Sabbatical Update 1

While I’m breaking for lunch today, I’ll give a quick sabbatical update. But first, today’s #loveyourmath challenge (thanks, Ashley Johnson, for the kick in the pants!).

Today’s #loveyourmath topic: What inspired you to get into mathematics?

Math was definitely not my plan when going (back*) to college. The plan, which worked out tremendously, was to major in French and Econ and then go work for the World Bank or something. In Paris. Because, you know, Paris. But when I went to Colorado College, the block plan (one class at a time) made it very easy to start in Calc 3, then go on to DEs, then Linear Algebra, then… a year of math. And so I became a math major. I don’t know if this would or would not surprise my K-12 math teachers. In preschool, I had an existential crisis over counting (what if I keep counting? Is there an end to numbers, or no end, and which is worse?!) In 3rd-grade, I was hung up on fractions, decimals, and percents (why bother with three different ways of writing down the same thing?). I flunked 7th-grade pre-algebra (ask me about my recurring back-to-school nightmare) but then started liking math again in high school (I skipped a year of history to catch up and end my HS with Calculus). At that point, I figured I was done with math because what else is left after calculus? Anyway, I owe a huge debt to Patty Parsons and Ken Oliver who made math at Amity High School exciting to this nerd. I’m delighted to have been so thoroughly nurtured (nerd-tured?) at Colorado College by then-visiting professor Travis Kowalski; professors Marlow Anderson, David Brown, and Jane MacDougall; and former professor Amelia Taylor who overlapped with me the year I worked as paraprofessional. And I never would have gotten a PhD without the University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty, staff (thanks Marilyn and Liz!!), and fellow grad students (shout out to Ashley, Amanda, Lauren, Mike, Ben, Nora, Anisah, Sara, and so many more). Not to mention the huge amounts of coffee and beer in Lincoln; I have a spot in my heart reserved for all the baristas and bartenders that kept me hydrated.

*Yep, back. I dropped out of college the first time. I also dropped out of 1st- and 7th-grades. I like to think I was preparing for the sabbatical cycle.


Software wins and fails 2

As I get my very first sabbatical going, I’m working on some homework for the American Mathematical Society’s Math Research Community in Algebraic Statistics. So far, I’ve managed to calculate a few examples by hand. But now I’m down the software rabbit hole, and I find that it’s 4 hours later and I need to vent.


  • Got Singular installed *and* got my mac to shut up about “programs from the internet” every time I open it;
  • Ran an example in Singular with (almost) the expected output;
  • Ran the same example in Macaulay2 with the same output as Singular;
  • Installed Bertini and managed to get the Bertini.m2 package to work.
  • Installed 4ti2.


  • Can’t get my Aquamacs preferred theme (Solarized Dark) to stick despite hours of googling today and other days;
  • Can’t get Aquamacs to find and run Singular;
  • No clue what to do with 4ti2 now that it’s installed…

I’ve had a few other successes, though, unrelated to software:

  • Tracked down all the references for my homework (with the help of a librarian at Hamilton — thanks Glynis!)
  • Managed to remember some statistics.

Three More Years!

I’ve been officially reappointed! Corollary: I get to go (officially!) on sabbatical for the next academic year.


149879171_8e339d2fc0_bIn 2004, I adopted a cat who was about one year old and weaning her second litter of kittens.  Moo, named for the sound she made, was first rescued by friends Chad and Tiffany from a kill shelter.  When I met Moo, she dropped her kittens in my lap and took a nap while I looked after them.  Then, she came and gave me a headbutt.  It was love at first bonk.  Once her kittens were old enough to be adopted out, she came home with me and my partner at the time.

Moo is arguably the greatest cat in the world.  She’s fluffy, she purrs, she talks, she knows tricks.  I adore this cat.  In grad school, I had a dream that I physically gave birth to her (probably a product of the stress of grad school and the comfort she provided when I got home feeling bad every day).  Moo keeps me humble — every once in awhile, she places a hairball right where I’ll step in it.  Moo keeps me stylish — I find tasteful accents of cat fluff on every outfit.

For those doing the math, Moo’s about 13 years old.  She’s in excellent health; last year, she had a dental surgery to preempt future problems.  Other than that, she has never had a major medical procedure (aside from spaying).

Sometimes, things as a pre-tenure professor get a little overwhelming.  On the toughest of days, I know I can rely on Moo to sit on me and purr until I get out of my funk.

So, here’s to Moo!


The Definitive Guide to my Cats, part 1 1

For some reason, there is a growing segment of the campus population that is interested in my cats.  Far be it for me to deny the public what it wants.  Here’s a quick guide for those new to the craze.

Cats: Moo, Sophie, and Tipper
Ages: 13, 8, 1.5
Sexes: Female (spayed) × 3
Rescued: 2004 (Colorado), 2008 (Nebraska), 2015 (New York)

Follow the #cats tag for more information.  Coming up: Moo’s biography.


Milestone: Turning in my reappointment file after 5 semesters at Hamilton.

One of my friends called the process “self-irritation inducing.”

And now we wait…


The MAA knows how to throw a birthday party, that’s for sure. This year’s centenial MathFest was, ahem, badass.

I’m sure everyone has her favorites, but here are my top three:

  1. Seeing my people!
  2. Karen Smith’s invited lectures & the associated special session (see below)
  3. Minicourse 6: Flipping the Classroom

Anyway, I also had a wonderful time with the other speakers in the Concrete Computations in Algebra and Geometry session (organized by Karen and Sarah Mayes-Tang).  In case they’re useful, my slides are on the web: View Slides