Useful and Cool Mathematical Links
- M.S., Ph.D.: Mathematics, Northwestern University
- A.B.: Applied Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley
- Abstract Algebra and Senior Seminar
- Calculus, with an emphasis on understanding the concepts, and how to use them
- Math and Art
For the last several years, I've been working on creating a course in Math and Art, connected to one of the Art History courses. This course has been very fun for me, but also challenging as I began with essentially no background in art. Topics I've covered in this class in the past have been: systems of proportion in art and architecture, creating works of art using the golden ratio, and ways to determine whether other artists intentionally used it in their art, perspective, using mathematical symmetry to classify works of art, the 4th dimension and non-Euclidean geometry and how they influenced many of the cubists, and fractals. Next, I'll be investigating tessellations and their connection to Islamic art.
All of my classes go well beyond rote problem-solving. I encourage my students to learn to read and write mathematically, and to work on open-ended problems in addition to the more traditional problems. In Calculus, I ask my students to respond to questions on the reading, via e-mail, every night, which has the dual purpose of helping me identify potential trouble spots and helping students learn to read math texts. In most of my classes, the students work on open-ended problems and write papers explaining their results. In Abstract Algebra, each student "adopted" a group and focused on it throughout the semester, with their work culminating in a final paper, while in Calculus, the students work in groups to solve problems proposed to them by "clients", and then they describe their results in a letter to the client.
- For my dissertation, I focused on Commutative Ring Theory and Homological Algebra. My aim was to extend the idea of divisibility. Ordinarily, one cannot discuss the concept of a divisible element unless the ring is a domain. I was interested in whether there was a way to define divisibility which does not require the ring to be a domain. This question led me to consider the behavior of families of ideals, and torsionality.
- I am currently catching up on the connections between math and art, and plan to continue to expand my horizons in this area.
- Who has time for interests and hobbies?! But I enjoy spending what free time I do have with my husband Tommy Ratliff, who is also in Wheaton's math department, and our two children. We enjoy heading out to the cape, traveling, and otherwise having a good time. Many of my other "hobbies" involve my house - I love painting cabinets and walls (which for some reason I've always found to be very soothing), and I have also discovered a previously unsuspected interest in gardening and its counter-part -- yanking out unwanted brambles and seedlings in the back woods. And, of course, I love to read, and can rarely be found without a book close-by! I have lately been on a non-fiction kick, learning about various diseases, pre-Columbian America, rubber plantations, etc. To keep fit, I do strength-training, yoga, and zumba and other dancing exercises. If I had more time, I would spend considerably more time than I do biking, skating, and hiking.
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Science Center, Room 327
Norton, Massachusetts 02766-0930
TEL (508) 286-3973
FAX (508) 286-8278
Math and CS