editor's Note: This is the ninteteenth in a series of spotlights on mathematics and statistics faculty. Dr. Long joined us as a professor in Fall 2008.

Do you have a hobby or collect something? How did you get into that?

I do yoga 5-6 mornings per week at the fantastic Ashtanga Yoga Nacogdoches/Morning Glory Yoga studio downtown. I got into that after years of doing ballet and not feeling great while doing it; yoga is much better!

Tell us about an adventure you had, or would like to have.

I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland to dip in the volcanic pools, ride the unique breed of horses, and take part in the tradition of chasing sheep through the streets of town.

What was one of your biggest successes or failures?

One of the things I’m most proud of is that I didn’t publish any mathematical research papers for 10 years, then picked up research again and have since had 3 published papers appear (with more under review and in the works). During the years I wasn’t producing papers, I was both focusing on other things and feeling guilty about not getting research done. It took a big push to get going again but it feels great.

What kind of music, books, movies, sports, games, cars, etc. (pick one or more) do you like? Is there any particular reason?

I really, really like The Great British Baking Show. I usually watch that on the weekends and then end up inspired to bake several things.

What do you study? How did you get into that? Are there any real-world applications of your area of study?

I originally trained as an algebraic topologist focusing on the cohomology of finite groups. There aren’t a lot of people working in that area and any real-world applications are not what I prioritized. (Side note – this is a question that a lot of pure mathematicians get. I usually make an analogy about pharmaceutical researchers and doctors: You wouldn’t want pharmaceutical researchers to stop looking for new drugs just because the doctors don’t yet know which patients would get them. This analogy lands with varying degrees of success.) Anyway, I have shifted my focus to number theory, specifically valuations of sequences, a topic dealing with prime numbers. It’s much more accessible to students and I’m looking forward to being able to do more undergraduate research.

What projects (academic or otherwise) are you currently working on

I’m the director of SFA’s JacksTeach program, which prepares secondary math and science teachers (who are desperately needed in our community and across the state). The program is pretty new so this is both exciting and challenging. Other than that, I’m trying to put my feet behind my head; varying degrees of success there as well.

What is the closest you have ever come to dying?

I almost died in childbirth with my son. That’s not something I thought happened very often anymore in the US, but women still die every day in childbirth across the country (and the world). Fortunately, my son and I are both ok.

What did you do to put yourself through school, or what weird job have you held?

I used to teach nature and campcraft at a summer camp outside Marshall, TX. That involved a lot of fun camping trips and many poisonous snake and spider fatalities. (Editor’s note: We just hope the fatalities involved snakes and spiders, and not campers!)

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

If a great opportunity comes along but not at the right time, it’s ok to say no to it. People will know your worth and will come back with other opportunities in the future; you can say yes when the time is right.

The thing that really makes you cool and unique is something that I would never have thought to list here. What is it?

My go-to answer to this question is that I’ve never eaten a PB&J sandwich. When I was a kid, I thought the idea was too gross. Clearly, it’s too late for me to try one now.

Mathematics and Statistics Programs at SFA

  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
    • with your choice of minor
    • with secondary-level teacher certification through the JacksTeach program
    • with concentration in actuarial studies
    • with concentration in data science
  • Minor in Mathematics
  • Minor in Applied Statistics
  • Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences with focus in
    • Mathematics
    • Statistics
  • Master of Science in Natural and Applied Sciences

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics is to attract and retain the best available scholars who actively pursue knowledge of mathematics, statistics, and/or mathematics education and who skillfully communicate their knowledge of the subject to their students, colleagues, and the community as a whole.

Specific roles of the Department are:

  1. To provide a sound curriculum for students who wish to pursue a career in mathematics or statistics in business and industry;
  2. To provide service courses for students who are majoring in some other department, but who need mathematics or statistics as a tool or to satisfy general degree requirements;
  3. To offer preparation to those who are planning to pursue a graduate degree;
  4. To prepare teachers for positions in colleges, universities, and public or private schools.