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Alumni Testimonials


“I am currently an Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. I balance teaching undergraduate mathematics courses to science and engineering students with pursuing my research interests.  My time as a graduate student at USU prepared me for this position in several ways.  First USU gave me the opportunity to teach a variety of courses including linear algebra and differential equations, giving me far greater teaching experience than other recent graduates. Second Jim Powell, as my advisor, encouraged me to pursue my own research ideas, while guiding me with great suggestions and wisdom. Lastly, researching with Jim has given me invaluable experience collaborating with math biologists, ecologists, and statisticians in industry, academia, and government agencies. “  Martha J. Garlick


“In 1995 I began a masters degree program at USU.  At that time I was unsure about which branch of mathematics I wanted to specialize in--I wanted to learn everything.  I was very fortunate to meet Jim Powell, from whom I took some classes, and did some research under his guidance, working on models of mountain pine beetle dynamics.  This was a great experience, since it was the first time I was able to get my hands dirty working on a "real" problem.  It played a big role in my decision that to pursue applied mathematics.  I followed Jim's footsteps by pursuing a Ph.D. in applied math at the University of Arizona. After receiving my doctorate, I did a postdoc at Princeton for three years with Phil Holmes.  Then I got a tenure track position at Cal State Fullerton.  That first research experience I had with Jim really set me on the path to where I am at now.  In my own teaching and work with students, it is something I often think of, and try to inspire in my own students.” Tyler McMillen



"I began working for Jim Powell as an undergraduate and continued my graduate studies with him in Industrial Mathematics.  I gained a strong foundation in mathematics and was involved in many facets of the research process; everything from data collection and mathematical modeling to presenting and publishing results.  This rich educational experience continues to aid me in my current role as Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Engineering, and Computer Science at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho. The students I teach have a wide variety of backgrounds and career goals and my experiences at Utah State have proved invaluable in helping those students succeed.”   Estella Elliott



"Upon finishing my Ph.D. at Utah State University working in mathematical biology with Jim Powell, I accepted a tenure track position at Hope College in Holland, MI, where I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department.  I am currently involved in two research programs at Hope, both of which involve mathematical modeling and experimental work (in the lab and the field).  One group is studying the factors that influence insect phenology, focusing particularly on the development times and oviposition rates of bean beetles.  The second group is studying the interactions between wind, sand movement, and vegetation populations in coastal sand dunes.  Both of these programs integrate the contributions of undergraduates and faculty members from mathematics and the sciences (especially biology and geology). In the phenology group we have also involved several high school students and teachers through summer research programs.  At Hope I am also teaching courses ranging from calculus and introductory statistics to mathematical biology and numerical analysis.  Within the mathematical biology course, I am working to integrate research experiences into the classroom, starting with an experiment investigating the dependence of bean beetle embryonic development time on ambient temperature and humidity.My experience working with Jim Powell as a Ph.D. student modeling variation and evolution of insect phenology prepared me well for the work that I am currently doing.  Jim's work is truly interdisciplinary, and as his student I learned to work within a diverse group of scientists and mathematicians to produce results that could not be obtained without such a synthesis.  Additionally, I found Jim to be a great pedagogical resource.  He takes teaching seriously, and is shows in his classes.  I do not believe that I could have received an education that was more relevant to what I am currently doing anywhere else or with anyone else.”  Brian Yurk