Senior Conference, Math 399

Spring 2010


Professor: Victor Donnay

Class: Mon, Wed, 10-11:30 am

Office: Park Science Building #330


Phone: 526-5352, E-mail: vdonnay

Office Hours: tba



Topic: Mathematical Modeling in the Environment.


Goals of the Course:  To hone your skills as an independent learner,  get experience presenting material in front of a group, and learn how mathematics can be used to study real world problems.  Specifically problems related to the environment and sustainability.


A new component of the course will be to serve as consultants to our local community and analyze a real world sustainability issue. The outcome of this work will be some type of final product (report/white paper/public presentation) that will make a contribution to improving the situation.



Mathematical Modeling in the Environment by Charles Hadlock which deals with topics on Ground Water, Air Pollution, and Hazardous Materials.  


Proposed Syllabus:


Part 1: Analyzing Data related to Environmental Sustainability and predicting future trends. We will be using materials from Professor Thomas Pfaff’s website:


Part 2: Math Modeling in the Environment:

-           Ch 1: Introduction

-           Ch 2: Ground Water

-           Ch 5: Further Topics in Ground Water


Part 3: Modeling Heat Flow in a Residence: how to make a residence more energy efficient?


Part 4: Throughout the semester, you will work on your consulting project and give periodic updates on the status of this work.


Course Structure:


There will be reading to be done before each class; students will summarize the key points of the reading by writing a short (one paragraph) synopsis of the main points of the material. A key part of the synopsis will be to state any questions or confusions you have from the readings.


In class, a student (or team of students) will present an overview of the material that has been read and lead a discussion of the material.


We will work problems from the book to help learn the material and,  when appropriate, will also  use computer programs (Mathematica, Excel as well as specialized programs). No previous computer experience is assumed. Class time will also be spent presenting and going over homework problems.


Homework will consist of “textbook” problems but may also include more open-ended problems and mini-projects.


Field Trips: We could make trips to some local sites of environmental interest.


Course components:

-    class participation, including preparing synopsis, presenting and explaining  material to the class (25%)

-           homework  (15%)

-           1 midterm exam (25% each)

-           final project (10-15 page write up) with oral  presentation (35%).