Alumni in Focus: Linda Joyce and Danielle Wiest
Each fall, the university sponsors an Alumni-In-Residence program to honor several of Grand Valley’s accomplished graduates. This year the Mathematics Department was privileged to be represented by Dr. Linda Joyce.
Linda Joyce graduated with a mathematics major and general science minor from Grand Valley State Colleges in 1972. Although she initially had intended to become a high school teacher, strong faculty encouragement convinced her to consider graduate school options. She was particularly interested in finding an applied field that would make valuable use of her mathematical background, and ultimately she obtained a master’s degree in environmental science from Miami University of Ohio, and then a Ph.D. in range science from Colorado State University.
Dr. Joyce resides in Colorado, and she currently leads a project on Sustaining Alpine and Forest Ecosystems under Atmospheric and Terrestrial Disturbances for the USDA Forest Service. Her personal research involves quantifying the environmental impacts of climate change in the Rocky Mountains, and collaborating with economists to investigate these impacts.
During her visit to Grand Valley in October, Dr. Joyce shared her experiences with Mathematics faculty, as well as speaking to several classes and the Mathematics and Statistics Club. She related that her success as a scientist has been enhanced by her background in the rigor and structure of mathematics. She also emphasized to our students that her collaborations with non-mathematicians have convinced her of the need for superb communication skills to convey mathematical information to diverse audiences.
It was an honor and delight for all of us to meet and learn from Dr. Joyce, and to show her how much the university and the department has grown and changed since she left!
Danielle Wiest is a recent graduate of GVSU, finishing her degree in mathematics in April 2005. Since September 2005, she has been a graduate student at Miami University of Ohio in their master’s degree program in mathematics. She has joined a growing number of students from Grand Valley who are heading off to pursue further study in mathematics: in addition to students at Miami (OH), GVSU alumni are pursuing advanced degrees in the mathematical sciences at universities including Nebraska, Penn State, Kentucky, Michigan, and Montana. More students from the class of 2006 are soon to join them.
After moving to a new state, meeting new people, and starting a new program, Danielle found that it was a lot to add demanding coursework on top of this, especially since her assistantship duties required me to teach five days a week with very little guidance. After surviving a busy first semester, she has become accustomed to the demands of this new experience, particularly in time management, and reports that her second semester is going smoothly. With some good new friends at Miami, as well as involvement in extracurricular activities, Danielle has found herself at home. She shares that it has been important to become more confident in herself and in her mathematical abilities.
As an undergraduate, Danielle most enjoyed Linear Algebra I and II, Operations Research, and Differential Equations – all because she especially appreciates mathematics that can be used to solve real world situations. She is now headed toward completing a masters in Operations Research at Miami. Her undergraduate experience at GVSU prepared her well for this work, and she says she was able to make the transition to more challenging courses smoothly. She felt especially well-equipped at using technology such as LaTeX, Power Point, Maple, and even calculators.
While Danielle has not completely decided upon a post-graduate career track, she says that since she simply loves learning new things about mathematics, she might try to stay in the academic world and by becoming an instructor at a community college. She is also open to the possibility of working in industry. Regardless, she is glad that she chose to continue her education in mathematics and now loves her duties of teaching and studying.