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Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition (ASRCE) on April 12. The event featured oral and visual presentations of student-led scientific research and artwork. More than 50 presentations were delivered by students from a range of academic departments. 

 Mike Manzi, a junior majoring in environmental earth science (EES), presented on shoreline erosion due to weathering along Block Island. "I have enjoyed being a part of every step of the scientific process," said Manzi. "The best part is knowing that the information from my project can be used in the future by others doing research in this field."

 "Students studying environmental earth science have the opportunity to carry out exciting field-based research," said EES Professor William Cunningham. "Last summer undergraduates carried out original and important research in Idaho, Spain and various localities around southern New England. Their findings were presented at Saturday's event."

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At the ASRCE, Mathematics Professor Mizan Khan won the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Mentor Award. He was nominated by one of his students, Richard Magner, who has conducted extensive "number theory" research with Khan. 
 "Students who are interested doing research should ask a faculty member about opportunities in their area of interest," said Psychology Professor Madeleine Fugere. "I am always impressed by the quality of the research presented at this event."

Laura Markley, a junior majoring in EES, presented on population, natural resources and sea level rising in Bangladesh. "My research experience at Eastern has provided me with invaluable hands-on field experience," said Markley. "I'm lucky to be able to present on topics that interest me and address real-world problems."

"This event gives students the chance to experience the 'next step' in the research process: presentation," said Peter Bachiochi, psychology professor and faculty mentor. "It is very motivating for them."

"As a faculty mentor it is very rewarding to see your students present. It represents the culmination of a lot of hard work," said Fugere. "The ASRCE is one of the best academic events all year."

Buddhist Monk Speaks at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

 

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Willimantic, Conn. - Ajahn Boumlieng, a Buddhist monk of the Lao Lan Xang Temple in Willington, CT, spoke at the J. Eugene Smith Library at Eastern Connecticut State University on April 8. The event, titled "The Way of the Elders: Buddhism and the Lao Community in Connecticut," discussed Theravada Buddhism and Lao culture.
 Theravada directly translates to "the way of the elders," and is among the oldest and most traditional forms of Buddhism. It follows closely to the teachings of Buddha and focuses on meditation. "Meditation is the most important part of my culture," said Boumlieng. "Meditation can be active or still, but must focus on breath."

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 Boumlieng, a native of Laos, has traveled extensively amidst his spiritual journey, learning various Buddhist philosophies along the way. He became a monk 30 years ago at the age of 25, and spent approximately 10 years meditating in Laotian caves to learn his Buddhist routes --a common practice of monks from that area.
Since then he has lived in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and now the United States. He's been in the United States for about 10 years--Connecticut for six. Boumlieng's English is limited, but he speaks Thai, Lao, Vietnamese and French fluently.

Speaking of the goal of meditation, Boumlieng said, "The mind is like water; naturally clear, but able to be colored." The mind is colored by thoughts and emotions, which Boumlieng calls "monkey mind." Clarity is the state of mind hoped to be achieved through meditation.

In his culture, monks are highly revered and are not expected to work; they are totally supported by the community. Through enlightening themselves, the community benefits, as monks provide a service as teachers and counselors. In Laos, monks are not allowed to use technology, but because of the support they receive, there is no need for it. In Connecticut, however, Boumlieng must occasionally resort to cars and the Internet.

Elks Club Names Eastern Professor "Citizen of the Year"

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Charles Wynn (left) being presented the 2013-2014 Citizen of the Year Award at the Elks Lodge's Irish Night on March 8, 2014.

Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University Chemistry Professor Charles Wynn has been named 2014 Citizen of the Year by the Willimantic Elks Club. Wynn earned this award for his commitment to community service and leadership roles in volunteer organizations.

 Wynn got his first taste of volunteering in the late 1960s as a Peace Corps volunteer, when he spent two years in Malaysia as a science education lecturer at the Malayan Teachers College in Penang. "Through volunteering you meet exceptional people; the types of people you didn't even know existed," said Wynn. "Those people and experiences with them expand your perspective of the world."


Wynn's causes include working with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, supporting cancer patients and serving those afflicted with blindness. "I consider myself a very fortunate person. I volunteer because I want to give back," said Wynn. "As John F. Kennedy said, 'Of those to whom much is given, much is required.'"

Wynn is involved with numerous charitable organizations locally, regionally and at Eastern. Some of his roles include being the long-time meet director of the Windham Invitational Special Olympics Swim Meet; president of the Greater Windham Unit of the American Cancer Society; former member of the Board of Directors of Camp Horizons; and past president of the Willimantic Lions Club.

 "There is nothing more influential in changing people's behavior than a good role model," said Wynn. "If you want people to change for the better, show them the way, don't tell them." In the words of Fred Lebeau, one of Wynn's greatest role models and fellow member of the Lions Club, "I want to leave the wood pile with more in it than when I found it."

Magner Earns Goldwater Honorable Mention!

Written by Anne Pappalardo

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Willimantic, Conn. - Richard Magner '14, a mathematics major from Beacon Falls, CT, recently received an Honorable Mention from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The Goldwater Scholarship program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The program recognizes undergraduate students who demonstrate the potential to make significant research contributions in their future careers.

 Julia DeLapp, Eastern's coordinator for national scholarships and fellowships and program coordinator for the Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE), said, "As far as I know, this is the first time an Eastern student has been recognized by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Richard has been conducting research under the mentorship of Professor Mizan Khan for two years and is also Eastern's first Undergraduate Research Fellow."

"By the time he graduates, he will have completed eight graduate-level courses at the University of Connecticut, served as a teaching assistant for an upper-division math course, and will have had at least one publication and multiple presentations related to his own research," added DeLapp.

Magner's professors have recognized his unique capacities and have provided him with challenging experiences to ensure that he continues to develop while at Eastern. In addition to earning the respect of members of the Department of Mathematics, he has also impressed Computer Science faculty by writing computer programs on his own to aid his research.

In order to qualify to be considered by the Goldwater Scholarship program, students must be nominated by their institutions. Each institution can only nominate up to four students and each student must show actual potential for promising careers in research.
 
Eastern mathematics Professors Mizan Khan, Peter Johnson and Christian Yankov submitted letters of recommendation for Magner. His career goals include pursuing a Ph.D. in Mathematics, conducting research in number theory and teaching at the university level.

"Ricky is arguably the strongest mathematics major we have had in the past 20 years. He has an excellent mind and has shown that he is capable of doing original work in mathematics. Most importantly, his level of motivation and study ethic is extraordinary," said Khan.

Magner presented his research at two research conferences during the summer of 2013. The first, "Combinatorial and Additive Number Theory 2013" at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY); the second, the 2013 Young Mathematicians Conference at Ohio State University (OSU), which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Only one-third of the abstracts submitted were accepted at the OSU event.

The research has culiminated in two manuscripts. "The Combinatorial Geometric Problems Involving Modular Hyperbola," authored by M. Khan, R. Magner, S. Senger and A. Winterhof, will appear in INTEGERS (www.integers-ejcnt.edu) this year. INTEGERS is a refereed electronic journal devoted to research in the area of combinatorial number theory. "An Application of Modular Hyperbolas to Quadratic Residues," authored by Khan and Magner, will also be published in American Math Monthly (www.maa.org) this year.

Annual Eastern Excellence Expo Set for April 15

Written by Dwight Bachman


Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University's School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division will hold its 14th Annual Excellence Expo on April 15, 2014, from 1-3p.m. in the Student Center.  The public is invited. Admission is free.

More than 110 students, supported by 10 faculty mentors, will present research projects and posters showcasing the five departments in the School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division: Business Administration, Communication, Economics, Education, and Health and Physical Education.
Presentations include business marketing plans and communication advertising campaigns;  research presentations from business and education students; and a gallery photography exhibit of framed prints and color slides, just to name a few.  Poster research includes topics on communication law and ethics; health communication issues; and systems analysis.

For more information on the Excellence Expo, contact Pat Kucharski at (860) 465-5264 or email her at kucharski@easternct.edu.

Eastern Mathematicians Makes Discovery

Written by Michael Rouleau

mathmeticians make discovery-wagner,left Khan right.jpg                           Richard Magner, left, and Professor Mizan Khan, right


Willimantic, Conn. - Two members of Eastern Connecticut State University's Mathematics Department have made a discovery in the field of mathematics known as "number theory." Eastern mathematics professor Mizan Khan and Richard "Ricky" Magner, a junior majoring in mathematics, will have their discovery  published in Volume 14 of the electronic journal INTEGERS.

 The research, titled "Two Combinatorial Geometric Problems Involving Modular Hyperbolas," was a collaborative effort among four scholars, including Khan and Magner, as well as Steven Senger of the University of Delaware and Arne Winterhof of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

"The research concerned two problems, and Ricky answered one of them," said Khan. "Ricky's discovery is quite pretty; he is very clever."

 The questions leading their research were: "given a finite collection of points on a two-dimensional grid, how many distinct lines can you draw connecting two or more points in that collection?"; and "what conditions ensure that a line connecting two points in that collection do not meet a third point?"

The answers to these seemingly simple questions are indecipherable for those without some background in number theory--which deals with the properties and relationships of integers, or whole numbers.

 "Questions in number theory are easy to state," said Magner, "but they are difficult to answer, and their implications are often unknown."

 During Magner's freshman year, Khan approached him after class with an excerpt from a book dealing with "modular hyperbolas"--an area of number theory that Khan has been working on since 1999. "At first I didn't really know what we were looking for," said Magner, "but in the fall of my sophomore year, after spending much time with modular hyperbolas, things started to come together."

 Both Khan and Magner agree that the discovery alone has no practical application. "While the solution is elegant, this is a minor discovery," said Khan. "In this case, it is the process that is important, not the solution. My hope is that Ricky will build on this experience to prove bigger theorems in the future when he is in graduate school."

 "Through solving problems you develop skill and build an 'arsenal,' which can lead to new discoveries and expand the field of mathematics," said Magner. "At the time, you may not know if the discovery is useful. It may be years before its use is realized."

 Magner is currently taking graduate mathematics courses at UConn, in addition to his full-time workload at Eastern. After obtaining his master's degree, he plans to apply for a PhD program in mathematics, while still investing time in his passion for writing and other intellectual pursuits.

Eastern's Office of Admission to Host Junior Preview Day

Written by Dwight Bachman


Willimantic, Conn: The Office of Admissions at Eastern Connecticut State University will host Junior Preview Day on April 13 from noon to 4 p.m. in the Student Center. Juniors in high schools from across Connecticut and surrounding states, along with their families, are invited to visit campus to familiarize themselves with Eastern's unique public liberal arts learning experience.

"Eastern provides an affordable top quality undergraduate education, even for many from out-of state, that prepares students to begin their career or pursue graduate school," according to Ned Harris, director of enrollment management. "The university is able to do this," he said, "by pairing outstanding, diverse faculty with great students in small classes, undergraduate research and global field courses."

Eastern President Elsa M. Nunez will greet the students and their families. The program will provide information on Eastern's approach to applying one's academic pursuits in practice, admissions, financial aid, housing and residential life, athletics, student academic resources and student activities. Visitors will also have the opportunity take guided tours of campus with one of our student ambassadors.

Students are encouraged to register on-line for Junior Preview Day by visiting http://www1.easternct.edu/admissions/juniorpreviewda/  Students may also call the Admissions Office at (860) 465-5286.

Eastern Hosts 2014 Research and Exhibition Conference

Written by Jordan Sakal


Willimantic, Conn. -  Eastern Connecticut State University will host its annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference & Exhibition on April 12 from 8:30 to 1:30 p.m. This annual event highlights student creative activity undertaken within the 11 departments and 13 majors in the School of Arts and Sciences.

 The conference is a forum for Arts & Sciences students to give oral and poster presentations of research they have conducted while at Eastern.  Students will also be reading poetry, discussing interpretations of literature, and displaying artwork. This exhibition will be the first ever to feature an award presented to faculty mentors for services to their student researchers.
 
 The award is student-nominated, and draws attention to the fact that Eastern students and faculty contribute to scholarly fields of inquiry beyond the classroom. The opening ceremonies of the conference will begin at 9 a.m. in room 104 of the Science Building. There will brief introductory remarks by Professor Nick Parsons, Dean Martin Levin of the School of Arts and Sciences, President Elsa Núñez and Provost Rhona Free.

Hockey Club Picking Up Speed

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - In its fifth season, Eastern Connecticut State University's club hockey team is developing into a force to be reckoned with. This past season the team played in the Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association (NECHA)--a subset of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA)--and concluded the season with a 17-3 record, tying them for first place in the Colonial Conference of the NECHA.

 Five years ago, when the original group of students gathered to form the club, they played informal games according to an inconsistent schedule. One day the group came upon John Brancati when he was practicing with his son at Bolton Ice Palace. Soon after, Brancati--who has years of coaching experience with youth and high school teams--agreed to be the head coach of Eastern's club team.
 
 "There wasn't much of a team when I first joined. We had little talent and not much structure," said Sam Spellman '14, a team captain who has played right wing with the club for four years while majoring in accounting. "We probably didn't have 17 wins combined in my first three years. The program is making huge strides in being seen as a respectable team for competition."

 The ACHA is a collegiate hockey association with more than 400 teams nationwide--even schools with NCAA hockey programs have club teams in the ACHA. Because Eastern is still new to the association, the team underwent a "probationary period" this season and was not eligible to participate in playoffs or championship games--despite their conference-leading record.

 "We got lucky this year and picked up a lot of good players. Also, the guys who helped start the program have stayed loyal and kept on playing," said Jeremy Proto '14, a team captain who has played right wing with the club for four years while majoring in business administration. "We have a real solid group of guys who share one thing in common: a diehard passion for the game of hockey."

 The team has completed three preliminary seasons with the NECHA. These trial seasons are intended to test a prospective team's commitment to the league and gauge its playing style and sportsmanship. At the NECHA's spring meeting on April 19, the team will learn of their official placement in the Colonial Conference. In fact, since the team did so well, they may be moved to the American Conference, which is more competitive.
 
 "We hope to be placed in the American Conference, but we'll be happy with whatever the NECHA decides," said Assistant Coach Galen Byram, who has led the team's defensive strategy for four years. "We are very happy with how we've played and a bunch of guys at the association have been asking about Eastern."
 This year the team consisted of 23 players--all from Connecticut--six of whom will be graduating this May. "We're getting more exposure, more participation and more talent," said Coach Brancati. "The guys have been real committed. Our core will be returning next year; it's safe to say we'll have at least 20 guys to start off the season."

Since the team is not part of the NCAA or an official intercollegiate varsity sport at Eastern, team members must conduct fundraising efforts to afford ice time, transportation, referees and other expenses. For the 2013-14 season, they put together a team booklet that generated more than $2,000 by offering advertising space to local businesses.

Currently the team's home rink is in South Windsor, but they are working to relocate to Bolton Ice Palace. This location closer to campus would boost fan attendance and cut down on transportation costs.

 In order to play on Eastern's club team, there is a $500 yearly player's fee. Team jerseys are provided by Eastern, but players need their own gear. "Compared to other leagues, Eastern's club team is inexpensive and a great value," said Coach Brancati.

 "The best part about the game is it's unlike any other sport. There is a serious brotherhood among hockey players," said Proto. "It's one of the only sports that guys start playing when they're three and don't stop until they're 50. It's just that good."

History Honor Society Inducts New Members

Written by Jordan Sakal


Willimantic, Conn. - On April 7, 13 history majors and one member of the faculty at Eastern Connecticut State University were inducted into Alpha Mu Alpha, Eastern's chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for the study of history.

The society promotes the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians. The society recognizes students who have completed a minimum of 12 semester hours (four courses) in history, have a minimum GPA of 3.1 in history, have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and are in the top 35 percent of their class.

Inductees included Eastern professor Bradley Davis, and students Abby J. Arisco of Wallingford; John P. Allen of Tolland; Nicholas G. Cecere of Branchburg, NJ; Emily C. Dwelley of Stafford Springs; Joseph L. Garzone of Rocky Hill; Margaret Kurnyk of Willimantic; Kevin M. MacVane of Manchester; Meagan Rose McCane of Torrington; Brandon Thomas Nickle of Hampton; Michael A. O'Neill of Killingworth; Victoria L. Schell of Norwich; Erin Renee Strickland of Gales Ferry; and Shannon J. Williamson of Baltic, CT.

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